Monday, January 16, 2017

Counterpoint To Year In Review, Part 2

Each year Mr Feiner sends out his list of “accomplishments”. Since Mr Feiner has a difficult time with facts and truthfulness (he was convicted for lying under oath) ABG posts the other side of those same “accomplishments”. This is part 2, our responses are in blue.

31. Painted water tanks--addressing infrastructure concerns.  Others will be done also.
Maintenance is typically ignored by this administration, so it was surprising and possibly more costly because it had been ignored for so long. Sadly, Mr Feiner is bragging about something that was long overdue.

32. Opened new dreamcourt basketball court at Old Tarrytown Road Park.
It’s a basketball court.

33. 3,400 LED street lights installed - to cut streetlight energy usage by 61%.
The cost of this energy savings was over $600,000. The return-on-investment was never mentioned. While the Town may save 61% (there is no substantiation of this number), it may have been better to phase these in as existing fixtures and bulbs failed.

34. Greenburgh Shopping Center on Knollwood Road improves striping in their existing parking lot.
This effort was brought up by, carried by and seen through fruition by the Council of Greenburgh Civic Association after they pointed out many illegal aspects of what had been done to the lot by the owners without the proper permit and approvals processes performed by the Town. It’s amazing that the building department, whom we're told is woefully overwhelmed with work, was able to stumble upon a Fulton Park resident’s minor construction but missed an entire shopping center's parking lot renovation. The Fulton Park resident had the charges against her dismissed in court.

35. 11 year old reporters from Greenburgh Xposure have their own radio program.
The Exposure program is not a Town run program.

36. Our Greenburgh Police Department is first law enforcement agency in the county that committed to outfitting each patrol officer with their own individual body camera.
The Town’s Police Department is among the best there is. We believe it can only have a positive outcome.

37. Organizing a new initiative: musicians to perform for homebound elderly.
Please focus on infrastructure, lowering taxes, have more police on patrol and stop with the publicity stunts. There are plenty of people already doing this.

38. Proposal submitted to lease former Scarsdale A&P to a 24 hour fitness facility on Central Ave.  Application is before the Planning Board.  Hyundai car dealership approved and opens on Central Ave.--first new dealership since we approved the use on Central Avenue.
While approving the use of Central Avenue for car dealerships, the new taxes levied on gas stations has forced the closure of two long-time service stations as their profit margin on gasoline was pennies. As far as the Feiner administration is concerned, this was never about helping businesses that have been in the Town for years, paying taxes and helping the Town.

39. Town Board adopts law that will enable the town to close down illegal massage businesses that employ unlicensed masseuses.  A lawsuit filed against the town in NYS Supreme Court was dismissed.
While enacting this law, originally written by Edgemont resident and former Town Supervisor candidate Robert Bernstein, the Town attorney watered it down and diminished its viability. It also has not been put into practice in over a year.

40. Town Board approved parking on East Hartsdale Ave. during winter months, with exception of snow emergencies.
The Town Board has repeatedly said that enacting special parking permits that are not useable Town-wide was illegal. What changed? Actually, nothing. This appears to be selective governing based on what's popular at the time.

41. Discussions with community - new possible look in 2017 for Manhattan Avenue: trees and islands in middle of road to reduce speeding and make the avenue look more like a boulevard.
It’s interesting that the same neighborhoods receive an inordinate amount of attention, focus, money and renovations while others cannot even get sidewalks to keep pedestrians safe.

42. We plan to repair indoor pool at the Theodore Young Community Center.  An attractive new roof will be constructed on the building in 2017- providing pool patrons with natural light.
While we enjoy the TYCC and appreciate that things need to be repaired, recent years have witnessed a lot of spending on what seems to be the same things over and over again. Perhaps low-bid and the Town running these projects isn’t providing us with the best results.

43. Working with Westchester County Association- pushing for high speed broadband gigabit service that is 14 times faster than current service.
We still are at a loss as to how and why the Town needs to be doing this.

44. Trader Joe's to expand on Central Avenue.  A compromise was reached with some members of the community.  No driveway will be built at North Washington Avenue.  Expansion of a medical office building near Best Buy approved.
There was no compromise. Mr Feiner caved into the developer's wishes after appearing to be concerned about the area residents complaining about the added traffic that would bombard their neighborhoods once residential roads were opened up. 

45. Town Board appointed new Town Comptroller, Roberta Romano, after former Comptroller retired.

46. Former Commissioner Bill Carter, who led the Theodore Young Community Center, passed.  Former Deputy Commissioner Andre Early appointed as new commissioner.  Steve Fraietta appointed as Building Inspector after John Lucido retired.

47. Town Board approves creation of a Beautification Committee for East Hartsdale Avenue.
The Beautification Committee is not a paid position(s) and may result in a positive impact to the area.

48. Town Board appoints additional members to the newly formed Human Rights Committee.
There is a redundancy here that simply doesn’t need to exist since there are County, State and Federal Human Rights Commissions already. This is a politically calculated move only.

49. Greenburgh Police Department holds our first annual successful National Night Out at Town Hall, a wonderful police-community event.

50. Board approves resolution against SPECTRA AIM pipeline 105 feet from Indian point Nuclear Facility.
This is a useless and empty political effort that will bear nothing for the Town. 

51. Town obtains $225,000 grant from the New NY Bridge Community Benefits Program and used it to purchase a new rescue vehicle.
What is this new rescue vehicle replacing? If it’s not replacing a vehicle, it means there is an added cost to stock, equip and maintain it. How is all of that being paid for?

52. Town received a $55,000 grant from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services for a new SWAT vehicle that was purchased.
Mr Feiner is being disingenuous by claiming the area fire districts are over-taxing residents and wasting their money, while he is not. The County Police maintain a SWAT team that the Town could use at no cost to them when needed. And, the County also maintains a Hazardous Materials Response Team and a Technical Rescue Response Team that also costs nothing to utilize – yet the Town pays for this duplication of services and Mr Feiner condones it by allowing this overtime generator to continue.

53. Town received a grant of $15,880 from the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, to train our officers in the specialized area of Elder Abuse.
This seems like a good thing. 

54. Greenburgh Housing Authority plans to build affordable 62+ senior housing on Manhattan Avenue that will have no impact on local school district. 
The reality is that the Greenburgh Housing Authority's plans to build affordable senior housing is simply to replace it. So, unlike the artfully worded sentence, this is not an addition in housing units.

55. Hartsdale Parking District created pay stations at two sites, a convenience for motorists.  The district is looking at alternative ways for users to pay metered parking rates.  (Some parking authorities let people pay by phone.)  District is independent of town government.
First, why comment on something that is independent of the Town? Second, having the pay stations requires less maintenance and labor to collect money from separate meters.

56. Greenburgh Nature Center became the first nature center in Westchester to achieve the green best business practices certification. The Nature Center worked in partnership with the Edgemont School Foundation and Moses Feldman Family Foundation to implement a materials management/recycling/food waste composting program at the school district’s three campuses. The Nature Center, with the support from the St. Faith’s Foundation, delivered over 150 programs to students at R.J. Bailey.  And sponsored an indoor exhibit (with support from Con Ed) “A Forest’s Life” to highlight the importance of forests for maintaining the health of our environment.
The Greenburgh Nature Center is an independent organization that rents the space from the Town and is merely a tenant. What they do and the programs they run is up to them and not controlled by Mr Feiner.

57. The Greenburgh Nature Center - with the generous support of Cathy Capasso and Steve Sprague, constructed a Native American longhouse and wigwam, to support a new and exciting education platform, The Native American Experience.
See #56.

58. The Nature Center continued the development of our Native Plant Meadow and completed construction of a uniquely designed Butterfly Arbor, which sets the natural stage for our yearly Butterfly Exhibit.
 See #56.

59. One of the most successful Summer Jazz Series to date sponsored by the Department of Community Resources named for William L. Carter featuring Grammy award winning and local artists that entertained record attending music enthusiasts.
 These were good and honoring Bill Carter was as well.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sanitation Calendar Corrections

Sanitation Calendar Corrections: MLK Jan. 16 & July 4th Holiday

You can use this link to download the calendar or view it below

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Counterpoint To Year In Review, Part 1

Each year Mr Feiner sends out his list of “accomplishments”. Since Mr Feiner has a difficult time with facts and truthfulness (he was convicted for lying under oath) ABG posts the other side of those same “accomplishments”. Our responses are in blue.

1. Finally, after years of controversy, the Frank’s nursery property that the town acquired via foreclosure is being sold to a developer—with community support!  A 101 unit 115 bed assisted living facility will be built at the site on Dobbs Ferry Road.  The developer agreed to offer ten affordable units to Greenburgh residents at a 20% discount!  Assisted living facilities are expensive.  We are pleased some units will be more affordable.
After years of controversy indeed! The controversy was created by Mr Feiner and his Board when they attempted to violate County and State law by gifting the property to his friends from GameOn 365 for much less money than it was worth instead of selling it as required by law! The surrounding neighborhoods were incensed, organized and fought this injustice. By law, a municipality cannot be a landlord and must sell any properties they receive through foreclosure. Convicted of discrimination, lying under oath, destroying evidence and more in the Fortress Bible Discrimination Lawsuit, Mr Feiner is no stranger to violating the law.

2. We installed solar panels at Town Hall and expect to save $622,000 over a 30 year period.
What he doesn’t state is why the payback will take so long and how he came up with that number? Like most of his numbers, he always overpromises and under-performs.

3. We dedicated a beautiful new park at DeSanti Plaza on East Hartsdale Ave in honor of our veterans.  A great enhancement –a terrific first impression of Greenburgh & Hartsdale.  150 half hour interviews with veterans can be viewed on demand by accessing
Beauty is in the eye of the holder. Most who have seen this “park” have compared its stone monument to an unattractive tombstone and claimed it is not a monument.

4. Installation of 103 additional ADA-compliant curb ramps around the Town, making sidewalks more accessible.
Had these not been required by law, we're sure these would not have been installed.

5. More sidewalks are being built around town: Seely Place (almost done) in Edgemont, Fort Hill Road (work started), Sprain Road (work started), Benedict Ave. (work to start soon).
Much more funding exists for sidewalks that could be built throughout the Town. Unfortunately, Mr Feiner has only finally applied for some of this money because of the Edgemont threat of incorporation and has to at least appear concerned about that community. Should Edgemont incorporate, a major portion of the Town tax revenue would disappear. Given the high costs to taxpayers of Mr Feiner's lawsuits during his 24-year tenure, the Town needs all the income we can get!

6. Town Board complies with tax cap in approving 2017 budget.  The Town Board has complied with the tax cap every year since the cap was implemented.
While technically correct, the NYS 2% Tax Cap is exempt from many aspects of the budget and is not truly a 2% cap. Regardless, the Town Board can go beyond or exceed the tax cap by a majority vote at a Town Board meeting without having their feet held to the fire.

7. We obtained CDBG funding for a sidewalk on Secor Road near the Greenburgh Housing Authority development.  Pushing for private funding for a sidewalk near the Community College on Knollwood Road and Grasslands Road.  Applied for grants to build more sidewalks on Central Avenue.
 All good. Why did it take so long to start applying for these grant monies? See #5.

8.  From April 2016 through November 2016 the Town paved approximately 12.46 miles of Town Roadway.
Paving our streets is but one of the functions of government and we should be seeing all of our streets repaved as part of an infrastructure planning schedule.

9.  Received the Automobile Club of the Northeast’s highest award - one given to only four communities in the northeast for our proactive efforts promoting pedestrian safety: digital radar speed signs, using message boards, more enforcement, promoting motorcycle safety, analyzing traffic locations that need safety improvements.  We are organizing a new effort - encouraging pedestrians to wear bright clothing in the evening.  Have been distributing free reflector arm bands so motorists can see pedestrians walking.
Should we be rated for spending money on signs advertising a lack of police presence or should we have more police on patrol? Of course, we want to see more officers on the road addressing speeding, inappropriate vehicles driving through our residential neighborhoods, illegal housing and controlling our safety through enforcement. The police department's new traffic control officer is not addressing speeding on many of the streets known to host speeding. This needs to change as residential speeders know there is no longer any enforcement and no consequence for breaking the law. Wearing wristbands and bright clothing are smart, time-proven ideas. So are sidewalks and the safety they provide by getting pedestrians off of our dangerous streets.

10. Our first annual new residents’ reception and pool party at the Theodore Young Community Center resulted in an opportunity to highlight some outstanding programs and resulted in new enrollments.
The new residents reception is a good idea but the rest is nothing but blatant and shameful campaigning.

11. Moody's and Standard & Poor's both reaffirming town's Aaa and AAA bond rating --the highest rating a government can receive. Our bond ratings have gone up a few times during my administration and results in six figure savings when we borrow.  We have continuously received the highest ratings since 2008.  Moody’s based their ratings on our “sound financial position with strong fiscal management, low debt profile, and manageable pension liability.”
What this really means is Mr Feiner has no problem dipping into taxpayer pocketbooks whenever he has been found guilty and needs to pay a fine. Moody's gives him that bravado.

12. Progress with county on WestHELP to convert WestHELP into 54 affordable 62+ senior housing units.
Mr Feiner was the one who did not renew the contract with the County for WestHelp which provided $1.2 million a year to the Town He is the one who instructed Town employees to leave the facility open furthering its ruination so he could use the property for political leverage and try to tear it down and “hawk” it as the future site of a handicapped facility for a school in Yonkers looking for a new location. Not only did that plan fall through for legal reasons, but as Mr Feiner continued to be in violation of the contractual terms in place, the County has decided to take back control of the property, losing $1.2 million a year in revenue!

13. Building Department initiated plans to demolish an abandoned hazardous home on Teramar Way and is inspecting other abandoned properties.
This goes back numerous years. Why does the Town continue to ignore their fiduciary responsibilities as well as the safety side by ignoring their responsibility to the taxpayers?

14. Comprehensive plan approved---first in town history.  Will include more town-school partnerships in land use reviews.
This is not the Town’s first Comprehensive Plan. Regardless, the Comprehensive Plan could have been a document that truly created a vision for the Town’s future. Instead, the majority of the Steering Committee chose to make a political statement with it and squandered a tremendous opportunity for the future of our Town. Instead, it perpetuates the zoning quagmire that Mr Feiner relies on to do his spot-zoning.

15. Regeneron plans a 1,016,190 sq. ft. expansion-- nine new research and development buildings, consistent with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan.  Greenburgh is becoming the center of biotechnology in New York State.  Expansion will generate jobs and significant revenue for the town.  TIME MAGAZINE named Tarrytown/Greenburgh bio tech corridor as the "40TH MOST GENIUS PLACE IN AMERICA."
While Regeneron will generate jobs, Mr Feiner and his Board ignore the fact that a lot of the property in the Greenburgh side will be 9 buildings and 5 parking structures of impervious space, adding to the flooding downstream in Elmsford and the 9A corridor. Time magazine, no longer a substantive periodical, can call it whatever it likes. It just doesn't mean it’s true.

16. Greenburgh and 19 other localities in Westchester signed an agreement to purchase electric power in bulk  During the first six months every ratepayer saved some $$ money!
There were several problems with this deal made by Mr Feiner without taxpayer input. First, he took it upon himself to enroll every taxpayer of the Town into this program – without their permission! Second, he continually stated that taxpayers would save between $400 to $600 a year. Actual math, obviously not Mr Feiner's favorite subject, has shown that most taxpayers have only saved about $30 at most while he claims “every ratepayer saved some $$ money”. Third, the original deal promised by Mr Feiner was for electricity and gas. When the final deal was made, it was only for electricity transmission! Finally, he made this deal with, a paper company of investment lawyers creating a template with Greenburgh so they could roll-out their program nationwide. This startup, not for profit will change to a for-profit company once their experiment in Greenburgh is completed.

17. Town turned over land previously used by Pets Alive over to Paws Crossed – a no kill animal shelter – which opened up last summer.
The Town's Building Department condemned the facility, stating it was too dangerous to occupy. Then, after much publicity, which ABG believes was the entire purpose of this; the building was miraculously habitable once again.

18. Judge signs order turning over to town 60 properties that haven't paid taxes.  In 2013 over 370 parcels representing $19.9 million in delinquent taxes was on the books.  We reduced the amount of delinquent taxes by almost $13 million.
The Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations has been urging the Town leaders for years to initiate foreclosure proceedings against delinquent taxpayers. Finally, we are seeing some action. What has been done with the 60 properties since the Town took possession? Until disposed of, they will continue to receive Town services - garbage pickup etc., costing the taxpayers thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

19. Governor signed into law legislation approved by NY State Legislature authorizing the town to phase in assessment increases for tax purposes for property taxpayers whose assessments increased by more than 25% as a result of reassessment.  This new law, which Greenburgh was the first to adopt in NYS, will ease the impacts of reassessment for about 1000 households.  Most of the villages are in the process of adopting the town's tax rolls, reducing duplication (previously they had their own assessor).  This is the first reassessment in over 60 years.
It is the first reassessment in over 60 years. The last 24 of them were during Mr Feiner’s tenure. We’d like to know why he waited so long? Had he done the revaluation sooner, the lopsidedness of increases and even decreases would not have been so severe. Plus, the people who were overpaying are being further penalized while Mr Feiner tries to appease those who got clobbered by his 24-years of inaction by making them wait even longer to get their over-taxation corrected.

20. Created a new committee to help recent college graduates who can't find work find employment.
It is sad that there are no employment agencies located in our area. It’s also sad that after spending a ton of money for schooling that these colleges don’t offer any kind of placement assistance. Oh wait, they do and there are employment agencies in the area. If you have a degree in a viable subject and are flexible, you will probably find a job – with or without Mr Feiner’s assistance.
21. Southern Westchester BOCES agreed to help the town restore the 911 wall (1600 murals on Central Avenue).  They are providing the town with recommendations.
Too bad the job wasn't done correctly the first time or the second time by the professionals Mr Feiner swore would fix this. This is another example of Mr Feiner going to non-paid interns for solutions when he has none. It also allows him beau coup publicity campaigning to tout the wonderful work they are doing, regardless of how successful they are.

22. Created a new committee to promote motorcycle safety.
This seems like something the Police Department should be doing, not Town Hall.

23. Treated Crane's pond and it worked--not a lot of algae.  We installed a second water fountain.
The same answer as it relates to Edgemont in #5 applies here.

24. Added new pavilion at Anthony Veteran Park.
There may be a need for more shaded areas there.

25. The former Greenburgh Health Center on Route 119 will be demolished.  Construction of a new 15,000 sq. ft. retail building with related site improvements/landscaping to take place.  Building will be occupied by Harbor Freight Tools.  Joyce Leslie building at 250 Tarrytown Road undergoing enhancements.
While we welcome Harbor Freight coming into Greenburgh, the Town has made starting and opening a business so costly with regulations and fees that small retail businesses are few and far between. It's why we are only seeing big box and chain stores come to Town. And yet, we still hear the administration saying they’re business friendly.

26. Installed new spray pad at Massaro Park in North Elmsford.
This is a minor park improvement, however the security cameras Mr Feiner repeatedly promised and postured about to the civic association there have never materialized.

27. William L. Carter Foundation gave 4 scholarships to worthy students...offered student musicians a free summer jazz clinic...started a mentoring program and took young people to Madison Square Garden.
Kudos to the William L. Carter Foundation.

28. Enrollment in Greenburgh Central has gone up due to improved reputation of the school district.
The enrollment, whether increasing or not, is not quantifiable as no breakdowns were provided. Enrollments in area private and parochial schools are also up.

29. Westchester County Parks Foundation implementing a suggestion I made last year to organize a graffiti busters initiative.
While anyone can make suggestions to anyone else, we'd prefer Mr Feiner work on cleaning up the graffiti throughout our Town. 

30. Controversial Jefferson application near the Village of Ardsley was withdrawn.  Residents were very concerned about the impact the proposed 272 rental apartment complex would have had on the local school district and traffic.
This is misleading as it was the Ardsley residents who organized the protest that they took to the Town Board after proposals were made that caused it to be withdrawn. In fact, in an unprecedented move, the Ardsley Mayor and several trustees spoke against 
the project along with the Ardsley residents. Mr Feiner and Ms Juettner were against the project because it was in their backyard. Can you say NIMBY?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hineinu - We are here Creating a Covenant Community Of Shared Lives and Real Relationships

 Friday, January 13, 8:00 p.m.
This service is open to the entire community. Please join us!

Scarsdale Synagogue is pleased to be honoring the remarkable life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  We’ll have an abbreviated service that evening, to be immediately followed by a special oneg during during which Alan Wachtel, our own congregant, will share his reflections and memories of Dr. King with our community. 

Here is an excerpt of Alan's speech
"I met Dr. Martin Luther King when my father brought a funny, warm, black minister home for dinner [in 1960??]. I followed his coffin in Atlanta, as my family was broken-hearted and mourned with the world. My father was Dr. King's advisor, lawyer and close friend.

When Dr. King was in New York, I was his driver and bodyguard. He was part of our family. He refused to let me go to the Mississippi summer because he was convinced (rightly) that SNCC was setting up for the political impact of the killing of a white kid that summer. Indeed, Andrew Goodman, James Cheney and Michael Schwarner were killed.

​In Selma, I marched with Dr. King and heard his historic speech, with federal guard troops and helicopters protecting us from angry mobs. When he spoke out at Riverside Church against the war in Vietnam, he spoke for all Americans, not black Americans alone. He was an extraordinary leader who profoundly altered the world and my life."

Scarsdale Synagogue Temples Tremont and Emanu-El
2 Ogden Road
Scarsdale, NY 10583

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

Welcoming in 2017

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Worthington Woodlands Neighborhoods Win Housing Victory

After years of battling the Town Board’s unrelenting conviction to give away the former Frank’s Nursery property to Mr Feiner’s GameOn 365 friends, the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association, the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations and area residents stuck to their “zoning guns” and were triumphant! At the last Town Board meeting, Mr Feiner and his Board admitted defeat and approved a 101-unit assisted living housing facility to be built at that location. “We are pleased that they are coming to our community,” Dorrine Livson, President of the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association, explained to the Journal News. “The population is aging in Greenburgh, and this facility will fulfill a need that the aging population could use.” What she also said but was not printed is that the community is welcoming the facility in part because it follows the current residential zoning for the property and is not in need of zoning changes to be built.

The nursery was shut down in 2004 and abandoned by the then bankrupt Frank’s Nursery company. Seven years thereafter the Town received ownership of the 7-acre property through foreclosure. The site remained vacant and in disrepair as the Feiner administration ignored their legal and moral responsibility to sell the property and to address the mixed contamination on the site. Instead of doing the right thing, Mr Feiner entered a back room deal with GameOn 365’s management to give them the property for no where near it’s estimated value. Plus, he had Town’s “environmental expert” Town Attorney Tim Lewis advertise the remediation cost to be no more than $100,000 and that the Town would assume that cost. Once neighbors learned of this scheme, Mr Feiner began to back pedal and try other ways to gift the property to GameOn 365.

The Worthington Woodlands Civic Association, along with the Fulton Park Civic Association, Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations and the Edgemont Community Council and neighborhood residents began attending meetings and becoming vociferous about what and how Mr Feiner and the Town Board were conducting themselves. The simple fact was right in front of Mr Feiner but he chose to play games. No surprise there. According to Westchester County and New York State law, municipalities cannot be landlords and as such, any property received through foreclosure must be sold within a small time frame. The Town owned the property for years and did not sell it, nor did they try to make it “whole” and address the necessary remediation. Instead, Mr Feiner insisted the Town would sell the property and have any purchaser address the remediation, with that amount coming out of the
“profits” from the property’s sale. But, the reality is that there are no profits as the taxpayers had to absorb the back taxes owed for the property and have been forced to subsidize it yearly.

After playing games trying to outwit the neighborhoods in the area, the town hired a real estate broker to market the property to the assisted living, health care and nursing home market in June of 2014. The town received several proposals, but again the process, which Mr Feiner and his Board like to tout when they don’t know their next move, stagnated. Eventually, Capitol Senior Housing submitted the highest bid, for $3.5 million dollars. But the back taxes are up to about $1.5 million and the cleanup is guesstimated to be $1.5 million as well. So while the ultimate payoff for the Town will be about $500,000 that's left, we’re not so sure taxpayers will see that either when everything is all said and done.

Capitol Senior Housing has agreed to install a sidewalk for the entire length of the site's frontage, and install landscaping with reduced impervious surfaces. Having developer’s build sidewalks on the fronts of their property during construction is the bulk of the Town’s sidewalk initiative. It’s why you’ll see homes or businesses with sidewalks that lead to nowhere! Capitol Senior Housing has also met with residents on numerous occasions to take into account their concerns and suggestions - truly a good partnership which should provide good neighbors over the long term.

We’re glad to see several things happen with this site. First, the neighborhoods in the Dobbs Ferry Road area have cause to celebrate as they got what they had asked for all along. They were unwavering seeking housing for the location. Second, a contaminated location in the Town will finally be remediated after years of languish. Third, the dilapidated site will finally be removed and a more attractive facility will take its place. Fourth, while the Town will see some tax revenue, the Hartsdale Fire District will split the lion’s share of taxes with the Greenburgh Central school district. Little will go to the Town. Finally, we are also happy not to see the zoning changed to accommodate commercial development which would have placed an inappropriate 8-story commercial facility in the middle of a residential neighborhood. While we are always suspect of the next back room deal Mr Feiner is crafting to spring upon the residents, we’re glad the right facility is being built in the right place. It’s how we’ll get A Better Greenburgh.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dancing With The Devil in Oakland or Greenburgh

Whether it’s an Oakland-size warehouse fire or a house fire in Scarsdale, the tragedy that has just taken place in both has many people stunned, questioning how something like this could happen. And more importantly, could an Oakland size fire happen here?

All accounts thus far have determined that the building was being used improperly given its zoning of record. Equally important was the fact that the building did not have sprinklers. Would sprinklers have saved the people that were killed? It’s difficult to predict with certainty, but statistics indicate that the odds would have been greatly increased toward survival. Regardless, the warehouse’s owner, Chor Ng, through his daughter, Eva Ng, says he didn’t know that people were living there. But the leaseholder, Derick Ion Almena, has said he resides in the 4,000 square foot space with his wife, three children, and other artists.

Almena appeared contrite on the Today Show on Dec. 6. “I’m only here to say one thing: that I’m incredibly sorry and that everything that I did was to make this a stronger and more beautiful community and to bring people together.” When asked about criminal negligence charges he might face for the building conditions, Almena got angry and refused to address known dangers in the warehouse. “I signed a lease and I got a building that was to city standards supposedly … I don’t want to talk about me. I don’t want to talk about profiting …This is not profit. This is a mass grave,” he said. What he stated was partially correct; the building was to city standards when he signed the lease. But, as the tenant, he either made or condoned illegal changes and later sublet spaces to others who may not have known what was being done was illegal or unsafe.

Could the same occurrence happen here? It’s difficult to say, but we believe so. Given the liberal acceptance of many in Greenburgh and their willingness to allow illegal residential usage and be a “sanctuary” town, the probability exists. Talk to any firefighter in Greenburgh or its villages, or any community in Westchester, and they can point out houses and small apartment buildings that are over-crowded and being used beyond the intent of the community’s zoning code. Ask them if they have ever responded to a call where modifications have been done and the answer will be a resounding, “Yes!” Most can also cite numerous building, zoning and safety codes that are being violated. But, in Greenburgh as well as New York, any questions of illegalities can and will be ignored simply because inspectors must receive permission to gain access to a residence to do an inspection. Mr Feiner has also instructed the Police and Building Departments to look the other way when they come upon illegal conversions. The resident’s right-of-refusal of entry to both leaves perilous situations unchanged!

We need Mr Feiner and his Board to stop pandering to everybody simply for their own agenda: votes. We need politicians to stop coming to Fire Department Inspection Dinners, presenting a proclamation or espousing how great the firefighters are and saying they appreciate and value the job they do for our communities. What we need them to do is show our communities how much they value what the fire service does by crafting laws that allow access for life safety reasons, code violation reasons and dangerous living conditions. We need Mr Feiner to not perpetuate a sanctuary Greenburgh on every level in the town. Only then will residents be safer. Only then will firefighters, already dancing with the devil given what they do, be safer. It’s time for everyone to stop talking about safety and do something about it so that we don’t have another Oakland size tragedy, especially and unnecessarily in Greenburgh!