Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fulton Park Vindicated Over Westhab & Town Violation

In late 2008 and early 2009, the residents of Fulton Park received a letter from Mr Feiner stating that he had agreed to the demolition of the old Kings Inn Motel and construction of a seven-story Westhab facility. At that time, the motel was serving as a transitional halfway-house for ex-cons recently released from prison. The neighbors in Fulton Park had often complain of noise at all hours of the day and night, sex with prostitutes in cars on the side streets, drinking and drug use. Remnants of crack vials, used condoms and alcohol bottles could be found almost daily on residents front lawns or by the curb. Complaints to the police department resulted in a periodic patrol which consisted of a Greenburgh patrol car driving by. Other complaints went to the County Police as the County was in charge of the facility security - or lack thereof. 

Proposals were understandably met with resistance by the neighborhood because the industrial looking building did not fit in at all. Residents met and complained with Town Board members who were blatantly lied to by Mr Feiner and other Board members, who each said no decision had been made yet. This lie was later exposed when County documents were acquired under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). Those documents showed Mr Feiner's involvement with then County Legislator Lois Bronz, County funding as well as other funding that would help pay for the building. Curiously, before the plans were approved, the Town Board adopted a LEEDS certification for all new buildings within the Town. Westhab was not held to that standard, yet Mr Feiner still touts how "green" the building is. 

The residents were never against building something there, but only asked for a building that was not a huge, 7-story, out of character building that would not blend with the neighborhood. Their requests were ignored and Westhab went with their cookie-cutter gulag approach, justifying it as being patterned after area buildings. The only building it comes close to emulating is the old phone company building across the street with its design from circa 1960. An out-of-date design was used for a new building. 

One of the many conditions that was challenged by residents was their incorporation of the existing Town road that ran between the Kings Inn Motel and the Fulton Garden Apartments, named Fulton Avenue. In typical Town Board style, they ignored the two-way road that had been there from at least 1938 and used by everyone in the neighborhood. The Town ignored all maps and findings the Fulton Park Civic Association and other Associations furnished and accepted it as Westhab's. This allowed its use and could be part of the parking space count that was necessary for their project to move forward. When Mr Feiner wants a project to go forward, mere laws will not stand in his way, as was proven here again. 

Fast forward some seven years later with a lawsuit by the owners of the Fulton Garden Apartments against Westhab because Westhab paved over property that Fulton Garden Apartments has had as an easement for over 30 years. Basically, the property where the parking spaces are, which had been argued about repeatedly by the Fulton Park Civic Association, the Fulton Garden Apartments, the Greenburgh Council of Civic Associations and others, was not Mr Feiner's to give away. But when he favors any project, as long as its not in his neighborhood, all bets are off. Well, Fulton Park Civic Association, the Fulton Garden Apartments, the Greenburgh Council of Civic Associations and others are about to be vindicated even though the damage has been done. 

On the June 17th agenda for the Planning Board is an appeal from Westhab to change the one-way roadway back to a two-way road. Here's the agenda item:
Case No. PB 15-13 Westhab/Fulton Gardens, 22 Tarrytown Road, P.O. White Plains, N.Y. – Amended Site Plan
A work session to discuss an amended site plan application for a proposal to allow two-way vehicular traffic from a previously approved one-way driveway at an existing multi-family building known as Westhab. Presently, vehicles are restricted from entering the Westhab property from County Center Road. The proposed site modifications would provide direct access to an existing parking lot used by residents and visitors of the adjacent multi-family complex known as Fulton Gardens. Currently, the only access to this parking area is from Rt. 119 (Tarrytown Road). The Westhab property consists of approximately 30,492 sq. ft. (0.78 acres) and is situated on the west side of Old Kensico Avenue [sic]  approximately 210 feet from the intersection of Tarrytown Road and approximately 0 ft. from the intersection of County Center Road. The Westhab property is located in the M-174 High-Rise Multi-Family Residence District and is designated on the tax map of the Town of Greenburgh as Parcel ID: 7.500-310-2.

This is significant for several reasons. First it vindicates everyone, the Fulton Park Civic Association, the Fulton Garden Apartments, the Greenburgh Council of Civic Associations and others who did their due diligence and sought the truth. Mr Feiner and his Board, untouchable as they run for re-election unopposed, simply ignored what was right and did what he wanted. The Board knows they should go along or they will be "Sonya'd". Second, Mr Feiner gives carte blanche to developers at the expense of all the neighborhood residents throughout the Town and this practice needs to stop. But this is part of his warped scheme to fundamentally change the makeup of the Rt 119 corridor. He knew that the old phone company building would be taken over by Westchester County's Department of Social Services and its proximity would facilitate Westhab residents who need to report in to DSS regularly by being close by. Third, traffic has increased and backs up substantially from the traffic lights, as residents complained it would. Fourth, when Deli Delicious reopens as a fast food service restaurant, traffic will continue to be a nightmare for residents already living with an F-rating from the flawed traffic study. And finally, to avoid going to court and being found guilty of violating the easement that the Fulton Garden Apartments has for the property Mr Feiner "gave away" to Westhab, they have decided to acquiesce and turn the road back to a two-way lane. This is being done by Westhab to avoid going to court and being found guilty!

It's a shame that Mr Feiner's politics have trumped residents on the right side of the law. It's a shame that the residents of the Town remain willfully ignorant and stand by as Greenburgh crumbles. This laissez faire attitude with Town government must end. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

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