Friday, August 1, 2014


Welcome to Everything Croton, a collection of all things Croton--our history, our homes, our issues, our businesses, our schools--in short, EVERYTHING CROTON. 


To the editor:

Croton taxpayers were kept in the dark for the past year regarding the Gouveia acquisition despite resident concerns about possible acceptance of the property by the Village Board. Among their major worries were the loss of tax revenue if the village accepted the “gift,” the ongoing cost to maintain and repair the property, and the belief that a deal with Ms. Gouveia was a “fait accompli.” The Village Board remained quiet about these concerns or denied that a deal was done.

The scenario became more complex when Barbara Sarbin, Director of Educational Programs for a group known as Something Good in the World (SGITW), came on the scene. She hoped to lease part of the Gouveia property for an experimental “learning center” to teach kids survival skills involving chickens, waterless toilets, solar energy, etc.

While taxpayer questions about SGITW, the property and its usage were ignored at Village Board meetings under the pretext that secrecy was needed during legal talks, Mayor Wiegman, Trustee Gallelli and other village officials were meeting with Ms. Sarbin to examine the property and develop a sales presentation to convince residents that SGITW and a Gouveia deal were good for residents. To the best of my knowledge, the other trustees, taxpayers, the Croton- Harmon school board and other village organizations were kept out of the loop and denied the same information, assistance, and access to the Gouveia property that Ms. Sarbin obtained.

Using the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), a concerned citizen obtained 70 pages of emails pertaining to the Gouveia/SGITW deal that were sent by Ms. Sarbin to Mayor Weigman and Trustee Gallelli. A second FOIL request has been submitted for their responses to Ms. Sarbin to better understand their relationship. Target date is August 24th.

Despite the absence of village replies to Ms. Sarbin, a review of her emails confirms a secret village attempt to keep Croton residents from learning about SGITW’s “learning center” and to “grease the skids” for SGITW’s partial use of the Gouveia property. 

A sample of Ms. Sarbin’s email comments to Mayor Wiegman and Trustee Gallelli are included below for those unable to access the entire list and illustrate the collusion that took place:

--“I wanted to firstly say my most heartfelt congratulations to you on all the hard work that you have done towards the gift of Gouveia Park to the Village of Croton. I have been following the stories in the newspaper as well as online on the Village Board website, reading the reports and minutes. I also coincidentally spoke with Bob Elliott this evening, and he did confirm that the gift looks like it will go through now, barring any unforeseen issues. So this is great news and I am really pleased. It sounds like so far you have weathered the opposition (only a very noisy 8% in the end) and you are very well experienced in this from all the years of your positions in the village.”

-- “… when the proposal goes before the Village Board, we [need to] have all the answers in place already, ranging from parking to waste treatment. I have spoken to David and Alan [Sarbin’s friends] about some of Dan’s [O’Connor] concerns and with Bob Elliott to get recommendations for how to handle some of the concerns to do with the County Health Dept. and code. Dan was particularly worried about the grey water system, which I am working on at length this weekend, finding a back-up plan…”

-- “Please let me know anything you can about what is happening. Phone is fine if email is not the preferred way to talk about this, which I completely understand.”

--“In and around our conversation were other more personal reflections that I would be more comfortable sharing with you by phone, rather than in an email.”

--“Well, now I understand your reluctance to have me put forward this proposal. I know that the less time anyone has to research opposition to the project, the better. I wish there were a way for the Board members to know this project is in the works without it being public, but if there’s no other way, then perhaps the way I can present it is as very low key. Maybe we don’t present the Envira Pods [modular classrooms]; just the gardens with the Epods as an idea if it comes up?”

--“I agree it sure is going to look like we have been working on this for a while! I wonder what we can do to make this a safe process for SGITW and for the Board... Thank you for explaining this to me, I honestly didn’t realize that it involved the public.”

--“I just had to write to tell you how beautiful the video is that you made of the Gouveia property! I didn’t realize you had already put it up online!” 

The entire list of emails can be viewed directly by visiting this web site:

Readers are also urged to visit for more information.

In my opinion, the mayor and Trustee Gallelli lied when they said they couldn’t disclose the Gouveia deal based on their lawyer’s advice. If Ms. Sarbin was included in their confidence, why not Croton taxpayers who will be stuck with the tab? Is this the type of ethical conduct to expect from “trusted” village officials? I wonder if other promises were made to Ms. Sarbin that will lead to more litigation if not fulfilled.

Robert Wintermeier 



  1. Now he'll stock a committee with people who don't even live here to achieve his and Gallelli's desired result. That's because people here in Croton want no part of this. Vote ABC! Linda

  2. Much easier to view all the lies. Thanks BW.

  3. Wasn't Elliott involved with these people before? Someplace in the upper village?

    1. Mayor criticized for role in school's zoning request, Something Good in the World By ROBERT MARCHANT, THE JOURNAL NEWS, March 28, 2004- Highlights:

      --Mayor Robert Elliott is coming under criticism from opposition members of the village Board for appearing at a zoning board hearing in support of an application....had undermined the appearance of an impartial village review process.
      --The school needed a change in the village code and a special permit from the village board, as well as permission from the zoning board because the school's site is too small and too close to its neighbors to meet local regulations regarding schools.
      --Barbara Sarbin, president, said the facility...was being expanded to eliminate a long waiting list. "There are children and families who want to attend this school, and we're trying to create more space to accommodate them,"
      --The zoning board initially turned down the Garden Road application Dec. 10. The school came back March 10 during a meeting attended by 30 or so supporters (editor's note, most were non-village residents as the record shows) and parents, along with Elliott.... At the meeting, Elliott said he believed the plan would have the support of the village Board...which must decide whether to issue a special permit...McCarthy said it sounded to her like an assurance that the village board would approve the school's application - BEFORE it was introduced to the trustees.
      --The ZBA ended up approving the application after the hearing, reversing its Dec. 10 decision.

  4. Thanks. Isn't it a massage therapist now??????????????????