Sunday, February 22, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Award Made in Fairview Discrimination Lawsuit

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Don’t Worry, I Promised

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Sidewalk To Nowhere Finally Makes Sense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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