Sunday, November 12, 2006

SHOULD TOWN INCREASE FUNDS OF COMPREHENSIVE PLAN STUDY FROM $50,000 TO $300,000 FOR 2007?

In my proposed 20007 budget I included $50,000 in funds to commence the updating of the Town's Comprehensive Master Plan. The plan update will provide a framework for future development in Greenburgh. The updating of the comprehensive plan has the support of the 3 land use Boards in the town - the Planning Board, Zoning Board and Conservation Advisory Council.
The issue as I see it is whether the plan should be done all at once - the cost would be a minimum of $300,000 in 2007---perhaps as much as $600,000 over the course of the review, according to town officials. I prefer studying a section of the town at a time, reviewing the recommendations, implementing the suggestions and then moving on to another section of town. Obviously, if the study is done in segments the costs associated with the study will be less in 2007.
I think that this is the more fiscally prudent option. Consider a homeowner who wants to renovate a house. Most people do one room at a time and live with it. Then, when more funds are available they do another room. In addition, while a master plan is important - we have to recognize that unforseen events or laws passed elsewhere by a nearby community can negate the recommendations of our consultant. We can anticipate the future - we can't guarantee that our predictions will take place. Look at Ridge Hill - in Yonkers. 10 years ago no one in Greenburgh anticipated a Ridge Hill development. If we had completed a master plan 9 years ago that did not include Ridge Hill it would be outdated today. 10 years ago no one even considered the possibility that the Tappan Zee bridge would be replaced. Now, a master plan has to incorporate the impacts of a new TZ bridge on Greenburgh.
I believe that this will be a major discussion during the budget process and welcome your thoughts and feedback.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Spend less. Implement the recommendations. Move on and do the next phase of the study.

Anonymous said...

As you stated in your posting about the open-space study from the 1990s, "It's important that when the town completes a major study that its recommendations not be allowed to gather dust."

I would like to know the results of Mark Stellato's detailed analysis of that study prior to weighing in on increasing funds for a proposed new study of any sort.

My initial feeling, though, is that $300,000 is not at all necessary. A study and specific action plan for Central Park Avenue's ongoing neglect (DPW, basic everyday maintenance, the entire stretch from Yonkers to White Plains) and rapidly increasing blight (economic development, the Hartsdale section) clearly need to be a top priority for the Town. I have a feeling that $50,000 would be more than sufficient to handle this important venture.

Anonymous said...

Money doesn't grow on trees.

Anonymous said...

Do the report in segments. Prove its value

hal samis said...

This is a major decision for unincorporated taxpayers and should not be lumped together with the more pressing departmental decisions that have to be made by year end.

The Comprehensive Plan proposal needs to be aired extensively and rigorously before the taxpayers especially as the major backers for this expenditure are the residents of Edgemont who see it as essential to protecting their real estate appreciation. The rest of the town should not be rushed to underwrite Edgemont's special needs; needs which can be easily articulated by their desire to implement a moratorium on Central Avenue development in conjunction with voting the funding for an ill devised comprehensive plan. Perhaps before voting the money should come the outline of what is to be included within the manteau of "comprehensive". Does this really mean everything?

What the issue on Central Avenue is (and Edgemont is both hopefully and falsely exporting the idea that what applies on Central Avenue also applies elsewhere in town) is that with the onset of a few commercial vacancies (when there is 100% occupancy they complain about traffic and signage and parking) is that the real estate owners might decide to turn these properties into residential and thus to burden Edgemont schools with, gasp!, more school children. Thus they want a concurrent and immediate moratorium while hopefully the new comprehensive plan will result in protecting Edgemont from the 21st century.

And while all this is afoot they also bemoan no new parkland in Edgemont but would be equally loathe to see the real estate and school taxes from such land disappear would such a park purchase materialize.

While all this is being sorted out I would hopefully entertain with this analogy.

You decide to go our for dinner with the family on Sunday because that is the thing that families do in Westchester. The little woman has cooked and scrubbed all week (when she is not a sernior partner in a law firm) and you want to show your appreciation by taking her out so you decide to go to a restaurant because that is their job; they are food professionals. You arrive at the restaurant on time but your table is not ready. You wait and wait (perhaps ahve a drink at the bar) and eventually get seated. Then you wait for the server (so named because it is you who does the waiting) to come and take your order. Tonight he/she returns almost quickly only to report that a particular featured item is sold out because they couldn't get enough of the ingredients from their purveyor or they just didn't estimate the demand well enough. You digest this morsel of news, initiate new orders and commence the wait period for the food to come. While you are waiting the server come back several times and sells you more liquor drinks or a bottle of wine. They serve you your salad course and proffer frshly ground pepper although you don't get the chance to taste it first to determine if you need the pepper. Finally the food arrives but it is not cooked as you requested. Depending on how you process the liquor you have consumed, you either complain and send it back or you figure 'why make a fuss' and you don't want to take more time waiting for a new order (meanwhile the rest of your party has already started) so you feel intimidated and say nothing. You eat your meal quickly because you are made conscious by the circling of the server that others are waiting for your table so you want to show your solidarity with the yet unseated. You no sooner swallow the last bite than they bring you the bill. You glance at it, do a double take at the total because all those little side dishes and drinks and even the desert you "shared" add up. Then because other diners are waiting for your seat, you rush to compute the tip while feeling the effect of those drinks so you overtip as a result even though the service was lousy. You discover that the restaurant doesn't accept credit cards so you are forced to pay the full amount in cash. You leave the restaurant and discover that while you were waiting to eat and then eating, that it has started raining and you must run amidst the downpour to your car. When you get there you discover that you can't back out because another car, with out-of-state plates, has blocked you in. And from this point on it only gets worse because you wife and teenage son remind you that they told you should have parked on the other side of the lot when you drove in but you insisted on this space because it was a new car and you didn't want anyone to park too near and dent your bumper....

To me, this nightmare is akin to buying into the proposition that we need a comprehensive plan like we need the complete dinner vs ordering a la carte. Whereas all of the problems can accompany either way of ordering, few of the problems would occur if the family had ordered take-out. Sometimes it is nice to go out to dinner, more often is is nicer if you are being taken out to dinner.

What the Town Council wants is to stiff taxpayers for the meal while taking them for the ride. And, as you discover when the bill comes, the $300,000 estimate doesn't even include the drinks.

Blogger interpretations are welcome. To start you off on the same wavelength, let me illustrate by a text example: the car with out-of-state license plates is akin to the plans, actions and policies of a neighboring community or some other entity whose decisions don't give a damn about what it may say in the Greenburgh Comprehensive Plan. This particular car arrived after our Greenbugh family were already seated and thus the Comprehensive Plan is already losing its future value the day after it is finished.

I assure you that what is opaque on your first readings will become clear once you get the drift...just like the Sunday Times crossword puzzle pun theme. Consider this an auto-interactive blog.
Have fun.

Edgemont Resident said...

Hal,

Again, Edgemont residents would have been thrilled if the land behind the California Pizza Kitchens were acquired as parkland, instead of rentals which do not even come close to paying taxes to cover cost of educating children resdient there. So please stop saying we would not have wanted the Town to purchase that as park land, open space or whatever. The town chooses not to do so in Edgemont. The town chose to protect the Irvington schools.

Edgemont Resident said...

Hal,

The town's responsibilities include up to date zoning and a comprehensive plan. I do not see that as pandering to special interests. A Central Avenue Moratorium can not be justified unless a study and, ultimately, a new plan, for that avenue is in place.

What do I see as pandering:

1. The Valhalla arrangement.

2. Charging parks to only the unincorporated residents, in violation of NYS law.

3. The proposed SAT camp, which BTW, should be charged to the town entire.

Edgemont has never been pandered to, we recieve only police protection from the town, just slighlty more services than the villages, but are charged a lot.

hal samis said...

Dear Edgemont resident,
Since there apparently should be no fears of an imminent Central Park Avenue moratorium, then we can all safely ignore the public exhortations of Michelle McNally seeking this as the utterances of one who only assumes she speaks for Edgemont.

You only receive police protection from the town? Municipal government is not run like the oft referenced Chinese menu. Overall services have to be maintained even if Edgemont chooses only to look at Column A. Although it would be financially injurious to both "sides", the Edgemont secession movement ran out of steam long ago and still trotting out that banner no longer is the weapon to "strike fear into the hearts of men".

Remember you are writing to one who is not running for office. I don't care about anyone's school taxes or school services as the reason to keep new settlers from arriving on your shores. In my book there is no taxable basis known as first in, lock the doors.

And when reason looks beyond the school system as the issue, there is a parallel argument to be made for limiting or barring competition since "my house is more valuable because there won't be any more built".
If buyers are limited to only the stock on hand, this is an artificial mechanism to maintain high sales prices; high demand results from low inventory.

But don't despair; there are solutions albeit not ones destined to be something politicians would embrance.

#1
I would support any moratorium if the property owner whose property has been "borrowed" for the good of others (hope the Library hasn't send Ayn Rand to cold storage for their move) if this was matched by the government's offer to suspend town, school and other taxes for the duration. The real estate. after all, belongs to the owner who may seek, as is his right, to convert it to residential or any other conforming use. Even if its current use provides rental income, a moratorium restriction prevents his right to maximize the fullest potential as he see it by preventing him from converting it to any other legal use perceived appropriate. This "taking" alone is enough of a trigger to qualify him for such relief -- and enough of a reason for the municipality not to be so eager as to embrace moratoriums.

Hand in hand with this is a mechanism to preserve the exisiting student census in the school district. Since the fear is that if Johnny has more classmates he won't be able to read, then all of you good Edgemonters without school age children should sign an agreement that they won't sell their homesteads to buyers who have school age children. Yes, impractical and illegal, but the idea is to put your own pockets where your mouths are; if you fear new neighbors bearing children, or want to restrict development because it likely brings new school children; then adopt regulations that maintain the stasis, one kid out, one kid in. Sounds pretty stupid but that's really what the "haves" want; they just don't want anyone else to have it.

Edgemont may be wealthier, may have nicer homes, may have cleaner streets, may need to preserve the idea that the "houses all look just the same" but in the end, for all its worldly sophistication, it really just wants to be another Walt Disney planned community.

And, in some cases, for just a few more bucks they could be living on the other side of the tracks, in Scarsdale. But that's the inherent hypocrasy of people who pay for the Scarsdale post office address but live in Greenburgh. But, be comforted that in Greenburgh we possess Scarsdale's former Comptroller. Isn't that almost the equivalent of a "designer" label.

Remember this is just a blog. I'm not looking here to practice social skills or apply for a job. I'm telling it like it is but I also am getting tired of all these "umbrella" carrying Edgemont associations that they are somehow better than the rest of Greenburgh while pretending that they really care about Route 119 or Route 9.
Caring about only yourself is exactly the position you should take and I would heartily endorse that if you were honest. Just don't make it into a religious crusade or step on the bodies in the other zip codes. And if you don't understand what I'm talking about, then run to the Library and see if the Ayn Rand books (Atlas Shrugged, Fountainhead, Anthem) are still on the shelves.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Edgemont secession movement had run out of steam, but the water is starting to boil again.

Anonymous said...

To anon at 7:15

The only thing that will slow it down is someone other than Feiner as Supervisor

hal samis said...

Bring it on.
Steam always ends as "water under the bridge" or in the "water on the brain" state.
Either way, you're all wet.

Edgemont Resident said...

Hal,

Could you explain what you meant by "BRing it on"?

You said you live in Hartsdale -- so what do you care if Edgemont becomes a village??

Edgemont Resident said...

Hal,

No one that I know in any Edgemont Civic Associations thinks that he or she or our area is any better than anyone else, it is that as Edgemont Civic leaders, elected by their neighbors, it is their responsibility to represent the views of Edgemont. As Edgemont has no elected officials (other than the School Board and Fire District), we rely on civic leaders. Hartsdale has its own civic associations.

Anonymous said...

Let's do one section of the town at a time, approve a new plan for that section and move on to the next section. If we don't like the consultants work we could hire someone else. The consultant we hire will work harder because he won't have a contract that the town can't get out of. He'll have to work for the next phase of the contract. As usual, Supervisor Feiner's approach is fiscally sound and reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon at 10:18,

At least you arent as pugnacious as Hal.

I dont have a problem with your idea, as long as:

1. Whomever we choose as consultant thinks piecemeal will work.

2. We can accomodate any part of Town that needs immediate action (eg Central Ave).

hal samis said...

Dear Edgemont residentures,

Please, think of yourselves and leave Greenburgh.
When you were little you lived at home with your parents. You didn't always like their rules or how you were treated or their refusal to buy you everything you wanted. When you got older you moved out and set up your own home. The only person you had left to blame then for problems was your spouse.

Now that you are even older and probably even more well-off, why should you want to live in Greenburgh with the loco "parentis" you don't like and who still won't buy you everything you want. Living this way is "sad" and it is time to allow your inner self to take over and make everything work the way you know it should.

So, go. Set up your own Village. The only thing stopping you is that your civic leaders, like those elsewhere including Hartsdale, don't really represent more than a handful of fellow travelers. All they are is, like myself, verbal and with an interest in local matters. But, if your Edgemont leaders really spoke for the populace, such as it is, these graduates of Greenburgh 101 would now be presenting their Doctorate credentials. Instead, they have drifted back to managing their own families instead of the school district known as Edgemont.

And gee, if no one thinks their area is better than anyone else's, I would expect to see a lot a price reductions in Edgemont "for sale" listings. Or, that you sorely need and are entitled to some new Edgemont civic leaders with civic pride. Perhaps your problems are with Edgemont leaders who share your views and don't think that Edgemont is the best.

Or I could be wrong and the threatened Edgemont exodus is no longer Edgemont out of Greenburgh but Edgemont to Mayfair/Knollwood.

For the record, Edgemont does have elected officials and she very much wants everyone to learn to work together. Last I looked, Town Council member Eddie Mae Barnes lives just a few doors from your very own Edified. And don't forget your very own Susan Wolfert, she holds the prestigious title of Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Greenburgh Public Library. True, not elected by the people but elected by her peers.

If "Bring It On" is confusing because you think that I might be referencing your Civic cheerleaders, I am sorry for the confusion. To be crystal clear, I say go, go now. Become a Village. Just take care that you don't take land that could become a playing field instead to build your Village Hall.

I have friends in the other Villages and I presume I can still have friends in the Village of Edgemont. Hit it maestro, "So Long Farewell" from the Sound of Music.
But remember. whatever happens, we'll always have 127 Hillside Avenue.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Barnes, whom I have nothing against, is elected by the citizens of Greenburgh, not Edgemont. To me, she seems to do her best to be for all of Gburgh, not just Edgemont.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:18 made alot of sense. If we hire a consultant to complete the entire comprehensive plan all at once there is no incentive for him/her to do a good job. If we segment the studies the consultant will be more motivated to give us a better quality report(s).

hal samis said...

Dear anti-pugnacious:

I was going to suggest "Let's hire consultants that think piecemeal won't work" but you have shown me the light of day. Hallelujah!

But I'm still loathe to admit to understanding why Central Park Avenue would be a location which needs immediate action. Please lead me away from evil and grant me the clarity to see the threat to the township that this street harbors. You haven't heard that a pool hall is coming to Central Avenue, have you, because then every Johnny, Willie, Tommy might not remain moral after school. Yes friends, you've got 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 pockets, pockets that mark the difference between a gentleman and a bum...So if that is what you fear I can well emphasize with your concerns but otherwise it sounds like more of those same old songs we've heard from Edgemont before.

Instead lets add #3 to your list and only hire a consultant who agrees to rezone all the undeveloped land on Central Park Avenue as residential permitting the construction of a Home for Jewish Orphans who will need a school to attend. Relax, I'm Jewish and I'm quoting from "Auntie Mame".

The point is that even if the sentence doesn't start with Edgemont, it will soon find its way to Edgemont by the end.

So, whereas I joined Mr. Feiner in the idea of Planning piece by piece or issue by issue last week at the Town Board meeting, I do not think that a good idea should be encumbered by conditions or trade-offs. Emergencies exist in the Mid East or in Africa; Central Park Avenue is not such a location nor would even local triage put it at the top of the list.

It is really getting tiresome to hear the same people humming "Edgemont Uber Ailles" while crying foul play at Mayfair/Knollwood. Last night Bob Bernstein, Edgemont Civic Leader, informed the Council of Civic Associations that Edgemont was host to a group home and didn't expect or would even accept any social benefits. Now bear with me, I'm just going to run spell check to see if "group home" and "homeless shelter" look the same in print. Nope, nor do they from the street.

If it is found that Greenburgh does need a one-size-fits-all comprehensive or master plan, (don't think that consultants start from scratch, they are masters of cut and paste) it certainly does not need one with the master being Edgemont.

hal samis said...

Dear anonymouse:

Forgive my mistake. I didn't understand that what would make you happy is to have a representative elected only by Edgemont residents. I stupidly thought you sought someone who lived in Edgemont.

Would it also be okay with you while you reorganize the Town government, if Hartsdale can have a representative elected only by Hartsdale?

Hey, let's not leave out Fairview and that portion of Elmsford and that portion of Irvington.

A larger dais for Town Hall can be purchased through the capital budget so it won't affect the proposed 2007 operating budget. Whew!!!

But, why do we still need the Town Council and Gil Kaminer? Let's get rid of that gang and replace them with the elected representatives of each section of the Town and keep the old dais.

Wait, perhaps the Robert Martin Company should have their own elected representative as well. I see that a lot of thought is needed here and perhaps even a larger Town Hall.

Does anyone from Edgemont want to save face, speak up and rid these pages of anonymous Edgemont fools?
I know, Greenburgh is in America.

Anonymous said...

Hal,

I will let the rest of Edgemont speak for themselves, but your attacks on Edgemont and our civic leaders are so mean, I hesitate to add my list to those you villify.

No one from Edgemont that I know ever said the comprehensive plan should not include the rest of the town -- you choose to twist it. But if people are suggesting a staged plan, then it only makes sense to start with the areas people are asking for. And BTW, most of the undeveloped Central Avenue land is in Hartsdale, not Edgemont.

Anonymous said...

While both Ms. Barnes and Ms. Wolfert may live in Edgemont, they both try to represent all of their constituencies fairly. Edgemont voted down the library -- did Ms. Wolfert try to slow it down?

Anonymous said...

Completing the master plan all at once is a bad idea. Don't waste my money.

hal samis said...

Hitler and Hussein are mass murderers. Does stating that constitute a personal attack?

Just because I tell things how they are (and I provide a balanced history of the events and circumstances), and granted many people may not be happy to see this noted, does not also translate to "mean" or an attack. The pattern is that people freely elect courses of action or make statements but afterwards seek to squirm out of taking responsiblity or bear the consequences for them when "caught". These whiners seek refuge behind a catch-all phrase "personal attack", the modern counterpart of "cry wolf".

I think it would be more valuable if bloggers responded to me on the basis of what I have actually said and show that I am wrong by pointing out what content errors I have made.

I did not state where the the bulk of undeveloped land on Central Avenue is located. I did state that some residents of Edgemont, who may, or may not be, bonafide civic leaders, are seeking to have Central Avenue head the list of locations that need attention.

My blogs entries are identified by me as author and are open to examination.

Whether you know me or not please include me also on your own list of:
"no one I know ever said the comprehensive plan shound not include the rest of the town" because you won't find that I said it either. And, just because some Edgemont residents are asking about Central Avenue does not mean that this "makes sense" especially when having lots of dollars being spent is the direct result. Sorry, I just don't buy into either the "how goes Edgemont goes the world" or "whatever Edgemont wants, Edgemont gets" mantra.

That you misquote or mislabel me is by far the more subtle method of "villification" because you accuse me of something I clearly avoid saying because I stop and THINK about what I write, reread it (ok typos and the like get through) before I hit the "login and publish" button. If only others would do the same.

Finally, hiding behind an anonymous tag only says to me that we have self-appointed vigilantes roaming about Greenburgh. I can understand a casual blogger making general anonymous comments or complaints about the town, the government, their neighbors, etc. but I don't have any sympathy for those who have an agenda of misdirecting readers into confusing reality with fiction. You visit this blog, you read, you write, you steal, you lie and you do it all while hiding behind a mask, just like a bandit. Note: The "you" is generic and may not apply to any one individual or individuals operating either separately or in a campaign. Yes, Virginia, there are bloggers using multiple identities.

And how does one execute a personal attack or an attack on someone who is named anonymous? Only Ms McNally would know. Ask her.

Anonymous said...

Hal,

Are you elected or representative of any body?

hal samis said...

dear most recent anonymous,

In one of my comments I stated that all I am is verbal.

Clearly I am not elected to office.
Do I represent anybody?
I represent Hal Samis, a Greenburgh resident. I also like to think I represent the truth which is not a "body" or group of bodies.

Do you have a problem with this?
Does this infer that what I say is less important or less than true.

I would like to be judged or evaluated on what I think and what I say, not on who stands behind me.

And this type of innocent question is really begging the issue.
If having a posse behind you is necessary to post a comment on the Supervisor's blog, then let's take Fascism to the next step and look at the organizations and their members who camp out here as anonymous. Let's examine the membership list and ATTENDANCE records of all these Edgemont civic associations and umbrella organizations whose "leaders" say they speak on behalf of their members so that people like me, or only me if you prefer, don't have to take their word whether they really speak for others.

But, I don't think you really want me to spill all I know about civic associations and how their self-serving letters read to various Town boards are actually born.

For now, let's just stick with the idea that I am one man with one vote but a mighty keyboard.