Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Suspicious Incident in Irvington

An important message from the Superintendent of Schools, 
Dr. Kristopher Harrison
May 22, 2018
Good evening,

Please see the important public safety alert that was just released by the
Tarrytown Police Department.

"This agency is investigating a suspicious incident which took place on
Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at approximately 0810 hours, near the intersection
of Meadow Street and Millbrook Ave.  A 10 year old child who attends the
Main Street School, Irvington School District was standing near this
location waiting for the school bus when a late model Honda Civic
Four Door Sedan, bearing an unknown New York yellow color
"Empire" style plate, traveling North on Meadow Street pulled up
and stopped near the child.  Child reports a male white possibly
in his twenties or thirties with dark hair and short goatee spoke
to the child through an open passenger side window. The male
asked, "Do you need a ride to school?" When the child said "No"
the male pulled away travelling North on Meadow Street towards
Route 119."

Below is a picture of the actual vehicle involved:


Any individual who can assist in identifying the above pictured
vehicle, or who has had similar activity is asked to contact the
Tarrytown Police Detective Division at (914) 631-1514.

Please be assured that the Irvington School District is in
consistent communication with our law enforcement partners
to ensure the safety of our students. 

Very truly yours,

Dr. Kristopher Harrison
Superintendent of Schools

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Great News & More Lies

A recent press conference held by County Executive Latimer, touted, finally, the upcoming plans for the former abandoned Westhelp facility on the Westchester Community College campus. It was abandoned because Mr Feiner decided to play games with the facility while it was under the Town’s control. Sadly, due to his politicization of the site and his desire to generate publicity, the “problem causer’s” plan backfired for the Town.

The facility originally generated $1.2 million a year for the Town, guaranteed. Now, forever lost, these were monies that could be applied toward paying off penalties and fines brought upon the Town with the Fortress Bible guilty verdict by Mr Feiner and Diana Juettner directly, and his Board indirectly through their condoning of previous behavior, to mention just one example. During the Feiner-induced Westhelp debacle, Mr Feiner decided on his own to not sign the Westhelp renewal contract with the County during the waning days of the then-County Executive Spano administration. In fact, they reached out to Mr Feiner numerous times only to be rebuffed by him. Mr Feiner then lied to the public when asked about it, saying the County never reached out him and that was why the contract was not renewed. Copies of communications from the County Executive later validated the County’s claim that Mr Feiner was again lying.

Now Mr Feiner has again used his infamous GB-email list to share more “great news” - even if it’s only partially true. In his announcement, he thanks his Board "who worked very hard" to make this happen. They did nothing! They condoned everything that Mr Feiner tried to do with the site. Instead, they should have forced him to adhere to the original contract, intent and agreements that were in place when it was created. After which the facility would be turned over to the Town entirely to be used for senior rental housing - period! 

Ever the shrewd publicity hound, Mr Feiner publicly suggested that it was the County causing the problem with utilizing the facility and not him. County Legislators Williams and Shimsky, not at all Feiner fans, vociferously countered as did then-County Executive Rob Astorino. Also following this sham, his lies and missteps was Journal News writer David McKay Wilson, who painstakingly detailed Mr Feiner's bad and possibly illegal activities. In fact, it was repeatedly pointed out that Mr Feiner and the Town were in breach of the inter-municipal agreement in place for the facility. As we’ve stated numerous times before, when Mr Feiner doesn’t like a particular law, agreement or decision, he simply ignores it, leaving the taxpayers to pick up the fines and penalties generated by his bad behavior!

The original conversion of the apartments was to be into 54 units. Regardless of the rationale, the number was then inflated to 74 by those involved as the numbers were increased to make a more profitable result for the management company, claiming 74 units would make the project more financially viable for them. Critics complained that the change would make for smaller, more cramped apartments for the future residents, which was not the right direction to proceed.

Now that County Executive Latimer has been dragged into the Feiner quagmire, he’s agreed to the 74 units at the facility in a lease created last October. Part of the discussion was about whether or not the new facility would generate more students for the Valhalla school district. Isn’t it a bit ironic that so often we hear about declining enrollments and yet “leaders” continue to try to keep new students from coming into our schools? Presently, in fact, Dr Tahira DuPree Chase, the Greenburgh School District Superintendent, is fighting the Greenburgh Central School district’s current reputation by visiting civic associations and neighborhood groups to try to dispel what she considers to be a false narrative from realtors and others about the Greenburgh schools. 

The plans call for the developer, Marathon Development Group, to pay $1.5M - $900K to the County and $600K to the Town, on behalf of the County, in exchange for the Town relinquishing all rights to the site. The new development will serve a wide mix of income levels, including 40% to 60% of Area Median Income as well as 80% to 90% of Area Median Income. Market analysts note the mix of units will broaden the property’s appeal to the senior community. 

The Town has suffered long enough and lost millions of dollars due to Mr Feiner's arrogance, failed management and his rubber-stamp Board. As is so often said, the Supervisor, who is missing the “shame gene”, says this is good for the Town and the County. Is it? Cramped living quarters are certainly better than no living quarters. And, receiving $600k for the Town doesn’t negate the loss the taxpayers have incurred on top of the millions of dollars that must now be spent unnecessarily to remediate the mold and destruction that has taken place in the interim. This kind of arrogance and incompetence needs to end. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Beware Of ConEd Scammers

A reader posted this on a neighborhood website and we thought it was important enough to post here to alert our readers to exert caution when receiving what appears to be a phone call from ConEd. Please let your family, friends and neighbors know about this. If this happens to you, please call the police department and report it.

Con Edison phone scam

Con Ed scammers are still active. I had a call today - with caller ID that indicated Con Edison and their correct 800 number - from a "dispatcher" informing me they'd be turning off my electricity today due to unpaid bills. They had my address but not my account number. Of course I knew I have no unpaid bills, as I auto-pay, and I asked for the supervisor, to see what I might pull out of them, and instead he gave me a different 844 number to call - the "Con Ed billing department" - which of course it is not. I wanted to bring it to neighbors' attention, particularly because the caller ID looks legit. I didn't let the guy get as far as telling me to run down to CVS and get a debit card - but I'm sure that's where they were going. I reported this to Con Ed and government officials - I would speak to the police as well, especially f I had actually been scammed rather than the threat. Be careful - this is more insidious than the usual obvious scams.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Hartsdale 4-Corners Needs Change

A presentation to the Town Board at their weekly work session by the owners of Inspired Places touched on a good number of items that could potentially change the Hartsdale 4-corners (4-C) area. However, for this area to change, some radical thinking, fresh ideas, money and most importantly zoning changes will be required. Whether or not these changes can happen must begin with the Town Board. To that end, Mr Feiner asked for a report in two weeks on how to make this process move forward. Cooler heads prevailed, however, and it was decided that Garrett Duquesne would work with the women and notify the Board when the information required would be ready for the next step.

Much was said as to what might be required to transform the 4-corners area from what it currently is now to what it might become. There were six topics of discussion: zoning, mobility, infrastructure, environmental, aesthetics and community well-being. Zoning, the first and probably foremost catalyst to a 4-C change, rests solely in the lap of Mr Feiner and his Board. Since we know they are more than willing to change zoning codes for any developer faster than a hooker asking if you’re looking to party, we don’t see much resistance here. However, while his Board’s zeal to please their master aside, it will be up to residents to ensure the zoning changes are correct, qualified, and will not be used by others elsewhere. An example is that the apartment buildings on Hartsdale Avenue in Hartsdale are zoned M-174. Mr Feiner pushed for the Westhab building in Fulton Park to also be M-174. Fortunately, after much community opposition, Westhab acquiesced from a 7-story building to a 4-story one with an assurance from them and Mr Feiner’s Board that they would never build “up” in perpetuity.

So with no cohesive zoning plan for the Town, Mr Feiner routinely offers zoning changes to developers for what zoning we do have and then informs the public that the Town will benefit from the changes and reap millions in taxes, permits and fees – even though those numbers rarely, if ever, materialize. Or, if they do materialize, those funds are used to pay off guilty verdict fines such as the Fortress Bible Church discrimination case for $6.5 million. Given Mr Feiner and his Board’s willingness, if not eagerness, to spot-zone, the Town needs to have a vehicle to control this wanton disregard for the early Town planner’s vision for the Town. This could have happened when the Town spent, or rather wasted, 8-years and $600,000 developing a Town Comprehensive Plan that effectively does nothing to address zoning, future growth and/or growth limitations for the Town. Nor does it reign in control of the Supervisor and his Board from spot zoning as they please. This too is one of the costs of not having term limits. After some 25-years in office, most residents are hungry for a leadership change. Sadly, both the Democrats and Republicans will offer none.

Based on the recent and very protracted Edgemont Incorporation Council’s (EIC) attempt to have the Edgemont Unincorporated section of Town seek to incorporate and become a village within the Town, we believe Mr Feiner will appear to make every attempt to placate Hartsdale residents. This is primarily because since Mr Feiner has tried numerous ways to thwart the EIC attempts, the rumor mill began churning of Hartsdale incorporation talk ­– which must scare the hell out of Mr Feiner and his Board! They don’t need to be dealing with incorporation on two fronts.

With Inspired Places, LLC, presentation, represented by Hartsdale residents Patrice Ingrassia and Christine Broda, they highlighted some of the issues that have plagued the 4-C intersection. Basically, the retail environment has suffered due to high permit fees and length of time to acquire them, inadequate parking, flooding, heavily congested roadways with bottlenecks, internet purchasing, a lack of foot or pedestrian traffic and so on. These problems have all been talked about before, lamented by the Town administration and later ignored as they move to the newest shiny object that they can publicize and politicize.

Other issues also factor in to the equation, such as an abhorrent area of uncoordinated signage, strings of overhead wiring, old and outdated building facades and that there is little if any pervious space. The entire area is taken up by the various buildings’ footprints, concrete and asphalt. As pointed out during the presentation, the 4-C area is mainly regarded as an intersection of two major roadways. Central Park Avenue and Hartsdale Avenue, providing the lion’s share  of east-west and north-south automotive connectivity. What is seriously lacking is a safe and easy manner for pedestrians to park and frequent the businesses that have staked a claim in the 4-C area.

We are happy to see this study undertaken and endorsed by many. And while it would prove interesting to see how well it progresses, it is but the tip of the iceberg. First, traffic congestion and flow needs to be addressed beyond saying everyone should use mass transit or we should have more buses. We have witnessed repeated issues with the Bee-Line bus system cutting routes and frequencies of buses due to declining ridership, limited schedules (including holiday schedules), availability to key areas and cost to operate. Several years in a row have seen the Express Bus System in jeopardy as well as other routes abandoned as not being cost-effective where they were.

Second, flooding must be addressed as a Town and County-wide issue if we are to truly make any inroads in controlling flooding, assisting our taxpaying residents and businesses, and helping everyone in the Town flourish. The Bronx and Saw Mill rivers are the two major pathways for flood and runoff water to exit our area. Both of these rivers must be cleaned, dredged, widened and then maintained so our residents can live safely and dryly. The County, Towns and Villages must also limit new construction and upgrade existing infrastructure to help with all of this.

Third, zoning must be changed in a way that will not allow it to be bastardized by a developer and then agreed to by any elected officials. The pseudo-Comprehensive Plan could have addressed this and put forth a zoning plan that assisted in the Town’s future growth. But they did not. Instead, they chose to politicize the effort and create a document that discusses global warming and such. Want to address global warming? Create a document that does what the residents told you they wanted: less impervious space, smaller buildings, more green space, bike and walking paths to name a few and leave the political statements for another time.

Finally, with or without a Comprehensive Plan that is viable, we need to have a direction that the public requests and that politicians can join in to have a focus to improve the Town (and County) resident’s lives. The Hartsdale 4-Corners project could be the first step in the right direction. Let’s hope so. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Black Women's March in Tarrytown

The Black Women’s March across the new Tappan Zee Bridge was planned for today, Saturday. Its organizers were on schedule to march across the bridge despite the threat of mass arrests at about noon. Vanessa Green, one of the march organizers, said the march would go on as planned, as other Black Lives Matter and anti-racist groups have committed to attending and some volunteering to be the first arrested. 

There appeared to be about 100 or so people (see photo above) making up the crowd. At least half appeared to be white and the rest of color. We overheard one man offer a sign to another that said “Black Lives Matter” and when thanked, he said he was just there to hand out signs. At one point Ms Green led the crowd in several chants, with the one most often used was, “Black Lives Matter here!”

There were many apparently hand-written signs saying the same thing but differently. “Listen To Black Women” and “Slavery Never Ended, It Just Evolved,” White Silence = Violence.” There were others, but not everyone had signs. Some were there to support the movement and some frankly were just curious to see what was going on. 

With a helicopter flying overhead, which we assumed was the state police helicopter, Tarrytown police officers, as well as state police officers seemed to be everywhere, even on the rooftop of the stores in the extremely crowded CVS (formerly Stop and Shop) parking lot! We spoke to one officer who said his post was right here but the parking lot was a zoo. His sergeant happened to walk over and said basically the same thing. 

There also seemed to be a lot of media coverage here with about five news trucks, and numerous video cameras hoisted overhead to capture Ms Green as she spoke to the crowd. It remains to be seen if they make it across the bridge or not as state troopers had set up a row of officers at what would be considered their access point. We’ll just have to see how this plays out. A peaceful protest and no arrests would be preferable. That will help us toward A Better Greenburgh.

The website espouses a list of thirty issues that they are hoping to address, listed here as presented on their website:

A few demands provided by Black Women in Westchester, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland Counties:
  • Improved services for Black LGBTQ gender non-conforming folks
  • The silence and complacency regarding the continued murder and brutalization of trans women, especially black trans women
  • Eradicate poverty
  • Address environmental racism that occurs in communities like Newburgh’s PFOS water contamination and generational high lead levels
  • Improve education, especially in the East Ramapo School District
  • Transform and dismantle the police
  • Disinvest in police, invest in community
  • Eliminating cash bail in New York - we need legitimate Alternative To Incarceration (ATI) programs that are not electronic monitoring, probation and other fucked up governmental programs 
  • Improve mental health services
  • Address drug use impacting Black families, through public health not criminalization
  • End the mass incarceration that is tearing Black families apart
  • Address disparity in the foster care system
  • End sexual violence against Black women. Believe them.
  • Job opportunities that include a living wage
  • Affordable childcare
  • Safe, decent and affordable housing
  • Safety in our homes (from state and intimate partner violence)
  • Address inadequate or non-existent legal criminal defense
  • Stop policing Black Women on their anger
  • Stop using us for legitimacy in your predominately-white agencies
  • Financial institutions cease charging fees for minor transactions
  • Access to bank accounts without being charged fees for not maintaining a certain balance
  • Ability for undocumented Black and Brown women to secure Drivers' licenses
  • Stop arresting Black and Trans Women for survivor crimes
  • Improved transportation infrastructure
  • Reduce and eliminate states’ social control and punishment in the judicial system (criminal and family)
  • We are not a monolithic people and the One Black Women in the room is no longer acceptable
  • NY state enact racial impact laws- provide opportunity for policymakers to consider alternative approaches that do not worsen disparities. (Similar to fiscal and environmental impact statements)
  • Access to necessary and needed hormone treatment
  • Reproductive justice, having a say over our bodies, choice to have many children or none at all

Socio-hydrology: Flood Protection Is Everyone's Responsibility

In an article published on April 6, 2018 in the Homeland Security News Wire, we read this interesting take on flooding. Since we have pointed out numerous times to deficiencies in our Town, County and State regarding flooding in our area, we believe that this puts an interesting perspective to the problem, so we thought we would share it with our readers.

We have an impact on water - through dams, regulations and agriculture. And the risk of flooding affects us and our economic decisions. Researchers are investigating the complicated interplay of these factors. “The field of hydrology has been investigating the impact of agriculture and building work on the risk of flooding for decades,” says a researcher. “But research on the two-way interactions between water systems and society is an extremely young field of research.”

The complex interactions between floods and society are currently being investigated at TU Wien Institute of Stochastics and Mathematical Methods in Economics Centre for Water Resource Systems in Vienna. The economy needs the central government to organize flood protection.

We have an impact on water - through dams, regulations and agriculture. And the risk of flooding affects us and our economic decisions. The complicated interplay of these factors is being investigated at TU Wien. TU Wien says that the mathematical economist Johanna Grames has developed conceptual models to describe economic decisions for long-term flood protection strategies. Private businesses should not shoulder the responsibility for flood protection alone. In prosperous countries in particular, it makes sense for central government to establish the necessary infrastructure for flood protection.

“The field of hydrology has been investigating the impact of agriculture and building work on the risk of flooding for decades,” says Johanna Grames. “But research on the two-way interactions between water systems and society is an extremely young field of research.”

Implementing these interactions is important to make the right decisions in the long term: How do people behave if flood risk decreases as a result of dams? Should capital-intensive businesses be located in flood risk areas and increase flood protection, or should they be (re)located to areas that are less vulnerable to flooding?

Johanna Grames investigated these questions as part of her PhD thesis supervised by Prof. Alexia Fürnkranz-Prskawetz at the Institute of Stochastics and Mathematical Methods in Economics at TU Wien. This thesis forms part of the ‘Vienna Doctoral Program on Water Resource Systems’, an interdisciplinary doctorate program led by flood expert Prof. Günter Blöschl.

Central government and the economy
Mathematical and economic analyses have shown that both central government and the private sector have an important role to play in flood protection: “Companies naturally want to reduce their own risks. The risk depends on the probability that a dangerous flood occurs, and on the capital that is at risk. Therefore, investments, made to avert possible flood damage, might not pay off, even if they are subsidized by central government,” explains Johanna Grames.

That is why it makes economic sense for central government to provide long-term flood protection. “Each party should focus on what they can do best,” Grames stresses, “Central government is best at building infrastructure, and private companies can then be sure that their investments are not at high risk.” 

The calculations also show that government investment in infrastructure is better than direct subsidies to companies. Direct subsidies are not invested in flood protection but are often invested in measures that merely maximize profit in the short term. Contrary, if the government invests into flood protection instead of giving subsidies, firms will produce more and consequently earn higher profits in the long term. Flood protection allows for higher economic growth than direct subsidies to firms in flood risk areas. However, the best investment strategy may not be the same for each country.

“Interestingly, from a macroeconomic point of view there are two scenarios, each with a different optimal solution,” explains Grames. In rich economies, such as Austria or the Netherlands, substantial investments in flood protection are best to both reduce flood risk and enable economic growth. The existing technology and capital allow a significant reduction of flood risk. In poorer areas, such as the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, where there is very little capital available, it may make more economic sense to boost their economic performance and accept a degree of flood risk instead of pouring resources into flood protection measures which have very little success anyway.”

Transparency and education
Johanna Grames emphasizes: “People can only make the right decisions if they have all the important facts at their disposal. We need transparency and education so that all parties involved can make rational, well-informed decisions, and this can only happen with interdisciplinary cooperation.” Thus, a lot remains to be done in the research area of socio-hydrology in the future.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Projected 2-Year Traffic Congestion on Rt 119

Beginning tomorrow the MTA will be undertaking a major renovation of the White Plains Metro-North train station.

Total time for this renovation is projected to be approximately two years.

We anticipate that the first phase of this project (beginning tomorrow) will cause severe traffic congestion on Route 119 for the next six weeks.

This will include work on the two bridges that carry the trains over Main Street and Hamilton Avenue in White Plains, resulting in lane closures on both roads.

Please consider alternative routes during this time period.

Respectfully,Chris McNerney
Chris T. McNerney
Chief of Police
Town of Greenburgh Police Department

Saturday, March 31, 2018