Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cardinal Edward Egan Passes

Former archbishop of New York, Cardinal Edward Egan passed away today of a cardiac arrest shortly after having lunch. A spokes person for the Archdiocese said Cardinal Egan had displayed no indications that he wasn’t feeling well. He had survived polio as a child, which affected his health as an adult, and he also used a pacemaker. He was 82 years old.

In 2000, Egan was chosen by Pope John Paul II for the difficult job of succeeding larger-than-life Cardinal John O'Connor, who was a major figure not only in the city, but in the country. From him, Egan inherited an annual deficit of about $20 million. Egan was forced to make tough decisions to cut spending — including laying off staff — and said he wiped out the shortfall within two years.

On Sept. 11, then Mayor Giuliani called Egan for help, and the cardinal spent the day anointing the dead, distributing rosaries to workers as they searched, mostly in vain, for survivors. Egan later presided over funerals for the victims, sometimes three a day. He retired in 2009.

“I am saddened to tell you that our beloved Cardinal Edward Egan, the Archbishop of New York from 2000-2009, has gone home to the Lord,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in a statement. Egan died after lunch, “with the prayers and sacraments of his loyal priest secretary, Father Douglas Crawford, in his residence at the Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.”

Dolan thanked “God for his life, especially his generous and faithful priesthood.”

Monday, March 2, 2015

Government Should Remain Neutral

A short time ago, Mr Feiner did his routine email blast with the coveted GBList. We'll reiterate he is violating daily yet another court's guilty penalty and order by refusing to turn the list over to the resident who had requested it. She was refused, appealed, refused a second time, sued and won in court for access to it. This is significant mostly because Mr Feiner has always been content to violate the laws he doesn't like without consequence as well as the trust of Town residents. However, Mr Feiner wholeheartedly endorses his developer friends’ projects du jour, usually at an extreme cost to neighborhoods throughout the Town. Now, however the other shoe appears to be on his foot.

We were originally going to write about how Mr Feiner has again mounted a campaign blitz on behalf of his friends from GameOn 365 and their most recent push to build a mega-sports complex on Dobbs Ferry Road. You'll recall they tried to proceed with acquiring the property with an illegal lease scheme concocted and championed by Mr Feiner. Then he tried to gift the property to them at a significantly undervalued price with obscenely minimal payments over 13 years. When another area resident and business owner offered to purchase the property for double the amount at $3.5 million in cash and pay for all site contaminated remediation, Mr Feiner refused to entertain their offer claiming it was not a serious one. What he should have done was publicize all the facts about the property, interested parties and their offers. Clearly, the Town could have held the upper hand while being open and transparent. But once Mr Feiner began the closed door, back room meetings, that ship sailed and sank. Or did it?

Now, many years later, the property remains vacant and still contaminated because the Town Board has kowtowed to Mr Feiner's wishes to finagle a way to gift the property to GameOn 365. Both Mr Feiner and his Town Board have not done the right thing with this (now-reverted) residential property! While Mr Feiner should have the taxpayers best interests at heart, he's more interested in helping his friends. Apparently the City of Yonkers isn't the only municipality with a Friends and Family Plan for developers.

Regardless of Mr Feiner and the Town Board's illogical, perhaps immoral, if not illegal, actions with the former Frank's Nursery property on Dobbs Ferry Road, this article is about to shift gears and focus on the over-development of our Unincorporated Town property. We have bemoaned the fact that every sliver of space in Unincorporated Greenburgh is being gobbled up by developers who then approach the Administration and tout the benefits of mega-construction on the land.True to form, Mr Feiner instructs his Board how to vote and the developer's presentation sails through and before you can say, "Wait just a second," the Town Board declares themselves the lead agency and the deal is done.

Here's a few such examples to what we are referring. First, we'll go with Brightview Assisted Living Center. Mr Feiner touted the availability and need for Greenburgh residents to have a place they could spend their remaining years. What was uncovered and at first denied by Mr Feiner was that someone without assets and on Medicaid would not be allowed to move in. In typical Feiner-form, he finally acquiesced, admitting he was still in favor of it, apparently the poorer Medicaid recipient-residents be damned. This mammoth structure looming over Rt 119 is adding to the infrastructure burden and not contributing any relief to the residents. At least the developers are making out well.

Second, he is entertaining a proposal on a triangular strip of land between the Sprain Brook Parkway off of Payne Street for a 96 room assisted living facility. Access and egress will happen through one of the side streets off of Payne Street. The increase in traffic through a residential neighborhood, we're sure, will be proposed as either negligible or non-existent as these are retired, non-driving occupants. Whatever the developer wants is probably what the traffic study will say. Interestingly, all of these projects are green-lighted (pun intended) regardless of what the traffic study says. This will increase traffic and further burden the infrastructure.

Third, was the Westhab project in Fulton Park, proposed as a 7-story apartment building and finally constructed as a three story gulag-style building that is an eyesore to the neighborhood, Rt 119 and will ultimately become a Section 8 housing facility. Throughout all of the disingenuous posturing from the Town Board, residents were continually told that no decision had been made by the Town Board and they could still say no to the project. What they conveniently left out was that no open decision was made, nor was it made public. The deal was done with the neighborhood, the infrastructure and traffic to the area be damned.

Fourth, there are several plans to build apartments without parking on Central Avenue since Mr Feiner and his Board forced a new tax onto service stations, forcing them to close (opposite Scarsdale Ford). There's also Dromore Road off of Central Avenue. The pièce de résistance is the mega-development that's been presented in North Elmsford's Eastview area. Over 100 acres have been green-lighted by Mr Feiner and his Board to build more of the same. Mr Feiner has never met a developer whose plans he didn't endorse. The over-sized development there is another added burden to our infrastructure as well increasing traffic. The attitude at Town hall is that traffic is already congested so a little more won't matter.

The latest debacle to be proposed is in Ardsley at what was the old Akzo Nobel Chemical site that was in the area of 9A and the Saw Mill River Parkway. STOP! Mr Feiner says its not a good location. He says the developers should reconsider building there because it will, ahem, tax the infrastructure. All developers in the area know that there is no project that Mr Feiner won't give a thumbs-up to as long as his precious gated community is left alone. Infrastructure be damned! Could it be the carcinogens left on the site that might poison staff and residents? No. What's good for the goose, perhaps? No. Too much traffic? No. Overburdening the schools? No, not even close. Then what could possibly cause Mr Feiner to be against another development?

Votes. That's right. Mr Feiner is afraid to upset the Villages of Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry and Hastings. He will lose beau coup votes from the otherwise solid stalwarts at election time. How can we tell? It's simple really, but an even more obvious example is the cleaning out of the Saw Mill River after the massive flooding that we believe was, in part, caused by all the over-development approved by Mr Feiner and his Town Board. He rallied alongside Elmsford's Babbitt Court residents, Ardsley and the other river towns in Greenburgh. More importantly however, is that he did absolutely nothing about helping the Greenburgh residents along the Bronx River corridor. Why? They cannot bring enough votes against him in an election so he knows he can ignore them - and he and his Town Board does just that.

ABG believes the site for this newly proposed multi-family metropolis is a viable one in a location that will not intrude on any residential neighborhoods. And, lo and behold, there is an extremely successful sports complex nearby for the families to use. We understand they might be looking to expand and this could be just the venue to help them along. We accept that Mr Feiner routinely lies to the constituency, the courts and God knows who else. And, it was during his 22-year tenure that the infrastructure was neglected. Hardly a valid argument for him to make now. But we needn't accept this bad behavior from our government leaders. Politicians should remain neutral with developers and their projects and not advertise on behalf of them. They should also invest in its infrastructure, not use its failings as an excuse. It's time for a change. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Passing of John T. Bock; Musician, Husband and Father

John T. Bock, 84, of Elmsford, NY. died February 21, 2015, at Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, NY. He was born to John and Anna (Mazur) Bock, April 11, 1930 in Mount Vernon, NY. John was a renowned Musician, Percussionist, Teacher, Author, Inventor and NYS Adjudicator. He was one of the founding musicians of the Westchester Band that still performs each summer in Scarsdale.

Before he was drafted, he married Theresa. When he was old enough to be drafted into the service, it was his mother, who worked at the Draft Board, who actually did his induction. Talk about a tough Mom. While in the Army, which he hated, he was trained as a Boiler Fireman, an unknown fact to most of us. In time, he was able to be transferred into a band unit. He used to tell stories of being overseas and how the people who hated having the Army there would throw things at them while they performed for Americans and service personnel. He said he was lucky that he was able to hide behind his big bass drum. He also recounted being in the service with Stan Getz, who always wanted to play with the band but they would tell him to leave them alone and go practice.

When he was discharged he continued to live in Mt Vernon until they bought the house on Hillview Place in Elmsford. He continued working in Brooklyn every weekend for several years in a mob-owned restaurant/bar called Monte’s. When pressured to become the house band, they knew that would be a dangerous mistake; so he and his band-mate friends, Tom Cioppa and “Riff” Nardone, declined saying it was too far to travel daily and began performing locally. He quickly became busy performing in the tri-state area and teaching privately. He was often called on short notice to fill in and play at shows because of his ability to sight-read and perform complicated scores. He was a regular drummer for the Hanneford Circus for many years while they toured in this area, performing at the Westchester County Center.

He often played with many performers who became his friends. Two such area friends were Cab Calloway who always wanted him to tour with his band, and Milt Williams whose company he looked forward to at the NYSFSTA dinners. Having started as a teenage drummer during the vaudeville days, he grew up working with other artists such as Paul Winchell, Lorne Greene, Buddy Hackett, Morey Amsterdam and others. He had many students who later went on to work with such notable performers as Buddy Rich, Diana Ross, The Jackson 5 and Walter Murphy.

He is survived by his wife Theresa (Shevetone) Bock of Elmsford, NY two sons Thomas (Susan) Bock of White Plains, NY and Robert (Deborah) Bock of Mahopac, NY. Three Grandchildren Christine (Brian) Rafferty, Michelle (Zac) Campione, and Cameron Bock. One sister Mary Ann Balze of Maryland. Reposing Monday 3 PM - 8 PM Hawthorne Funeral Home where services will be held Tuesday 10 AM. Interment Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, NY.

Hawthorne Funeral Home
21 West Stevens Avenue
Hawthorne, New York 10532

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Award Made in Fairview Discrimination Lawsuit

Several years ago, David Hecht, 46, a Fairview Volunteer Firefighter, took the Westchester County fire test to try to become a paid firefighter, hopefully with the Fairview Fire Department. Hecht, an Elmsford resident, claimed he lived in the Town of Greenburgh proper and was not an Elmsford resident. Compounding his residency issue, which can only be verified by the District upon an offer from the Fire District, he also claimed he had been discriminated against due to his age. He subsequently filed a Federal age discrimination lawsuit against the Fire District. 

His lawsuit asserted that he had been discriminated against by then Fairview Fire Chief Anthony LoGiudice, who has since retired due to health reasons contracted working at Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. LoGiudice may have had input in the process as Chief but was not the decision maker as to which candidate would be offered a firefighter position. The Board of Fire Commissioners determine who to hire or not hire.

ABG was told earlier that during the interview process, Hecht impressed many on the Board as not being a team player. While this may or may not be a reason to disqualify a person for the position, firefighting finds the need for firefighters to be forced to rely on their colleagues in life-threatening situations and is a consideration of note. And, given there were other applicants to choose from, the decision was made to offer the position to another firefighter. 

It was also disclosed that to hire a younger firefighter over Hecht would offer the Fire District long term benefits of a younger person with fewer physical issues during the main portion of their career. No doubt, firefighting is better suited for a younger person. Also, Hecht’s lawsuit came just before he would be considered too old to be hired. Some say this was his last grandstanding play to get hired.

As to the discrimination lawsuit and settlement of $250,000 to Hecht, he claims he will continue to volunteer with the department. At this point, no one from the Fairview Fire District was available to comment on their decision to settle. While Hecht believes this to be a fair settlement, his goal of becoming a paid firefighter seems to have gone up in smoke. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Don’t Worry, I Promised

Trying to get a jump on the GameOn 365’s latest application to the Town, Mr Feiner has once again tried to move the process along by emailing thousands of residents via his cherished GBList. This is the same list which he and the Town have been court-ordered to turn over to a resident, whose repeatedly denied FOIL-ed application forced her into court. Subsequently, the court found in her favor. Transparency? Open government? Honesty in government? You decide.

According to Mr Feiner’s email, “Game On has filed a petition to amend the zoning code to initiate a review of a proposal to build an indoor and outdoor privately owned recreation facility on parts of the Golf Range property.” He continues, “Currently, the property is not zoned to allow recreational uses. The project would include an indoor space housed in a permanent structure covering about 107,630 square feet of the approximately 32 acre property. The remaining land would be preserved as open space and used for recreation fields and related uses. The driving range would stay open.”

While the presentation sounds innocuous enough, which is always accompanied by soft pastel drawings and paintings. He discusses how this offering is different from the previous “sports bubble” that had been proposed. He continues by saying, “Members of the Town Board and I have not made any decisions on whether to approve or reject the petition.” We hardly believe this to be the truth. We read a post by a resident on another site and have chosen to include it here as it succinctly sums up Mr Feiner’s position with GameOn 365:
Here's the quote from PF: "Members of the Town Board and I have not made any decisions on whether to approve or reject the petition," Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner said." This is an outright lie. He was in favor of it when he tried to illegally lease the property to them, then sell it to them at an undervalued price, the put it on the ballot as a proposition, then refuse to entertain the House of Sports offer for double the amount plus remediation, then skew the contamination study to move the process along for GO365, and finally to have an "auction" until the auctioneer said no one would bid for contaminated land and finally, when TL said remediation costs would be no more than $100k. They have been doing everything they could to give this land to GO365. Try writing the real story!”

What is most disturbing throughout all of this is the lack of respect Mr Feiner has shown to the residents of the area. Numerous Civic Associations, individual residents, families and leaders have objected to all of the GameOn 365 proposals. Mr Feiner has routinely tried to change the position offering to broker meetings and meet individually with residents. His “divide and conquer” methodology has been a proven winner for him. The residents continue to say they only want residential housing built on the property, not commercial.

Once the former Frank’s Nursery property was acquired by the Town, Mr Feiner and his Board sat on their hands and frequently ignored the contamination within it. When the police department, the courts and the library all were suggested as tenants of the property, the severe contamination of the site prohibited it. During the GameOn 365 debacle created and fostered by Mr Feiner and his Board’s incompetence. Elm Street Sports, Inc., of Ardsley, offered twice the money for the land, plus total remediation for the property. Mr Feiner said, “No! Theirs was not a serious offer.” One of the owners said at a Town Board meeting he was always serious when discussing money.

Now that GameOn 365 has come back with a reworked proposal, albeit a moderately changed one, they’ve decided instead of an 83-foot tall Sports Bubble to build a warehouse-sized building on the east border of Golf Driving Range property line, closest to the Frank’s Nursery property. In effect, they too are thumbing their noses at the residents by moving it even closer to the existing residential housing. We know from our various meetings with Town Civic Associations that this is still unacceptable. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if Mr Feiner orchestrated this latest scheme to invade the neighborhood.

The Town Board sits impotent, afraid to upset their elective apple carts as Mr Feiner controls their destiny. Ultimately, and unfortunately, we believe that since Mr Feiner wants GameOn 365 to succeed, and he always gets his way, he will help them get their approval. He’s content to remove more of our green space while adding to Greenburgh’s Corporate Park environment. After all, we believe he promised it to GameOn 365. This has to stop. The electorate keeps voting him into office and its time for a change. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Sidewalk To Nowhere Finally Makes Sense

We posted an article on July 8, 2011 Paul Feiner: Three Card Monty – The Deception Continues - Part 2 about a sidewalk to nowhere being built by the Stop and Shop Supermarket developer on Rt 119 in the Glenville section of Town. You may not be aware of this, but Town law requires that all new commercial construction include a new sidewalk be built by the developer (in this case Robert Martin) in front of their property. In some cases, these are simply sidewalks to nowhere that the developer installs because it’s required, not because it makes sense. Case in point? There are many, however, the new mega-housing being built on Westchester View Lane off of Dobbs Ferry Road has a brand new sidewalk that fills the length of the property line and meets up with, well, nothing on each side.

Stop and Shop is located in what is now known as the Premier Plaza, in Glenville on the south side of Rt. 119. The Premier Plaza is an obvious reference to the location, which was where the old Premier Theatre had been located. Robert F. Weinberg, president of Robert Martin Company, espoused the site’s location as, “The center will sit near hotels, offices, and homes and is “the beginning of a new era of thinking” about mixing property uses. It’s starting to recognize that you can put several uses together, and you can reduce traffic,” he said. “You have to think about how can we improve our way of life without using more energy.” The use of buzzwords, such as consolidation, less energy, mixed usage, reduce traffic, new era of thinking, masks the future intent of the corridor. It also preps the public into being more acceptable to changing zoning under the guise of having mixed use as a good thing. It’s not.

The town originally approved site plans in 1983 for two office buildings, but granted a special permit for retail use in 2009. A second phase of the original Stop and Shop project is currently underway as can be witnessed with new construction taking place between the Stop and Shop and Rt. 119.

In 2009 we exposed a plan being worked on by the Westchester County Government and supported by Supervisor Feiner and his Board to build just over 1,000 units of residential apartment buildings (12) in the unincorporated section of Greenburgh along Rt 119 from the Marriot Hotel all the way to Rt 9 in Tarrytown. To do this, they proposed utilizing unused parking spaces in corporate building parking lots. This would require numerous zoning changes, which Supervisor Feiner has repeatedly proven he has no qualms doing for the right price. But what about the sidewalk to nowhere?

The Stop and Shop payoff, apparently brokered by the law firm DelBello, Donnellan, Weingarten, Wise & Wiederkehr, LLP, was to build a limited sidewalk near the Halston House apartments between Benedict Avenue and Rt 119. The cost in 2009 was about $238,000. ABG’s original post about this was on December 14, 2009, entitled “Sucking the Life Out of Route 119”. This sidewalk is across the street from the Stop and Shop location. Let that sink in. It’s across the street from Stop and Shop. We always wondered why they would build a sidewalk in a different location than on the property’s lot? Mr Feiner and the Town Board simply ignored the question and approved any application placed in front of them. Now it makes sense.

The Brightview Assisted Living facility project had not been exposed to the general public until, ahem, it was too late for the Glenville neighborhood. Obviously, Mr Feiner and the Town Board knew of their plans. Why else would they allow the developer across the street build a sidewalk someplace other than their property? Because this fits into Mr Feiner’s grand scheme to transform Rt. 119 before the Comprehensive Plan can be passed and put a halt to his wholesale over-developing of Rt. 119 and what’s left to the remaining open space in the Town.

Sidewalks to nowhere, over-development such as what is underway in north Greenburgh, failing infrastructures Town-wide, increased flooding without mitigation, added traffic congestion with no viable solution other than to suggest taking a bus, high-rise apartment buildings in lieu of parking spaces, discrimination lawsuit guilty verdicts, contractual violations with the County, blatant disregard for businesses, decreased Town services. The list is almost endless. Twenty-two years is simply too long to remain honest and effective. We see it now as we realize that yesterday’s actions are being done for tomorrow’s political moves. It has to end. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

We Stand Corrected

In our previous post from Thursday, January 22, 2015, entitled Town Looks Gift Horse In The Mouth, we erroneously sided with Town Clerk Judith Beville regarding her objecting to her office having discretion to approve or deny the issuance of licenses to Massage Parlor applicants. She asserted that there is a difference in this bill compared to the Town’s existing 1977 Cabaret Law. She stated that Cabaret license applicants were seeking an additional license for an existing business and the Massage Parlors were new businesses starting new. Ms Beville was (and remains) wrong with her stance. We had agreed with her assertion on its face value and have since found that her assumption is incorrect.

We mentioned in our article that the proposed Massage Parlor bill, crafted by Edgemont and other residents and submitted through the Edgemont Community Council to the Town Board, had taken portions from several other communities’ Massage Parlor Laws already addressing the Massage Parlor issue. It also addressed the Town Clerks Office’s approval or denial of an applicant’s license request. The portion of the law regarding the Town Clerks Office’s involvement in the licensing process is copied verbatim from the Town’s existing 1977 Cabaret Law. Regardless of what Ms Belville believes she will do or not, her actions are limited.

The history of the Cabaret Law was to give the Police Department a better ability to go after organized Crime which the Cabaret Law helped them do. All cabaret owners seeking a license had to fill out an application. The Police Chief, the Building Inspector and the Fire Marshall subsequently reviewed those applications. If they approved the application, the town clerk simply issues the license and the establishment would then have to obtain a special permit from the town board and proceed to a public hearing.

There have been allegations that brothels in Greenburgh are fronting as massage parlors. In fact, one resident even said if you see the word “spa” in the name, it’s probably a front for prostitution! Another allegation is that underage girls or sex slaves are being forced to work in them. Our police department’s investigatory work appears to substantiate this information with major raids conducted in 2013 and in 2010. But the police chief says that doing prostitution stings is very expensive and consumes resources of other law enforcement agencies, and even when the Town gets the help, the businesses reopen again shortly after, as if nothing had changed.

Some of the information required for a license is the disclosure of who actually owns the Massage Parlor/Company, a background check must be performed to ensure the applicant has not been convicted of a crime or have a criminal record. From the Building Department and Fire Marshall’s side of the application, the location must conform to all building code requirements and to all Fire Code requirements. Also objecting to the proposed bill was Town Attorney and Environmental Expert Tim Lewis. He deleted the portion where the Town Clerks Office issues the license and would have the Town Board issuing the license. So if there was a denial from one of the approvers, the Town Board will not issue the permit. The applicant would then be required to appeal to the Town Board. Appealing to the denying agency makes no sense as was pointed out by Town Zoning and Detail Expert Ella Preiser. Mr Lewis also favored a 120-day moratorium on Massage Parlors. If we don’t have any law about Massage Parlors, creating a moratorium to stop (or slow) them is not legal.

We are convinced that the proposed bill should be adopted once it receives minor changes, such as the Town Clerk shall issue the license pending approval or denial of the three actual approvers from the Town: the Police Chief, the Building Inspector and the Fire Marshall. If any of these three wish to deny the application, the Town Clerk shall simply not issue the license and state as much to the applicant. No discretion for or against the application shall be exercised by the Town Clerk’s Office. At the point of denial by any or all of the actual authorities having jurisdiction, an automatic appeal is mandated to the Town Board. Consequently, all discretion and responsibility, whether real or assumed, is removed from the Town Clerk and falls exactly where it belongs. This bill should be adopted unchanged. Only then will we begin see A Better Greenburgh.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Town Looks Gift Horse In The Mouth

Two issues of late, completely different from each other, are dogging the taxpayers yet again. This one is about a bill that was drafted by several residents to limit/prohibit/regulate Massage Parlors in the Town - specifically due to the proliferation of them in the Edgemont section and other areas of the Town. The second is about another study for the needed inspection of the former Frank's Nursery property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road (a future article).

About two years ago, an Edgemont resident attended an Edgemont Community Council (ECC) meeting and spoke of the proliferation of massage parlors and the "undesirable" clientele they attracted. We were there when one of the speakers said if the name had the word "spa" in it, they were probably conducting sexual acts beyond a simple massage.

Soon after this meeting, it was brought out into the open at a Town Board meeting. Since only good news can come from Town Hall, Mr Feiner tossed this hot potato to the Police Chief. Now, almost two or so years later with little action on the issue town-wide, the problem is once again in the forefront of the news. Other news media sources, mostly those content to regurgitate Mr Feiner's one-sided press releases unchallenged, have occasionally broached the subject whenever the police have made arrests. Perception being reality, a fine line that Mr Feiner understands how to exploit, had him doing the Feiner shuffle and trying to push the Town Board into enacting a temporary fix while a long-term solution could be had.

The Edgemont Community Council’s President, Robert Bernstein, North Elmsford resident and Zoning Expert Ella Preiser and several others worked together to craft a document to address the Town's burgeoning massage parlor growth. While government is nothing if not taxing and regulating (some say over-taxing & regulating) its residents, this bill was constructed in hopes of fostering tighter control over the creation of these shops. The bill that was offered to the Town with no cost received a chilly acceptance from all. At the last Town Board meeting, Mr Bernstein took to the microphone to bemoan the changes Town Environmental Expert and Attorney Tim Lewis had made to the bill. There were two sticking points: 1) that the Town Clerk is given discretion to approve or reject the licensing of massage parlors; and 2) the Town Attorney deleted the portion about the Town Clerk approval, taken word for word from the Town’s existing Cabaret Law.

ABG has mentioned often our desire for the Town Clerk to remain silent during Town Board meetings. However, she did make a valid point during the discussion of whether or not the Town Clerk should have the ability to deny the application. According to Mr Feiner, who typically shifts his position based on favorable crowd reaction, said he had a problem with the Town Clerk’s office having the ability to approve or reject a license application. As was explained by Ms Beville, the Cabaret Law and Massage Parlor licensing were very different. Her licensing approval or denying capability under the Cabaret Law is to allow an existing business an additional service, such as entertainment. Under the Massage Parlor bill proposal, the Town Clerk’s office would be in a position to grant a license to operate a new business. Surprisingly, we agree with the Town Clerk.

Further discussion between Mr Feiner and Mr Bernstein was periodically interrupted by Town Attorney Lewis. Finally, after hearing Mr Bernstein’s complaint of how he was not contacted at all while the Town Board altered the proposed bill, all parties agreed to try to change the bill that accommodates both sides. Regardless of the future collaboration on the Massage Parlor bill, Mr Feiner again insisted on introducing what they already posted to show they were taking action. Vociferous objections were made as it did not make sense to introduce a flawed bill when a corrected one could easily be had. The Town Board ignored the public’s input.

The Town Board has become increasingly reactionary with so many issues. They have become predictably wrong on the items that they do focus on, such as the Fortress Bible Church discrimination (taxpayer cost: $5.5M), termination of the WestHelp contract (taxpayer cost: $1.2M/yr), former Frank’s Nursery no-sale (taxpayer cost: $3.5M+remediation), Comprehensive Plan (taxpayer cost: unknown), tax certiorari adjustments (taxpayer cost: $100K to 1M/Town Board meeting). The list is almost endless. 

Its time for some new blood to start circulating in Town Hall. When residents are forced to write bills our legal department seems incapable of doing, its time for a change. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Elmsford Fire on North Goodwin Avenue

Top to bottom: View of fire scene
View of White Plains Avenue facing north

At approximately 10 PM last night, the Elmsford Fire Department was called out to a structure fire in at 88 North Goodwin Avenue just north of White Plains Avenue in Elmsford. Arriving fire crews witnessed flames coming through the roof. As hose lines were stretched from hydrants to the trucks for water supply, an aggressive interior attack of the fire was mounted by fire crews while a 10-75 was broadcast across the County from the Richard A. Flynn Fire Training Center’s 60 Control, the radio operations arm of that facility. Elmsford firefighters, battled not only the fire, but the cold weather and difficult conditions. They had the fire knocked down and the scene under control approximately 20 minutes after their arrival. No injuries were reported. Numerous fire departments assisted including Irvington, Tarrytown, Ardsley,Valhalla, Hawthorne, Fairview, and Hartsdale.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Scam Continues...

Once the inflated and oft-failed 2014 report from Mr Feiner was distributed (see our previous post), it was time for him to circulate his phony agenda for "improvement and change" for 2015. Year after year finds Mr Feiner regurgitating the same propaganda as part of his “good news only” campaign from Greenburgh Town Hall. The sad part is that a) it’s more of the same in the guise of campaigning; b) most of it will never come to fruition, giving him more opportunities to campaign; and c) it is not improving Greenburgh and d) we pay for it all in more ways than one. We remember when Mr Feiner would return some of his salary if he failed to fulfill his initiatives. That ship has long since sunk.

Here’s his “new” 2015 list. As is our policy, we have not edited Mr Feiner’s text, but have provided our commentary to his bold and numbered points are in italics below each:

The following is our Agenda for Improvement and Change 2015
1.    Complete environmental review of Frank’s Nursery which could ease concerns of potential purchasers.  
ABG: Residents requested the property have testing done to find out what contaminants were on the property. Playing games with semantics, a popular pasttime of Mr Feiner, he instructed a testing company to focus on a limited area of the site for testing, ignoring the rest of the property’s space that was used as a dump by the City of White Plains Urban Renewal. The debris from these old buildings classically used what we now know are carcinogenic materials such as asbestos, lead and more. Mr Feiner ignored everyone’s pleas to clean up the site before trying to do anything with it. ABG believes his ultimate goal is to gift the property to his friends and their “paper” company, GameOn 365.

2.    Schedule, hold auction and sell Frank’s Nursery.
ABG: The scheduling and auctioning of the property has been postponed numerous times by Mr Feiner while we believe he tried to finagle a way to gift the property to GameOn 365. Once the town hired GA Keen Realty Advisors as an auctioneer for the property, they informed the Town that without remediation per additional environmental reviews, potential purchasers would not bid on the property for the amounts being suggested. They mandated knowing how much environmental cleanup work and costs will be required before building on the property.  Sadly, the property could have been sold with full remediation performed by  House of Sports in Ardsley. It was Mr Feiner who said no to their offer of $3.5 million plus remediation.

3.    Obtain county approvals for rental of WestHELP complex and convert abandoned units into affordable senior citizen housing. 
ABG: It was Mr Feiner who decided the Town would break the lease with then County Executive Andrew Spano and now Rob Astorino. It was Mr Feiner who insisted on leaving the building open to be ravaged by pilfering, animals and mold and more to cause its intended decline and ultimately its condemnation. This was done to seek more votes from the Valhalla community. In the meantime, roughly 250 residents were awaiting housing through the Greenburgh Housing Authority that might have been halved had the property been converted as originally intended. This was and still is solely Mr Feiner and his Town Board’s fault. Currently, the County is working toward reclaiming the property.

4.    Schedule community outreach meetings and then a public hearing on Draft Comprehensive Plan after it is released. Adopt a Comprehensive Plan for the unincorporated area of the town.
ABG: There were numerous sessions held at Town Hall. Mr Feiner insisted the committee travel about the Town and have the discussions. One issue the committee had with this is the lack of ability to record the proceedings. Now that Mr Feiner’s “go to” guy, former Planning Commissioner Thomas Madden, has left, Mr Feiner appears bent on subverting the committee for his own means.

5.    Install new boiler at indoor pool at Theodore Young Community Center. 
ABG: For years Mr Feiner has been saying the Town will sue the vendor for repairs and/or replacement for both the TYCC and the Library. This year the Town has adopted the new slogan, "Why fix it when we can talk about it." That's what has transpired here. After too many years of inaction, this will become a capital expense for the taxpayers when it might have simply been a maintenance expense earlier on.
6.    Install supplemental boiler at Library. (Library closed several days over a year ago due to lack of heat.)  
ABG: One of the problems of the Town Board being the Lead Agency on any project is their lack of knowledge at so many levels and general disinterest in most projects. In fact, an ABG staffer overheard two different Board members on two different occasions say they still hadn't reviewed plans because they have too much to do. Yet, instead of abstaining from voting on the project in question, the Councilmen voted in favor of approval without having reviewed the plans! Finally, with regards to the library, it was Mr Feiner and his Board who moved the location of the geothermal heat pump system from its original location to the other side of the property. And, it was they who compromised it by only drilling down half of the required depth necessary for it to work. Without the proper depth, geothermal heat will not work. BTW, frozen sprinkler pipes just burst again in the children's section of the library.

7.    Expand one arm garbage sanitation truck to other neighborhoods.
ABG: They anticipate savings but refuse to provide any figures. This is one of Mr Feiner’s well-developed scams. Now he is saying they will expand this program even before any conclusive performance metrics can be provided to substantiate its value.
8.    Make traffic safety improvements in Ardsley and on Jackson Avenue using funds from a settlement regarding the Ridge Hill development.  
ABG: This money has existed for years and had it not been pushed by residents, ABG is convinced Mr Feiner would be content to continue to ignore this issue.

1.    Comply with tax cap when adopting 2016 budget and continue to look for new sources of revenue and efficiencies as well as new shared service opportunities.  (For residents to receive a check from the state, NYS is requiring communities to comply with the tax cap and initiate sharing/consolidation efficiencies.
ABG: Receive a check? Is that why Mr Feiner touts staying below the NYS Tax Cap? Hardly! This is nothing more than a campaign initiative by Mr Feiner to be able to brag about staying under the cap. What he should be saying, and what the mainstream media ignores is that he he raided $4 MILLION (a 40% decrease) from the Reserve Funds, putting us in jeopardy of defaulting on certiorari challenge refunds.

2.    Hire firm to conduct a comprehensive review of the Town of Greenburgh Department of Public Works.  (This is part of the Town’s ongoing initiative of having town departments examined by external reviewers.  We recently had an external review conducted of Town Court operations.)
ABG: First, having the review is fine except that the reviewers are impotent to make any changes. This responsibility falls back to, you guessed it, the Town Board. The problems in the Court still exist so the logical conclusion is a similar fate after the study is done. Mr Feiner hired a new Court Clerk from Port Chester to run the Town Court Department. She was there only briefly when Mr Feiner announced to the Town Board he needed to almost double her salary. ABG believes he told the Board to vote in favor of her salary increase or be “Sonya’d”. After increasing her salary as instructed the newly appointed and extremely well-paid Court Clerk bolted back to Port Chester, able to parlay her higher Greenburgh salary to a comparable one in Port Chester. Once gone, we learned she provided the Greenburgh Courts with little or no relief other than a higher Greenburgh Court Clerk salary for the next person and we still don't know how many tickets remain unpaid!

3.    Continue oversight of reassessment process and hold information meetings around town as needed.
ABG: This is another one of Mr Feiner's empty sound-byte campaign promise with no substance. Reassessment hasn’t been done since 1956. This should have been a priority when he took office in 1978 and every year since. Even the Town Assessor has stated publicly the reason the cost of reassessment is so high (over $3 million) is because it hasn’t been performed for so long.

4.    Apply for federal and/or state funds for sidewalk construction, especially near schools, to address pedestrian safety concerns.
ABG: Unfortunately, we've heard this promise every year and repeatedly at Town Board meetings as promises to various neighborhood groups begging for sidewalks and improved safety for pedestrians.
5.    Finalize plans and funding for Veterans Memorial at DeSanti Plaza, East Hartsdale Ave. Encourage parkland funds (non-tax dollars) be used to reduce costs.
ABG: Any outside funds can be applied for but has no guarantee of fulfillment. Consequently, we may never see a Veterans memorial. Another empty promise.

6.    Initiate mentoring program for architects/engineers in cooperation with Greenburgh Central School District.  
ABG: We want to encourage all students, not just engineering students, to find mentors and for all of our schools, not just Greenburgh Central 7. If we did that, even kids in Mr Feiner's neighborhood might get mentoring. 

7.    Resolve heating/air-conditioning issues at Town Hall.  
ABG: See #5 under Major Matters. It's obvious there is a costly theme here.

8.    Use electric car for the Department of Public Works. 
ABG: Ironically, Mr Feiner couldn't wait to install an electric car charger at the library, eating up one or more precious parking spaces from an under-sized parking lot. That was another empty promise made in the heat of a campaign. All Town cars should be replaced through attrition with electric cars except emergency response vehicles.

9.    Secure funding for building a new playground at the Lee F. Jackson Elementary School on surplus school property, advocating for use of parkland funds (non-tax payers’ dollars).
ABG: See #5 above.
10. Demolish the old kiddy pool at Massaro and replace it with a new spray pad. (Funding was secured using parkland funds - non-tax dollars last year.) 
ABG: Non-tax dollars? Really? All of the money, regardless of how it is acquired is ultimately taxpayer dollars.

11. Work with the Greenburgh Nature Center on our town-wide initiative, working with schools and businesses to introduce and develop conservation/sustainable practices, including food waste management. 
 ABG: Funny, we thought this was already happening according to Mr Feiner.

12. Lobby NYS to approve a 9A bypass.  (The town has been working with the business community, neighboring villages and the county on a plan to reduce traffic congestion on 9A in the vicinity of 119 and north of 119.) 
ABG: Lobby? Really? When Mr Feiner really wants something, such as the Finneran Law to be changed for his friend's benefit, he simply calls his best-buds Tom Abinanti and Andrea Stewart Cousins, snap his fingers and they do it for him. Since he hasn't addressed traffic congestion, and in fact added to it through over-development, it’s obvious this is just more rhetoric.

13. Finalize and approve a plan for and begin implementation of infrastructure improvements for the Greenburgh Consolidated Water District.  (Significant costly infrastructure improvements have been identified as needed in capital budgets/plans for 2014 to 2016, as explained in a report prepared by the town’s Water Advisory Board (WAB), and submitted for discussion with the Town Board mid-2014. 
ABG: Mr Feiner has ignored Town infrastructure for his entire career in Greenburgh. Most politicians know they can kick the can down the road because they won't be around to have to deal with it. Mr Feiner screwed up by ignoring and staying longer than he should have.

14. Create an index of names of the more than 125 veterans who have been interviewed as part of the veterans living history initiative and submit updated tapes and listings to United States Library of Congress for archiving. 
ABG: We have no issue with this as long as convicted felon and Deputy Town Supervisor Alan Hochberg stays out of it.

15. Lobby the State to do maintenance on the Saw Mill River and demonstrate that an ongoing river maintenance program is in place.  (If that doesn’t happen, the Town and the Villages, probably at our cost, will need to perform crisis management remediation of the river flooding problems.) 
ABG: This is the job of local politicians. And while they are at it, why won't he do the same for the Bronx River? Mr Feiner has done nothing to help the residents along the Bronx River corridor.

16. Increase diversity of programs (Educational, Cultural, Social, and Recreational) within the Department of Community Resources (TDYCC), strengthen existing programs and create partnerships with faith based, volunteer, and corporate entities to maximize community outreach. 
ABG: Mr Carter is doing a fine job administering the TYCC and will do even better if Mr Feiner refrains from interfering with his operation.
17. Address Cable Access TV audio issues. 
ABG: We're told at each Town Board meeting by Ms Beville who is in charge of the video department, that they are working with the vendor on this problem. Apparently, nothing is being done and it seems to be another ploy from Town Hall to keep all information from being heard and disseminated by the public.

18. Formalize Board Oversight of Town Courts. 
ABG: They've had 22 years to do this. Why wasn't it done already?
19. Conduct quarterly reviews of Budget vs. Actual Expenditures.
ABG: Isn't this why we have department heads and commissioners? The public should be able to ask on any day what the ratio of Budget vs. Expenditures are and receive an answer. This is pure politics.

20. Continue cooperative relationships with villages to reduce paving costs and repave more roads.  
ABG: The Villages within the Town have maintained a purchasing consortium for about the last ten years. Mr Feiner made the decision to not participate and pay higher prices than they did for all materials.

1.    Implement online payment of Greenburgh Consolidated Water District water bills.
ABG: Amazingly, this requires so little to do and yet it is made out to be a major project.
2.    Allow Greenburgh Consolidated Water District customers to track their own water usage online, enabling users to quickly spot any irregularities, leakage, etc.
ABG: Mr Feiner has been promising this for years and never delivers. 
3.    Exploring feasibility of installing solar panels on town buildings/facilities.
ABG: While the Return on Investment (ROI) may or may not support doing this, and there are a number of different plans to choose from, we're confident that Mr Feiner will soon just announce we're getting solar panels, like it or not.

4.    Continue oversight of reassessment process and hold information meetings around town as needed. 
ABG: See # 3 earlier.

5.    Work with Friends of Library and Library to open up a free book exchange on East Hartsdale Avenue.
ABG: I don't think the Friends of the Greenburgh Library really need Mr Feiner.

6.    Develop a plan to address the outdated and inadequate Police Headquarters and Courthouse site.  Discuss a plan for constructing a new Police Headquarters and Courthouse. (The town will study rezoning and selling the current site on 119 to determine how much that would offset the cost.  Are there grant opportunities?
ABG: Again, more hot air. This has been discussed for years and years now. They were originally going to use the former Frank's Nursery property for the Police station and also the library. But it's too contaminated.

7.    Launch a new recreation and facility software program for the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Community Resources (TDYCC) that includes online registration, a feature not previously available.  
ABG: Adding a feature into the software is something the Recreation Department should have been addressing for a long time now. 
8.    Secure capital funding to dredge Crane Pond in Edgemont as a means of alleviating the algae problem and to repoint the spillway wall that is presently leaking.  
ABG: Again? 

9.    Work with the Greenburgh Nature Center to create a Children's Wing and a site plan for our building and grounds to reflect our growing needs and continued community outreach.
ABG: As a business leasing space from the Town, what does this mean for taxpayers? Almost all of what the GNC does is geared mostly to children. Is building on this space environmentally healthy? After all, many in the area are clamoring against building on Dromore Road.

10. Pursue plans to establish an organic recycling location in Greenburgh. 
ABG: Isn't this already on the list elsewhere?
11. Promote yearlong recognition and celebration during 2015 of the Greenburgh Nature Center’s 40th Anniversary, and our role as community ambassadors.
ABG: Again, a private company should be responsible for their own recognition and celebration issues. Focus on running the Town.

12. Create a New Residents’ Club.
ABG: Will they pay for membership or will their tax increases cover membership? This doesn't mean anything. After the newness of being a member wears off, they'll be able to join the rest of us in the Beleagured Taxpayer Club.

13. Support a commercial vehicle enforcement detail by the Greenburgh Police Department using non-taxpayer funds to purchase the vehicle scales.  (This enforcement will help protect and preserve the town’s roadway infrastructure and the significant fines for serious infractions serve as a deterrent.) 
ABG: It will never happen.

14. Encourage and promote the Police Department’s use of social media with the goal of getting timely information to residents quickly. 
ABG: If this isn't already happening, it should be.
15. Develop a policy for water rate increases to be implemented in 2015 to address infrastructure issues, a need highlighted by the town’s Water Advisory Board (WAB) in mid-2014. 
ABG: Will the water policy be administered by Mr Feiner and the Board or an independent agency? Mr Feiner is the one wreaking havoc with our water bills and related increases.

16. Form a citizen’s advocacy group to help lobby state and federal lawmakers for funds and legislation that will benefit the town.
ABG: We wonder who will be included in this group? Mr Feiner's friends, convicted or otherwise?
17. Explore with state representatives the feasibility of affordable assisted living facilities or of requiring a certain number of units in yet to be approved assisted living facilities to be affordable for the less rich.
ABG: This is rich! It was Mr Feiner who canceled the contract with the County to shutter the WestHelp facility in Valhalla seeking votes from that constituency. The taxpayers are losing $1.2 Million per year and about 100 or so families don't have a place to live.
18. The Office of the Town Clerk and the Cable Access Television Department intend to explore the feasibility of upgrading the television studio to create greater potential for generating revenue. 
ABG: They just did an upgrade and its terrible! Again, why fix it when we can talk about it?

19. Formalize Board Oversight of Town Courts.
ABG: See #18 in previous list of Important Initiatives Already Underway. 

20. Conduct quarterly reviews of Budget vs. Actual Expenditures.
ABG: See #19 in previous list of Important Initiatives Already Underway

21. In 2015, we anticipate reviewing the water rate development process. We need to develop a procedure to calculate water rate changes and implement this process in 2015.  This issue was also highlighted to the Town Board in mid-2014.
 ABG: See #15. Shouldn't all of this happen together as a concerted effort?

22. Seeking hotel tax for town and villages from state legislation.
ABG: Like his friend Mr Abinanti who believes raising the tolls on the New Tappan Zee Bridge will not create a hardship, Mr Feiner incorrectly believes taxing visitors to our area who stay at our hotels is not a hardship. Here's a fact from the real world: most hotels rely on business travelers for the bulk of their income. Some have restaurants and some don't. If corporations see the costs are too high in one area they will either stop coming to the area or tell their employees to stay somewhere else nearby and drive to where they have to go a little more than they may have wanted. It happens all the time. And to Mr Abinanti, who has two well-paying jobs, ten dollars a week more in tolls on top of the twenty five is a tank of gas, groceries or maybe pizza for a struggling family. Get off your high horse and represent the people, not your own interests.

The electorate must start paying more attention to what they are being fed from the elected officials. They must insist on being heard by our elected officials. Its time to think differently. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.