Monday, January 15, 2018

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr

Only three people have a US national holiday observed in their honor: Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated on the third Monday in January each year (near his Jan. 15 birthday) to honor his legacy in battling for civil rights. The fight to create a national holiday was a massive struggle, one that required the same commitment as the movement to guarantee the rights of all Americans: community organizing, long-term determination, and relentless persistence.

King was assassinated in 1968. The legislation designating the federal holiday in his honor wasn’t passed for another 15 years, and the day wasn’t officially commemorated until 1986.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Hartsdale Neighbors Seek To Revitalize Four Corners

A recent meeting of the Hartsdale Neighborhood Association (HNA) took place to discuss renovating the 4-Corners section of Hartsdale. According to the HNA leadership, the four corners area of Central Avenue and Hartsdale Avenue is in desperate need of revitalization. The primary claim is that anyone who has walked or driven past that area has seen the vacant storefronts, backed up traffic, lack of parking and a myriad of issues. They are looking to change that!

They've asked to try and imagine a revitalized Hartsdale Four Corners that is pedestrian friendly, is a modern and inviting environment where businesses thrive, can reduce traffic congestion with increased turning lanes as one solution. Their hope is that the revitalization would help to meet the community’s needs - be it work, life or play!

The HNA believes this can be done with the residents, public and Town's support. There are numerous issues that are impacting businesses, making it difficult for any business to thrive in this area, let alone anywhere in our Town. The current zoning code for this area makes it prohibitive and frankly impossible for businesses to succeed, grow and flourish without a change. In order to fix that they need to show that reinvigorating the Four Corners has the community support. They are asking you to sign their petition and help pave the way for a Four Corners the community and Town can be proud of!

A proposal was put forth by Inspired Places, LLC to request the Town to allow for zoning changes for the immediate 4 Corners. The meeting drew a highly supportive crowd of approximately 100 people. The discussion noted the problems for residents, shoppers, commuters, shop-owners and landowners created by the status quo. The solution to these problems centers on zoning changes, and the discussion highlighted the benefits that Hartsdale would gain through an innovative approach. Some of those include:

-  Replacing existing rigid zoning rules that discourage investment by more flexible, community focused rules
- Permitting mixed-use construction
- Promoting suitably designed and right-sized buildings for the site
- Increasing pedestrian safety through movement of cross walks away from the actual corners
- Addressing traffic volume & congestion by adding dedicated right turning lanes on East & West Hartsdale Avenues
- Addressing parking issues by adding several structured parking facilities
- Adding greenery, including possible green islands defining turning lanes

What also needs to change is the labyrinth of regulations, permits, fees, taxes and overall unfriendliness from the Town toward businesses - especially small business. It seems somewhat hypocritical to hear Mr Feiner and his Town Board espouse that they are "business friendly" when the reality is quite the opposite. We are not saying that safety and protecting both the owners and the public should be ignored. But every permit sees a fee attached to it that never gets lower, only increases. Perhaps having a bundled permit package for certain requirements at a reduced cost would be beneficial. Other ideas can be suggested as well. Some business owners have told us it takes over a year to get the necessary permits, inspections and approvals to even open their business. This must change. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

To sign their petition, click on this link:

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Protecting Your Home During Severe/Cold Weather

Use extra precautions to protect your home during severe weather like we are experiencing now.

There are a number of things you can do to protect pipes from freezing, according to the American Red Cross. Among them: draining and storing hoses; closing inside valves supply outdoor hose bibs and then opening hose bibs to allow water to drain; adding insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces; install products made to insulate water pipes, such as “pipe sleeves” or UL-listed “heat tape.”

To prevent frozen pipes, let your hot and cold faucets drip overnight and open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks on exterior walls. The water you run doesn’t have to be warm, even cold water at a trickle helps prevent pipes from freezing.

Setting your thermostat at the same temperature day and night will help prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting. While avoiding a high heating bill might be tempting, you could be protecting yourself from costly repairs from frozen or burst pipes. And if you’re going to be away from home for an extended period of time, don't lower heat below 55 degrees.

Keep your house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees might not keep the inside walls from freezing.

If only a trickle of water is coming out of your faucet, a frozen pipe may be to blame. Pipes most susceptible to freezing are against exterior walls or where water enters your home through the foundation. If you’re able to locate the frozen pipe, apply heat using an electric heating pad, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Be careful with the heat source and don’t use open flame devices such as blowtorches or propane heaters. If you can’t locate the frozen pipe or if it’s not accessible, call a licensed plumber.

Check all other faucets in your home to see if you have any other frozen pipes. Pipes in colder areas of your home, including the attic, basement and crawl spaces, are the most likely to freeze.

Monday, January 1, 2018

We Review Mr Feiner’s Review of 2017

Each year Mr Feiner enjoys bombarding the electorate with his accomplishments, taking liberties with that information at every chance he can. We like to set the record straight. So, each year ABG staffers do the same thing, combing through his misinformation(in black) and setting the record straight(in blue)*. It's one way to get A Better Greenburgh. 

 * We closed on the Frank's nursery property. The new owners will build an attractive looking Assisted Living Facility on Dobbs Ferry Road. New assisted living facility should open in 2019.
The Frank’s Nursery fiasco was caused mostly by Mr Feiner as he made secret backroom deals with GameOn 365. Once exposed, the GameOn 365 representative insisted that they only discuss the proposal by phone and not emails as emails could be FOILed. While Mr Feiner bandied about all kinds of figures, few if any, were ever substantiated. While this sale is being touted as a $3.5 million dollar one, the Town is obligated to spend $1,899,283 for remediation. So what Mr Feiner doesn’t say is equally important. What are the back taxes that must be paid, what are the costs for Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies by Woodard & Curran, the cost for the auction, advertising, broker’s fees and their commission? Finally, Town Attorney Tim Lewis repeatedly said the Town’s remediation costs would only be $100,000. So, what will the net income be to the Town when it’s all said and done?

* Greenburgh approves site plan for Regeneron's potential 1,000,000 Sq Ft Expansion- the largest commercial expansion in recent town history. The town anticipates millions of dollars in additional revenue and great new jobs. We have become the bio tech capitol of the Hudson Region.
 The reality is that Mt Pleasant, adjacent to Greenburgh has had more of the development while Greenburgh gets more of the parking spaces for land use. Regeneron was close to going out of business several years ago and remarkably has bounced back. While the developers have developed that area with Regeneron and other companies and a bio-tech flavor, the Town has had a somewhat laissez-faire attitude towards them. 

* I organized a successful lobbying effort that resulted in the Governor issuing an executive order authorizing residents to pre-pay parts of their 2018 taxes in 2017 so participating taxpayers could receive property tax deductions (which will be cut next year due to the newly enacted Tax Code legislation approved by Congress). Hundreds of residents pre-paid  parts of the Greenburgh town/fire district taxes before the end of the year.
This is part and parcel of Mr Feiner’s modus operandi: to wait and see until the last possible minute before taking action. He and the Town Board had plenty of time to reach out to the governor, the County tax office and the state to find out before it was too late if people could pre-pay. He also created the onslaught of residents at Town Hall that they were completely unprepared for, creating lines out the door with two-hour waiting periods to be helped. Hardly a successful effort – and then they closed early on Friday! Kudos, however, to Anne Povella, Edye McCarthy and their staffs for remaining upbeat and helpful during this time. In fact, while we have been critical of Edye McCarthy in the past, we learned that she came in on her day off to help out. Thank you.

 * Our town received a $250,000 grant to redesign Route 119 and to make the road more bicycle/pedestrian friendly.
This grant is for several communities so the reality is that not much will be done with the amount of money once it is doled out.

* The town and Greenburgh school district finalized grant applications for a town/school technology initiatives to prepare students for technology focused jobs: a technology scholars initiative.
Grants are good to help start a program. But what long-range planning has the Town and the Greenburgh school district done to perpetuate the program?

* The Xposure after school program --student produced radio program - was nominated for two EMMY awards. How many other 10 and 11 year olds--anywhere- receive EMMY award nominations?
This is great for the kids and congratulations to them, but as we’ve mentioned previously, the program at the Theodore Young Community Center is not run by or affiliated with the Town. Plus, there is no guarantee that these kids will continue on in radio in their future. Plus, with the ever-changing technologies, it’s possible that radio itself will change into something different all together.

* The South County bike trail now connects to the North County bike trail - an initiative cyclists from around the region have been seeking for years!
While Mr Feiner is an avid bicyclist, the Town did little to make this happen. Several area biking clubs/groups pushed for this.

* The town received almost $5,000,000 from NYS for water infrastructure enhancements - the 2nd largest grant in the Hudson Valley from NYS!
Sadly, Greenburgh’s infrastructure has been ignored for far too long. Had regular maintenance been performed as required, we would not be in need of large grants to fix everything. And, will any of these monies be used to improve the water drainage infrastructure to help those resident and business taxpayers who flood because the infrastructure was ignored for so long?

* Our budgets and taxes come under the NYS tax cap. Unlike some school, fire and villages, towns in the region we have never approved a budget that exceeds the tax cap.
While the budget may come in under the tax cap, it does not negate a tax increase, as too many portions of the budget(s) are exempt from it. The Town Board, if instructed to do so by Mr Feiner, could certainly override the tax cap if deemed necessary. 

* The town maintained our Aaa bond rating from both Standard & Poor's and Moody's - an accomplishment most town, school, village state, and federal governments have not achieved. The triple A bond rating enables the town to save hundreds of thousands of dollars when we borrow for infrastructure enhancements each year.
This is like a magician’s slight-of-hand routine. The Aaa bond rating is really just verifying that the Town has enough taxpayers who can cover most of the Town’s expenses through taxation. Plus, since we never really utilize the advantages of the bond rating, and Mr Feiner reduces Town services by fiat and increased fees, it’s like kissing your sister: it just doesn’t mean anything.
* New 24 Hour Fitness Center opened on Central Ave. An indoor pool, managed by the privately run center, will open in March, 2018 at the center.
Edgemont residents will finally have a pool they can use in the Town – albeit with a membership to a private fitness center.

* A new roof at the Theodore Young Community Center was completed--with more natural light for our indoor pool patrons.
The new roof, an obvious infrastructure improvement that had been delayed, will help the pool users have more daylight during the day. You see, if the Edgemont incorporation goes forward, the Town claims it will lose tax money, and cut the hours (or at least the lights) at the Theodore Young Community Center. If the incorporation of Edgemont does go through, the Town could contract services with the new Village and lose virtually little if any money. But Mr Feiner and Mr Jones have publicly said under no circumstances would the Town contract services with the new Village.

* Our proactive measures dealing with anticipated storms seem to be paying off. A major storm in Westchester this fall resulted in 6,000 people out of power in Westchester -only 22 people out of power in Greenburgh. Con Ed & the town have an active tree trimming program--we trim branches hanging over wires and remove trees that are dead that could impact power lines.
Again, while Con Ed is more responsible than the Town for tree trimming, the Town does have an arborist and the Town does trim trees. The proactive measures need to include more than just trimming some trees near a power line. While tree trimming is a good first effort, all drains, especially in flood prone areas need to be cleaned out; new drainage installed; debris near and in the rivers need to be removed; the Bronx and Saw Mill rivers need to be dredged and that debris needs to be removed, not left nearby where it can float back into the river.

* We have been successful collecting back taxes owed and reduced the number of properties facing foreclosure from almost 500 a few years back to less than 55.
As we’ve said before, the Town was delinquent in performing their legally required fiduciary responsibilities by procrastinating on the foreclosed and zombie houses in the Town for too long. So out of all of these 500 properties, how many are still owned by the delinquent owners, how much was collected in back taxes?

* The town, police department and Phelps hospital partnered on a pedestrian safety initiative. Thousands of free reflectors being distributed to pedestrians. Don't wear dark clothing.
Having the Town give away Phelps-donated reflective armbands is a good idea since so many unsafe areas exist without sidewalks to ensure pedestrian safety. But in this day and age of Big Brother seeming to control our every move(s), is telling us not to wear dark clothes the best Mr Feiner can offer?

* The Greenburgh police created an Internet Exchange location at the Police headquarters for residents to safely exchange purchases.
We’re not sure how much this was needed in the Town but it seems reasonable. 

* New sidewalks were built: on Benedict on the Tarrytown border, Secor Road.  We received a very large grant from NYS -$792,000 to build a new sidewalk on Central Ave from Marion to W Hartsdale Ave.  Hopefully, that sidewalk will be built next year. New sidewalks being planned on Columbia Ave in Hartsdale, Juniper Hill in Fairview. We plan to replace an asphalt playground on Glendale Road with an asphalt sidewalk leading to the Greenville School.
Plan more sidewalks? Really? The only planning really going on with sidewalks is the requirement for developers to put sidewalks in front of their projects. That’s the only reason we are getting as many as we are. Please explain why the sidewalk to the school will be asphalt instead of concrete like everywhere else? Again, 25 years of a lack of planning and ignoring infrastructure is being turned around as a good thing.

* We created a curb making the library more accessible for the disabled. And redesigned the circle near the library to make it easier for cars to pick up and drop of library patrons.  We plan to increase parking at the library.
Poor planning and inferior design by the lead agency, which was actually the Town Board, is what was and still is wrong with the library’s design. From the inadequate public/community meeting rooms, the inadequate and oft-failing HVAC system, the unusable heat pump system and of course the parking remains atrocious. They removed a few islands and made the center circle smaller to allow cars to pass parked cars in the circle. They should have left the original parking behind the building as it was and not planted grass, installed a curb and parking would be somewhat better. 

* We replaced and upgraded water mains in Mayfair Acres--an important water infrastructure project and repainted more water tanks. Juniper Hill water tank was completed.
Again, lack of infrastructure maintenance is not something to brag about.

* We approved a lease with a private company to place a bubble at our tennis court at E Rumbrook park--providing residents with indoor tennis opportunities.
Yes, it’s open and now residents have to pay this for-profit company to allow them limited access/times to the Town tennis courts.

* We are making the town more efficient - 6200 new properties now receive garbage collection services from our new sanitation trucks (which use one employee, not three). Fewer worker compensation claims. We hope to expand recycling services in 2018--one day a week pickup for both paper and commingles.
First, we were told there would be a study for the change’s viability. There wasn’t. Second, we were told this would only be used on flat properties. It’s not. Third, we were told it was only a pilot program. Not only was it not, they bought another truck!

* New affordable housing at the waterwheel property (foreclosed property which the town turned over to Ardsley) opens. 22 housing units.
How many times must we hear the same drumbeat? The Ardsley Fire Department had sought to purchase this property after the Waterwheel Restaurant fire to develop workforce housing specifically for Ardsley volunteer firefighters, ambulance personnel and municipal workers. Their approach was similar to the successful Livingston Manor project the Dobbs Ferry Fire Department created, although several residents are not volunteers or municipal workers but workforce residents. The Ardsley Fire Department was turned down.

* New parking lot at Taxter Ridge built at expense of developer --making it easier for hikers to take advantage of this spectacular hiking trail.
This small strip of undeveloped land provides spaces for a few cars. What was the developer’s actual expense? This should have been done upon the completion of the park. Why wasn’t it?

* Our intern program had a very successful year. Student interns interviewed many well known and not so well known leaders -including the writer of the best play on Broadway: TONY AWARD winner JT Rogers and Joe Queenan, columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Students host their own cable TV program.
The Town, specifically Mr Feiner, always utilizes interns for any real impact. While we maintain the Town’s best asset is our employees, it doesn’t seem so with Mr Feiner. The idea of internship is to prepare these young adults to get mentoring in various disciplines. Do the other department’s not have interns and if they do, is their work not worth mentioning too? Regardless, kudos to these kids.

* A new Town Judge was appointed - former Edgemont School Board member Bonnie Orden. Town Justices Walter Rivera and Arlene Gordon Oliver were appointed or elected to higher Judicial positions.
Basically, more of the same. Is this so Mr Feiner can have decisions levied in his favor?

* The US Coast Guard listened to citizens and killed (at least temporarily) plans to park barges along the Hudson River.
While we did not favor the Coast Guard’s decision to create a river parking lot, this had very little, if anything to do with the Town.

* Woodlands High School students received $5.3 million in scholarships upon graduation. The town is working with the school district on an exciting technology initiative.
What specifically is the Town’s part of this, beyond Mr Feiner taking credit for it? How is this money going to be used and who will be the recipients and what are the qualifiers for them to receive it?

* The building department demolished unsafe buildings on Teramar Way and they took steps to demolish an unsafe home on McLean.
Again, long overdue after waiting almost 10 years for the Town to act on zombie, foreclosed upon and abandoned homes.
* Thanks to the hard work of the Hartsdale Beautification Committee headed by Barbara Brennan, a fantastic Hartsdale day celebration took place on E Hartsdale Ave.
While it may be difficult to quantify whether or not Hartsdale Day was a success, we applaud those who worked tirelessly to promote and execute it. We look forward to seeing it again next year and maybe other communities can do the same.

* We are working with civic leaders, architects and residents --considering a rezone of the 4 corners in Hartsdale to allow mixed usage. Additional parking could be created - enabling stores at this location to have a better chance of success.
The Town should stay out of this. It is Town zoning laws, restrictions, fees, penalties and licenses that make developing the area so difficult. The HNA is trying to figure out what would or would not work in that area. The “nodes” proposal favored by a very few “Feinerites” would have the four corners (and more) developed into first floor retail – because we don’t have enough vacant retail stores – and three additional floors of low income residential apartments with no parking, because millennials don’t own cars. Everyone already recognizes the parking struggles for the area and now Mr Feiner wants to add to them. 
* The Greenburgh police department did a great job organizing terrific community outreach efforts: at Town Hall, at the scene of a crime and on Halloween.
They always do a great job. We’re still trying to find out which “scene of the crime” Mr Feiner is talking about.

* Fewer burglaries in the entire town of Greenburgh than in the village of Scarsdale (which is much smaller). Our burglaries are down, thanks to the excellent proactive work of our police department.
Interestingly, while crime trends are somewhat random, it was only about a year or so ago that Edgemont had a spike in crime. The police department put more officers in the area and lo and behold crime went down. Similarly, traffic enforcement has been practically eliminated on many streets known for speeding and now safety for those walking taxpayers has been compromised.
Crime is probably down because the Town has taken a fresh approach to crime fighting which Scarsdale has yet to catch onto. The Town has put out lawn signs that say: Lock Your Car, Take Your Keys, Hide Your Belongings. Who knew that’s all it would take?

* NYS rebuilding the Payne Street bridge overlooking the Sprain Parkway.
This is a NYS Department of Transportation repair and the Town is not involved in it, except that Payne Street is a Town road and often closed during the construction.

* We recognized the Atlantic Starr musicians from Fairview and renamed a street in their honor. At one point their music was number one world-wide!
Kudos to these musicians.

* We are implementing additional safety features -more blinking crosswalk lights near schools.  A safety crosswalk off of Ravensdale, Jackson Ave and Route 9.
Again, long overdue and something that should have been recognized and done years ago.

* Thanks to the generosity of many, the Lois Bronz Children's Center received donations of backpacks for children whose families can't afford them. The community has been supportive of our partnership with the Dobbs Ferry food pantry--and frequently drops off food at the bin at Town Hall.
When our taxpayers have any money left in their wallets between tax increases, Town Board guilty verdicts and fines, they are most generous.

 * Councilman Francis Sheehan, while he recovered from surgery, took advantage of modern technology by participating and voting at Town Board meetings using Skype.  Think that when members of Congress or the State Legislature can't attend a meeting of their legislatures that they should also participate by Skype.
When congress doesn’t meet, our government becomes more affordable and efficient. While we’re glad Mr Sheehan recovered, his not being there would not have changed any decisions or votes made.

* A very successful motorcycle safety event across from Greenburgh Town Hall sponsored by the Greenburgh police department and motorcycle enthusiasts.
Kudos to these participants.

* Over 400 residents of Greenburgh now have installed solar panels to power their homes. We sponsored with Solarize Westchester an initiative to promote solar power. The town participated in Solarize Westchester, an initiative to promote solar panels. We worked with the Greenburgh Nature Center to educate the community about the opportunity to install solar panels and the benefits to homeowners.
While supporting this private company, the Town gave an unfair advantage to one private company. Had the Town held a forum and invited different companies to participate, it would have been more ethically sound.

* We have been closing down massage facilities in town involved in prostitution and illegal activities. A new law requires the licensing of massage establishments. 
If they are breaking the law, they should be pursued. Otherwise, if there is no evidence of wrongdoing, they should be left to operate by the newly enacted laws put in place.

*Established a Technology Advisory Committee to work with our MIS department to enhance our use of technology.
Funny, we always thought the MIS department was there for the technology and experts in the field. Is this new committee comprised of interns?

* Followed up on recommendations of a study on public works department by approving a directive that employees must comply with health and safety initiatives. A focus on the major contributors to worker injuries can have a greater impact on claims and reducing injuries.
If employees are not following the employment directives, it should be addressed by their managers. If the managers are not doing this, the department leaders should address it. If this is not happening, perhaps a review of standard practices and new managers should be discussed.

* The new hotel tax was implemented -enabling the town to shift some of our costs of operating government to hotel guests, not taxpayers.
Here’s another example of a tax pushed by Assemblyman Abinanti, who has never heard of a tax he didn’t like along with his buddy Mr Feiner, all while helping to make Westchester and in particular Greenburgh less and less attractive to travelerswhether for business or pleasure.

* Greenburgh and the villages have eliminated duplication--separate assessors and now use one assessor.
And yet we haven’t seen any reduction in our taxes, Village taxes or any appreciable savings. 

* The sufficiency of a petition submitted by some Edgemont residents who would like to vote on incorporating Edgemont as a village is before the courts.  The Courts will determine whether the petition that was filed complied with NYS law.
Ironically, all Mr Feiner had to do was acknowledge the petitions were sufficient and let the referendum proceed. Rather, he chose to fight the incorporation attempts and gather the ire of people who were unaware of an incorporation proceeding. And, let’s not forget that Mr Feiner hired a retired judge to take the “hit” for his hiring private investigators to go throughout Edgemont to invalidate petition signatures favoring incorporation, providing him plausible deniability.

*The Greenburgh  Nature Center, with town funding, underwent a complete roof restoration project that has enhanced the Manor House's presence and complements the integrity and character of the near 100 year old building.
As the buildings in our Town are ignored, infrastructure becomes more and more decrepit, requiring even more money for repairs.

 *The Greenburgh Nature Center  updated and refreshed interior portions of the Manor House, including new floors in the Live Animal Museum, with town support.
See above.

  *The Nature Center,in partnership with the town,  introduced a town wide food scrap recycling program and educational outreach campaign. The drop-off operation of the program will commence mid-January 2018 and the Nature Center will provide guidance and hands on support. Turning food scraps into compost is good for the environment and could save the town significant dollars.
Residents are seeing more and more scraps from the Town and specifically Mr Feiner. Is it worth it to drive your table scraps to the Nature Center?

   *With consultation from the Greenburgh Nature Center, the town proposed an amendment and change to a long standing law prohibiting beekeeping in Greenburgh.  This reflects a growing interest and awareness of our natural environment by our local residents
Beekeeping can and should be allowed within certain confines of the Town. There should be minimum acreage within a property; independent training should be required from a local bon-a-fide educational source such as the Cornell Extension, and not an Internet course. Before bees can be bred, the applicants should be mandated to demonstrate their bee-keeping skills by handling and displaying their skills, similar to a driving test or swimming test.

* Some of these answers were already published in an article we called “The Other Side of A One-sided Story”, based on his media blitz on Thanksgiving. 

Happy New Year 2018

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Residential Sanitation Schedule for 2018

Since the Town has been consumed with the 2018 tax pre-payment fiasco, in part thanks to Mr Feiner’s lack of planning, the Town has not yet delivered the new Residential Sanitation schedules. We hope they will be mailed and residents receive them soon. In the meantime, here is a copy of the pickup schedule.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Former Frank’s Nursery Finally Sold

It was announced by Mr Feiner, in conjunction with the daily newspaper of record for Westchester County, that Greenburgh town officials finalized the $3.5 million sale of the old Frank's Nursery property. He also touted the future opening for a new assisted living facility at the site. Having lost his battle to develop Dobbs Ferry Road into a sports corridor, his carefully worded explanation avoided all hints of the calamity he created with the property.

The 7-acre property on Dobbs Ferry Road had been vacant since the nursery shut down. In 2011, the town foreclosed on the property and took possession. From that point on, Mr Feiner made the property a political football. The property was required by County and State law to be sold as municipalities cannot be landlords. What Mr Feiner tried to do was “gift” the property to his new friends from GameOn 365. So egregious and offensive was this move, it forced residents to organize and form the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association!

He said, “It’s significant because now, for the first time, it’s not town property and it’s back on the tax rolls. The construction of the assisted living facility will start. They’ll start with the remediation of the contaminants.” The remediation was promised by Town Attorney and pseudo-environmental expert Tim Lewis to cost no more than $100k to remediate. And, while Mr Feiner was trying to illegally lease the property to GameOn 365, he had insisted the Town would pay for remediation. In actuality, the Town will be responsible for $1,899,283 million of the cleanup.

During the entire time of this bad behavior by Mr Feiner, he enraged the group of people he should have been representing! Instead, he created a tug of war with the area civic associations and taxpayers for the sole benefit of an out-of-state for-profit company. During this time, secret emails between Mr Feiner and his friends at GameOn 365 were uncovered. One damning statement from GameOn 365 to Mr Feiner was that they should stop the email communications and only discuss things by phone as emails are subject to F.O.I.L. requests and phone conversations are not. They did just that!

After a proposal for a sports and recreation facility fell through, the town reached a deal in 2015 with Capitol Seniors Housing for an assisted living facility. That deal was finalized Thursday with the closing of the sale. The sports facility proposal didn’t “fall through” as Mr Feiner wants the uninitiated to believe. The proposal was out and out rejected by all the residents in the area! Once Mr Feiner and his Board ignored the property beyond 6-months, during which point he could have legally given it away, it reverted back to residential zoning. Since the adjacent residents have a right of refusal, they did just that. As Mr Feiner scrambled to meet with residents individually and in small groups to persuade them to acquiesce and support the GameOn 365 proposal, they stood united!

Mr Feiner said the new facility is expected to generate $500,000 in property taxes. But he doesn’t say if that is yearly, as a lump sum from the sale or how he’s come up with that figure. He routinely throws out figures without corroboration, validation or proof, hoping for the sensational and unsubstantiated reproduction in print newspapers. He also said, "I think it’s going to be a big asset to the town having an assisted living facility at that location. The neighborhood supported it.”

Actually, the neighborhood did and does support it. All along they insisted that the only proposal that could be acceptable at that site was residential housing. He even tried to propose other commercial activities at that location. The civic associations saw what he was trying do. If they said yes to that proposal he could use that to make the argument that there is no difference from placing one type of business over another at that location. The civic associations remained steadfast and eventually won out! It’s this kind of civic involvement that makes for A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Dismissal Granted In Favor of Town Zoning Board of Appeals

It’s no secret that there exists a contentious relationship between the Town and the Edgemont community. So much so that some in Edgemont are seeking to incorporate and break away from the Town’s governance or mismanagement. There have been numerous issues over the last several years that have caused this alienation. Regardless of which issue(s) caused these residents to pursue incorporation, many say the straw that broke the camel's proverbial back was when Mr Feiner hired private investigators through the security company he hired through the judge he hired with unauthorized Town monies, to try to negate the petition signatures of those favoring incorporation. Some that we spoke to had been on the fence. But when they learned of this despot-like move, he lost their support.

Dromore Road is another Edgemont-centric debacle that has caused an uproar in their community. As we and others often say, “If it happens in one neighborhood, it's sure to happen in another, even yours.” Don’t believe us? One towering example is the Brightview Assisted Living Center in the Glenville section of the Town. Mr Feiner instructed his Board to be in favor of it at all costs and to vote it through. Not doing so would cause them to find themselves “Sonya’d”* and be on the outside looking in. Rightfully, Mr Jones, her replacement, tows the Feiner-line like a religious zealot. Anyway, after Brightview was plopped in the center of a small residential neighborhood of single family homes, we see the same scenario unfolding once again.

The Sprainbrook Nursery has operated on Underhill Road for years, owned and operated by the Krautter family. They are seeking to sell the property to an assisted living developer for roughly $3.5 million to use as their retirement nest egg. Many in the Edgemont community as well as the Greenville Fire District had initiated a court action to stop this oversized assisted living extravaganza at the now defunct nursery. They cited the Town's own newly adopted assisted living code which among other things mandates being with 200 feet of a state right of way and on a minimum of 4 acres of land. There's a little bit more to it but this is the gist of it. The Formation-Shelbourne proposal on the former Sprainbrook Nursery meets neither of these requirements. Also cited were safety issues of emergency vehicles responding on Underhill Road with more frequency. Fire departments will rarely discuss response conditions as a concern mostly because they will always get where they are going.

This past week the Judge ruled in favor of the Town's Zoning Board of Appeals and against the civic associations and fire district that had sued to stop the egregious variances that would be required to build this facility. Being shot down in court is difficult enough, but having it happen on what seems to be a minor technicality shows why people have lost faith in the courts system. The reason given by Judge Susan Cacace was that the petitioners (Edgemont Community Council, Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations and the Greenville Fire Districts) had not filed their action soon enough after the Zoning Board of Appeals rendered its decision. We quote, “Based on the foregoing, the respondents' motions to dismiss the instant petition to CPLR 3211(a) and 7804(f) are granted due to the petitioners' untimely commencement of this proceeding in violation of the applicable 30-day limitations period prescribed by Town Law 267-c(1), and therefore, this proceeding is hereby dismissed.”

No doubt an appeal can be made. However, there is no guarantee of this happening. Sadly, this is another oversized and inappropriate facility that will be built in what is now a densely residential community. The nursery was built years ago before little if any residential properties existed there. Back in that day a nursery fit the area just fine and was later grandfathered to stay. Nowadays, the buzz is about affordable (re: subsidized) housing, senior housing or assisted living. Usually, but not always, many of the new facilities get built and after a few short years are sold to another company, reaping financial benefits upon the developer - who then walks away. Or, they go into bankruptcy and leave their residents out in the cold with no savings or little hope of ever recouping their funds or even remaining years.

So now the charade at Town Hall begins. Mr Feiner will hail the decision and out of the other side of his mouth try to convince the public that he and his Board are going to listen to the public, do their due diligence, hold hearings, whatever it takes to help them decide if this project should move forward. It's a double-edge sword for him. He's forced to placate Edgemont and appear to be listening to them, but he's already promised Formation-Shelbourne their proposal to go through. Sure, he'll say he's received many phone calls supporting this facility, even from the residents in the area. But he will never say who or how many contacted him. He'll also say he received a ton of emails. Yet again, he will not divulge any names or real figures. 

The proposal for an assisted living facility may or may not be needed in the Town. Since this Town Board was so anxious to pass an assisted living zoning change in 2014 and then ignore it so readily and quickly after its passage proves the G10 was correct when they insisted at countless meetings that it was flawed and should not be passed. When Mr Feiner (who will vote no to placate Edgemont) and his Board pass this, they should only do so to a scaled down version of what is presented. And, when the developer says it has to be the size they are proposing to be cost-effective, we only hope the Town Board members voting yes will only do so to a reduced version of the proposal, working with the residents, fire district and civic associations instead of around them. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

* Reference is of former Town Board member Sonya Brown, who was shunned by Mr Feiner and his Board and later dropped from his “ticket” after she exposed him for saying as candidates they should not bother to campaign in Fairview as those residents were unintelligent and they’d be wasting their time doing so there.