Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mt Vernon Meeting Tonight Against Shelter

























The County issued a press release regarding this contractual move with a church, the Friendship Worship Center. Here is one portion quoted from it: “The drop-in site is simply a humane response that allows the homeless to get out of the cold and into a clean bed for the night. It protects some of the most vulnerable in our society from freezing outdoors and does so in a cost-effective way. Westchester County has a long history of taking care of the less fortunate and providing shelter for the homeless.” What the press release neglects to discuss is the humane approach to our children that is of the utmost importance.

In the never-ending saga of politically correctness, but ignoring common sense, the Astorino administration has moved forward with putting this homeless facility, aka warming center, in a daily-use area for children on Mount Vernon’s Lincoln Avenue. Documents received by ABG and posted here show the blatant disregard for Mount Vernon’s youth with a communication from County Legislator Lyndon Williams. While nothing may ever happen between the kids and the homeless adults, ABG doesn’t believe Astorino and his administration should take that chance.


It’s well known that many of today’s homeless population have mental challenges and pose risks to themselves and others when left to fend for themselves. And while we recognize the need to address the homeless population being outdoors with this frigid weather of late, ABG also recognizes the harsh realities that come with not addressing these people’s needs properly. Legislators have passed laws to treat the mentally challenged population more humanely and like they are normal. We’ve seen their actions force the closure of psychiatric facilities and clinics that would normally help them.


After witnessing the carnage in Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, our heightened concern for school children questions just how prudent it is to place the homeless population in immediate proximity to the four surrounding schools’ children? The school’s church opens to receive the homeless only at night (9 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and during colder months until mid-April, releasing them into the neighborhood that has the children coming to school each morning. The Mount Vernon YMCA used to provide this service for the homeless until they were forced to close their doors. Even though a church may be a good spot to help the homeless population, it needs to be a church that can be utilized away from children. 


A statement from community leader Donna Jackson sums up the issue rather well. I'm against the placement of this shelter in this facility, considering that it would be placed smack dab in the middle of a residential zone surrounded by 4 schools (one of which exists in the same building of the propsed shelter).  Mount Vernon's mental health, medical and social services have been slashed and dismantled thanks to Astorino (so how would our community service these people from the COUNTY?), if there was a real genuine, heartfelt need to "save a shelter" or expand a shelter, the county should have (a) not closed the Greenburgh facility or (b) if there was funding available, they could have helped Mount Vernon invest in and shore up the homeless shelter at the YMCA.  The placement of this shelter at Friendship, without appropriate social service supports, and without advanced public input is a slap in the face to Legislator Lyndon Williams, and this portion of taxpaying voters of Westchester County.”

ABG was disturbed to find a link between Greenburgh, Mount Vernon, The Paul and Astorino. Bishop Edwers, is a County Transportation Board member. His wife works with the County Youth Bureau, where Astorino recently appointed faithful Republican and County Legislative candidate Iris Pagan, to a commissioner position. ABG understands there have been other interactions that Astorino has had with Edwers, showing him other favors in the past. The church is a big building and Rev. Edwers needs to pay a mortgage, heating and electric bills, and so on. This seems like another done-deal the County walked “winked” toward with an old friend, angling another pawn in this strategic Greenburgh/Feiner/Astorino chess game of collusion and compromise. We need politicians with a moral, ethical and legal compass. Just skirting the boundaries of the law must stop. We can only hope. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Scent of Blood

There was a palpable tension in the air. The crowd entering Town Hall was angry. Everyone in this crowd was upset from being disrespected and bypassed. This crowd wanted answers. No, this crowd demanded answers. This time the crowd was not in the mood to let The Paul or his Stepford Board off the hook. The Town Board Work Session had spilled over from earlier in the day to a night-time continuation with every seat in the audience filled. The scent of blood was unmistakable. The Paul had done it to another neighborhood again.

The carryover meeting was to discuss the group home proposed to be built on 88 North Road on a now vacant lot. The Paul had been informed of New York State’s intent to build a home there. But The Paul refused to inform the neighborhood. Neither did newly elected Town Councilman Ken Jones, an officer with the Parkway Homes Civic Association! This is a project that The Paul wants built and he made no bones at the work session stating such. He had Tim “Remediation” Lewis even hand out a list of group homes in the Greenburgh area. Ironically, there were no group homes in Boulder Ridge. Know who lives in Boulder Ridge?

The Paul yielded the floor to the two representatives from the State, who laid out their plans. There were several audience members who shouted out comments of displeasure as these two arrogantly stated that New York State can do what they want based on NY law, regardless of what the neighborhoods want or say. It sounded just like The Paul with his pet projects. But the male representative said that even though Towns, Villages and neighborhoods protest, the State agency always wins the case because the New York State law trumps local law. The woman representative said they don’t need to follow local codes and then contradicted that statement later by saying they follow local codes. They tried to say anything to confuse the audience or simply will say what they think people want to hear.

Speaker after speaker took to the podium to explain why they didn’t feel this project should be built at this location. Several speakers asked why some group homes already in the area were not on the list? They were told by these state representatives that sometimes they might miss one. Might miss one? How can that be? But, there seems to be more group homes in the area than the NYS representatives would have us believe. One reason they can get away with this, beyond the reason that they “might have missed one” is semantics. These people were here to build a group home for developmentally disabled men with The Paul’s blessing. That’s considered different than a group home for mentally handicapped or physically disabled men – even though they can be interchangeably defined based on what you need the cause to be. It’s like numbers. You can always manipulate your numbers to give the result you want based on semantics. It’s how The Paul justifies his illegal actions for  the $12M in losses the Town has experienced in the last year, beyond certiorari refunds.

The entire two and a half hours of this meeting found everyone in agreement and not wanting this group home. Everyone. While numerous valid reasons were stated, The Paul insisted that the neighborhood association have a few people sit down with the Town Board, whom we know will feign concern for the neighborhood and then go along with The Paul’s desire to have this built. The fact is, this is a Done Deal! The Paul purposely neglected to inform the neighborhood until it was too late for them to stop this from happening! The decision must be rendered by the Town to the State to accept or reject the proposal by February 1! The Paul wants it and he was doing everything he could to block the public from standing in his way of making it happen. Could he be doing this to placate Governor Cuomo after requesting Governor Cuomo’s HUD housing project WestHelp, be torn down?

The Paul unsuccessfully continued to convince this packed room to compromise with the State representatives and to meet again privately with the Board and the State representatives to come up with an acceptable solution for both the State and the neighborhood. The Paul’s insistence on making this happen, trying to schedule more meetings and run down the clock is conclusive proof that this group home has been preordained and he is going to make this happen. Occasionally, Francis “Back Pocket” Sheehan would add a comment, Diana “Sleepy” Juettner just sat there and Ken “Newby” Jones mostly sat there, probably realizing he betrayed his neighborhood for the ultimate aphrodisiac – political power. No matter, the neighborhood will forget this in a few months and he’ll be re-elected.

The Board adjoined to Executive Session after abusing the audience to discuss and make decisions they are too embarrassed to have the public witness. Once in the back room for their Executive Meeting ABG can only wonder the verbal beating the Board received from The Paul.

The Paul sent an email out today:
The Greenburgh Town Board met last night with representatives of Richmond Community Services and the community to discuss a proposed group home for six developmentally disabled individuals, some wheelchair confined, others with limited mobility.  The home is proposed to be located at 88 North Road. According to NYS law the Town Board has a specific number of days to determine if the Board wants to object. After listening to community concerns the agency has agreed to a one week extension of the Padavan notification timetable till February 8th, 2013.  They will be meeting with their architects to discuss the size of the proposed home and landscaping issues. Some of the Board members expressed concern about saturation of group homes/non profits in the Fairview section of town.

What this email says is what the neighborhood of over a hundred residents wants doesn’t matter. The Paul has decided that this is a done deal because he wants this group home built here. There is no doubt that The Paul pointed this piece of property to the bloodhounds at the Richmond Community Services and said, “Go for it! I'll make sure nothing gets in our way.” His email says “the Town Board has a specific number of days to determine if the Board wants to object.” There is no need for the neighborhood to meet with The Paul and his Board again. They were definitive during the meeting as to what they want the Town Board to do: OBJECT! He continues, “After listening to community concerns the agency has agreed to a one week extension of the Padavan notification timetable till February 8th, 2013.”  After listening? They didn’t listen. If they did, they would not have to ask for an extension, they would just OBJECT! “They will be meeting with their architects to discuss the size of the proposed home and landscaping issues.” This again indicates that The Paul isn’t interested in saying, “NO!” to the State, simply finding a way to get what he wants.

The issue at hand is not whether the group home has value. The issue is that The Paul and his Board, and specifically Councilman Ken Jones, predetermined what should happen in the Parkway Homes neighborhood, didn’t inform or include the neighborhood in the decision-making process, made a deal with the state agency and disrespected an entire community. Frankly, ABG is not surprised at The Paul and his Stepford Board’s behavior or decision to circumvent the neighborhood. While not surprised, we are nevertheless disappointed. The residents in Greenburgh are owed, deserve and should receive better from the elected officials. We can only hope.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Oops! I Did It Again

The January 22nd Town Board meeting found The Paul with his back against the wall – again. This time he neglected to notify the public and specifically the neighborhood, that New York State was moving forward to purchase the vacant property at 88 North Road. Their goal is to build a 3,000 square foot group home for developmentally challenged men. This seemed to be an averaged size crowd of about twenty or so people one expects for a hearing, even though this wasn’t a hearing. It also had some of the G10 in attendance. As we would later learn from every speaker, they had only just found out about this purchase either that day or the day before this meeting.

Richmond Community Services had two representatives speak on behalf of their proposed purchase. They explained that they have 11 similar group homes throughout Westchester. This home would house, “Six young men who have ‘aged out’ from the residential schools they were in as they have all turned 21 years of age.” The term “young men” was used throughout the discussions. ABG finds the use of “young men” somewhat disingenuous in these discussions. While developmentally “young”, these are still men, aged 21 and older who will reside in this home as their permanent residence, for as long as they are alive. The house to be built will have six bedrooms with multiple exits and be handicap accessible.

That these future residents in this future home will be profoundly developmentally disabled and possibly suffer from other medical issues, the representatives claim that their medical needs will be tended to by on-site staff. When pushed a bit, the staff could be specially trained high school graduates. At no point did the representatives state that a live-in nurse, paramedic, EMT or other medically trained professional would be on site. Not allaying neighborhood residents’ concerns whatsoever, the representatives claimed their would be no need for either the police or fire departments to respond to medical emergencies at this location. And while we don’t mind our emergency services responding here, the neighborhood can’t really handle it as a regular occurrence.

After the initial presentation, residents of the Parkway Homes Civic Association and surrounding area spoke. Curiously, ABG’s understanding is that Town Councilman Ken Jones is a Vice President of the Parkway Home Civic Association. Assuming this is true, why didn’t he inform this neighborhood via his position as either Vice President of the Parkway Homes Civic Association or as a member of the Town Council or even individually as a resident walking throughout the neighborhood, telling everyone of the states plans to acquire this property? We can only wonder if he didn’t because The Paul instructed him to stay silent? This isn’t the first time The Paul has not informed neighborhoods of things about to happen and yet he seems to have no problem sending emails at the drop of a hat to boast of an idea for the Tappan Zee Bridge or the Library with a broken furnace.

Speaker after speaker bemoaned the fact that there wasn’t enough time for the neighborhood to respond to this revelation and berated The Pauls behavior toward them regarding such an important change to their neighborhood. Alicia Ford, the President of the Civic Association said the area maintains a Historic Designation, that our taxes are high enough without adding more tax-exempt properties to the Town’s rolls. She stated that there were other group homes in the area, the closest one being on Wyndover Woods Avenue, with 14 residents. She asked what the neighborhood could expect to see after the state decides they no longer wants to house developmentally disabled men there?

Patricia Brown said she lives adjacent to the property and is concerned about the increase in taxes that she, a retired senior citizen, would have to pay to make up for what this home will not pay. “It just isn’t fair to do this to us after working so hard for all of our lives.” Most people agreed that any project that goes onto the 88 North Rd site must be tax generating, otherwise it should not be allowed.

The Paul defended not informing the residents of this proposal as, “It is all my fault for not telling everyone sooner.” The state can come in and simply take over the land with a kind of eminent domain for any property they want and the Town cannot stop them. The only thing they may accept as a reason to not build is a saturation of group homes in the area. Most people are not against group homes if done within reason. If they are going to build a 3K square foot home, it will not match any of the existing houses in the vicinity. It will not blend and actually stick out like a sore thumb.

Fulton Park suffered with a similar problem that Parkway Homes is going through now. The Paul decided that a .7 acre parcel of land should be used by Westhab to build a seven story apartment building and decided that Fulton Park (as well as any neighborhoods) be damned! He spot-zoned the property to accommodate Westhab and like a blitz never seen in our Building, Zoning, and Planning Departments, saw a two-year application and permit process reduced to six months. The Parkway Homes neighborhood has a legitimate complaint. But as we all unfortunately know, The Paul doesn’t care about this neighborhood, only Boulder Ridge – which doesn’t have a group home in it. Maybe the state will change their mind, maybe not. We can only hope.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Questionable Appraisal

ABG was finally able to find and review the appraisal for the former Frank’s Nursery site at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. Our findings, while not revolutionary, raise a few questions as to what instructions the appraisal company and their appraiser were given toward the property. During the entire period of this fiasco induced by The Paul, which has been going along for about two years now, there have been numerous “plays” by The Paul, his Town “Go Along” Board, and Tim “Remediation” Lewis. Ironically, the appraisal uses some of the same language as GameOn 365’s website.

This whole debacle began with The Paul secretly meeting with the owners of the GameOn 365, who convinced The Paul to let them “have” this property for basically a monthly maintenance fee under the guise of a deflated “rent”. He agreed. Next, he enlisted his buddies Tom “Proclamation” Abinanti and Andrea “Platitudes” Stewart-Cousins, to submit an amendment to the Finneran Law during the wee morning hours of their respective Albany legislatures immediately prior to their end-of-year recess. This practice has been performed traditionally in Albany for years. Apparently, Abinanti who insisted he was not a career politician when he originally ran for State Assembly after his 20-year tenure as a County Legislator, knew all about this maneuver and jumped right onto it when The Paul beckoned. Stewart-Cousins obligingly followed suit. It’s disappointing that they would just go along with The Paul’s request and not ask any residents’ from the neighborhood they’re supposed to represent for an opinion.

Knowing his Board would vote through any scheme he asks for, The Paul fabricated a pretext of needing only a lease with this piece of property exclusively with GameOn 365, without putting the property up for sale as required by law or offering it to the public for a Request For Proposal (RFP). Once he made the illegal misstep of not selling the property as mandated by law and promising GameOn 365 sole participation for the property, GameOn 365 was able to solicit investors for their Sports Bubble idea. Notwithstanding that the property reverted back to Residential Zoning after six months of being foreclosed upon and unused by the Town, The Paul skirted the zoning issue each time it was raised. A fervent proponent of spot-zoning, The Paul isn’t worried about zoning restrictions.

To add insult to injury, The Paul needed another diversion away from this illegal deal – and quickly. Planning ahead to the 2013 election, The Paul knew he had upset a lot of tried-and-true supporters and needed to make up lost votes. So he casually allowed the lease with WestHelp and the County of Westchester lapse, claiming then County Executive Andrew Spano was the one who didn’t renew the lease. When proof substantiated that it was The Paul, not Spano, who didn’t renew the lease, The Paul fabricated emails he supposedly sent to Spano requesting renewal. Again, these were proven to be falsified emails. During that same time frame, the Fortress Bible Church lawsuit was adjudicated against The Paul, current Councilwoman Diana Juettner and the Town, citing they lied under oath, discriminated against the African American Church and destroyed evidence. It is a well publicized fact that The Paul has experience with evidence tampering. An Appeals Court denied the Towns appeal of the decision, determining the guilt of The Paul, Juettner and the Town! We await the judgement which many say could go as high as $8M!

Simon Cohen, a nearby resident to the affected area, started a website called HelpBurstTheBubble.com and did a mailing throughout portions of the Town attempting to stop the GameOn 365 proposal. His contentions were numerous as he was against the size, use of the property, the illegal lease deal, the favoritism practiced by The Paul and his Board. He quickly gained a foothold and many rallied with him in an attempt to halt this out-of-control, illegal and improper “done-deal”!

During the summer months, The Paul, ever-shrewd and manipulating, offered an outdoor Town Hall style meeting on the property to answer residents questions and concerns. He canceled the first meeting although about 100 residents are said to have shown up. The following night there was the actual,  official meeting. ABG witnessed the condescending attitude that owner Martin Hewitt had that evening as he was given the microphone and stated to the crowd, “Here’s how this is going to work. You raise your hand, I’ll call on you, you can ask your question and I’ll answer it. I won’t answer questions that we’ve already covered.” This understandably irritated a large portion of the crowd seeking answers. And when questions were repeatedly not answered in lieu of softball questions, the meeting quickly devolved. Plus, GameOn 365’s bussed-in supporters tried to shout down residents as they spoke.

Many residents, including the G10, repeatedly suggested to The Paul and his Board that a fair market appraisal be performed. There were many numbers continually tossed about and many insisted a real number be had. The Paul refused, knowing that without having an accurate number, it would be difficult to makle a case against his illegal plan. After Town Assessor Edye McCarthy insisted that the property values The Paul was using were inaccurate, she refused to answer when pushed for an approximate value of the property either “as is” or remediated, saying once a structure was placed on the property, the value would change. Everyone understood that. This just seemed to be more obfuscation by The Paul’s administration.






The Paul was forced into a corner with his new offer to sell the property to GameOn 365 in a number of ways. Stall as much as he might, GameOn 365 doesn’t have the money to purchase the property and is solely relying on investors to cough up the money. But he also couldn’t sell without an appraisal of the property so he finally, and begrudgingly, had an appraisal done. As you can see in the last line of the picture below, the appraisal states that the property value is based on remediation. We find it difficult to believe that an appraiser would give a valuation of a property on a possible future condition, or a guess, which is what this appears to be. It is also questionable that the appraiser came in with a valuation at the same amount as GameOn 365 offered for the property. Hmmm?







HelpBurstTheBubble took the next step and initiated a community supported lawsuit against The Paul, his Town Board and GameOn 365 to stop the madness. No stranger to lawsuits, The Paul dug his heels in even more. As the court date approached, The Paul no doubt saw the light or received some real legal advice, invariably from someone other than the Town’s legal department who told him he would lose – again. So he decided to “sort of” follow the law, which basically states that any foreclosed property the Town acquires must be sold. So, The Paul announced the sale of 715 Dobbs Ferry Road to GameOn 365. This was simply a deftly executed move by The Paul. House of Sports’ owners decided enough was enough! They went public with an offer to the Town for the property of about twice as much as GameOn 365, for $3.5M for the property!

This new dilemma for The Paul and the Town Board presents uncharted territory for them: it’s an ethical and even a moral choice they must make to do the right thing. Since they are representatives of the residential and business residents of the Town, it is incumbent upon them to do what is in the best interest of the Town and our finances. Since The Paul has cost the Town approximately $12M this last year, the House of Sports offer is major bailout compared to the GameOn 365 offer. Since he refuses to put it out for an RFP, we urge him to take the highest offer for the property. Tim “Remediation” Lewis has stated they gave their word to GameOn 365 for the property to develop. Lewis also gave his word to the public that the remediation would not cost more than $100K. Just the testing went beyond that! That they gave their word based on an illegal deal makes this a no-brainer for any of us with a conscience. As such, we think the best course of action for the Town is to finally do the right thing and either sell the property to House of Sports or advertise it for RFPs.

Another point that is critical with this property is that The Paul has only entertained building another business at this location to replace Frank’s Nursery. The property has reverted back to residential zoning and the neighborhoods in the area would like to see it remain residential. ABG agrees. There are too few opportunities to create or expand new or existing neighborhoods that provide various types of housing in our Town once a business leaves. This is a golden opportunity for the Town to expand our residential tax base.

The Town should get as much as we possibly can for this property to help offset the financial plight The Paul has forced us into. The Town Board must accept House of Sports’ offer if they refuse to put this out for RFP. We can only hope.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Execution in Greenburgh

Greenburgh Police received a call last night between 8 and 8:15 PM, for shots fired and responded to the vicinity of a shooting in the area of Oak and Warren Streets, close to Manhattan Avenue, where they found a 20-year old man in a car, shot. When they arrived at the scene, he was still alive. Paramedics treated him at the scene and transported him to the Westchester County Medical Center in Valhalla, NY. He subsequently passed away from the gunshot wounds at the hospital. ABG sources have told us that this appears to have been done as an execution-style shooting with two gun shots; One was to the head and the other in the throat of the victim.

There have been other shootings in the area where this body was found. And, while there are several gangs known to be in the area, ABG sources could not confirm if this was a gang related shooting or not. Police officers we spoke with are hoping this is not gang related and does not spark more or retaliatory shootings.

Police said early this afternoon that they are continuing to investigate. The victim’s identity is expected to be released Sunday evening pending notification of his family. Anyone with information is asked to call the Greenburgh Police Department at 914-682-5331.

Sanctuary Town: Illegal Housing Costs Us All

Look The Other Way
ABG’s previously posted about the Town employees being told to look the other way when it comes to illegal aliens, illegal housing, and other related illegal activities. It bears further comment in terms of what it costs us, the legal and abused taxpayers of Greenburgh. When we discuss illegal housing, we are not targeting illegal aliens. While there is less of an issue from the standpoint of their being here, how they reside still contributes to the illegal housing and should not be ignored. But it also costs us in many other ways.

Every Service Is Estimated
There are several categories that bear examination, including, but not limited to, water usage, trash removal, garbage removal, recycling, fire, police, and schools. Every service in our Town is either estimated or sometimes “guesstimated” on past usage, square footage of residential and commercial buildings. Most of it is pretty routine. But this affects our infrastructure as well as aging it prematurely, overburdening it, and increasing the costs to it.

Water Usage
No one at the Town seemed able to tell us the yearly water rate or garbage fee per ton for the Town of Greenburgh. No matter, we’ll make up numbers for our example. Let’s say the Town pays $1,000 per day to use one million gallons of water. That translates to $365,000 for 365 million gallons of water. We understand that usage fluctuates and there will be days where more and/or less is rightfully used. But what happens if we use more at the end of a billing period and we go over our one million gallons? If we wind up using 1 million and 1 gallons, the price the Town pays goes up exponentially, roughly by (i.e.) four times the amount. So instead of paying $365,000, we now have to pay $1,460,000! Granted these numbers are examples but the exponential increases are very real.

Why is our water usage important? Because when the Town estimates the budgets and projected usage for the year, it is based on existing housing and the housing’s designation as single family, two family, six family, apartment buildings and so on. If you have a family of four (again an average estimate) in a single family home, you can approximate water usage by their actual address, house size and/or square footage, based on four people and then estimate water usage for a neighborhood. It’s the same for businesses as well. In fact, the Coca Cola bottling plant in the northern unincorporated area of Greenburgh (9A-north Elmsford) used so much water when they opened that they created a vacuum of water in the surrounding area, activating area business’ fire alarm systems with false water-flow alarms. It took some time but was corrected. Once the issue for that business is fixed, normal usage is again planned for.

When a single family home of four is estimated to use a certain amount of water per year, the Town budgets for just that. If say three families are now living in that same single-family home, they are effectively using three times the amount of water. Getting the water is not the issue, nor would the increase in people and usage in one home be a problem. It would be the same as say a young adult losing their job or home and moving back in with their parents or the parents moving in with their son or daughter. It’s not a problem nor would we seek to force them out. But when there are numerous single-family homes occupied by multiple families, it begins to shift the water costs upward to the Town significantly. We all pay more for water with increased fees while the single family with multiple families effectively pays less. It’s a large part of why our Water Department operated at a $4M deficit for the past few years.

Garbage Removal
Similar to water usage costs are garbage removal fees. The Town picks up garbage throughout the Town twice a week except during holiday weeks, when residents continue to generate garbage but Town workers receive the holiday off and our pickup is reduced to once a week. The Town plans on a certain tonnage of garbage to be generated by it’s residents and budgets personnel, vehicles and fees for that quantity to be picked up, carted to The Charles Point Resource Recovery Facility, located in Peekskill. What the Town picks up and delivers to them is paid for by most of us by the pound. We all pay more for it while the single family with multiple families effectively pays less for extra trips back and forth to Peekskill, additional garbage tonnage, personnel, etc.

The garbage removal is paid for by most of us and not all of us based on the illegal housing that the through the Town’s condoning of illegal housing. Our example of a single family home of four, it is estimated to generate a certain amount of garbage and the Town budgets for just that based on housing zoning and a generically acceptable amount of occupants per square footage. If say three families are now living in that same single-family home, they are effectively generating three times the amount of garbage. Since they are paying a rate for one family, the rest of us must make up the difference with increased garbage removal costs to the Town.

Looking The Other Way
The over-occupancy of single and two family homes is a safety issue that seems to be brought into the open any time there is an injury or death and requires police or fire department intervention. Interestingly, The Paul has mandated to the police and fire departments that they are not to go to a home and “find” other violations beyond what they were called there for. An example is a domestic fight that took place in a single family home that our offices overlook. If they notice rooms with locks or subdivisions, multiple mattresses on the floors throughout the house, they cannot report it.

From our hilltop location, we actually have a view of many rooftops but only two or three homes. They are over-occupied based on what we witness 24/7. When the police responded for a domestic disturbance between the apparent landlord and tenant, our own Christina, went to an officer she knows and asked what happened. He told her the landlord wanted the renter evicted and when he tried to put the renters belongings outside, things got violent. The officer told her he went in after the tenant and got “turned around” momentarily when he went in because the basement, through the boarded up garage area, had been subdivided numerous times. Eventually, with assistance from the other officers, he and the renter were brought outside.

The officer explained he used to be a city firefighter and wonders what might have happened if it were a couple of firefighters who went in there in a smoky condition, saying they would have been killed or called a ‘mayday’! A ‘Mayday’ call from a firefighter is when they are disoriented, trapped or hurt in a fire and need assistance to get out. When pushed if he would report this to the Building Department, he stated he cannot and will not put it in his report. His orders are to respond to the call and look the other way toward other violations! A check with our firefighters confirmed this policy.

Schools and More
There are other costs to the Town’s residents that the rest of us pay to absorb, beyond the increased staffing for Police, Fire and Sanitation personnel. We pay more for our schools taxes because we have to accommodate teaching the additional kids that overburden an already saturated system. So if the schools planned on an estimated two children from a single-family home, which is now receiving four kids, and they can’t turn them away, nor would we, they are absorbed into the system. However the same system for good instruction for the legal residents suffers from being overburdened. It’s costing us all more.

There other examples of how this affects us from overcrowded hospital emergency rooms, ambulance calls, closing of hospitals, increased costs for state, county local benefits, etc. The final concern here is resident’s personal safety at home. By allowing multiple families to illegally occupy a single family home, we condone them to live in a dangerous environment unnecessarily. This goes beyond not paying their fair share. We put them and our first responders in added danger when they must respond to aided calls, fire calls or domestic disturbance calls at these locations. Our first responders, whether paid or volunteer, never signed up for the additional hazards of responding to single family homes with multiple families. Nor did we as residents.

Indicators
What are the signs of multiple occupancy? There are typically more than two or three cars in the driveway, different cars coming and going at all hours of the day and night, cars parked on the lawn because the driveway is full. Watch for the amount of garbage that is put out. We’re not talking about the occasional time there is a holiday or birthday party when additional garbage is generated. But, when you see more than one or two bags of garbage per pickup, you might have multiple tenants. Watch on trash pickup days for the same thing. Many homes that have multiple tenants or families don’t have a storm door - something which is baffling to us and we cannot explain. Look on the side of the house for a cable splitter with wires going into the house at different locations or through windows. Take a look for multiple satellite dishes mounted to the house. Finally, ask a neighbor and they will easily be able to point out multiple tenant single-family homes.

It Must Stop
The Paul has decided to make the Town a sanctuary Town. His motivation is unknown to us but we’d like to see the laws we have enforced. When you complain about your taxes going up, illegal housing is a large contributing reason for it. It must stop and the Town needs to address the multi-families in a single family home problem that is pervasive throughout our Town. It’s not safe and adds unnecessarily costs to our residents and businesses. It must stop! We can only hope.

Town Treats More Properties Like WestHelp

ABG was invited to look at two homes in one neighborhood during a tour of several Town locations for different reasons. We’re not making judgements of the people who may own these homes or their circumstances. We were told when we visited them that they were not occupied. These photos cannot capture the conditions that an “in-person” viewing did. The reason for our post with these two homes is that the condition of the homes present a danger to the residents, if in fact they are occupied, bring a negative image to the neighborhood, and ultimately reflect poorly on the Town’s code enforcement departments.

The first home is on Drisler Avenue and the second is on Lark Avenue, both in the Worthington Woodlands area of the Town. Unfortunately, they do not adequately show the true condition of what we witnessed. We knocked on a few neighbors doors and only found one person willing to admit that they had contacted the Town about trying to get some attention to these homes. Her concerns were to have repairs made before they became either too damaged, infested with rodents, used by squatters or stripped by thieves. She explained her pleas to The Paul fell on deaf ears.

Note the cars shown appear to not be registered for street use.


It is incumbent on the Town Building Department to secure the safety of all our residents, not only on the streets, but perhaps from themselves through neglect. The Paul and his Stepford Board never seem to miss an opportunity to create a new fee (tax) for the Building Department to charge residents. If the owners of these homes need help, we should find a way to help them fix what needs to be fixed. If these homes are simply unoccupied because the owners passed away, is incapacitated, too old or frail to make repairs, or in foreclosure, let them investigate and find every way to make them habitable.

With all the homeless, seniors, veterans and others in need of a roof over their heads, wouldn’t these houses, instead of constructing apartment buildings that don’t fit in our neighborhoods, be a better solution? Simply, yes!. Every neighborhood throughout the Town has vacant homes for a variety of reasons. Shouldn’t we stop letting facilities such as WestHelp be used for a personal agenda as a political football and start housing people again? Simply, yes! Shouldn’t we look at homes that are vacant as part of a solution to our affordable housing solution. Simply, yes! Shouldn’t our “problem-solver” be solving problems instead of creating more of them? We can only hope.

Friday, January 25, 2013

County Gifts Day Off to Select Group of Employees

ABG has previously posted about this waste of County resources. What it amounts to is nothing more than a paid day off for County employees. It was started under former County Executive Andrew Spano and perpetuated by current County Executive Robert Astorino. Astorino touts himself as a reformer when its convenient but apparently is more interested in paying back the unions with this day off for the workers who participate.

Billed as the Westchester Educational Safety Training for police, emergency services and public works employees. It billed as running between 8:30AM until 2:00PM. This ensures an entire paid day off for anyone chosen to participate AND be billed as the requisite safety training employees must receive. Most public employees start at 8AM and finish at 4PM. This gives them plenty of time to “punch in”, hop in a County owned truck or vehicle and hightail it over to the County Center. Once the event shuts down, and they get back to their respective offices, it’s just in time to “punch out”.

Here’s two copies of the flyers being circulating through the entire County system. Note that they have different topics but the same basic format and information. ABG wonders how many more of these exist that we haven’t seen?
 

When these supposed forums began years ago, it was known as the County Fleet Day. The very few “old timers” still on the job for the County still refer to it as such. Back then, the special workers chosen for this payoff simply drove their rigs to the County Center, pulled them inside and had breakfast and lunch on the County’s dime. That still happens and we pay for it all as an event under the guise of “training”. It’s not training. Not only has Astorino and everyone in his administration has turned a blind eye toward this blatant ripoff of the taxpayers dollars, but the longer they let this travesty continue and the longer he and his administration condone it, the more of our valuable tax dollars is wasted.

ABG supports legitimate safety training. Having eight uniform vendors participate in this “trade show-like” environment is nothing more than the County administrators trying to substantiate and even validate this waste of time and dollars. It must end! If Astorino has finished padding his administration with Republican faithfuls and foot soldiers, it’s time for him to really start trimming waste, spending and the highest taxes in the nation. Playing the game of proposing the elimination of jobs compared to such waste such as this is where we can start saving the battered taxpayers real dollars. ABG implores County Executive Astorino to stop playing games with the public’s money. We can only hope.

Densification

The last several years have proven that The Paul is not interested in preserving the “green” in Greenburgh. He’s not alone. The County has a master plan that incorporates an increased densification of the southern portion of the county as well as the Unincorporated sections of Greenburgh, especially on Rt 119. Regrettably, The Paul and his cohorts, from his Stepford Board to the developers to other politicians, all believe in a master plan that includes blacktopping our green space.

Many projects throughout the Town exemplify this endorsed densification. Planning Commissioner Thomas Madden, knows where his “bread is buttered”. Not only does he go along with The Paul’s plans, he goes beyond them. He pursues every avenue to help create larger and more grandiose plans throughout the Town. Residents will find Madden routinely endorsing plans that will add to his job security and eliminate our suburban Greenburgh into a more urban one. Stop and Shop on Rt 119 and Brightview Assisted Living in Glenville are obvious ones that come to mind.

Changing the zoning in the Town at the whim of a developer’s request has allowed The Paul to give away our green space, congest our neighborhoods, lessen the attractiveness of purchasing a home in the Town, increase traffic, flooding and overwhelm an outdated and beleaguered infrastructure. The latest example of this is the zoning change requested by the Brightview Assisted Living Center in the Glenville Neighborhood. ABG has previously written about this particular issue. In short, Brightview is utilizing a lack of definition in our zoning code for Assisted Living in hopes of getting a “custom made” zoning change that will benefit them.

There are several issues at stake with this. First, the Comprehensive Planning Committee, which was tasked for developing a Town Comprehensive Plan, continually has new requests asked of it, forcing their Comprehensive Plan to be delayed for submission and adoption by the Town. Second, each time another task is requested, the Town Board proceeds with any changes it pleases to keep the developers happy. This thwarts any benefit we might get if our Comprehensive Plan was presented and approved. Third, it’s currently overdue with no visible submission date on the horizon.

Spot-zoning is illegal. Simply, spot-zoning is when the Town Board changes the zoning for a particular project, developer, neighborhood or parcel of land. This is routinely done throughout the Town by The Paul and his Stepford Board. Again, it is illegal. We’ve witnessed spot zoning for numerous projects such as for Stop & Shop in Glenville, Westhab in Fulton Park, Dromore Road and Central Avenue in Edgemont, soon-to-be for sports bubbles in Veteran Park and at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road and Assisted Living Centers in Glenville. If The Paul wants it, it will happen. ABG recognizes the need for some change and the right for property owners to do what they desire with their property. But there needs to be a balance of uniformity and conformity within Town guidelines when this is done to maintain a level of attractiveness and functionality within the Town. That’s what our planning and zoning regulations should do. Yet, with The Paul and the Stepford Board subverting them, the planning and zoning boards are impotent to stop them.

With the Town zoning in place, when an owner/landlord/developer wishes to use the property for a proposal the zoning does not allow, property owners and/or developers are required to go to the Zoning and Planning Boards and request a variance or change. Most often, this is exactly what happens for an owner or landlord. And, depending on the proposal, they may rightly be refused their request until concessions and accommodations are made to conform with the zoning. There are many reasons for refusal by numerous Boards. Sometimes, the refusal is based on size (too large), style (doesn’t blend), traffic (increases/hinderances/flow) and the like.

When it’s for an individual homeowner, or small landlord, they are tasked with redoing their plans and proposals at their own additional expense and re-applying to that particular Board. When it is a developer asking, and they are refused, they simply confer with The Paul behind closed doors. When they emerge with their marching orders, they’ll all dance the dance as required by The Paul and present their proposal to the Board with soft, attractive water color renditions with the lovely landscapes to his “go-along” Board. From there, the developer’s game is in play. The Board will vote to become the lead agency and begin the sham approval process – regardless of what’s wrong with the project.

As was done with the Hebrew Hospital Home of Westchester, at 61 Grasslands Road, The Paul told them they could receive site approval to add buildings to their site if they donated a fire truck to the Fairview Fire Department. Once Rescue 3 was ordered and delivered (since replaced), site approvals sailed through the Town Board like beer flows at an Octoberfest! When The Paul told the Fortress Bible Church to donate a fire truck to the Fairview Fire Department, they said, “No!” Not surprisingly, Fortress Bible Church began receiving no site approvals and the internal departmental run-arounds that residents are so used to. Ultimately, with no additional fire apparatus in the offing, no site approvals took place and nothing could be built. Fortress Bible Church refused to play “FeinerBall” and sued the Town on seven counts AND WON! The Town went to an Appeals Court and again Fortress Bible Church WON! One of the reasons The Paul claimed against the Church was the increased traffic and safety issues it would cause on Dobbs Ferry Road. If this was an issue then, why did he not see it as an issue for the proposed GameOn 365 property across the street which promised more traffic?

The Town’s Zoning and Planning Boards are appointed positions by The Paul. Perhaps this would be okay if The Paul and his Stepford Board were not part of the process. The Zoning and Planning Boards can only make recommendations to the Town Board as the lead agency. Subsequently, when the Zoning or Planning Boards make a recommendation to the Town Board, it is just that, a recommendation and no matter how competent, correct, caring or pellucid either of these Boards are with their information, the Town Board is not bound by it. Whether it involves receiving a piece of fire apparatus or not, the lead agency moves ahead with more developments throughout the Town. The increased densification of the Town needs to stop. Projects that increase our impervious space are not helping the Town’s residents who routinely get flooded in normal rain storms. The aging infrastructure, ignored by The Paul for his entire 20-plus years tenure have left the Town residents hurting. The illegal actions of The Paul and his Board have taken it’s toll. It has to change. We can only hope.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Town Ignores Toll Brothers’ Ardsley Chase Violations


Seemingly nestled in the bucolic Village of Ardsley, Toll Brothers, luxury homebuilders, have been selling pre-built lots and future luxury homes in their new development, Ardsley Chase.
These are actually in the Town of Greenburgh. What ABG has learned however, is that while the development may be luxury homes for future residents, the Town is completely abandoning our existing residents in the surrounding area. This is not a new circumstance that the Town administration might say they were unaware of or hadn’t heard about until now. Letters and emails have been sent and phone calls made. Efforts made to enlist the Town’s help rectify the wrongs perpetrated by the Toll Brothers and their various sub-contractors have fallen on deaf ears at Town Hall. No surprise in the Town of Developer Paradise.

ABG staffers took a quick tour of the site with several residents to see first hand some of the issues. While mud throughout the site limited our access on foot, there were no gates offering the site any security or limiting our access. This is one of the complaints from residents. Trucks seem to be accessing and exiting the construction site at all hours of the day and night without regard to noise ordinances, “normal operating/business hours” nor weekend courtesies of allowing residents a respite from the noise, rumbling and traffic created by their trucks.

We attended a resident meeting recently about the Brightview Assisted Living Facility, who have proposed a sweeping Town-wide zoning change to accommodate themselves and other developers, with theirs being a new, 4-story, 90 units facility smack dab in the middle of single family residential communities. When queried about construction noise, traffic and obstructions to their daily lives, they insisted in very soft-spoken and calming voices that they would adhere to the Town’s extremely strict blasting, noise, building and site specific regulations for parking, etc., during construction. It was like listening to Allison Steele on the radio. Residents were correctly skeptical. Especially when representatives from other neighborhoods confirmed the Town did not enforce any of the regulations, allowing developers the “run” of the neighborhood. At this point, the President of the Glenville Civic Association (the area near Benedict Ave & Rt 119) and others from the neighborhood complained about the construction violations that the Town did not enforce during the entire construction of the new Stop and Shop across from them on Rt 119. In fact, when they complained with calls to the police department, they were told little could be done.

Blasting at the Ardsley Chase site, while mostly completed at this point, has resulted in damage to numerous neighbors near and far, forcing them to place claims with their insurance companies and the Town. These construction blasting victims were all told by their insurance companies their claims were refused because the cracks, “nail pops”, pipe leaks and related damage were caused by their homes settling. To contest the decision would require hiring engineers, having studies performed which is just not cost effective when its all said and done. 

Toll Brothers has refused to repair the damage to the homes. The Paul and the Town’s various departments expectedly refuse them help, even going so far as to not return resident’s phone calls. Ironically, the Town mandates developers to maintain insurance bonds to pay for damage caused by construction. These should be viewed like the Town’s AAA Bond Rating. It’s valueless if you are not going to use it. ABG has learned that Fulton Park had the same problem when Westhab was blasting and when the NYS Truway Authority blasted as they added sound barriers along I-287; Glenville had the same problem when Stop and Shop site blasting was happening; Dunnings Drive residents had the same problem during construction of Watch Hill; the same thing at Nob Hill and Avalon Green’s surrounding residents. Nothing was ever done by the Town to remedy any of this. Now Glenville needs to prepare for Round 2!

At the entrance to the new development at Birch Ridge and Ardsley Roads, the developer moved the telephone pole back about maybe two to three feet. 
Phone pole on west side of Birch Hill Rd was previously where the gray rectangle on the
sidewalk is. You can just barely see the edge of the bus stop sign on the northern side of the
pole between the second and third metal straps holding the metal pole to the phone pole.
Where it is however, creates a line of site hindrance that will make exiting the complex onto Ardsley Road extremely dangerous. We experienced this when we tried to exit. Add inclement weather, snow and ice conditions and you have a recipe for disaster. The County bus stop, which had been located on the western side (at the point we’re standing to take this picture) of Birch Street, was moved to make the entrance appear more inviting.  This makes the accessibility of the bus stop a serious issue and quite possibly an ADA violation. The new western-side sidewalk has phone poles right in the center of the sidewalk, blocking anyone trying to walk on it and forcing them to step into the roadway to go around it. This is extremely dangerous and needs to be fixed.

More importantly, the Birch Ridge Road’s line of site coming eastbound on Ardsley Road (toward Central Ave.) is too steep and in violation of AASHTO standards, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Ignoring important safety standards at this already precarious location mandates a foregone conclusion of multiple accidents, injuries and even death! Why haven’t our assorted planning and building departments in tandem with our elected officials addressed this? Why does The Paul’s Stepford Board continue to become the lead agency for every project, with the Planning Commissioner “going to bat” for every developer, and then ignore such routine violations when lives are unnecessary placed in harms way?

We passed two existing homes, one on each corner as we entered Birch Ridge Road that have had recent landscaping performed by the Toll Brothers developers. On the eastern side, the home had their driveway moved to access Birch Ridge Road. It used to open onto Ardsley Road. They allowed the developer to make this change and enhance the entrance to Ardsley Chase. Most importantly is that the county Bee Line bus stop and ADA compliant sidewalk that had been located there was removed and grass planted. It looks terrific with the new stonewall entrance to these $1.2M and higher homes. Tacked up onto the phone pole across on the west side of Birch Ridge Road is the indicator of the new bus stop. While the phone pole on this side had been moved back two to three feet, it is still in the wrong place!

A less critical issue, but serious to the existing homeowners is truck traffic continually driving over the edges of the entrances to their homes and drives, not only ruining the landscaping, but crushing the new water meters the Town recently installed! These new meters have provided some water pressure relief to these residents while creating other problems. While Toll Brothers has repeatedly repaired the damage caused by their trucks, ABG is sure once they finish with the delivery trucks and the building is complete, these residents only recourse will be to come to the Town to complain. Basically, residents will be required to fix it themselves since our Town has a habit of ignoring its current residents.

There are several water runoff catch basins and a pump system that is supposed to catch rainwater runoff and handle it to reduce potential flooding in the area. While it is a worthy attempt to right a wrong ignored everywhere else in the Town, there hasn’t been enough rain or storms to prove it works. One of the best ways to absorb water and control flooding is by maintaining and cultivating wooded areas as well as limiting impervious space.

According to Greenburgh’s arborist, Toll Brothers removed 18,000 trees, mostly poplar trees that were at least 100 feet tall! Poplar is sought after by lumber mills because of the consistency and quantity of straight lumber they will yield. It is also a very weather/water resistant wood. Toll Brothers only paid fines of $17k for the entire deforestation that took place. This amount would be easily absorbed by the lumber profits after selling these trees. They’ve replaced a small portion of the trees with evergreens, birch trees and other saplings that will not offer the wind and water protection these poplars had. What a shame the Town did nothing to inspect and ultimately protect the area – again!

Throughout the site are silt barriers erected to protect and prevent dirt erosion from rain and storms. We noticed that the many spoil piles of dirt randomly left uncovered is another unenforced violation the Town is ignoring. ABG is questioning the Toll Brothers intent, as these seemingly small violations are not really so small. They cumulatively highlight our poorly functioning Town departments and leadership, create an unsafe worksite environment and unnecessarily put workers and visitors lives at risk.

The pervasive consistency of inaction and malaise has evolved in the Town and its departments into a tangible laisser-faire working relationship with developers. They’ve turned a blind eye toward the developers while our Town continues insulting, costing us all and disrespecting the Town’s current residents – the “little guy”.  This must change. We can only hope.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

WestHelp Fiasco Has Gone On Far Too Long

ABG has previously posted the arguments as well as the illegal actions of The Paul toward the WestHelp facility as he tries to buy votes from the Mt. Pleasant/Valhalla N.I.M.B.Y. crowd. The Paul and his Board has purposefully allowed viable, structurally sound apartments that he in part, authorized, endorsed and even helped build while a County Legislator, fall into disrepair. Now, as Town Supervisor, he has changed his tune with affordable housing, claiming we have a glut of affordable housing in Greenburgh, and is doing a 180° reversal, insisting we tear down this affordable housing!

At a forum meeting sponsored by the N.A.A.C.P. last week, he showed his true colors by making racist remarks and insulting the members in attendance and the work they did years ago to get these apartments built! Visibly stunned after being held to task for making his comments, he stammered to come up with a tolerable answer. The audience wasn’t buying. You can read more on previous ABG posts, “Feiner Insults N.A.A.C.P.” in two parts.

There was a “Contacts” sheet provided at the meeting and we’ve had requests from our loyal readers for that information so they could reach out to our elected officials regarding this travesty that has gone on for far too long. ABG is happy to oblige.
Here is the contact information:

Town of Greenburgh:
Greenburgh Town Hall, 177 Hillside Ave., White Plains, NY 10603

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner: pfeiner@greenburghny.com; 914-993-1540

Town Council members (914-993-1544 + Ext.):
Kevin Morgan: kmorgan@greenburghny.com; 914-993-1544 x 3
Diana Juettner: djuettner@greenburghny.com; 914-993-1544 x 2
Francis Sheehan: fsheehan@greenburghny.com; 914-993-1544 x 4
(Note: Sheehan repeatedly & openly states at meetings he does not read emails)
Kenneth Jones: kjones@greenburghny.com 914-993-1544 x1

Westchester County

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, 148 Martine A ve. White Plains, NY10601
914-995-2900

Westchester County Board of Legislators
800 Michaelian Office Building 148 Martine Avenue, 8th Floor White Plains, New York 10601
Main Tel: (914)995-2800;

Chairman Ken Jenkins
995-2829

John Testa, Peekskill
995-2828

Peter Harckham, Bedford, Majority Leader
995-2810

Michael Smith, Greenburgh
995-2847

Michael Kaplowitz, Somers
995-2848

David Gelfarb, Rye
995-2834

Bill Ryan, White Plains
995-2827

Judith Myers, Mamaroneck
995-2802

Alfreda Williams, Greenburgh
995-2833

Catherine Borgia, Ossining
995-2812

Sheila Marcotte, Eastchester
995-2817

Jim Maisano, Minority Leader, New Rochelle
995-2826

Mary Jane Shimsky, Greenburgh
995-2821


Lyndon Williams, Mount Vernon
995-2837

Bernice Spreckman, Yonkers
995-2815

Gordon Burrows, Yonkers
995-2830

Ken Jenkins, Yonkers, Chariman
995-2829

Virginia Perez, Yonkers
995-2846

New York State
NY State Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
(518) 474-8390

Representing Greenburgh in Albany:
State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins,
28 Wells Avenue Building 3
Yonkers, NY 10701
914-423-4031

Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti
303 South Broadway Suite 229 
Tarrytown, NY 10591
914-631-1605

An Excuse to Perpetuate Illegal Offers

ABG has just acquired two letters (below) delivered to the Town of Greenburgh in advance of the impending Town Board Work Session slated to be held on Tuesday at 9:30AM. The scheduled meeting would invariably not start on time as the audience members, applicants and viewers would be forced to wait until the Board finally shows up. The work session meetings, which typically never start on time, would have included several topics that are generically listed on the posted agenda on the Towns website. But the waters had gotten even murkier for The Paul in short time. Subsequently, while the Elm Street Sports proposal for double the amount GameOn 365 offered, was slated to be discussed, The Paul was running scared and eliminated it by canceling the meeting!

Because Councilman Morgan had a funeral to attend, The Paul thought it appropriate that Town business be halted and foregone because one Board member would not be present. While we appreciate the sentiment, the Board should meet and carry on the Town’s business – less one. It didn’t seem to stop them at all when rookie Councilman Ken Jones was sick for several meetings that were slated to contain votes on the GameOn 365 proposal. ABG believes Jones decided to take some “sick time” to avoid having to take a position on the various GameOn 365 votes, which we hope he, along with many others of the public, recognized as illegal and more importantly, unethical. Too bad he wasn’t there to vote his conscious – something this Town has been missing for numerous years under The Paul’s rule.

If you have followed the GameOn 365 debacle for the last two years or so, you know that The Paul was exposed to having secretly met with GameOn 365 owners to broker a secret back-room deal for the former Frank’s Nursery property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. During this time, the Elm Street Sports Group, owners of the House of Sports Facility of Ardsley, NY, had purchased the property at 2 Elm Street, in Ardsley. This had been a former tennis facility and the home of Selecto, a food distribution warehouse which suffered a catastrophic fire years ago and the death of an employee. Selecto would never return to the location. With the purchase, renovation and opening of House of Sports, they have added to the Ardsley landscape, infused the tax base and vitality of an otherwise languishing local economy.

To ensure GameOn 365 every advantage and unfair “edge” they might need to build their proposed “sports bubble”, The Paul stacked the deck in GameOn 365’s favor. He agreed to a proposed fifteen year lease for the knowingly contaminated site, aware it was the acknowledged White Plains Urban Renewal dumping site! When area residents contested The Paul’s strategy with a lawsuit, following his own advice (“If you don’t like what I’m doing, sue me!”), he changed tactics and finally decided to follow the law. Simply, the law states that the supervisor must sell any land acquired through foreclosure, or use it for Town purposes if they decide to keep it. Morally bereft and challenged, our Town Board decided their spines, and political careers, should remain out-of-play. So they went along with The Paul to get along and not be “Sonya’d” out of their generous part-time jobs.

Interestingly, the Town had a property appraisal recently performed for 715 Dobbs Ferry Road and the amount of the appraisal was the amount that GameOn 365 was offering! Hey, wait a minute... is it possible to to stack the deck any more than it already is? Well, The Paul tried. Since The Paul’s illegal actions were bad enough, Elm Street Sports decided to up the ante, so to speak, and took a page out of The Paul’s playbook. They made an public offer to the Town to also purchase 715 Dobbs Ferry Road for roughly double what the GameOn 365 organization offered the Town! The difference between the “real business” that Elm Street Sports operates versus the “paper business” GameOn 365 talks about, is that GameOn 365 is still searching for investors for business model that GameOn 365 hopes to operate with someone else’s money. Elm Street Sports has the capital to purchase and remediate the site now. GameOn 365 is a pyramid scheme designed to operate only after they raise the money necessary to purchase for their possible business.

While the choice over which proposal should be accepted is obvious to the vast majority of people, one speaker at the last Town Board public session stated that he overheard a conversation where Town Attorney Tim “Remediation” Lewis stated to the effect that while the Elm Street Sports proposal might be better for the Town, they gave their word to GameOn 365. While giving and sticking to one’s word is laudable, this was one wrong, illegal and unethical move after another for a project destined for failure under the law.

This new opportunity affords the Town Board a facility to right many wrongs, whether intentional or not (ABG is being generous). The Town has lost about $1.5M in taxes on that property. The offer for $1.5M in total from Game On 365 only negates back taxes. In effect, the Town is giving them use of the land for free. The proposal from Elm Street Sports pays the $1.5M in back taxes and gives the Town a profit of $1.5M. And, while GameOn 365 was positioned to appear to pay for remediation of the property, they simply do not have the money to do so, cannot raise what will be needed, and have the opportunity to exit the deal when things get too problematic for them. All of the money that will be needed for the remediation will be provided by Elm Street Sports, something GameOn 365 won’t agree to. This is a no-brainer – even in Greenburgh.

It is incumbent on the Town to accept the best offer for the residents of the Town, regardless of how much “keeping your word” can be used as an excuse to perpetuate illegal offers. Elm Street Sports’ offer is in the best financial, ethical, zoning, planning and neighborhood-centric interests of the Town and the community. Another obvious solution out of this predicament is a legitimate sale process with a new RFP. ABG urges the public to contact The Paul and the Town Board with phone calls, letters and such to let them know you support Elm Street Sports’ proposal or a new RFP. Giving and keeping one’s word is only important when the word is for something legal and morally just. Let’s hope the Town Board understands the difference. We can only hope.

Letter from Elm Street Sports:


Letter from the Elm Street Sports attorneys:



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Feiner Insults NAACP - Part 2

ABG inadvertently omitted several points in our previous post about the forum held by the NAACP on Monday night. We hope to correct that with this post, hence, part 2.

While The Paul had the floor, he bragged about the scatter site housing near Manhattan Avenue that would be torn down to have new low income apartment buildings built in their place. Subsequent to that comment, when Legislator Alfreda Williams had the floor, she correctly pointed out that The Paul has purposely contained almost all of the low income housing in the Fairview section of the Town. And this latest project would just be a further continuation of that policy. She said the result has been the “ghetto-izing” the area! She also correctly pointed out that this is another form of discrimination that appears to have gone unchecked by The Paul.

When the creation of the WestHelp housing was being discussed, formulated and created, this same chapter of the NAACP was a participant group struggling to develop this property as a project for affordable housing. Back then, affordable housing was sometimes considered Welfare Housing and was often met with all kinds of resistance and derision, relegated mostly to the cities. In time, that moniker was eliminated. Regardless of what it was called, the Mayfair-Knollwood Civic Association, as well as several now, high ranking County leaders (Astorino, McCormack, Smith) were, and still are, against the facility as a low income, affordable housing facility. They remain the embodiment of a portion of the Mt. Pleasant/Valhalla’s Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) crowd! You would hope high-ranking public officials would understand the value this property holds as existing housing?

To Williams’ credit, she also stated that The Paul requested RFP’s for this property. For the uninitiated, that is a Request For Proposal that developers will submit to the Town proposing work to be done. Bidders would like to receive the awarded contract. There were six proposals, with the Ferncliff School being one of them. Ferncliff’s proposal is to tear down the apartments and build a new facility. The others were all proposing some kind of affordable, senior, low-income, municipal and/or emergency services housing. Williams’ point was that after inspection, they all maintained that while the apartments needed various levels of work, these were still well-built, viable and usable apartments that will have a long future of use. This is contrary to The Paul’s statements that these apartments are in such disrepair the facility needs to be destroyed. ABG would like to point out that while these RFP’s were submitted in ernest, they weren’t requested in ernest by The Paul. It was another deflection on his part.

As The Paul rattled off a list of affordable housing in the Town, focused primarily in Fairview, he touted the new soon to be opened Westhab housing facility at Tarrytown and Old Kensico Roads. He lied about working with the neighborhood. He lied about the neighborhood being in favor of the project. He lied when he said Greenburgh’s employees will live there. They will only live there if their name might be chosen from a tri-state lottery. William’s countered with the truth and acknowledged that a resident was in the audience and willing speak to The Paul’s comments. He was never called on to speak.

ABG knows that The Paul had promised the Fulton Park neighborhood something completely different. Some twenty years earlier, when the old property was a former hotel called the King’s Inn, he told the neighborhood that if and when the homeless population were removed by the County, he would want to see a Senior Citizen Living Facility at the site. The neighborhood worked intimately with Westhab and it’s residents to maintain a pleasant relationship. The facility that will be opening in a few months will not have seniors, municipal employees and might have two or three veterans - as promised to the Town Board after they Spot-Zoned the property to accommodate the developer. ABG’s guess it it will invariably be filled with DSS and Section 8 recipients, hardly the senior facility he promised.

While The Paul was a Westchester County Legislator, he was in favor of the WestHelp affordable housing site. Wilson’s one and only question asked of The Paul, was, “Why did you support the WestHelp affordable housing when you were a County Legislator but now as Town supervisor you won’t support it?” The question went unanswered. Time would ultimately be the audience’s enemy and The Paul’s rescuer. Before they could extract an answer from The Paul, the NAACP President was forced to end the dialog as their time for the space had run out and the crowd had to leave.

It was apparent to those in attendance that The Paul insulted the NAACP’s members and good work they have done to create affordable housing in Westchester and Greenburgh. More importantly, The Paul exposed himself as the racist he is when he discussed people of color and the segregated clustering of affordable housing in the Fairview section of the Town! He has ruled the Town for 21 years and while he’s been able to mask his bad behavior with his bumbling persona, his armor has finally wore thin and the chinks are beginning to expose him for what he is. It’s time for him to go. We can only hope.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Feiner Insults NAACP

Dave Wilson of the Journal News was the moderator for the night. The NAACP was the host and a church in White Plains was the location. The forum on Monday night was a sounding board over the low income housing dilemma facing the County and the Town. The panel for the forum was composed of David “Tax Watch” Wilson, Robert Bernstein, an attorney who intervened with retired judge Herb Rosenberg on behalf of the Town to reclaim $1.2M illegally paid to the Valhalla School District by The Paul. Alfreda Williams and MaryJane Shimsky, both County Legislators representing Greenburgh and other communities, were joined by County Legislator and County Executive Candidate, Ken Jenkins. Arriving late, as had been announced to the crowd, was The Paul.

Wilson began the evening with a slide presentation showing the WestHelp facility on the Westchester Community College campus. Bernstein was the first panelist to speak and highlighted several key points that appear to be in violation by The Paul and his Town Board. He read specific sections of the original contract and the case against The Paul seems damning! It basically said that the Town shall maintain the facility and the Town will continue to house low income residents in the facility. Both of those points have been unequivocally violated. Then the three legislators spoke. Jenkins assured everyone that the County is not against Ferncliff, a private company, and is also working closely with them to find an appropriate site for their school. He continued that The Paul should not be pitting the WestHelp property against Ferncliff. Both are equally worthy causes. Shimsky said that WestHelp is a valuable public asset that we cannot let go to waste under any circumstance. She furthered that there is obviously a need for affordable housing in our community. The crowd wholeheartedly agreed. Williams suggested that organizations such as this one could help by continuing to stay involved.

By arriving late, The Paul knew he would have limited exposure at this meeting. If he was lucky, he knew he could bloviate, dance a bit, get his agenda across and hope to be out of there without answering any real questions. After letting The Paul ramble on for about five minutes with an “opening statement”, Wilson asked Feiner one question, “Why did you support the WestHelp affordable housing when you were a County Legislator but now as Town supervisor you won’t support it?” Performing “The Paul shuffle”, he read from a piece of paper all the points he wanted to make, but never answered the question!

One woman in the back row put her head down on the table, shaking her head in disbelief while others could be overheard saying he wasn’t answering the question. After Wilson interrupted him twice and asked him to answer the question, he continued his rambling. We all know this is The Paul’s main deflection tactic. The woman in the back raised her hand and asked why he wouldn’t answer the question. People in the audience wanted substance. The audience was not happy with The Paul’s deflection. They demanded answers. After The Paul claimed that the DSS referred people mostly of color to affordable housing, one gentleman took offense to Feiner’s statement and asked why Feiner would put “people of color” in his statement? The Paul’s response was because he was at a meeting held by the NAACP. This did not bode well with the crowd, who let their displeasure be known.

Without a doubt, this could have been a good back-and-forth session with good questions and perhaps honest answers. But The Paul wasn’t there to participate in an honest dialog. Rather, he was there to campaign. But tonight, the crowd The Paul thought he could pander to wasn’t buying the goods – finally! Overheard after the meeting was the comment that, “The Town has a lot of bad things happening to it because of The Paul’s mismanagement and illegal actions, but we have a lot more good things happening to it too.” We just need to make sure we keep the good outweighing the bad.

To keep the good outweighing the bad, we need to vote The Paul out of office. This meeting may have been one of the first steps toward that end. We can only hope.