Monday, February 24, 2014

Town Comprehensive Plan Leaked To Developer Before Official Release

  The Town has had a Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee developing a new Comprehensive Plan for release to address what the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee believes to be the best plan for Greenburgh’s future. We applaud this move. Our dismay has been that obstacles were repeatedly and knowingly placed in their path to hinder their work process. This appears to be nothing but a stalling tactic to allow more apparent Town Board spot zoning for developers.  We wish we were wrong but actions repeatedly taken by this Board make it difficult to believe.

Greenburgh Past shows a history of rapid growth with development throughout the Town. This development was undertaken in both residential and commercial sectors. A good thing that happened during this time was that our Town Building Code was strengthened and safety was made to be a paramount concern in buildings throughout our Town. Our Town exceeded state requirements and was validated as other communities and entities following our lead. Kudos to those involved, such as Emily Bayer, Robert Brunner, Robert Stiloski and others.

Greenburgh Present has had a similar blast of development, primarily limited to the Unincorporated portions of Greenburgh. The Villages seem more reticent to overdevelop what little open space is available and preserve it. Conversely, this Board seems bent to fill every last piece of open space, change usage requirements (i.e., shared parking) to accommodate developers and not residents. Regrettably, we’ve witnessed spot zoning for spot parcels owned by favored developers. Although, to make sure it doesn’t appear as spot zoning, the Town Board will adopt it as a zoning change that can be used throughout the Town (i.e., Assisted Living facilities), even though that zoning was specific and written by Brightview Assisted Living’s attorney’s and will never be used elsewhere in the Town.

Greenburgh Future shows promise in that the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee has finally completed their proposal for the Town. We welcome that proposal. And while we may not agree entirely with it, it will accomplish two very specific things. First, it will help control the future development, some say overdevelopment, of our Town. Second, it should significantly limit Mr Feiner and his Town Boards wholesale green lighting of projects that are too large for limited size parcels. A Comprehensive Plan is a greatly needed mechanism to control the look, feel, and future of Greenburgh. Hopefully, it will all but eliminate the spot zoning typically referred to by this Administration as Town-wide.

The Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee has worked for quite some time now confidentially developing this plan. Numerous participants on this Board have respected its necessary confidentiality and not leaked any of the information – except one: Town Planning Commissioner Thomas Madden! In an unprecedented and frankly disturbing move, he revealed the confidential zoning information with GameOn 365’s Planner John Saccardi since July of 2013! While this is certainly an ethical violation in our minds, we’re sure the Ethics Board will see nothing wrong with his betrayal of the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, the Town and its residents. When pushed at the Town Board Work Session, Mr Saccardi said (paraphrasing), “We’re both planners and we talk to each other.” Mr Saccardi is free to discuss whatever he chooses with whomever he chooses. Mr Madden has violated a sacred tenet to which public officials must be held: confidentiality! Confidentiality, and specifically the absence of it, must not be taken lightly! Although ABG is confident no punitive actions will be taken against Mr Madden.

Now that the Town Board has begun to fast track overdevelopment on Dobbs Ferry Road and specifically GameOn 365’s burgeoning, prohibitive and ill-conceived sports extravaganza, the leaking of the Comprehensive Plan information gives GameOn 365 the inside track and unfair advantage with information unavailable to any other potential developer or purchaser. Mr Madden’s cavalier divulging of this information to Mr Feiner’s anointed and favored developer aligns with Mr Feiner’s anxiousness that GameOn 365 be the only developer to move forward on Dobbs Ferry Road. As such, there will be no recriminations for Mr Madden, nor will he be forced to withdraw from the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, as he should be. His leaking of this information is akin to insider trading and frankly should result in at least a suspension without pay!

Ironically, when residents asked to see preliminary copies of each section of the Comprehensive Plan, it was Mr Madden who refused to do so, saying, “We don’t want this to go out piecemeal.” His explanation at the time was a logical one. So the public waited – but not the developer, which begs the question, how many more developers did he share this information with? Since he did not respect the confidentiality of the process, we wonder did he also send copies out? This is a gross violation of the integrity of the Town government, his office and the process with which he was asked to participate. Rather than face disciplinary action, we expect to see him receiving a Special Recognition Award from Mr Feiner and the Town Board during the first hour of the Public Discouragement Process preceding the next Town Board meeting. This has to change. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More Sports Bubble Collapses Exposed

Intrigued by the amount of sports bubble collapses we learned of and wrote about in our last post, our staff continued to dig to see if they could find more. They did! Sadly, what we found disturbed us as there is a full range of ages of children that might be in one of these sports bubbles at any given time. How many kid’s parties are held every weeknight once school is out and throughout the weekend celebrating birthdays, bar/bat mitzvahs, graduations and so on? They are routinely used for venues such as these. Any of our kids, or even we can be in them and injured or even killed by a collapsing bubble!

We found more sports bubbles that have collapsed. One concern was that some of the dates of the collapses go back quite some time and we wondered if wed be able to detect improvements or significant changes in newer bubbles. We could not. In researching the bubble manufacturers, there were a fair number of manufacturers, but it’s not like looking for a contractor in your local phone book where you are inundated with choices.

Here’s a list of additional sports bubble collapses. This time, however, we are not going to detail the causes of the failures as it is less important than the fact that these sports bubbles did collapse. Here’s the latest find:

• Generations Sports Complex, Muncy, PA Feb 2011 and 2007
• Robert Moses University Sports Dome, Neville Island, PA June 2012
• Brookhaven Tennis Club, Jackson Township, OH Feb 2014
• Sports World, East Winsor, CT July 2013
• Giants Practice Facility, East Rutherford, NJ 2007 and 2003
• Rutgers Practice Bubble, Piscataway, NJ March 2010 and 2003
• Cheshire Pool Bubble, Cheshire, CT Feb 2013
• Boston College, Boston, MA Feb 2013 and Match 2010
• Star Hill Family Athletic Center, Tolland, CT Feb 2013
• Franklin Pierce University, New Hampshire Feb 2013 and 2008
• Prospect Park Tennis Bubble, Brooklyn, NY Dec 2010
• Randall's Island Sportime, Dec 2010
• Boerum Hill Gym, Brooklyn, NY January 2011
• Hanover Park Tennis Bubble, Illinois June 2012

We also discovered some interesting information while researching this story. That is of the warranty parameters for the sports bubble. This is an excerpt of the warranty from a company that will remain unnamed. We’ve italicized and made bold what we thought was eye-opening:


It appears that once an entity purchases the bubble, the manufacturer walks away free and clear from the sale and the onus of safety is incumbent upon the owner/operator. Since GameOn 365 has already had one of their smaller sports bubbles collapse, ABG wonders what the safety considerations will be for the sports bubble they wish to install on Dobbs Ferry Road? Their latest example of who would use the sports bubble on Dobbs Ferry Road was the football team from Woodlands High School. They never discussed the added travel expense for the student, school district or taxpayer for their busing to and from the bubble. What parent wants to get that phone call, even for their big and tough football player sons that the bubble they were practicing in collapsed? Certainly no parent should ever receive that phone call. But, despite the soon to be released statements from GameOn 365 and Mr Feiner stating that sports bubbles are safe, we feel less confident now than we ever had before about their safety.

Watch for carefully crafted press releases in the mainstream media, the daily and weekly newspapers and the online venues that simply reprint Mr Feiner’s press releases without any challenges to what he says. Watch for GameOn 365 to do the same thing. Watch for additional “carrots” that are offered to the community to make this significant safety issue go away. As they double-team the conventional press to espouse sports bubble safety and precautions, try to imagine yourself in those parent’s shoes who received a phone call that the bubble they were led to believe was safe just collapsed and their child was in it. Hopefully, no parent will have to go through this hellish scenario. Hopefully, Greenburgh parents will say no to the bubble. Hopefully, we’ll have A Better Greenburgh without any sports bubbles.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sports Bubble Collapses Are More Common Than Led To Believe

We previously posted the GameOn 365 sports bubble in Waldwick, New Jersey, had collapsed under the weight of the severe weather conditions. Fortunately no one was injured as workers described hearing noises just prior to the collapse. Safety concerns had always been brought up at Town Board meetings. When Mr Feiner routinely dismissed residents and taxpayers concerns, he continued his spot-zoning request from GameOn 365. He also shifted to wanting a sports corridor on Dobbs Ferry Road to originate from GameOn 365 at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, the old Frank's Nursery property. He never discussed any other properties or plans elsewhere. It was solely for 715 Dobbs Ferry Road.

While neighborhood concerns, angered taxpayers and even other business owners protested, Mr Feiner and his Board dug in their heels and began to fight harder for the GameOn 365 larger commercial plan in the residentially zoned property. One wonders why Mr Feiner would insist on over-saturating the Fairview district with low and no-income housing but not want to build or develop any in an area zoned for it? It also begs the question why he did not continue the lease with the County for the WestHelp property at Westchester Community College and provide low income housing with existing low income housing?

The collapse in Waldwick sparked an interesting discussion in the ABG offices. Staffers wondered how many other bubbles, superdomes, temporary structures such as the 8-story bubble proposed by GameOn 365 have also collapsed. In a frightening discovery, this is not as rare an event as one might think. This should give pause to those only interested in serving a select few group of investors/developers in our Town.

Here’s a list of other collapses and a bit of information with each. If clicking on a link doesn’t work, simply copy it and paste it into the url field of your browser.


On February 9th, 2013, in Rindge, New Hampshire, wind and snow from a weekend blizzard took down the Franklin Pierce University Grimshaw-Gudewicz Activity Center Bubble. While no one was in the structure when it collapsed, it is 72,000 square feet and reaches seven stories in height. GameOn 365’s bubble is 105, 501 square feet. Not to sound overly concerned, but this same bubble collapsed once before during a 2008 ice storm.


In Tolland, Connecticut, on February 10th, a day after the New Hampshire bubble collapse, the Star Hill Athletic Facility bubble collapsed allegedly from the heavy snowfall that weekend. Fortunately, no one was injured from that collapse either. It may be significant to note that the bubble was the only part of the building that was damaged. The brick and mortar portion remained intact. Tolland is just northeast of Hartford, CT.


On May 3, 2009, a sports bubble in Irving, Texas, referred to as “tent-like structure”, collapsed due the wind. At a cost of more than $4 million to build, the no-frills building was pretty much a 100-yard football field with a few more yards of clearance all the way around. The roof was 80 feet high, the equivalent of an eight-story building. Here, however, there were 12 people injured.
On December 28, 2010, what’s referred to as a sports “underdome” in Mt Vernon, collapsed just before midnight from damage inflicted by a blizzard’s wind. Thankfully, no one was injured as there were six to 10 people in the dome when wind tore the dome’s membrane, which caused the air-supported structure to deflate.

In Brooklyn, NY, in January of 2011, the sports bubble there collapsed under the weight of 12 inches of snow. As taken from the article, “It’s not the first time this season that heavy snowfall collapsed a tennis bubble. During the original blizzard, the big protective dome over the courts in the Parade Grounds in Kensington also lost its loftiness...”

This collapse was especially troubling as this bubble was occupied with 29 campers (kids) and 5 counselors. Had the director not gotten a weather alert on her phone, the results might have been different. The Sports World bubble dome, part of the Sports World Athletic Complex crumpled roof reportedly blew into the southbound lanes of Interstate 91.


October 30, 2011, Toms River, New Jersey highlights another collapsed bubble due to a power failure and then high winds. Again, no one was injured but this happened at about 4PM, a high traffic period for after school events. Interestingly, there was a comment to this post by a reader named Mattie, that said, “That ‘building’ was a huge waste of money for the tax payers and has had one problem after another since the day it was erected. It was also ugly. Take it down and build something better if it’s needed....” This sums up why Mr Feiner is so in favor of installing the bubble on Dobbs Ferry Road.
The Gunstun Sports Facility Bubble also collapsed from the weight from melting snows. No one was inside the bubble when it collapsed and fortunately there were no injuries. A significant outcome of this event was that County officials are currently evaluating possible uses for the location, but are not considering installing another sports bubble there.

June 1, 2012 found 50 people in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, escaping injury when the inflatable dome of the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center collapsed during a storm. “The incident happened within about 30 seconds," said one user, “There was shaking and all of a sudden it stopped and the dome started to fall.” Everyone was able to evacuate safely; there were about 10 people inside the dome at the time. Age estimates of those inside ranged from 10 years old to 50 years old.

Our government’s primary purpose is to protect its citizens. Whatever level of government we discuss, that theme is the constant. Or, it should be. But in Greenburgh, Mr Feiner and his Town Board are more interested in serving their needs and wants, as well as their developer buddies, over those of their taxpayers/residents/employers. These examples above are what we could easily and quickly find. How sad that such a select group of politicians have no qualms about putting their constituents in harms way. We need the public to say no to the Dobbs Ferry Road proposal. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sports Bubble Collapses Along With Feiner’s Dreams

A news article from Waldwick, New Jersey, where GameOn 365 claims they operate their smaller, “sister” sports bubble, revealed their bubble collapsed yesterday under the weight of the snow! At the last Town Board meeting, Mr Jones, the latest Feiner convert to join the Board, stated he had visited Waldwick to see the bubble and as any good “Feinercrat” is wont to do, he began espousing it was in a residential neighborhood. The bubble he referred to is buffered with a ball field adjacent to the residential neighborhood, but is still in an industrial park. The entire complex is most probably paying commercial tax rates, not residential. This will not be the case with the 8-story bubble Mr Feiner plans to “green light” in the latest scam with GameOn 365. The bubble will be imposing to any of the homes near this latest proposal at the golf driving range.

Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM: Mary Beth Lane Nappi

At the last Town Board meeting when the discussion of the GameOn 365 Zoning Change Request was brought up, so was the issue of safety. The speaker claimed he had heard of a bubble that had just collapsed, which if correct, now makes two that were unable to withstand Mother Nature. Yet the bubble that collapsed yesterday is almost the size of the one to be installed on Dobbs Ferry Road! Each time GameOn 365 has met with another obstacle, their plans get revised and increase in size, getting grander and bringing in “partners” to work with them. Their intent now is to create a sports “complex”, promising an estimated 500 cars a day to the location.

The original proposal was slated as an oversized project on the former Frank’s Nursery property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. Mr Feiner proposed illegally leasing the property to GameOn 365 and having the Town finance the funding for it. The surrounding neighborhoods rallied against it for numerous reasons.

Mr Feiner and the Board turned down $3.5 million in cash for the property including site remediation. Mr Feiner crafted a specially and carefully worded referendum to guarantee passage, allowing him to say the residents want this. When a lawsuit stopped him, Mr Feiner said he would hold an auction for the property. Every scheme Mr Feiner and GameOn 365 have agreed to, to gift the property to GameOn 365, has failed. Had Mr Feiner simply followed the law, this wouldn’t have been an issue. If the Town Board had done their job as well as their fiduciary responsibility and “due diligence ” for the taxpayers and not Mr Feiner or GameOn 365, this wouldn’t even be happening!

The safety concerns of a never-before-seen bubble of this size cannot and should not be ignored. What also must not be ignored is that this 8-story bubble does not belong in a residential neighborhood. The fact that a smaller bubble, and perhaps a second one at that, has collapsed, cannot, should not and must not be ignored!

Bubbles began being used to create an indoor atmosphere for three months during the year. It is not a panacea for “paper” companies to incorporate, start a business and avoid paying their fair share of taxes as would a brick and mortar facility. If GameOn 365 were serious about becoming a part of the community, the safety of its guests, employees and visitors, safety would be paramount. It’s not – only their profits are. Otherwise, they would be proposing a brick and mortar building, following building and safety codes, paying the regular rate of taxes and working with the communities and doing it in a commercial location. How many other good neighbors play by the rules? Many. Those are the ones we want to help us make A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Fire Position Addendum

We recently posted two points in our post under the story Feiner Lies About Fire Department that were wrong. We still acknowledge that Mr Feiner not only lies for his convenience and at his convenience, but that with the email he sent out, he was in full deflection mode. He’s trying to take focus off of his illegal actions with GameOn 365.

We posted that the position has always existed, and even highlighted the word always. The way it was explained to us when we were gathering information for the story was that the position has always existed. ABG has since come to learn that the position was created in 2005 and first filled in 2006 by our current Chief, Anthony LoGiudice. What we should have said was that the position has existed, unfilled, for some time. The rest of the information as to whether it is justified and how it is intended to be used remains.

The second point we seek to correct is that of the NYS 2% Tax. We said the position would not affect the tax cap or refunds. We had reached out to the NYS Budget office but were unable to speak with someone willing to answer our questions. Please do not misunderstand this. The person we spoke with was not the correct person to provide an answer and the people she thought would be, were unavailable. Apparently, the filling of the position and the subsequent benefits that go along with it may be an increase to the budget and push the district toward violating the 2% Tax Cap. However, with a $12M budget, we’re suspect if $140k (+ benefits) will really impact the Fire District’s NYS tax status?

Another point we were unaware of that seemed to not be publicly known or openly discussed until recently is that the chairperson of the Fairview Fire District is Vicki Simmons, who has held this position for some time and her son, a Captain in the Fairview Fire Department is up for a promotion and this currently unfilled position! Ms Simmons has been pushing this move for the position. Dare we say, now we know why!

The Fairview FD members are an exceptionally talented and extremely well paid group. Our firefighters do not do without anything. They get guaranteed call back hours when a fire is declared bad enough to warrant extra personnel. They get station uniforms (which is fine) as well as exercise gear paid for by the taxpayer, just to name a few expenses. The district’s volunteer firefighters are not utilized to their fullest and they are taxpayers as well as volunteers for their community. Many of the paid staff do not live in the district or the Town. As for nepotism, there are many related members in the department. Is it a conflict of interest that a commissioner’s son works for his mother? Coincidence? You decide.

The information we originally received was truthfully provided. The additional information that has become uncovered as the onion gets peeled back is sadly troubling. Having spent some 40 years in the fire service in Greenburgh, we are sure Chief LoGiudice has the best of intentions for the Department and District. But since this position will cause a hiring ripple effect for the taxpayers, we urge he and the commissioners to seek an alternative method to bring the current deputy chiefs into the grooming process and do what they can to not increase costs. Or, if they feel this is a necessary step, do away with something else of equal or greater value. It will be these kinds of efforts that will bring the taxpayers relief and make for a Better Greenburgh!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Feiner Lies About Fairview Fire Department

As could be expected, Mr Feiner sent out an email blast from his personal email list – oh wait, it’s the Towns email list. No matter, its used by him as his own. He sent out the blast stating the Fairview Fire Department is creating a $160,000 position and how they shouldn’t do it, it will affect the 2% tax cap and more. He also asked residents to attend the Commissioners meeting this Thursday night.

Here’s what he said (Mr Feiner’s comments in black; ABG’s in blue:

The Fairview Fire district Board of Commissioners is proceeding with plans to approve a new position that will cost taxpayers at least $160,000 a year. The position: Executive Deputy Fire Chief. The position never existed before. Some residents have contacted me and  have asked me to encourage residents of the Fairview Fire district to attend the next meeting of the Fire District: THIS THURSDAY February 13 at 7:30 PM--- 19 Rosemont Blvd.  It is possible that the Fairview Fire District Board of Commissioners could finalize their decision to fund this position this Thursday night and to hire someone. They had previously indicated that they would create the position.
This is simply another lie from Mr Feiner! The position has always existed and is not new. It has simply not been filled. If you understand the hierarchy within our paid fire department, you have (working upwards) firefighters, captains, deputy chiefs, one executive deputy chief and the chief. Not all paid fire departments mirror ours and may have other levels, such as lieutenants. For instance, in the Scarsdale Fire Department, they don’t have deputy chiefs, but simply have captains. Their function is the same firematically, but their pay is less. You could argue Scarsdale has a better financial control over their budgets with personnel. And, all of the ancillary costs that go with a captain versus a deputy chief position would be less as well.

Residents whom have contacted Mr Feiner are being lied to by him. Mr Feiner HAS NO CONTROL, INPUT or IMPACT on the fire department. Like us, he is on the outside looking in. 

You may also recall that the Fortress Bible Church refused to be coerced into donating a fire truck to the Fairview FD for approval to build on their property near Dobbs Ferry Road. Actually, its also alleged the church was refused permits and approvals to help out then County Legislator Thomas Abinanti, who lived in that neighborhood and didn’t want the church there and is a friend of Mr Feiner. He has since become a NYS Assemblyman and moved to Tarrytown, possibly to distance himself from all of this. Fortress Bible Church sued Mr Feiner, Ms Juettner and the Town for discrimination and won! Mr Feiner appealed and lost the appeal. They were found guilty on seven counts, including lying under oath, destroying evidence and well, you get the idea.

The Fairview Fire district is totally independent of the Town of Greenburgh.  Commissioners are elected to their positions (elections are held in December) and commission meetings are not televised.  Very little scrutiny by the public.  Some people incorrectly think that the Fire district tax is part of the town taxes. The fire district tax bill is included in the town tax bill--the town acts as a collection agent. It's interesting -- most people now pay almost the same for fire district taxes as they do for town municipal services even though the town offers many different services.
The Fairview Fire District is a separate taxing district that does NOT fall under the auspices of the Town – at all! They operate independently from the Town and are funded solely by taxing us independent from the Town taxes. They receive no money from the Town whatsoever! What they do receive from the Town are fire truck donations from developers when Mr Feiner informs them that to get approval for a project, they must donate a truck to the Fairview FD. 

As for scrutiny, look at the pot calling the kettle black! While the Town taxes may equal the fire district taxes, the Town taxes also provide a police department, garbage and trash removal and highway services (snow removal, water supply). If an argument can be made for a disparity in a tit-for-tat exchange between taxing entities, it apparently doesn’t matter to voters as they just keep going along with it by voting the same people back into office.

I share the concerns people have. The position never existed. I doubt that it is needed.  The cost to the taxpayers will be enormous: over $160,000+ a year (new position).   If the position is funded it will make it more difficult for the Fairview Fire district to comply with the tax cap next year (some of the fire districts have over-ridden the tax cap in previous years).
THIS IS A LIE from Mr Feiner! THE POSITION HAS ALWAYS EXISTED but not been filled. The last time it was filled was when the current Chief Anthony LoGiudice was being “groomed” as then-Chief Robert Mauro’s replacement upon retirement. The decision to not fill the position until now was a financial one. This position is already in the budget but IS NOT a new $160k position! Deputy Chiefs in the Fairview Fire Department are union members and make $140k. The reality is that this is a $20k stipend to offset whomever gets appointed to the position due to their relinquishing of union membership and more significantly, overtime. The position is in actuality the ASSISTANT Chief’s position. In this position, the person will be required to attend more meetings, deal with personnel and confidentiality issues and will make less money than if they stayed as an acting deputy chief.

There is a proposal in Albany that will penalize communities that do not comply with the tax cap.  State lawmakers are considering a plan that will reward citizens who live in communities that comply with the tax cap with a tax credit or check from NYS. If your local government entity overrules the tax cap you will not get the tax credit from NYS or a check from the state to help reduce your property taxes. Among the proposals: Governor Andrew Cuomo's state of the state address on January 22 recommended a two year property tax freeze for homeowners if their local school districts and local governments stay under the tax levy cap for two years and share services or consolidate with other districts to save 1% of the levy a year for three years. The rebate would likely be between $150-$350 a year per household.
Governor Cuomo’s refund will be based on Town property taxes, not taxing entities who tax for their funding such as the Fire District. While ABG is not happy about the tax increases and and expenses that the Fire District is saddled with, Mr Feiner is only posturing. For all the bragging about staying under the NYS tax cap, Mr Feiner raised our taxes 3.4%, above the 2% NYS tax cap!

If the Fairview Fire district creates a new position that never existed before (and some people feel may not be needed) the tax bills of every Fairview resident will go up to pay for the costs. And, your future tax credit could be in jeopardy.
THIS IS A LIE from Mr Feiner! Again, the position has always existed but not been filled. Your tax bill will be unaffected by this change. And, your future tax credits are not in any jeopardy by the FD filling this position!

If you reside in the Fairview Fire district you should attend the meeting on Thursday, February 13 at 19 Rosemont Blvd (Fire house) at 7:30 PM.
If you can't attend the meeting you could write to the Fairview Fire Commissioners at 19 Rosemont Blvd, White Plain, NY 10602.   Ask for justification about the position.
I will be attending a meeting of other municipal officials on Thursday night and will not be at this meeting  but will be expressing my concerns about the position to the commissioners and will invite the Board to appear before a Town Board meeting to discuss ways we can all chip in and cut costs.

Yes, you should come out to these meetings. You should attend the Town Board meetings to see how poorly the decisions are coming from there.

Mr Feiner has gotten all the “play” and attention he can from this issue by sending this email out. He will not attend because he doesn’t have any control over the meeting or frankly, matter. His fire protection for his multi-million dollar home is provided by the Hastings-on-Hudson all-volunteer fire department. He is trying to create a stir over something he doesn’t pay for and has no control or involvement over. The firematic tax rate between what he pays, approximately $10 per thousand is quite a bit lower than what Fairview residents pat, about $140 per thousand.

If Mr Feiner wishes to cut costs and chip in, perhaps he can start by stepping down as Supervisor. We would save $150k per year in his salary with his $10K medical benefits buy-back for using his wife’s NYS health insurance. It would stop the $6.5 MILLION verdicts against him. It would allow us to rent the WestHelp property for $1.2 MILLION a year. Thie list of what Mr Feiner has cost us is close to $40 MILLION. His stepping down would allow a reassessment that would stop the certiorari adjustments made at every Town Board meeting. BTW, the fire district must pay back close to $1 MILLION because Mr Feiner has not done a Town-wide revaluation! If Mr Feiner steps down, then we might begin to see A Better Greenburgh!

Endurance To Trump Neighborhood

Over two years ago Deli Delicious lost their bid for expansion for their speck of property. In short, the owner claims he was losing money by not having a drive through window for food pickup orders and this was the reason his business was not doing well. He used to advertise seven flavors of soups served daily on an illegally installed sign on the south side of his building – actually on NYS property. He maintained an office in the basement for the deli and a real estate business he profits from. We’re told, the owner, Mr Tartaglione, along with other family members, owns many pieces of rental property throughout Westchester County. That’s his real business.

A number of years ago, the Town secretly made a deal with several legislators and Robert Miller of Westhab, to build a facility where the King’s Inn motel used to be at 22 Tarrytown Road. The property was the buffer area created by more intelligent Town leaders many years earlier that was the transition point between a small amount of light commercial land and residential properties adjacent to it. The King’s Inn Motel buildings were in light commercial zone and its parking lot was residential. Immediately next to that is the Fulton Garden Apartments, two stories in height and very much similar to many townhouse arrangements, size-wise, we see in other neighborhoods. The previous zoning boards saw the value in easing into a neighborhood as opposed to what Mr Feiner wanted.

When the Westhab facility was proposed as a 7-story monstrosity on .7 acres of land, it overshadowed the surrounding area. So much for a transition piece of land between commercial and residential. Not only were a plethora of concessions made by the Town, the Westhab attorneys were writing the zoning and building code changes as they needed them and the complicit Town Board was adopting them for our Town codes! We are now experiencing many of the difficulties belabored by the community leaders, civic associations and residents highlighted back then.

Just during the months of January and February, the Westhab snow plows are taking all of their snow covering the old Fulton Avenue, as well as the few unused parking spaces and pushing all of that snow into the (non-existent*) traffic circle. This not only blocks the traffic trying to struggle through the already snow covered streets in Fulton Park, but it’s illegal! The Fulton Ave roadway was a two-way street that allowed residents a second method of egress from the neighborhood. The traffic light at Old Kensico Road and Rt 119 only allows three cars to go through before turning red again.

During the time Westhab was being built, Mr Tartaglione offered the use of his then-open deli for neighborhood meetings regarding the fight to stop the Westhab and Town’s assault on Fulton Park. Included with this gesture was free coffee during the meetings. Unbeknownst to the neighborhood, and behind their back, Mr Tartaglione was desperately conspiring to sell his deli’s property to Westhab. It was only when a neighbor stumbled onto his scheme that he ceased offering the deli as a meeting place and began insisting residents who shopped there to leave and not return. One woman named Rose, told us she had been going their daily since the deli opened. She was stunned when he told her to leave and not return. And, at about the same time, when he was forced to abandon his sale to Westhab, he began pushing the drive-through window as his catholicon, regardless of what would be necessary to make these significant changes to his building. He needed to flip this building.

Residents then attended the zoning meetings where Mr Tartaglione had Mr Chuck Pateman of Irvington, represent him as both his developer and general contractor. Both Mr Tartaglione and Mr Pateman then began reaching out to members of the neighborhood to elicit support for this project. When that failed to help their scheme, large outdoor plants began showing up on various residents’ doorsteps from Mr Tartaglione. Bribes? You decide. If a project can stand on its own legs, it shouldn’t be necessary to try to buy support. But this is Greenburgh. Many say Yonkers is the city of hills, where nothing is on the level. Move over Yonkers.

The issues that arose over two years ago were centered around a building that is too small to support the plan Mr Tartaglione sought. It still is. He was relying on the state property along Rt 119 (and still is) that NYS has emphatically said they would not sell the property because of future plans on Rt 119 (get ready - its coming). The property cannot support the amount of parking spaces necessary to comply with current zoning requirements. Again, this is Greenburgh so we’re not hopeful it will matter. Finally, and there is more that we’ve discussed before, is the increased traffic congestion at the only entrance and exit to Fulton Park. Since the Town gave Fulton Avenue to Westhab, and made it a one way street going north into the already congested and now, plowed-in, non-existent traffic circle, traffic is already at a standstill most days during both morning and evening rush hours. Even other times of the day find traffic unbearable and heavy. The traffic study supplied for the Westhab project gave the neighborhood an “F” grade for an over-congested area. Now that Smashburger has opened, traffic routinely backs up on Rt 119 into the intersection of Rt 119 and Old Kensico Road. Here’s a few pictures of traffic at various times in Fulton Park.
Traffic going westbound on Rt 119 at Old Kensico Road

Traffic at Rt 119 backed up into the intersection as seen
from Old Kensico Road.

When Mr Tartaglione petitioned the Zoning Board of Appeals to expand his deli and it’s footprint, the denied his request. The reasons were the same as they are now: not enough parking, increased traffic, easements, lack of property (he incorporated state property still not available for sale) and other points. Regardless, the zoning did not support his plan. This appeal found Mr Tartaglione’s acting skills much better. Seemingly chocked up and on the verge of tears, he recounted how his parents purchased the deli, he worked there and then inherited it. He never discussed the booming business and the money he made during that time, only that not having this drive through window was costing him $4k a month. He never discussed the the decline in food value or his high prices. He never discussed the “stale” menu that offered the same selections for years. He never discussed that he didn’t offer free delivery when all of his competitors did. He never discussed that the area has become saturated with other eateries offering many more choices than his deli. And, he never discussed that people stopped coming to his deli once they had more choices. He never discussed that the 4-story Verizon building across the street closed, severely impacting the business. He never discussed this application was made under the guise of a restaurant application, not a deli.

He did say, however, that he did not want to be next to Westhab’s new building as he knew from statistics that crime follows Section 8 housing. Once the tiny, over-priced apartments fail to be rented, Westhab would “Section 8 them”, filling them with Section 8 housing voucher recipients. Section 8 renters are required to pay 30% of their income toward housing costs and we, through the government DSS Department, subsidize the rest. Then, Westhab has a government subsidized, never failing to get paid, source of income under the guise of helping the poor. He did say that his deli had been broken into numerous times when Westhab was “managing” the former King’s Inn hotel with transitional male  ex-convicts.

Now, over two years later (there is an 18-month waiting period) the Zoning Board of Appeals has changed membership – all appointed by the Supervisor. Since some of these new Board members have never seen Mr Tartaglione’s pseudo tears, faux quivering voice, and pleas for help, the meeting this Thursday promises passage for his originally ill-fated proposal. So while his new plan increases impervious space, requires no additional water control for flooding, requires property from NYS that is not for sale, a lack of parking spaces, increased traffic and blockages at all time of the day, Thursday’s meeting is about endurance. He waited long enough to outlast the last rejection, regroup, get a new representative and contractor and propose his changes. This is not only bad for the neighborhood, but the area in general. The other point is that once it happens in one spot within the Town, its destined to be repeated in others. Bad ideas, like bad politicians don’t go away, they get promoted. Watch for this in other areas of the Town. Mr Tartaglione’s endurance will ultimately trump the needs of the neighborhood.

Mr Feiner, Mr Madden and others, wish to reshape the look and feel of both Rt 119 and Central Avenue. It’s already happening. They want the buildings to be bigger, require less parking or what’s called shared parking and they’re looking to increase traffic while complaining about increased traffic. They are changing laws to allow private companies to profit by installing sports bubbles throughout the Town as well as assisted living facilities.

They have routinely spot-zoned for the convenience of various developers while ignoring the pleas and needs of the neighborhoods. It’s currently underway in the Worthington section of the Town on Dobbs Ferry Road with an unwanted 83 foot tall sports bubble in a residential neighborhood. Mr Feiner lives in an affluent, upscale and gated community. Mr Madden doesn’t even live in Greenburgh. It’s amazing to ABG that the negative impact going on throughout the Town is out of control by people immune to its negative impact. Where is the “green” in Greenburgh? There are no longer any checks and balances in out Town. Mr Feiner has been in office so long that he has had the time and ability to stack the deck in his favor. It has to change. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh!

* When the Fulton Park residents challenged the Town zoning based on several factors, they were told the traffic circle was not on the zoning maps and “didn’t exist”. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Commercial Development Will Impact Our Residential Neighborhood

An Open Letter to the Greenburgh Taxpayers:

Dear Neighbors,

Paul Feiner is moving forward with changing the zoning on Dobbs Ferry Rd from Residential (R-30) to recreation in tandem with group of commercial enterprises under an umbrella organization spearheaded by GameOn 365. This for-profit conglomerate has abandoned the Frank’s Nursery property and will now be erecting multiple buildings on the current Golf Driving Range (32 acres). The Town will allow GameOn 365 to build with various partners, an 8 story bubble, and an outdoor field with an additional structure and more down the line.

This massive development will destroy the character of our neighborhood.

Dobbs Ferry Road is the convergent point from the Sprain Brook Parkway, I-287, the Saw Mill River Parkway, Central Avenue, Rt 119 and other local streets in our area.

We will have increased traffic congestion, noise, concerns for emergency and fire vehicles responding to alarms, etc., concentrated in a limited area. Remember that Dobbs Ferry Road is also used by 3 school districts, private school bus transportation, the Elmwood Day School/Day Camp, the Golf Driving Range, the Elmwood Country Club, Rumbrook Park and the Bee Line Bus Service. Don’t forget the “regular” residents traveling to and from their homes, shopping and doing other things.

Paul Feiner uses the Lake Isle Country Club and the sports bubbles there as the example of why we should have even larger bubbles. Eastchester has a few tennis bubbles on the property of the Lake Isle Country Club, but fails to say they are set way back into the Lake Isle Club, with no homes in close proximity of the bubbles. He claims our neighborhood is in “transition” and we do not have “High-End” homes like Eastchester. Paul Feiner simply doesn’t care what we think, only what his friends from GameOn 365 want.

The Proposal:

Phase 1
The proposed 8-story bubble will be close to Dobbs Ferry Road and to the homes on Westchester View Lane.
The first outdoor field will impact Jean and Jennifer Lanes off of Secor Road.

I am sure they will want outdoor lighting and a sound system to turn this into a stadium-like field for the soccer leagues.

Phase 2
They also have a plan to put in additional commercial enterprises in our residential neighborhood.

Thomas Madden, the Commissioner of Planning, has been working with their planner for months to find ways to put forth their plan.

Mr. Madden gave information to GameOn without the knowledge or consent of the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. This is akin to revealing what’s commonly referred to as “insider information.”

The proposed new zone is being called “Recreation Open Space” or an “Overlay Zone” with no height restriction. This is “spot zoning” with fancy names!!

We must stop this now!!

We must attend Town Board meetings to speak out against this plan.

We must submit letters to Paul Feiner, the Town Board and Thomas Madden to voice our outrage.
The Secor Homes Civic Association is in agreement with our opposition to this re-zoning plan.
Contact your neighbors that live in this area to let them know what is happening.

We must reach out to other neighborhoods to let them be aware that this could happen to them.
Paul Feiner does not want other neighborhoods informed because he fears that they will support us in our opposition to his plan to rezone this neighborhood. What happens in one neighborhood can and usually does happen in others.

Again, a good showing from our neighborhood is extremely important at Town Board meetings if you want this zoning change defeated.

Dorrine Livson
Worthington-Woodlands Civic Association