Monday, July 20, 2015

Developer Receives Preferential Treatment

An email and corresponding “snail” mail went out to Town residents of behalf of a developer by Mr Feiner immediately after a recent Town Board meeting. No sooner did he publicly say he was against the developer's project to increase the amount of buildings in the Midway Shopping Center and reduce the corresponding parking spaces due to safety concerns at a Town Board meeting, when he must have realized he had bitten another hand that feeds him! But this was no ordinary email and snail mail letter. It was a poll. There have only been two that we can recall. The other one was in support of his friends from GameOn 365.

So, Mr Feiner needed to redeem himself with some quick back-pedaling. Even though he operates unimpeded by the majority of taxpayers, he “slipped up” when he said he goes to the Midway Shopping Center daily and has had close calls there himself. He may have had close calls driving in the shopping center’s lot, but not being an expert in traffic control, it was strictly his opinion. For that matter, he may simply be a terrible driver. There may be no recognized safety issues at that shopping center except for a raised acid level when you are trying to find a parking space.

The applicant was seeking to add two more structures (initially) to the shopping center. Numerous area organizations and individuals have protested, claiming the area is saturated with traffic congestion already. The Town’s unofficial practice toward a concept called “shared parking” and “under-utilized parking”, make the argument against the expansion a difficult one. Still, the confluence of cars in this successful shopping center makes entering, parking and exiting extremely frustrating. In fact, the developer decided to offer numerous safety improvements to the area and the shopping center if their proposal was approved by the Town Board. One resident objected about the Town being held hostage by the developer who would only commit to the improvements if they could build another structure (since reduced from two down to one).

At some point, their proposal got scaled back to the addition of only one new building instead of two, perhaps as a “suggestion” by Mr Feiner. They argued, perhaps rightly, that for them to invest in the upgrades they had planned, they would need this additional building’s approval and ultimately its income to be, wait for it, “cost effective”.

Armed with the knowledge that the “willfully ignorant” will go along with almost anything he proposes, nor give the proposal the scrutiny it deserves, he sent out both the snail mailing and e-mailing, seeking “Citizen Input”. We’ll tell you shortly what we expect he will say he found. But first, how many other project developers has he done a poll for? We can recall several projects including Westhab, Deli Delicious, Dromore Road, Brightview, Stop and Shop (on Rt 119) among others, where Mr Feiner sent out emails and snail mailings (at taxpayer expense) championing these projects. But the answer is zero. The difference with GameOn 365, was that he desperately sought to initiate an illegal lease for the them with the former Frank’s Nursery property on Dobbs Ferry Road. He’s been their biggest cheerleader. The referendum for GameOn 365, carefully worded to only force a positive outcome, did just that. The Town was promised $5M as an incentive for passage of this referendum. However, the devil is always in the details and the referendum, whether legal or not, could not help an illegal lease move this ill-conceived deal forward! 

In fact, even more potent than this seemingly casual request for a yay or nay vote for Midway, knowing full-well that the foregone conclusion would be in the affirmative, is the fact that Mr Feiner made the case for the developer by laying out all of their points. Why would Mr Feiner do this and not the developer? Why did GameOn 365 have a strategically worded referendum created on their behalf and now a taxpayer-funded mailing? If you think this expansion is a good one, drive a bit north to the Westchester Square shopping center and get ready to use your imagination. It’s the one on Central Avenue that houses Trader Joe's, CVS and Best Buy. They have proposed expanding Trader Joe's store, and adding a standalone building to the north east of Best Buy for a CVS drive through. There will also be a new walk-in medical facility built on the south side near Trader Joe’s. To allow for the additional traffic, new entrances and exits will be built out onto the side streets on both sides of the shopping center.

Mr Feiner is trying to cover both sides of his backside as he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. At a recent Town Board meeting, when he said he was against the expansion of the Midway Shopping Center unless safety improvements were performed, he placated the Edgemont group and others who have spoken vehemently against this expansion. Edgemont satisfied, he knew one of his first phone calls the following morning would be from the owners of the Midway Shopping Center. What to do? Deflect - and fast. So, Mr Feiner did what he always does when he is caught lying. Mr Feiner, who could also be known as “The Deflectomatic”, has a lot of hustling to do. Soon we will hear that he received a lot of responses about this project. He’ll say the majority were in favor of it. He’ll need to tread lightly. If he angers Edgemont, they will threaten again to incorporate. Make the developers mad, and donations of food and campaign monies may go away. What to do?

This is far from over. There are many issues taking place on the Central Avenue corridor as Mr Feiner tries to orchestrate a change to that area to his vision of what Central Avenue, and then Rt 119, should be. Is it what you want these two thoroughfares to be? If banks were only open from 9AM until 3PM, shared parking with a restaurant might work. Otherwise, ABG believes it’s a recipe for over-congestion and ultimately a disaster. It must be stopped. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

No comments:

Post a Comment