Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Worthington Woodlands Neighborhoods Win Housing Victory

After years of battling the Town Board’s unrelenting conviction to give away the former Frank’s Nursery property to Mr Feiner’s GameOn 365 friends, the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association, the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations and area residents stuck to their “zoning guns” and were triumphant! At the last Town Board meeting, Mr Feiner and his Board admitted defeat and approved a 101-unit assisted living housing facility to be built at that location. “We are pleased that they are coming to our community,” Dorrine Livson, President of the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association, explained to the Journal News. “The population is aging in Greenburgh, and this facility will fulfill a need that the aging population could use.” What she also said but was not printed is that the community is welcoming the facility in part because it follows the current residential zoning for the property and is not in need of zoning changes to be built.

The nursery was shut down in 2004 and abandoned by the then bankrupt Frank’s Nursery company. Seven years thereafter the Town received ownership of the 7-acre property through foreclosure. The site remained vacant and in disrepair as the Feiner administration ignored their legal and moral responsibility to sell the property and to address the mixed contamination on the site. Instead of doing the right thing, Mr Feiner entered a back room deal with GameOn 365’s management to give them the property for no where near it’s estimated value. Plus, he had Town’s “environmental expert” Town Attorney Tim Lewis advertise the remediation cost to be no more than $100,000 and that the Town would assume that cost. Once neighbors learned of this scheme, Mr Feiner began to back pedal and try other ways to gift the property to GameOn 365.

The Worthington Woodlands Civic Association, along with the Fulton Park Civic Association, Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations and the Edgemont Community Council and neighborhood residents began attending meetings and becoming vociferous about what and how Mr Feiner and the Town Board were conducting themselves. The simple fact was right in front of Mr Feiner but he chose to play games. No surprise there. According to Westchester County and New York State law, municipalities cannot be landlords and as such, any property received through foreclosure must be sold within a small time frame. The Town owned the property for years and did not sell it, nor did they try to make it “whole” and address the necessary remediation. Instead, Mr Feiner insisted the Town would sell the property and have any purchaser address the remediation, with that amount coming out of the
“profits” from the property’s sale. But, the reality is that there are no profits as the taxpayers had to absorb the back taxes owed for the property and have been forced to subsidize it yearly.

After playing games trying to outwit the neighborhoods in the area, the town hired a real estate broker to market the property to the assisted living, health care and nursing home market in June of 2014. The town received several proposals, but again the process, which Mr Feiner and his Board like to tout when they don’t know their next move, stagnated. Eventually, Capitol Senior Housing submitted the highest bid, for $3.5 million dollars. But the back taxes are up to about $1.5 million and the cleanup is guesstimated to be $1.5 million as well. So while the ultimate payoff for the Town will be about $500,000 that's left, we’re not so sure taxpayers will see that either when everything is all said and done.

Capitol Senior Housing has agreed to install a sidewalk for the entire length of the site's frontage, and install landscaping with reduced impervious surfaces. Having developer’s build sidewalks on the fronts of their property during construction is the bulk of the Town’s sidewalk initiative. It’s why you’ll see homes or businesses with sidewalks that lead to nowhere! Capitol Senior Housing has also met with residents on numerous occasions to take into account their concerns and suggestions - truly a good partnership which should provide good neighbors over the long term.

We’re glad to see several things happen with this site. First, the neighborhoods in the Dobbs Ferry Road area have cause to celebrate as they got what they had asked for all along. They were unwavering seeking housing for the location. Second, a contaminated location in the Town will finally be remediated after years of languish. Third, the dilapidated site will finally be removed and a more attractive facility will take its place. Fourth, while the Town will see some tax revenue, the Hartsdale Fire District will split the lion’s share of taxes with the Greenburgh Central school district. Little will go to the Town. Finally, we are also happy not to see the zoning changed to accommodate commercial development which would have placed an inappropriate 8-story commercial facility in the middle of a residential neighborhood. While we are always suspect of the next back room deal Mr Feiner is crafting to spring upon the residents, we’re glad the right facility is being built in the right place. It’s how we’ll get A Better Greenburgh.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dancing With The Devil in Oakland or Greenburgh

Whether it’s an Oakland-size warehouse fire or a house fire in Scarsdale, the tragedy that has just taken place in both has many people stunned, questioning how something like this could happen. And more importantly, could an Oakland size fire happen here?

All accounts thus far have determined that the building was being used improperly given its zoning of record. Equally important was the fact that the building did not have sprinklers. Would sprinklers have saved the people that were killed? It’s difficult to predict with certainty, but statistics indicate that the odds would have been greatly increased toward survival. Regardless, the warehouse’s owner, Chor Ng, through his daughter, Eva Ng, says he didn’t know that people were living there. But the leaseholder, Derick Ion Almena, has said he resides in the 4,000 square foot space with his wife, three children, and other artists.

Almena appeared contrite on the Today Show on Dec. 6. “I’m only here to say one thing: that I’m incredibly sorry and that everything that I did was to make this a stronger and more beautiful community and to bring people together.” When asked about criminal negligence charges he might face for the building conditions, Almena got angry and refused to address known dangers in the warehouse. “I signed a lease and I got a building that was to city standards supposedly … I don’t want to talk about me. I don’t want to talk about profiting …This is not profit. This is a mass grave,” he said. What he stated was partially correct; the building was to city standards when he signed the lease. But, as the tenant, he either made or condoned illegal changes and later sublet spaces to others who may not have known what was being done was illegal or unsafe.

Could the same occurrence happen here? It’s difficult to say, but we believe so. Given the liberal acceptance of many in Greenburgh and their willingness to allow illegal residential usage and be a “sanctuary” town, the probability exists. Talk to any firefighter in Greenburgh or its villages, or any community in Westchester, and they can point out houses and small apartment buildings that are over-crowded and being used beyond the intent of the community’s zoning code. Ask them if they have ever responded to a call where modifications have been done and the answer will be a resounding, “Yes!” Most can also cite numerous building, zoning and safety codes that are being violated. But, in Greenburgh as well as New York, any questions of illegalities can and will be ignored simply because inspectors must receive permission to gain access to a residence to do an inspection. Mr Feiner has also instructed the Police and Building Departments to look the other way when they come upon illegal conversions. The resident’s right-of-refusal of entry to both leaves perilous situations unchanged!

We need Mr Feiner and his Board to stop pandering to everybody simply for their own agenda: votes. We need politicians to stop coming to Fire Department Inspection Dinners, presenting a proclamation or espousing how great the firefighters are and saying they appreciate and value the job they do for our communities. What we need them to do is show our communities how much they value what the fire service does by crafting laws that allow access for life safety reasons, code violation reasons and dangerous living conditions. We need Mr Feiner to not perpetuate a sanctuary Greenburgh on every level in the town. Only then will residents be safer. Only then will firefighters, already dancing with the devil given what they do, be safer. It’s time for everyone to stop talking about safety and do something about it so that we don’t have another Oakland size tragedy, especially and unnecessarily in Greenburgh!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Louise Snow Brodsky Passes

Louise Snow Brodsky passed away Tuesday night at the age of 97. Louise, the original owner of 9 Eastern Road, was very active in the Secor Woods Civic Association, the predecessor to the Secor Homes Civic Association, Inc. and helped create  the Secor Homes Civic Association, Inc. in the 1990s.  She has been a strong supporter of our past and recent efforts, including maintaining the residential 12.5 acre property on the south side of Secor Road (which abuts her property) as residential. Her son is Richard Brodsky, former NYS Assembly member, who announced his mother’s passing. A published obituary is not yet available to us but there will be a Shiva held this Sunday, noon to 8:00pm, at Louise’s home at 9 Eastern Road.  he will be missed.