Sunday, December 31, 2006

December: 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!


Have a happy and healthy 2007. I will be releasing my 2007 goals in early January--hopefully at the first meeting of the Town Board --a week from Wednesday. If you have some suggestions please post them on this blog or e mail me at At the beginning of the year I voluntarily put $5000 of my salary in an escrow account. Part of the $5000 is returned to the taxpayers at the end of the year -if goals are not met.
A partial list of possible goals is posted on the town web site:

Friday, December 22, 2006


The NY State Comptroller has been reviewing the WESTHELP partnership agreement. A draft report was presented to me and members of the Town Board. On each page of the report there was a sentence requesting that the draft report not be shared with the public. During meetings with the State Comptroller's office all the town officials present were told that the release of a draft report would be very damaging to the integrity of the process. The reason: The Comptroller's office indicated to the 5 members of the Town Board (Eddie Mae Barnes, Diana Juettner, Steve Bass, Francis Sheehan and myself) that there could be errors in the report. The State Comptroller's office did not want to release a document that contains errors in it.
The State Comptroller's office has given the Town Board and me until January 3rd, 2007 to respond to their draft. There are some errors in the draft report that need to be corrected.
Today, a newspaper reporter from the Journal News contacted me and advised me that the highly confidential report was leaked. I believe that the integrity of the comptroller's report (which contains inaccuracies) is at stake. I also believe that it was highly unethical and improper to release a confidential draft report that has errors in it to a reporter.
The proper response from the Town Board should have been to wait until a final report was prepared that is accurate. We anticipate that the final report will be released in early 2007. The public has the right to review the comptroller's opinion and findings.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

dobbs ferry hospital files lawsuit so they won't close down

The Community Hospital at Dobbs Ferry filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the closure recommendations of a state commission. There is an article in the Journal News today about the lawsuit (
The Greenburgh Town Board & river villages approved resolutions calling on the state to keep the hospital open. This hospital makes money. Why should the state close down a hospital that is successful?
I will be working very hard to do whatever we can to save this important hospital.

Empire Blue Cross/Blude Shield Cutting Back Service

Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield has sent out important hospital termination notices to Greenburgh residents who are members of Empire Blue Cross advising that effective January 1, 2007 that they will no longer be a participating provider with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. As a result, area residents will no longer be able to obtain services from Lawrence Hospital, Northern Westchester Hospital, Phelps Memorial Hospital and White Plains Hospital Center.
I will be contacting the NY State Dept of Health and Insurance and others to object. This decision will create great inconveniences for residents who have health needs.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tappan Zee bridge study approved...

If the Tappan Zee bridge is replaced Greenburgh (villages/287 corridor which includes unincorporated Greenburgh) will be impacted. The state is moving forward reviewing various options. Before plans are finalized by the state we want to make sure that our quality of life concerns are addressed. the Greenburgh Town Board voted yesterday to appropriate $30,000 in the 2007 budget to retain the services of a consultant to assist us in the review. The vote was unanimous.
Hopefully, since we are being proactive, some of our concerns could be addressed by the state before final plans are announced.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fire in Edgemont..Board approves budget

A fire caused extensive damage to a home at 4 Seely Place in Edgemont. A captain suffered a leg injury...other firefighters suffered exhaustion and smoke inhalation.
The Greenburgh Town Board approved the 2007 budget unanimously. The budget includes tax cuts for unincorporated Greenburgh and the villages.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A possible E Hartsdale Ave goal: Summer jazz concert or jazz concert series

A possible E Hartsdale Ave goal: We should consider an East Hartsdale Ave summer jazz concert or jazz concert series -at Desanti Plaza, near Starbucks.
What's your thought? Would you be interested in helping me organize such an event? If yes, e mail me at

Sunday, December 17, 2006


The Greenburgh Town Board will vote on the 2007 budget this coming Tuesday, December 19th at 4 PM at Town Hall. I submitted my proposed budget to the Town Board at the end of October. The members of the Board have been working hard - reviewing the proposed budget since early November. There are two budgets that I submitted: a B budget (unincorporated Greenburgh only) and an A budget (the villages and unincorporated Greenburgh. If you combine the A budget and the B budget the total budget is 72 million dollars. The Town Council members are recommending that expenditures in the proposed budget be reduced by only $37,000 out of a total of 72 million dollars.
In the B budget the Board reduced expenditures by $111,000 from a budget of $47,242,815. In the A budget the Board members are recommending an increase in expenditures by $76,000 from what I had proposed.
The Town Board members are able to reduce the taxes by cutting into the fund balance. In the B budget I had originally recommended a tax increase of about 1%. The Board is recommending that an additional $750,000 be deleted from the fund balance -which will enable taxes to go down by less than 1%.Taxes in the A budget will go down by more than 10%. The issue before the Board on Tuesday is this: Should we use up more of our fund balance now in the B budget and provide residents with a very slight tax cut? Or, would it be more prudent to use less of the fund balance now and keep tax increases lower during the next few years --rather than have fluctuations in tax rates, as we have seen at the county level (a few zero percent increases followed by substantial double digit hikes). I think people want stability and predictability.
The Town Council members made some good positive changes. I am enthusiastic about the community policing that will start in Mayfair Knollwood. I am very pleased about the $20,000 additional funds for leaf collection - this is good public policy and will enable the town to pick up leaves faster. I am grateful that the Town Board is open minded about the SAT/summer BizCamp. The Board members indicated that if the Community Center Advisory Board endorses the camp they can implement the initiative. I am pleased that the Board has agreed to fund the TZ bridge review and will support the comprehensive plan initiative.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

proposed amendment to Town Board rules--meetings must end by 11:15 PM unless there is unanimous consent

I intend to propose a rules change to the rules of the Town Board in January that all Town Board meetings and work sessions end no later than 11:15 PM unless there is unanimous consent by the members of the Town Board. In 2006 many of our meetings ended after midnight. This is unfair to town staff. A tired Town Board is more likely to make mistakes. In addition, post midnight meetings is not real open government. How many residents will stay up to attend, speak at or watch Town Board meetings/work sessions after midnight?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Westchester Disabled on Move expresses concern about Ardsley site for Bd of Elections

Last week I reported that the Ardsley School district expressed concerns about the proposed move of the Board of Elections from White Plains to 440 Saw Mill River Road, Ardsley. The major concern school officials had was the loss of taxes. When the county purchases a building the property becomes tax exempt. Frank Harrington, a school board member, also raised an interesting issue: the lack of accessibility of the site to people with disabilities. The building is set back from the street, has hilly topography and the path from the street to the entrance is too steep to be considered accessible.
I wrote to some organizations that advocate for the disabled. Mel Tanzman, Executive Director of Westchester Disabled on the Move, conducted a site visit. He determined that the objections were valid. I hope that the county looks elsewhere.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Some Edgemont bloggers have posted comments in recent weeks about the failure of the town to acquire more open space in Edgemont. They object to the open space acquisitions that have happened in other neighborhoods around the town.
The town has been asked by some members of the Board of the Greenburgh Nature Center to presrve a former single dwelling residence at 1 Dromore Road as open space. A house on this property has been demolished - the property is included in the Central Ave mixed use zoning area.
It's important to preserve the 3 parcels, totaling 2.34 acres, as open space. It would be an important addition to the Center's 33 acre preserve and would provide a direct link to the Greenburgh Nature Center's open space and the Edgemont Jr-Sr. High School open space. Continguious open space is crucial to preservation of wildlife habitats. If this property were developed for commercial or residential use it would have a very negative impact on the center's functioning as a sanctuary for wildlife in lower Westchester County. Preserving this property as open space is important on the local, county and regional level. I will be reaching out to Edgemont civic leaders, the school district and the Westchester Land Trust - as well as other public officials so we can preserve this precious parcel of land.


The Town Board took an important action step that will lead to the development of 444 units of housing in E Irvington when the Board adopted the findings statement pursuant to SEQR. OVer 10 years ago the property owners sought permission to build about 800 units of housing at the site. We worked cooperatively with the Village of Elmsford and E Irvington Civic Association reviewing this proposal. The Town Board adopted steep slope laws and an open space plan. We acquired 200 acres of open space in E IRvington (Taxter Ridge). Eventually, an agreement was reached. 444 units of housing will be built, 10% affordable housing.
Special thanks to Danny Gold, head of the E Irvington Civic Association for negotiating a compromise that we could live with. 444 units of housing is better than 800!
If the town had prohibited the developer from building on the property or if we had downsized the project by much more - the developer could have brought an action in court against the town - claiming that we were "taking his property". Local governments cannot prohibit development on property unless we purchase the land.


Every year, since 1999, I have returned part of my salary to the taxpayers voluntarily. At the beginning of the year I announce goals. I place $5000 of my salary in escrow. At the last Town Board meeting of the year the Town Board reviews the goals and determines how much of the $5000 should be returned.
This past Tuesday, during the Board's work session, the Town Board members reviewed my goals and determined that I met 79.41% of the goals that were announced at the beginning of the year. At last nights Town Board meeting the Board voted that $1,029.41 should be given back. The status of each of the goals will be posted on our town web site:
I am currently working on goals 2007. Please continue to provide me with your suggestions.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

leaf collection overtime to be increased

I am very pleased that the members of the Town Board will vote to increase the leaf collection overtime budget by $20,000. The overtime will go from $56,750 to $76,750. Hopefully, the additional overtime spent on leaf collection will enable the town to expedite the pick up of leaves. The Town Board will hold its final hearing on the budget on Wednesday (tomorrow). It's possible that the Board will approve a final budget for 2007 tomorrow. The budget must be approved by Dec 20th.
Bloggers who have visited this blog spot have been most helpful --a number of suggestions have been proposed that could result in better leaf collection in the future. Among the suggestions besides increased overtime:
* Paying landcapers to drop off piles of leaves at our dump site.
* Hiring additional seasonal employees.
* Issuing an RFP to private landscapers/contractors who would assist the town in collecting leaves.


Ever hear of Starbucks? I'm joking, of course --because Starbucks sells coffee almost everywhere. Lawyers for Starbucks were spotted at Town Hall today - the company plans to submit an application to open up a Starbucks on 9A in N Elmsford, near the movie theater and Sam's. The application is expected to be submitted within the next few weeks.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Police presence might happen in Mayfair Knollwood

The members of the Greenburgh Town Council announced steps that could result in providing residents of Mayfair/Knollwood with the police protection they want. Community leaders want the same police protection in 2007 as they had in 2006. The additional police presence is requested as a result of a county shelter that opened late last year at Grasslands. This shelter provides housing for sexual offenders. Some of these sexual offenders were found to have sexually abused, raped, or were involved in the attempted kidnapping of small children.
During the past year the Town Board has funded police overtime for this neighborhood - providing the neighborhood with the protection that had been sought. Today the council is suggesting that the Board hire a new officer --that the police dept expand to 3 new officers in 2007. A new officer might be less expensive than overtime.
If this is done the officer would enable the police dept to expand the commuity policing post to Grasslands Road, which would incorporate the Mayfair area of town. Currently, it ends at Old Tarrytown road.
I spoke to Chief Kapica today and he indicated that for 34 weeks policing may not be at the same level it has been this year --because the officer will be receiving training. After the 34 weeks the police will have more resources to provide residents of Mayfair/Knollwood with police protection.
I continue to believe that the town should continue to keep the promises we made to the community - that we should provide the same level of police protection in 2007 as we did in 2006.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Every year I announce goals at the beginning of the year. I am starting to compile a list of goals for 2007. I would appreciate your suggestions. The goals will be announced in January.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


I attended a terrific community event this morning- the 6th annual benefit pancake breakfast and coat drive at the Bailey School sponsored by F.A.C.T. (Fathers and Children Together). The pancake breakfast was a real community happening --hundreds of residents (most were from Fairview) attended - and donated pre-owned coats. The coats are being given to patients who use the services of the Greenburgh Neighborhood Health Center. The funds raised at the event are going to the 6th grade class.
This event was one of the best events I have attended over the years --many people from the community (including people who are typically not active in the community)--attended,and donated coats to a worthy cause.
F.A.C.T. is planning to get involved in our snow angel program --fathers and kids will assist the elderly clear their driveways and walkways of snow.
This is the kind of excellent program that makes people proud to live in Greenburgh. It's what a community should be about. Hat's off to the organizers of F.A.C.T. for a terrific job!

Friday, December 08, 2006


A few years ago Greenburgh became the 2nd municipality in the nation and first in NY to mandate energy conservation in new residential construction. Nikki Coddington, our energy conservation coordinator, proposed today that the town consider promoting energy conservation in new commercial construction over 5,000 sq feet. The suggested options: the town should require or incentivize applicants to build commercial buildings that meet ENERGY STAR standards. Development incentives could be offered if we do not require builders to build green buildings.
What do you think? Mandate...or provide incentives? If every local government promoted energy conservation we will not have to rely on foreign oil as much as we currently do. It's my hope that the Town Board will give serious consideration to this important issue.

Chase Bank to replace gas station on Central Ave

Chase Bank is proposing to demolish the existing Mobil gas station building at 353 N Central Ave and construct a one story 4,056 sq ft, one story Chase Bank building with two drive thru lanes, parking stalls and drive aisles, landscaping, improved drainage and storm water collection, a landscaped buffer between the adjacent lot and improved site lighting.The site plan proposes to improve the ingress and egress of southerly shopping center driveway entrance by closing the current opening curb cuts and providing for a new one curb cut. The applicant also proposes to make improvements to internal site circulation, handicap access, and safety as part of the application.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Westchester May purchase 450 Saw Mill River Rd for Bd of Elections--impact to schools major

Westchester County is considering purchasing the property located at 450 Saw Mill River Road for use by the Board of Elections. The property is located in the Ardsley School district and the unincorporated Town of Greenburgh. If the county purchases the property the property will be taken off the tax rolls. The Ardsley school district will lose $192,170.86 in taxes. This would be a significant loss of revenue to the school district and could result in substantial increases in school taxes. The town/county/fire district will lose $99,411.62.
I am urging the county to consider a pilot - providing the town/fire district/school district with the taxes that we would receive if the building is not acquired by the county. I have contacted the County Executive Andrew Spano.


I am asking the Town Board to consider adopt abandoned properties legislation - requiring property owners that start construction to complete construction within a reasonable period of time. There are some properties in the town that are eyesores -construction started but never was completed. Neighbors feel this has a negative impact on property values. What are your thoughts? What suggestions do you have for legislation?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

library update

The Greenburgh Town Board held a work session on the library construction meeting today. The meeting was open to the public. The architect, working with Triton, has presented the Town Board with a proposed master budget. The scope of the work bid has been reduced to meet the budget constraints of the project. Our construction attorney, Thomas Tripodianos of Welby, Brady & Greenblatt, has provided the town with a memo of law detailing the law on post bid negotiations and rejection of apparent low bids. The question is this: has the scope of the work that has been bid been reduced by a significant amount to require re-bidding? If the amount is significant than all bidders should have a chance to revise their bids in accordance with the reduced work. There have been court rulings that indicate that a municipality may not "engage in post-bid negotiations through which a contractor other than the low bidder may become the low bidder, or coerce a low bidder to make unfair and unwarranted concessions through the threat of rejecting all bids." (Matter of Fischback & Moore V NYC Trataros.Auth -1981). In another case (Acme Bus Corp v Bd of Education of Roosevelt Union Free School District) the court stated that "favoritism or irregularity in the bidding process may ostensibly produce monetary savings, but the use of such means to meet that singular end is still unsustainable because the complete public interest is ultimately promoted by fostering honest competition."
Re-bidding will delay the library project and could result in additional architectural costs.
I want to make sure that we are extra careful and that we comply with the competitive bidding laws. I suggested that we reach out to the Attorney General's office or some other state office and seek their advice. A copy of Mr. Tripodianos's memo was distributed to the public at the Board work session.

Monday, December 04, 2006


The Greenburgh Town Board appointed Herman Killebrew as an entry level police officer at the Greenburgh Town Board meeting on Monday evening. Officer Killebrew is the first graduate of the Police Summer Youth Camp to be appointed a police officer. The camp has provided young people with an opportunity to learn about policing and law enforcement during the summer mnths. At the our budget hearing that the Town Board held on Monday evening many residents of Greenburgh supported the proposed SAT/college prep summer camp. Who knows? One of the SAT summer camp graduates may one day win a Nobel Prize or become a corporate leader!
The Town Board will vote on a budget on December 13th.

The Town Board also approved a resolution urging the State Legislature not to close the Community Hospital at Dobbs Ferry. The vote was unanimous!

The Greenburgh Town Board will meet at work session on Tuesday at 4 PM to discuss library construction bids.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


The December 3rd issue of the NY Daily News ( has a great story about one of Greenburgh's six villages- Hastings on Hudson. The story "Smarty Town" suggests that Hastings on Hudson has something in its water -- something that flows into the town's small public schools. There are a record number of Nobel Laureates per capita. Six former Hastings on Hudson residents/students have received the Nobel Prize. This year Edmund Ned Phelps (Hastings High School Class of 1951) will win the prize. The first Hastings on Hudson Nobel Laureate was Max Theiler. His daughter Elizabeth Martin resides in Dobbs Ferry. Robert C. Merton (brother of Hastings activist Vanessa Merton) received the Nobel Prize in the 1990s.
Hastings on Hudson is a very special and unique community. We're lucky to have this village in our town of Greenburgh.

Hastings educators/parents/public officials have always worked hard to motivate young people to reach for the stars. One of the reasons why so many students succeed at reaching the top is because of the impressive programs and support offered to students.

Next week the Greenburgh Town Board will be voting on the 2007 proposed town budget. The proposed budget that I submitted includes funding for an SAT summer preparation camp and a summer BizCamp. Some of the students who enroll in the camps would receive scholarships (if they are income eligible). It's my hope to provide students with the tools so that they, too, can reach for the stars. The camps are designed to provide students with a stronger foundation that will help them succeed in life. Perhaps, enrollees in these camps might be inspired to study harder, to learn new skills. Who knows -- we may motivate a student to become a future Bill Gates or Nobel Laureate.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


I continue to have concerns about the temporary satellite library locations proposed when the library closes for construction. I do not feel that the proposed locations are adequate. The proposed plan calls for 70% of the library books to be placed in storage for 2 years. The satellite library locations that have been proposed so far at Town Hall, the Multipurpose Building/Veteran park and at the Community Center are very small spaces.
A few weeks ago a good suggestion was made to place a trailer at the Greenburgh Nature Center. The town needs a temporary location on E Hartsdale Ave.
Another suggestion that I discussed with some residents today was to ask the schools if the library could use existing school libraries for temporary satellite library locations after school hours. The town would staff the school library (which could become a children's library) with a town paid librarian. If the school library has extra space some of the books that we were going to place in storage could be offered to the schools while construction is happening.
What are your thoughts? The purpose of this blog is to exchange ideas and to try to think of constructive ways to make our town a better place. Having a functional library during the 2 year construction is of great importance.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Great news! Police Chief John Kapica has advised me that the members of the patrol division of the Police Department arrested a suspect who has been responsible for 5 robberies around Westchester. He told victims he was wired with dynamite and would blow himself up. He was arrested at Duan Reade drugstore on Central Ave.
Hat's off to the police department for their excellent work. Serious crime in Greenburgh continues to be at its lowest level in recorded history!


Now that the warm weather is about to break - it's time for our annual snow angel appeal. I'm looking for volunteers who will help senior citizens and disabled residents clear their driveways and walkways of snow during the winter months. I started this program 15 years ago. We have helped many individuals each year. Some of the beneficiaries of the program are individuals who are frail elderly --who depend on a clear walkway for food/medical services.
If you are interested in volunteering your time to this program - please e mail me at
If you are a student and are willing to have your name posted on a web site - please provide me with a letter from your parents authorizing your name to be released on a public web site.