Sunday, October 8, 2017

Predictable Incompetence

Predictably, Mr Feiner and his Board voted unanimously to adopt their ill-conceived zoning district change. This move, again predictably, promises to embroil the Unincorporated Greenburgh taxpayers in yet another discrimination lawsuit. The new zoning amendment creates what will be known as a M-SH62 district. Simply, this represents what will be know as Multifamily Senior Housing for 62 year old people and over. Commissioner Garrett Duquesne claims this will create much needed new senior housing.

The zoning change is being made for a specific intent, affecting specifically, the housing structures located at 48, 50, 54, 56 and 58 Manhattan Avenue. This housing is currently considered part of a low-income scatter-site housing complex that is next to the Theodore Young Community Center. Many people who spoke at the Town Board meeting endorsed scatter-site housing as well as low-income housing. Many also endorsed the rebuilding effort as neglect and a lack of maintenance, a hallmark of the Feiner Administration for over 24-years, have cited the need for improvement.

During the Town Board meeting, one younger woman who stated she lives in one of the apartments, begrudgingly got up to speak after she and her neighbors did not receive an accurate account as to what was happening with the project or exactly what was going to happen to their place of residence? Then she stressed while she had concern for her neighbors, she wants to know how she, specifically, would be affected. Again, different answers abounded with Town Attorney Tim Lewis seemingly having the final, although apparently not correct, word in the matter.

During the meeting, Mr Feiner requested Raju Abraham, Executive Director of the Greenburgh Housing Authority, to come to the podium and clarify a few points. Yes, 4 families will be moved out as they won't qualify to be a resident there under the new zoning code. He also acknowledged that the tenants will be moved to a newly renovated apartment with new appliances in a different Greenburgh Housing Authority facility in another part of Town. This sounds like they are being bribed to just shut up and go along with their eviction. He also stated they could move anywhere in the Country as they are Section 8 voucher recipients and they can use the voucher anywhere. Section 8 requires a tenant to spend 30% of their income towards rent. Simply, this is nothing more than subsidized housing.

Commissioner Duquesne has stated the plan is to demolish the currently occupied five buildings and ultimately relocate four of the five families as they are under 62 years of age. Clearly, this is another form of discrimination once this bill was voted through! So much so, in fact that several speakers (of the G10) reiterated the point several times during both comment periods and the hearing itself. Ignoring the advice of attorneys and other well-regarded residents, the Town Board went along with the flawed bill and adopted it anyway, virtually ensuring a lawsuit for $25 million. 

What does this mean? Several things. 

First, this new spot-zoning change is more of the same throughout the Town. We’ve been witnessing spot-zoning by Mr Feiner and his Board with wanton regularity. They've done it with Westhab in Fulton Park, Brightview in Glenview, Shelbourne in Edgemont and so many more locations. Virtually every neighborhood, except Mr Feiner’s gated community of Boulder Ridge, has felt the spot-zoning wrath of Mr Feiner and crew. So, with this new zoning code change specifying by law an age restriction, the Unincorporated Town should expect to be in court again.

Second, is the illegality of creating a law that restricts people of a certain age from being able to move into a neighborhood. In fact, replace “62-year olds” with any other group and see if you can more easily understand why this is wrong on so many levels. Had the Town left out the “age of 62 and older” from the bill now passed into law, and left the onus on the Greenburgh Housing Authority or the group the Town is contracting these apartments with to build, we would not have to worry about going to court for another discrimination lawsuit. In fact, zoning guru Ella Preiser suggested at numerous times that the bill could easily be changed and the liability eliminated. Instead, Councilman Jones took to the bully pulpit to berate and rudely shout down Ms Preiser. Shortly thereafter, Town Councilman Sheehan would jump on the bully pulpit and attack Ms Preiser as well when she got up to speak again. 

Immediately before the rudeness by Mr Jones, Bob Bernstein explained in great detail why the change in this proposal could easily be corrected, but must be done before its adoption. He further explained why this will wind up in court and expose the Unincorporated Town taxpayers to a $26 million dollar discrimination lawsuit. An interesting aside witnessed here again was several audience members, new to the sham known as open government , were actually engaged in a back and forth discussion by the Board members. These same Board members usually refuse to discuss anything with their critics and detractors. And, as we witnessed this night, chose to be rude to regular attendees instead.

There’s already a lawsuit against the Town from S&R (Steven and Richard Troy) Development, who changed their original proposal from luxury houses (2 or 3 McMansions) to an affordable housing proposal on Dromore Road in Edgemont. In an effort to halt the Town from going deeper into the discrimination hole the Board was digging for themselves, Mr Bernstein suggested Mr Feiner and his Town Board hold off passing the “neg dec” for another project after Mr Bernstein warned them not to, as their motion to dismiss the discrimination lawsuit by Dromore Developer's S&R, would be going in front of Judge Cathy Seibel, who cited when reading her decision not to dismiss it, that the Town, Mr Feiner and Board had already been found guilty of discrimination, destroying evidence and lying under oath in the Fortress Bible law suit.

Since the motion to dismiss the S&R lawsuit against the Town was, ahem, dismissed, and the lawsuit moving forward, the Town should tread carefully when they make such decisions as to zoning with the intent to limit who can and cannot move into a specific area of the Town. While decisions like these are terrible for the Town financially, they're embarrassing to the taxpayers who support developing various types of housing throughout the Town. It's also completely understandable why Edgemont residents are actively pursuing incorporation. Who would want to be part of this circus at Hillside Avenue? The numbers are growing. At least the villages are insulated from a good part of this. It has to end. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sunday, September 17, 2017

More Flooding = Lack of Preparedness = Leaf Blower Regulations

Houston’s drinking water system is being stressed by overflowing water reservoirs and dams, breached levees and possible problems at treatment plants and in their water distribution system. Failure of drinking water systems could lead to real water shortages. Raw sewage, dead bodies (human and animal) in the water and release of dangerous chemicals into the floodwaters could lead to the spread of disease through contact with contaminated water and to infection through open wounds. Most flood and swift-water first responders, such as our County’s all-volunteer Technical Rescue Swift Water rescue technicians, all wear dry suits to protect themselves from these types of contaminants in the unknown waters they will be in to perform rescues, searches and other related tasks.

Houston has at least a dozen sites that have been designated environmentally hazardous and at risk of petrochemical contamination. Indeed, companies have reported that pollutants from refineries have already been released. As if those are not bad enough, the “unprecedented” amount of water leads to the perfect breeding opportunities for mosquitoes, which bring us Zika and many other infectious diseases. Hurricane Harvey has already led to deaths by drownings and the destruction of many homes and businesses. Most in Texas, specifically in the Houston area were caught in a false sense of safety as the experts had indicated they were not in harms way.

Flood impacts can hit hardest on the most vulnerable and exposed people, especially low income and ignored neighborhoods, the elderly and frankly, already known flood-prone areas, such as the Bronx River and Saw Mill River corridors. And yet, after several years of relative calm when action could have been taken, the politicians did nothing and moved on to more critical issues. Specifically, in our Town, the major concern between lawsuits and guilty verdicts against our Supervisor has been over leaf blower noise. While an inconvenience to some, nobody has ever lost their possessions or been forced from their homes because someone was using a leaf blower!

In fact, Mr Feiner asked his Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) to review and report back to him about regulating leaf blower usage. And, the CAC issued no less than four reports to the Town Board, and recommended that the Town Board regulate the periods of use of blowers in the residential areas of Unincorporated Greenburgh for part of the year – from May 1 - September 30. Interestingly, the Town stopped using the vacuum truck to pick up leaves during the fall because they did not know when the leaves would fall. Huh? So, how can they now know that September 30th is the correct date to go by for this proposed bill?

The Edgemont Association sought this legislation, along with the 50 or so Edgemont, Cotswald and Hartsdale residents, and even passed a resolution in support of the CAC findings. They also agreed with the exemptions that practically negate the bill, should it become law, and only restrict residents from leaf blower usage. We quote here from Section XXX-4.  Exemptions, about who will be exempted from this:
B. The restriction provided by Section 3 shall not apply to: (1) commercial properties, (2) privately-owned golf courses, (3) properties owned by a religious institution, and (4) properties owned by the town. Perhaps the only valuable portion of this bill comes down to the permissible hours of use: “...after 9 am and before 2 pm on weekdays and after 12 noon and before 5 pm on weekends and holidays.” Our non-legal interpretation is that homeowners’ landscapers or maybe even neighbors helping each other with their leaves are restricted unless they purchase a new electric blower and all businesses are not. Ironic that most businesses utilize landscaping companies and some of the complaints leading up to this request for legislation have been from those adjacent to golf courses, which are exempt. 

Whether every community has similar issues or not, does not diminish the merit of their concerns. However, if less affluent neighborhoods do not utilize these landscaping services as do these other communities, is this necessary for the entire Town or just a few neighborhoods? Likewise, these non-flood zone area residents might make a similar argument about the Town's resources being committed to the flood corridors. Regardless, no Town monies have been expended toward either effort.

In reading the proposal for a leaf blower bill, it almost seems to make the case for having a law based of flimsy reasoning. We quote in italics: 

     The basis for the CAC's recommendation were the adverse environmental and public health effects of blowers, principally the degradation of soils and the involuntary exposure of residents to air-borne particulate pollution. Soils are the foundation of plant life.The hurricane level wind forces generated by blowers, regardless of how powered, disrupts soils and soil regeneration. Moreover, those wind forces also involuntarily expose residents to filthy particular matter thrown into the air, some of which are toxic. Children, the elderly and residents exercising or walking outdoors are particularly at risk.  

As incredulous as the above statement is to believe, it seems like nothing more than the CAC trying to give Mr Feiner the cause celeb that he asked for proving (however weak) that another law is needed. He’s even said the Town is in need of a new law since it only has a noise ordinance pertaining to gas leaf blowers which is hard to enforce. We fail to see any enforcement improvements, only additional limitations on homeowners. In fact, placing the dates of use as well as time restrictions in the new law, won't offer any more enforcement opportunities unless Mr Feiner plans to have a cadre of interns patrolling landscaper-friendly neighborhoods on Segways to alert the police of an infraction.

A disaster involving a hurricane cannot happen unless people, infrastructure and communities are vulnerable to it. People become vulnerable if they end up being ignored by their political representatives. Where is the committee that was formed to address flooding by County Legislator Williams, or co-chairman Victor Carosi and most importantly, Mr Feiner and his Town Board? Now that it's hurricane season, we should be more concerned about flooding, toxic waste in the flood waters and the health effect it all has on our neighborhoods than leaf blower noise. 

And, what about the deadly leaf blower problem? Kill the suggested bill and go back to the table to develop a Town law that gives the affected communities the ability to regulate when and how loud a leaf blower, whether gas or electric, can be used. Wait a minute..., isn't that why Edgemont is trying to incorporate? The issues are clear, as are the motives from the corner office. It has to stop. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Remembering Those Lost on September 11, 2001





















Many were lost during the attacks against us on September 11, 2001. Many continue to suffer. Let us never forget those lost, those injured and those continuing to need our prayers and help.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Labor Day

























This call to action was not published in a periodical, but rather distributed as a single-sheet broadside in and around Lowell, Massachusetts, during a strike in 1834. The factory workers were reacting to an unprecedented wage decrease of roughly 15 percent across the board. The goal was to have beleaguered workers sign a petition and essentially unionize on the spot and then to strike until the three resolutions on this page were met by the mill owners.

Labor Day is more than just an excuse to BBQ. It is a day to honor labor and to remember that our rights as workers were won by those who came before us.

Happy Labor Day 2017!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Believability

Is believability for a politician necessary to govern successfully? We think it should be. That’s why we were a bit dismayed when our local daily paper had an article about “Tackling The Flood.” It went on to discuss the efforts of three communities, Scarsdale, Eastchester and New Rochelle, and how they’ve begun to execute a plan to alleviate flooding along the Hutchinson River in their respective communities. Each signed an agreement, entitled the Hutchinson River Flood Mitigation Project, to try to do something about flooding in their communities. Will they accomplish their goal? We’re not sure, but we believe they will try. Welcome to hurricane season.

The same issue has been brought up at countless meetings for the town of Greenburgh, by different people as well as different organizations. Sadly, with all of the talk about flooding in Greenburgh, nothing has ever been done nor changed to improve the situation during 24-years of the Feiner administration. Taxpayers, both commercial and residential, continue to get flooded. The continued flooding actively forces people to seek higher ground, ultimately with the driest solution being to move out of our town. After all, if Mr. Feiner continues to do nothing but provide lip service what other recourse is there?

Several years ago Mr. Feiner asked to create a task force to address flooding. A task force was formed. Greenburgh Commissioner Victor Carosi and the White Plains Public Works Commissioner were named co-chairs for this committee. County Legislator Alfreda Williams, is also on this commission. There may be several other people on this task force that are also of no consequence and contribute nothing to the flooding problem still being experienced by residents and businesses. Why have they not done anything after having an initial meeting, offering no subsequent plan for relief for these beleaguered taxpayers? And, now it’s hurricane season again with no solutions.

It’s easier to talk about flooding than it is to do something about it, such as coming up with a plan of attack similar to what we see with this Hutchinson River flood mitigation project. The dormant task force has not met in over two years since they were founded. We’re sure if they had they would have said there is no money or there are too many boundaries to try work with to clean the river spaces out, or to dredge them, or to somehow open them up to get a better flow of water. It’s easier to talk about it, to listen to us complain about it, than it is to fix it. After all, these elected officials and subsequent appointed officials know they will be reelected, typically without any opposition, and will reappoint their favorites once again. Losing a couple of hundred collective votes is nothing for Mr Feiner when he receives 7,000 votes running unopposed!

Whenever there is media focus either on a politician visiting the scene of a flood, or the media interviewing the flooded residents, the politicians all say that something must be done and then they point fingers at other politicians either uninvolved, not from the area, or are totally inappropriate for the problem at hand. Previously, Mr. Feiner has passed the buck to County legislators, State legislators or FEMA and the federal government. In fact he told one resident from Old Kensico Road that he would reach out to FEMA on their behalf to see about purchasing their flooded property. He knew that was a lie because the municipality must first perform a number of steps before FEMA will even entertain involvement. It made for great TV sound bytes but little else. Finally, after receiving no help for assistance of any kind from Mr. Feiner, specifically the Town, the County, State, or Federal government, especially FEMA, those same residents sold their house at a loss and moved to another area!

Mr. Feiner went to great lengths to appear on News 12 to bemoan the lack of action by other politicians for his valued constituents. These so-called valued constituents quickly realized that they were mere pawns in Mr. Feiner’s attempt to gain more publicity for himself. While he was successful in beating the drum getting publicity for himself, he threw a small portion of his constituency, literally, down the river along with many of their prized, ruined or irreplaceable possessions. Now that hurricane season is upon us the proverbial barn door has already been closed as the flooding begins once again. With all the development that has taken place in the region there are only two outlets for rainwater to go. The first on the west side of Greenburgh is the Saw Mill River. The second is on the east side of Greenburgh and that is the Bronx River. After the flooding caused by hurricane and tropical storm Irene, the Village of Elmsford mounted a campaign to clean out the Saw Mill River after a resident videotaped the debris blocking the waters flow causing some of the flooding in the area. Mr Feiner jumped on that bandwagon and received all kinds of publicity, but actually did nothing while the flooding continues.

During all the hype that Mr. Feiner and others utilized for their advantage, they ignored the Bronx River corridor and the residents that live near it. They too were severely flooded during Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Sandy. At no point beyond the TV cameras did Mr. Feiner or other politicians offer to do anything to remediate the problems in the Bronx River corridor and the flow of water, especially during even minor storms. Mr. Feiner remains dry and aloof in his gated community in Boulder Ridge. Other politicians also remain dry during storms and bad weather. The role of government is to protect its people – all of its people! That hasn’t happened for those that live along the two corridors that parallel the only two rivers out of the Town and County. Both the Bronx River and the Saw Mill River need attention and residents need relief!

Every community that has the river passing through it needs to take ownership and responsibility for keeping the river clear. 
Individuals must participate as well. One simple thing individuals can do is simply don’t litter – it clogs our storm drains and ultimately our rivers. By collectively doing this it will help to allow the flow of water to better reach the sound shore waterways and other outlets and not back up into our neighborhoods, homes, and businesses.  By investing in our infrastructure and maintaining all of our wetland areas, we will be helping everyone enjoy a better quality of living in our towns and villages. This needs to happen sooner rather than later so we can have A Better Greenburgh.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sprain Brook Repairs To Kick Off Back To School

Preliminary work on the Sprain Brook Parkway in preparation for the traffic shift and the bridge work will begin as of August. This is according to Paul Tirums of the NYS DOT. The work will be performed at night on the Sprain Brook Parkway to repair the section of the Sprain Brook bridge that failed last year. Emergency repairs had been made to keep the Sprain Brook parkway open as well as Payne Street below it. The DOT repairs will utilize temporary lane closures during the repair period.

On August 21, a traffic shift will begin on the Sprain onto the northbound bridge reducing the number of lanes in each direction from three to two according to Mr Tirums. The traffic shift and lane reduction is anticipated to last 90 days and could be completed by November 20th. During the lane shift, significant traffic delays are anticipated and motorists are advised to seek alternate routes, avoid travel at peak hours when possible, and consider alternate transit options. Additional, temporary lane closures on the Parkway at this location are expected to occur before the full lane reduction is planned to go into effect.

Drivers are asked to use caution when traveling through the work zone area and pay particular attention to all traffic control devices, including signs and flaggers.

Payne Street between Bryant Avenue and South Montgomery Avenue will be closed for about 180 days. Due to these closures, we believe there could be residual traffic delays on Routes 9A,119, Knollwood and Grasslands Road.

Spring 2018 may include the completion of some items of work both along Payne Street and the Sprain Brook Parkway and is likely to include final asphalt paving, concrete sidewalks, street lighting, northbound bridge deck overlay, topsoil and seeding and any other miscellaneous items of work that could not be completed in 2017.