Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween police patrol-should there be organized halloween block parties and teen activities?

Tonight, for the 15th consecutive year, the Police Chief, John Kapica, and I patrolled the streets of Greenburgh on Halloween night. When I first assumed my job as Town Supervisor halloween was one of the most feared evenings of the year. Lots of mischief, vandalism, problems. People were concerned . Chief Kapica responded to the concerns by devoting substantial police resources to Halloween. Police are asked to work overtime. Prior to Halloween we reach out to the schools advising them that we will not tolerate illegal activity.
For 15 years the chief and I have toured the streets of Greenburgh --we stop by at homes that had experienced vandalism in years past. We check up on these homes --hoping to leave residents with the impression that the town wants to make sure that the problems they experienced in years past will not happen again.
Tonight - we conducted our tour and "housecall visits". The biggest problem we had was in Edgemont. Some kids placed fire crackers around a house under construction. There were large groups of kids off of Longview in Edgemont. A suggestion was made that I think deserves some consideration: Since hundreds of kids walk the streets of Longview each halloween - maybe the town should close the street on Halloween night and have an organized block party on Longview. Maybe, there should be some organized halloween parties on halloween. What do you think?

October: Miscellaneous

The purpose of this Miscellaneous topic is to discuss any town related issues you feel are important. Please post any issues you wish to discuss in the comments section of this post. Thanks!

Why are tax rates different in the "A" budget and "B" budget?

Yesterday I released my proposed 2007 budget which is posted in the forms section of the town web site: www.greenburghny.com. The budget calls for a 9.20% decrease in the A budget (impacting village residents and unincorporated Greenburgh residents) and a 1% tax increase in the B budget which only impacts unincorporated Greenburgh residents.
Why are the taxes of village residents going down and the taxes of unincorporated Greenburgh residents going up --even if it is only a 1% increase?
These are two different budgets. The budget for unincorporated Greenburgh is $57,354,008 and the A budget is much smaller: $14,679,237. We maintain a healthy fund balance in both budgets -- but have a much stronger fund balance in the "A" budget --enabling us to reduce taxes. We have used more fund balance this year than in past years to offset the costs of running services and to keep taxes lower than they normally would be.
Because the "A" budget is so small (the average village resident will be paying less than $100 a year to the town) the addition of one program could see the percentage tax increase increase substantially. In 2003/4 and 2004/5 there were large percentage increases in the "A" budget -- my recollection is that the village taxes went up by 70% or more. For example, when we initiated special recreation programs for village residents who have disabled children (the program became a town-wide program) village taxes went up substantially.
I am urging the Town Board to approve a fund balance policy which will guide future Town Boards re: fund balance issues. I believe that it is important that we be able to maintain a healthy fund balance -- this is a major reason why the town's bond rating increases have gone up 3 times during my administration. I also believe that residents desire predictability and stability, not surprises that could result in double digit tax increases.

Monday, October 30, 2006


I will be releasing my proposed budget later today. I anticipate a tax hike of under 1% for 2007. Between now and the middle of December the Town Board will be reviewing the budget. I will post facts about different departments on this web site so you will have a better appreciation of the town. Last week I provided readers with info about the Parks and Recreation Dept. Today: the Police Dept.


* 6,158 calls for medical assistance.
* 3,555 responses in unincorporated Greenburgh. 2,603 from the six incorporated villages.
* 920 serious offenses investigated by the police. The lowest number in more than 30 years.
* 36,139 calls for service – the highest ever.
* 1,632 arrests. 6,634 uniform traffic tickets. 5,121 parking summonses.
* Creation of first ever town/village marine unit. A 21’ Zodiac, Center Console Inflatable Boat was secured and eleven officers initially received maritime law enforcement training. In its first abbreviated year of service, the team logged more than 500 patrol hours, resulting in numerous vessel inspections being conducted and summonses issued. The unit also effected an arrest for Boating While Intoxicated, recovered a stolen vessel and investigated successfully a hit and run boating accident.
* The Drug & Alcohol Task Force, comprised of town and village police officers, effected 351 arrests, 95 of which were for felony offenses in 2005. 86 arrests occurred in unincorporated Greenburgh. 215 in the villages.
* The Task Force, since its inception, has seized 622 pounds of marijuana and hashish; 75 grams of PCP; 2453 grams of powder Cocaine and Crack; 324 ounces of GHB; 1,107 bags of Heroin; 512 Ecstasy pills; 50, 10 ml bottles of ketamine; 2.5 ounces of Crystal Methamphetamine as well as a variety of prescription pills, steroids and other drugs and alcohol with a street value of over $2,100,000.
* Over $100,000 in stolen cash and property recovered. 12 handguns and 9 rifles recovered.
* Cash and other tangible assets seized, which includes 18 motor vehicles, totals over $6,000,000.
* Child Safety Seat Inspection Station examined more than 1,400 child safety seats during 2005 – nearly twice the number of any other station in the state.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Westchester Library System to poll member libraries on Elmsford/Ardsley contract

An article in todays Journal News (www.lohud.com) reports that the Westchester Library System has decided to poll all the member libraries before deciding what actions, if any, will be taken regarding the Elmsford/Ardsley library contract. Earlier this fall Elmsford pulled out of the Greenburgh library (Greenburgh will lose over $250,000 a year)and entered into a contract with Ardsley which offered the same card at a reduced price. Critics suggest that this action could have county-wide ramifications. Under the current WLS guidelines anyone in Westchester who holds a library card anywhere can use any library in the system. Will communities throughout Westchester enter into bidding wars for library contracts at inexpensive rates? Will smaller communities close down their libraries and enter into much less expensive contracts with a library that offers them a cheap card? This is not about Ardsley/Greenburgh/Elmsford. This issue has county-wide and library system ramifications. The WLS hopes to issue a decision before the end of the year.

ON ANOTHER NOTE-- the town will be opening up bids for the library expansion project on Tuesday.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Carvel's first store to close on Central Ave

An article in this Sunday's NY TIMES (October 29)-Westchester Region section reports that the nation's first Carvel store, located on Central Ave, Hartsdale has been sold. The store opened in 1936. Should the town take any action so that future generations will remember the role this store had on history?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Should the town cooperate with Ardsley in building affordable housing for village/town employees, volunteer firefighters, ambulance corp members?

The Greenburgh Town Board unanimously agreed to take the waterwheel property, located in Ardsley, off the foreclosure auction sale this past Tuesday. This was done at the request of the Village of Ardsley.
I have been working with the Mayor of Ardsley and with other Ardsley community leaders on a proposal to turn foreclosed property into affordable housing for volunteers (firefighters, ambulance corp members), police, teachers.
There is an affordable housing shortage in Westchester. In the blog comments (listed in misc) some people have pointed out that it is becoming more difficult to attract and retain volunteer firefighters. One blogger indicated that it is possible that without affordable housing for volunteers - Ardsley may eventually become a paid fire dept, resulting in major tax hikes. THe reason: Ardsley is too expensive a place to live for many young families. I support turning foreclosed property into affordable housing. I appreciate the fact that the members of the Town Council stopped the sale of the property and expressed a willingness to talk to Ardsley officials about the proposal to build affordable housing on the land.
Should the town be in the business of selling the property to the bidder who will provide taxpayers with the maximum dollars? Or, should we work with Ardsley officials and help our volunteer fire dept stay in business by building affordable housing for their members.


I will be releasing my proposed budget for 2007 on Monday. Among the initiatives will be a new SAT/college preparation camp during the last 3 weeks of the summer and a BizCamp for six weeks.
The SAT/college preparation camp will provide high school students with a grade free course to prepare for the verbal and math portions of the SAT. The course is designed to provide information about the current format of the SAT and to instruct students in test taking techniques to help them realize their full potential.
The college prep component of the camp will teach students how to get into college and will provide instruction on all parts of the college admissions process. There will be tutoring on preparing for college admissions essays; college admissions guidance; which schools to apply to; how the process works; funding and financing their education and mock interviews.
Some communities around the nation have offered students the opportunity to enroll in BizCamps. The proposed budget includes funding for Greenburgh's first BizCamp. They will learn how to think critically about businesses. They will develop a business plan that brings the learning to the practical. Students will also have the chance to earn money on some of their busienss ideas through trading games and exercises.
This camp will work with the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship. We are working in cooperation with Westchester Community College for the SAT/college prep program.
Tution for the SAT camp will be $450. Campers who meet certain income criteria will be eligible for full tuition. The BizCamp tuition will be $600, with 10 students eligible for full or partial tuition, based on income.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


The Citizens Insurance Advisory Committee was formed to assess the town’s current insurance coverage and to make recommendations to the Town Board for obtaining optimal levels and quality of insurance in as cost effective a manner as possible. The report, in its entirety, is posted in our comments. Special thanks to Richard Liskov, chair; Joi Mayhawk, Eugene Pepe, Ben Palancia; Jim Reese; Lisa Geoghegan and R. trieff as well as Comptroller Jim Heslop, Assistant Comptroller Pauline Kirkland and representatives of the town’s current broker, Arthur J. Gallagher.

The full report is viewable in the Comments section.


Last night the Town Board met till around 12:40 AM. We started our meeting at 7:15 PM. We held a discussion on a proposed comprehensive plan close to midnight. We heard citizen comments about issues of importance (100 Manhattan Ave) after midnight.
Is this fair to the public? Are members of the council at our listening best during the midnight hour? Is it unreasonable to expect commissioners and dept heads to stay till the end of every town board meeting -especially if meetings continue so late?
Should the Town Board consider holding a 3rd meeting each month - with the understanding that meetings end no later than 10:30 PM?
Last nights Town Board meeting ended relatively early - the meeting before that ended around 2 AM.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Next Monday I will be releasing my proposed 2007 budget. The Town Board will be reviewing the budget during the months of November and will be approving a budget document in December. During the next few weeks I will be sharing with readers of this site some interesting info about each department. It’s important to know where your money goes….


PS: Don’t worry. Any 2007 tax increase proposed will be BELOW the cost of living..

The facts are listed in the comments section.


Hat's off to the Longview Civic Association and to the Parks Dept. During the past few months Stacey Silberzweig, who is active in the association, worked hard--trying to beautify the islands in this section of Greenville/Edgemont. She joined our new beautification committee. She met with Mike Nestler of the parks dept a number of times. The islands look beautiful---many residents of Greenville are delighted. This is a perfect example of neighbors working together -- in cooperation with the town--to enhance our quality of life.
We have a beautification committeee. Next meeting: Tuesday, November 14th, Town Hall. You are invited to help us enhance your neighborhood... Please participate in our committee's activities.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


The Town Board will be holding a hearing on Wednesday on a proposed law to ban the piling of leaves on any streets or sidewalks. Residents have been complaining about safety hazards each fall when leaves are placed on public streets, roads, sidewalks. The proposed law will make our neighborhoods safer by keeping them clear of dangerous piles of leaves. The proposed law indicates that a leaf pile located on any street shall create a rebuttable presumption that the landowner permitted the leaves to be placed at the location. Summonses and violation notices will be issued. Fines: up to $500 per infraction.

ON ANOTHER MATTER-- the Greenburgh Health Center received final approval to build their new health center building on Knollwood Road.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Today I received a few e mails from residents who have been critical of me in the past expressing concern about the continued operation of this blog. I have been advised that they are encouraging Town Board members to take action steps to limit my ability to post advisories on the bottom of my e mails about the blog. This is unfortunate. If this blog is going to be successful we need to encourage lots of people to participate -to join the dialogue and discussion of town issues.
This blog represents democracy at its best -- We're encouraging citizen participation. We're encouraging dialogue. We're exchanging ideas. If people give us their name that is great. If they prefer to be anonymous that's fine too. Some comments made on the blog are funny. Other comments are angry. We've received good suggestions from citizen bloggers. My supporters are welcome to use the blog. People who wouldn't vote for me for dog catcher are encouraged to post blog comments on this site.
It's my hope that the members of the Town Board will welcome the blog and participate in it. We should take every step possible to make Greenburgh the most open government in the nation.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

JOURNAL NEWS ARTICLE ON SCHOOL SAFETY-question: should more schools use community police officers in the schools?

An article in the Journal News today (October 22) "Security Tightened Across Region at Local Schools" talks about school safety issues. School shootings across the country have rekindled fears of parents, teachers, children. You should read the article on the www.lohud.com web site.
A number of years ago the town of Greenburgh partnered with the Central 7 School district. Both the town and Central 7 school districts share the expense of a community police resource officer who patrols the schools and provides additional services to the district (read the Greenburgh police dept's web site: www.greenburghny.com for more info on the many services offered to school districts via the community police resource officer). The program at Central 7 is a success.
The question of the day is this: Should more school districts have policing in the schools? What do you think?

HELP WANTED-town may evict tenants on foreclosed property

Your help wanted...The town has taken ownership of an apartment building on Main Street in Dobbs Ferry due to a foreclosure. The building inspector has advised the Town Board that there are structural/safety issues at the building. As a result, the town is in the process of evicting a few remaining tenants who remain at the building we now own. I am helping one of the families find an apartment. So far-- no luck! The couple can afford about $1300 a month. The wife works. The husband has a diability. They have a child. If you know of any apartments in the area please contact me at 993-1540 (my home number is 478 1219) or at my e mail address: pfeiner@greenburghny.com. In addition, if you would like to assist the family financially please advise and I will let you know how you can go about doing so. The family can afford the rent but they can't afford the extra charges: the one months rent, security and additional realtors fee that is usually charged.
Thanks for any assistance you can provide.

Friday, October 20, 2006


This Tuesday the Westchester Library System will be holding a hearing at 6 PM at the WLS headquarters - 540 White Plains Road, Tarrytown to discuss the proposed Elmsford/Ardsley library contract. The town will be losing a million dollars+ over 4 years because Elmsford was able to shop around for library services at a reduced price. The Ardsley/Elmsford agreement won't necessarily mean that Elmsford residents will use the Ardsley library. Under the terms of the WLS library agreement anyone can use a library card at any library in Westchester. Many Elmsford residents will continue to use the services of the Greenburgh Library because they have an Ardsley card.
I think that this agreement will create long term problems for the library system. Smaller libraries will probably close down their operations --these communities will shop around Westchester for discounted library card prices. There will be price wars -- communities will compete with each other to sell library cards to other localities at cheap rates.
This is not about Ardsley-- this is not about Elmsford. This is about the future of the Westchester Library System.

cablevision & cable box charges...

Have been receiving lots of calls from residents who are angry that customers are being charged by cablevision for cable boxes to watch programs that previously didn't require boxes (and the associated $6 box fee). This is for TCM service.
I asked the Town Attorney if the town can take any legal action. He provided me with an opinion which said that "Federal law preempts state and local governments from regulating rates for services above basic. Therefore, the town cannot regulate this rate in any way."
Glad we now will be getting cable TV competition with Verizon ( Greenburgh was the first locality in Westchester to approve competition)!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

2007 budget suggestions wanted

Before the end of the month I have to submit a proposed budget for 2007 to the Town Board. The Town Board has till the end of December to approve the final document.
There are some challenges we face: How do we contain costs and maintain the high quality of life and services that people enjoy? We must keep Greenburgh affordable so you and your neighbors can continue to reside here. I invite you to look at last years budget on line (www.greenburghny.com) and to provide me with your thoughts. I'd also be willing to meet with neighborhood groups in the coming days/weeks to discuss various budget options.

library needs to follow up offer re: temporary space

A few weeks ago, after Frank's Nurserywas rejected as a temporary library location, the Library Board suggested that the Town Board move the expansion project forward by placing the temporary library at satellite locations. Among the locations: 2 small rooms at the Town Hall. Another location: a small room at the Multipurpose Center, Veteran Park. I did not want to be blamed for slowing down the library expansion efforts and did what the library board representatives requested.
I feel that the proposed satellite locations for the library is inadequate. In effect, we will have a very inadequate library while construction takes place.I have requested the library and town board consider renting a storefront somewhere in unincorporated Greenburgh for the library. Vic Weinstein, who has experience in real estate, offered to help with the lease. But, the Library Board prohibited the library director from meeting with him. They indicated that the Library Board should be involved in the search and negotiations.
I have sent e mails and letters to the Library Board asking for follow up to this matter -- I feel that a storefront library makes good sense for the library during construction: More locations...more service...less stored items during construction...better use of library staff. Currently, more than 70% of the books, equipment will be placed in storage.
I hope that the Library Board will give this their attention. I can't move forward without their help. The Town Board needs to know if we should include funds for rent in our 2007 budget--which will be released by the end of October.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Join In The Feiner Foot-Fest FORM

Join In The Feiner Foot-Fest For Flora and Fauna!

Support The Greenburgh Nature Center
and Help Motivate Paul Feiner’s Feet To Finish
The New York City Marathon

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner is running in this year’s NY City Marathon. He’s asked for your help in motivating him to finish the 26.2-mile course.

Paul wants you to contribute to the Greenburgh Nature Center, his favorite charity. Make your contribution of an amount per mile to “pump him up!”

You can make your contribution in cash, check or charge. The minimum per mile contribution is $.50, which would be a contribution of $13.00. All contributions are tax deductible. Your support will help the Center carry out its mission of conserving wildlife habitat through education, research and cultural enrichment activities for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Name: ________________________________________________________

Address: _________________________________________________________

City/State/Zip ______________________________________________________

Amount of Pledge/Mile: ___________ Total Contribution: ____________

Pay by: (circle 1) Cash Check Credit card (MC/Visa/Amex)

Credit card: exp date: _____ ______


Mail or bring to: Greenburgh Nature Center, 99 Dromore Rd., Scarsdale, NY 10583

www.greenburghnaturecenter.org 914 723-3470

John Mancuso
Director of Naturalist Education and Graphics
Greenburgh Nature Center
99 Dromore Road
Scarsdale, NY 10583
FAX - 725-6599


Earlier this year members of the Town Board approved a resolution directing me to propose a sidewalk policy by September. I complied with the request. The Town Board held a community discussion on the proposal but hasn't made any changes in the draft proposal and hasn't approved any sidewalk policy. It's a difficult issue - people want sidewalks placed on other people's property. The following information (posted in the comments section) might be of interest to those of you who are concerned about school/pedestrian safety. I'd like to credit the NY Bicycling Coalition for the info.
In the comments section:
TEXAS Study: Bike lanes reduce weaving on roads...
National Center for Safe Routes to Schools Web site....
Transportation Alternatives Study

-Paul Feiner


I am scheduling a meeting with tenants who reside at 100 Manhattan Ave for Wednesday, November 1 at 8PM at 100 Manhattan Ave to discuss the proposed tax breaks offered to the building owners. This complex provides affordable housing to tenants. The complex is older - and the building needs capitol improvements. Some tenants have expressed concern about the proposed tax breaks.
At yesterdays Town Board work session Board members discussed a requirement to tie the existence of tax breaks to capitol improvements. There should be a permanent reserve so we know that the maintenance will take place as needed. Previous pilot agreements, according to tenants, promised capitol improvements. But- these promises were not kept. Will there be a maintenance capitol improvement account?
I think that a meeting is important to clarify what's in the final version of the proposal and to hear from those most impacted by the decisions.


Our new blog is very successful. Hundreds of people are visiting our site daily. I want to create a student blog report --written by students. This new student viewpoint will be posted on our blog site regularly. Readers and those of us in government will get insight from students about issues of concern. Students will learn more about government...about issues...about the importance of participation in government and in democracy. They'll meet periodically as well to discuss their blog report.
No one will tell them what to say --this is the spirit of internet democracy!
If you know of a student interested in being part of the student blog report please e mail me at pfeiner@greenburghny.com. Or, call 914 993-1540.
By the way - this blog site was developed by a student, Marc Herman who attends the Valhalla schools.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

? What action steps should Greenburgh take re: TZ BRidge?

New York State officials have been studying various options regarding the TZ Bridge. Among the options: replacing the TZ Bridge with another bridge. Establishing East-West rail service connections. Where will the local stations be located? How will this impact traffic/ development? The decision regarding the bridge will impact our community. What role should the town be playing during this review process? Should we hire a consultant...should we organize additional community meetings...what are your thoughts?

Monday, October 16, 2006


It should be pointed out that this 2004 WestHelp contract was in direct
conjunction with the approval of the Volunteers of America shelter across
the street from Greenburgh on the Grasslands Reservation at theWestchester
County Campus. That shelter is technically in the Town of Mount Pleasant,
but is not near any of their residents, only our own. The 2004 issue was not
just renewing the WestHelp lease, but the concentration of shelters in the
I-287 area. The VOA shelter appeased two other County areas - the airport
shelter in Armonk was closed and the Yorktown shelter on Route 202 was
shuttered. The issue of the Valhalla school money was to appease the
Mayfair-Knollwood area, otherwise VOA with its questionable County contract
could have been held up. But the problem of too much shelter concentration
in the I-287 area affects other Greenburgh neighborhoods not in the Valhalla
school district. Neither your e-mail nor the Sunday Journal News lead story pointed this omission out. I was on-board for the approval of this agreement both in 1991 and in 2004, am not in the Valhalla school district, and am on the VOA Community Advisory Board.

-Alice Morone


Question of the Day: Should the Library be an independent Library district? (question submitted by Hal Samis)
The Greenburgh Library Board is appointed by the members of the Greenburgh Town Board. The budget for the library must be approved by the members of the Town Board.
In some communities around the state there is a totally independent Library Board that does not answer to the Greenburgh Town Board. The Board members are elected by the people. The budget process is independent of the town's budget process. The voters approve or reject library budgets each year.
Should a referendum be held in 2007 to establish an independent library district? What do you think? A few years ago (prior to the Library expansion referendum) members of the Library Board discussed this option with members of the Town Board. What do you think?

Sunday, October 15, 2006


-Mr. Feiner:
We are the exclusive leasing brokers for the Barnes & Noble building. We have had strong expressions of interest from several national furniture and sporting goods firms.
I believe to closing of Barnes & Noble is the result of that company's business problems. Similarly the closing of Treasure Island, Fine Arts Cinema, and Gourmet Garage are products of industry change not a poor reflection of Central Ave.
The chain expanded aggressively in the 1990's. The book business then became competitive. Amazon and other Internet sales and download services, Costco, Target, BJ's, Wal-Mart, Supermarkets and drug stores expanded their book and music departments and steeply discounted prices.
The book stores became hangouts with too much browsing and not enough purchasing. Now the retail book industry is going through a time of consolidation.
As a retail leasing broker I can attest there is a strong interest in retail space on Central Ave. Michaels, Christmas Tree Shops, Commerce Bank, Chase Bank, E-Trade, Fidelity, Panera Bread, Bo Concept Furniture, Mattress chains, T-Mobile, Verizon, are new or expanding tenants open or planning opening. Several new furniture stores also opened on the Yonkers end recently.
High rents are being set by financial tenants, pharmacies, wireless stores and service stores. Rent sensitive retailers like apparel, furniture and services have also expanded. Landlords have dollar signs in their eyes when they hear what the banks have been paying. Eventually owners settle down to make a deal when they realize their have tested the market. This is despite some of the highest real estate taxes and energy costs for roadside retail centers in the nation.
The greatest obstacle to retail leasing in Central Ave. is the unrealistic parking ratio required by restaurants to enter major centers where there is plenty of parking. We have to turn away a huge number of food inquiries from these centers. As a result White Plains, Port Chester, the River towns and New Rochelle have blossomed with trendy new restaurants. People eat out more than ever and Central Ave. has very few choices for a retail corridor of it size.
I am pleased the Town is making an effort to control speeding on Central Ave. I suggest visible police cars do more to deter speeding than a more profitable radar trap. More traffic lights and readable street and storefront signs are also needed to slow traffic and facilitate safe turns. Many customers pass their destinations and have to make U-turns due to poorly visible storefront or retail center signage. Lack of clear street signage, visible storefront address numbers and obstructions contribute to motorist confusion and accidents.
Barry Endelson
Aries Deitch & Endelson, Inc.

my partner Barry is absolutely correct.
We are actively filling all Central Ave vacancies. We are negotiating deals on all the remaining space at Midway S.C.,and have active interest on the Barnes Building. Everything else on the Ave is leased except the Treasure Island building-so the vacancy rate is very low.
As to Barnes closing. Concerned Greenburgh residents can travel 5 minutes,2.6 miles to Crossroads S.C. to do their bookshopping. Barnes has already saturated our area w/ stores. The Hartsdale store is redundant.
Furthermore,notwithstanding the good intentions of Greenburgh residents, most savvy retailers will go to an area that they perceive needs their business. The market dictates!! And you can put both our responses on your web site.
Bill Hesse
Aries Deitch & Endelson

Should government provide neighborhoods with benefits?

Question: Westchester has a homeless problem. Our county also has a shortage of low income housing. In the past, whenever a proposed low income housing complex was suggested near a middle income or wealthy neighborhood there was a tremendous amount of local opposition. Usually, the opposition has killed the housing proposal. That's why we continue to face a severe low income housing shortage in Westchester. Everyone wants housing built --in someone elses neighborhood. There is some talk that a court of law or the state government may eventually require localities around the state to do their fair share --to build a certain amount of low income housing in their community.
To ease the local community opposition to the proposed housing do you think that government should offer the neighborhood a dividend/benefit? In Greenburgh this was done with the WESTHELP partnership in 2004. The neighborhood (Mayfair Knollwood civic association) voted 90-10 to accept a 108 unit homeless shelter. In return -- WESTHELP, the county of Westchester, the Town of Greenburgh promised to give the Valhalla School district $650,000 a year for enhanced school programs. The neighborhood was happy. The school district was happy--because they are getting additional programs for the school. WESTHELP was happy because they were able to continue serving the homeless. The county was happy. Because, they did not have to close down a homeless shelter and place the homeless elsewhere. The town was happy because everyone else was happy.
Now---some members of the Town Board who voted for the agreement in 2004 are threatening to break the promise they previously made to the community to provide enhanced funds to the school district

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I will begin posting periodic issue questions on this blog. The goal: To encourage citizen bloggers to air their thoughts and help be an important partner in the legislative process. If you have a question you'd like to have discussed on the blog - please e mail me at pfeiner@greenburghny.com. I'll select appropriate questions and post them on this site. Please indicate in your e mail if I can use your name and credit the question to you.
I'm very pleased that this blog is starting to generate some interest from Greenburgh residents. We're getting a good initial response from residents who want to be a part of the decision making process. People want to be heard. And, those of us in government can learn from our critics as well as from our supporters. I hope that more people, representing different philosophies, will participate in our dialogue.
Thanks again for being a part of the discussion.

Friday, October 13, 2006


New Rochelle has launched WIFI in a 20 block section of their central business district, including their train station. WIFI provides internet access to those with computers. For a few years I have suggested that we WIFI our parks. What about E Hartsdale Ave (the downtown area/train station, apartment complex)?
What do you think?
Check the New Rochelle web site: www.newrochelledowntown.com

con ed meeting today

Had a meeting with the Vice President of Con Ed and some county leaders today. Learned, to my surprise, that Con Ed currently does not have the ability to determine (via technology) where power outages are located. They rely on people phoning in. In the 21st century this doesn't make sense. There must be technology available so the company can learn of power outages in a more efficient manner. Why should the company have to depend on phone calls from local governments, the police or customers?

halloween dog parade this sunday

Join us at the first halloween dog parade this Sunday from noon to 4 PM. Dress your dog in his/her best halloween costume. The event will take place at webb field in hartsdale.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

homeland security

I attended a meeting of the municipal officials tonight and we discussed homeland security. A few ideas that I think are interesting...
*There should be a requirement that cell phone antenna's have 24 hour emergency backups so that we can guarantee that cell phone service will be provided if there is a major power outage...
*Require generators at gas stations so people will be able to get gas for their cars in the event of an outage...
*Require new drug stores that will open up in town to have generators so people will be able to fill their prescriptions in event of a prolonged outage.
An interesting event. I always get lots of ideas from others.

Library OATS (Construction Minutes)

Supervisor Feiner asked me to post the meeting minutes of the library construction committee here. The links to download them in PDF format are below. You can open them on your own computer after downloading them with Adobe Reader.

-files removed by request of Paul Feiner-

MSG withdraws HELIPAD proposal

MSG withdrew plans to place a HELIPAD at the training facility used by the NY Knicks, Rangers and Liberty teams. Some residents were concerned about quality of life issues. Others expressed concern about the precedent that would be set. I think MSG made the right decision.

suggesting that all documents be placed on web site

A suggestion was made by Charles Vamossy at the Town Board meeting last night that we do a better job of making copies of proposed resolutions available to the public. I will suggest that we post all resolutions on our web site: www.greenburghny.com

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

greenburgh library to approve $439,000 to school

The Town Board is scheduled to vote to approve $439,000 to the Valhalla school district tonight- re: WESTHELP partnership. The Town Board meeting will take place at 7:15 PM.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

road repaving...changes to be made

Last week some residents complained to me about our repaving policy. A road, leading to Edgemont High School and the Hartsdale train station, was closed during early morning rush hour. Some commuters missed the train...students were late to school. They were not aware of fact that repaving was going to take place on that street.
I met with Commissioner of Public Works Al Regula. We agreed to change our bid documents. In the future our contractors will be required to place a variable message board on the streets that are scheduled for repaving. This will be done days in advance of the road work - providing motorists with more information so they can better plan their drive to school/work.

Monday, October 09, 2006

reasons why Barnes & Noble won't renew lease

David Landes of Edgemont has a company -Royal Properties. His company is a commercial brokerage and ownership firm. They have handled many leasing deals on Central Ave including the movement of the Verizon store to their new location in the Dalewood Shopping Center. The old Verizon location is going to become a Vitamin Shoppe Retail.
According to David "Central Ave is going through a shift now. Retail rents have escalated over the past few years with rents now approaching $50 sq feet. Barnes and Noble felt that they have a store in Yonkers which does extremely well and one on Rt 119 and another in downtown White Plains which gives them a presence." ..."as long as rents continue to climb it will weed out the smaller retailer as they will not be able to afford the rents."

half marathon in 2 hours and 1 minute...

Yesterday I ran the Westchester half marathon. The race began at the County Center. Over 1100 runners ran in the marathon, half marathon or quarter marathon. We ran on the Bronx River Parkway to Tuckahoe and back - 13.1 miles. My time was 2 hours, 1 minute and 16 seconds. The NY Journal News published the times of all the runners in today's issue. A few hundred people ran ahead of me. A few hundred people ran behind me. I was somewhere in the middle. For me this was a big accomplishment. I never considered myself an athlete --and just started running a few years ago.
Next month I will be running in the NY Marathon. It's the first time I'll ever try running 26+ miles -- I hope it's flatter than the Westchester marathon! And, hope I won't feel as stiff and tired as I did yesterday afternoon.
Hat's off to the county Parks & Recreation Dept for sponsoring another great county event.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


I have been reading the blogs regarding the Valhalla/Mayfair Knollwood/WESTHELP partnership.
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify some points raised by bloggers.
1) As some of the bloggers correctly pointed out this agreement was approved a few years ago by the entire Town Board. As Supervisor of the town I cannot sign any agreement unless at least 3 members of the Board vote to authorize me to sign a contract. This contract was approved unanimously--by me...by Council members Eddie Mae Barnes, Steve Bass, Diana Juettner. Eddie Mae, Steve and Diana are still members of the board. Former Councilmember Timmy Weinberg also voted for the agreement.
2) Before we voted for the agreement we spent about 2 years negotiating the terms with officers of HELP USA, the county of Westchester, the Mayfair Knollwood civic association. A state agency also reviewed the proposed agreement and signed off. Former Town Attorney Susan Mancuso spent many hours reviewing the document, as did special counsel - Paul Bergins. The entire Town Board reached the same conclusions as I did - that this contract was in the interests of the town. That's why we unanimously voted for the agreement. I object to members of the Town Board responding to political pressure to void a legally binding contract -- without any legal opinion from any state agency, the comptroller or a Judge indicating that the contract is improper. Legal opinions that were provided to members of the Town Board, in advance of our vote, are available to the public for review.
3) I would be happy to share with the public informaiton about the programs offered by the Valhalla school district to residents and students.
4) I appreciate it when members of the council think critically about decisions.The critical thinking should take place before they cast their vote on a contract. I worry that if the board members direct the comptroller not to comply with their legally binding contract that other contractors won't trust the town. A promise to pay -- a binding contract --shouldn't be invalidated unless we are told to invalidate the ageement by a higher authority.
5) This agreement was unusual. In 1988, when I was a Legislator, we were advised by Andrew Cuomo, the county, former Supervisor Anthony Veteran that at the end of 10 years WESTHELP would close their operations and become a senior citizen housing complex. When the 10 years was up Maria Cuomo Cole, President of HELP USA told me that the HELP organization would honor their commitment. However- she indicated that they hoped the town would let them continue their operations. The homeless problem has not been solved, there were few problems with WESTHLP. I spoke to members of the community. They came up with a proposed agreement which included the$650,000 annual payment to the school district. If the $650,000 had not been promised to the school district the neighborhood would not have supported the continued operation of the shelter. The money is not really rent to the town - it's money that was always designated to benefit residents who live closest to the shelter. Otherwise, without the support of the neighborhood, WESTHELP was prepared to close their operation.
6) This agreement makes good policy sense. If WESTHELP closes down - would critics of this arrangement voluntarily agree to place homeless residents in their neighborhood? BOb Bernstein, who is devoting time fighting to invalidate this contract,, would probably not be very happy if WESTHELP moved near his Edgemont neighborhood. What's wrong with giving neighborhoods that help solve regional problems (like homelessness) a perk? This agreement worked -and was replicated in Long Island. If this concept is allowed to continue it could result in some communities- around the county- voluntarily agreeing to accept homeless housing, drug treatment centers, low income housing, that no one else wants.



I was chatting with some employees at Barnes & Noble on Central Ave and got some bad news. The store has decided not to renew their lease and will be closing their store sometime early in 2007. Recently, the Fine Arts Theater also closed. Town officials should focus some attention on making sure that Central Ave stays vibrant.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

sorry about the repaving problems...

Yesterday my car broke down. I drove my wife to the Hartsdale train station (using her car). We got stuck in traffic and couldn't access the Pipeline Road since the road near Edgemont High School was being repaved. I received some other complaints from residents who also were inconvenienced. Students were late to class...commuters missed the train. People were annoyed because of the lack of advance notice.
First-- to those of you who were inconvenienced please accept my apologies....
I will ask the commissioner of public works and town officials to consider two actions that could help avoid this kind of traffic mess in the future: when roads are being repaved we should post advisory signs in advance of the road closure so people can make adequate plans --and use alternate streets.
If streets are near schools/train stations we should consider the possibility of having the road work start later in the day -after rush hour.
Your thoughts would be welcome.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Can contracts be ignored after they are approved?

This Wednesday night the Greenburgh Town Board will be casting a very important vote: A proposed resolution to fund the WESTHELP partnership. A few years ago the Town Board unanimously worked out an agreement with the Mayfair Knollwood civic association. In consideration of the neighborhoods continued support of a 108 unit homeless shelter, the Town Board arranged for WESTHELP to give the town $650,000 a year which would be passed along to the Valhalla school district, the school district that serves Mayfair Knollwood. The homeless shelter, which no other neighborhood wants, would continue to serve homeless families.
The Town Attorney's office found that the agreement was legal...
The Town Attorney hired an outside counsel, Paul Bergins, who also found that the agreement was legal...
The county of Westchester had their legal dept review the document. They found the agreement to be legal.
WESTHELP had their lawyers review the legal documents. They found the agreement to be legal.
A state agency also found the document to be legal.
IN 2006, some of the Board members are having second thoughts about keeping the commitments made to the neighborhood and school district. It's possible that the WESTHELP partnership funds won't be approved.
I think that elected officials have a responsibility to keep their promises -- to honor contractual agreements. No state agency, no court of law has told us that we can't issue the funds to the school district.
If the Town Board does not honor our commitments to the school district and neighborhood - it will send a very strong message to everyone: you can't trust promises made by public officials.
If the neighborhood had known that this agreement would not be kept, the WESTHELP homeless shelter would have been closed a few years back.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hillary Clinton in Greenburgh Oct 6

Senator Hillary Clinton will be in Greenburgh tomorrow (Friday, Oct 6) at noon. She will talk to seniors and others about health care and will be meeting at the Greenburgh Neighborhood Health Center, Tarrytown Road.
Next Thursday the Public Service Commission will be holding a hearing on the Con Ed power outage at Greenburgh Town Hall at 2 PM.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Elmsford & Ardsley

Last night the Ardsley Village Board entered into a contract to provide library services to Elmsford. This village of Elmsford had previously had an agreement with the Greenburgh Library system for library services. Elmsford shopped around for a less expensive agreement. And, they got an agreement with Ardsley that was cheaper than they would have had with Greenburgh. The town will lose over a quarter of a million dollars a year as a result of this agreement. Elmsford residents will still have access to the Greenburgh library because under the rules of the Westchester library system a library card from one library is honored county-wide. Although Elmsford residents will have an Ardsley card - the reality is that most Elmsford residents will probably still use the Greenburgh library. Ardsley will get substantial revenue from the agreement and won't have significant additional costs.
The Westchester Library System is looking into the legality of the Ardsley/Elmsford agreement. THis agreement, if upheld by the library system, will create significant policy changes for the library system. Small communities may close down their libraries and shop around for inexpensive library service contracts with communities around the county.
The Greenburgh Library is independent of the Town Supervisor and Town Board. They have a special status under NY State law. Although the Greenburgh Town Board approves their budget the library board can modify the budget. The Town Board, for example, can include funds in the budget for books. After the budget is approved - the Library Board has the ability to reduce the book allocation budget and transfer funds previously designated to books for anything else (salary increases, conferences, etc..). The Town Board approves the total amount of money the library can spend each year - but the library board has total discretion how the total dollar amount can be spent. I had contacted the Greenburgh Library Board many times this summer (I have copies of the e mails on file in my office) requesting an opportunity to participate in meetings with Elmsford. My requests were denied. In fact, a major gripe I had with the Greenburgh Library Board this summer was the fact that the library bd, for a period of time, refused to have contact with Elmsford officials.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Trans Fat-bd of health should require disclosure

I sent a letter to the Commissioner of Health today re: trans fats. I think that Mayor Bloomberg's proposed ban on trans fats at restaurants might be extreme-- don't people have a right to eat unhealthy food? I do believe that people also have the right to know what they are eating-before they order a meal at a restaurant. I'm suggesting that the Westchester County Dept of Health require all restaurants to include on the menu info re: what meals contain trans fat. This information will help consumers make an informed dinner choice.
I have suggested that the Board of Health hold hearings on this proposal.