Wednesday, February 07, 2007

3 GROUP HOME RESIDENTS PUSH FOR SIDEWALKS ON CHATTERTON PKWAY

3 group home residents who reside on Chatterton Parkway and call themselves the "Three Musketeers" will speak at the Greenburgh Town Board meeting on Wednesday, February 14th at 7:15 PM. Jason Kingsley, Raymond Frost, Jr and Yaniv Gorodischer have down syndrome. Over a year ago they went door to door on Chatterton Parkway pushing for sidewalks. The petition drive was very successful. All of the neighbors, except two, were enthusiastic and signed in support of constructing a sidewalk along Chatterton Parkway down to Central Ave. There were two holdouts - one who didn't want to shovel the snow (the boys offered to do it for them).
At the meeting the 3 boys will speak about what they consider to be dangerous conditions on Chatterton Parkway.
Last spring the Town Board approved a resolution directing me to come up with a proposed sidewalk policy. The Board has not approved, rejected or modified the sidewalk policy. I would like to see a sidewalk policy approved (and would support modifications in my original proposal). I'm hopeful that the presentation by Mr. Kingsley,Frost and Gorodischer will lead to a sidwalk policy being approved.

41 comments:

Feiner is appalling. said...

First off, it's totally shameless for him to exploit these kids for political purposes. Second, how is it that it's okay for Feiner to demand a sidewalk as a matter of public safety in that location, but when Edgemont residents demand a sidewalk for their elementary school kids to walk safely on Seely Place, Feiner goes door-to-door to lobby the homeowners there to oppose the construction of any sidewalk in that location?

Feiner's conduct is appalling.

Paul Feiner said...

One of the group home residents parents contacted me about inviting her son to the Town Board meeting. I welcome this initiative - think their efforts can send a message to parents of developmentally disabled children that their child can lead a productive life --and make a positive difference in the world.

Feiner is scary said...

Mr. Feiner's response is nothing short of chilling. Is there no line he will draw in seeking to advance himself and hide the truth as it pertains to sidewalks in Greenburgh? Mr. Feiner, continues to be a divisive person who is bringing the Town down. Now heu are using disabled children to promote himself. Maybe he and Jerry Lewis should share notes?

Anonymous said...

It's great that 3 young men who live in a group home are participating in local government.

Anonymous said...

those who live in group homes are decent, human beings. Glad that the 3 residents are speaking out for sidewalks.

Anonymous said...

group home residents make excellent neighbors.

Anonymous said...

I hope the Town will work with the 3 young men and approve a sidewalk on Chatterton Parkway. Thank you Mr. Feiner for inviting the 3 individuals to the Town Board meeting. This is such a nice story.

Anonymous said...

Feiner is all in favor of sidewalks as long as he doesn't actually have to build one.

Thus, the Chatterton sidewalk discussion is nothing more than a shameless exploitative photo op.

No sidewalk there will ever get built there or anywhere else until Feiner can get the town council to agree on a set of objective criteria for when such sidewalks will be built. The council has been telling Feiner this for years.

They also need to reach agreement on who should pay for such sidewalks. The state comptroller issued an opinion last year that said that it was unlawful for Feiner and the town to continue to charge unincorporated area residents only for the cost of sidewalks because sidewalks are supposed to be a town-wide charge.

Feiner doesn't like that law and the state comptroller said Feiner's idea of creating an "unincorporated area sidewalk district" won't work either.

There are other ways to solve this problem -- at least for new sidewalks if not for existing ones -- that don't necessarily have to impact on the villages -- but Feiner has done nothing to revise his proposal since the public presented these alternatives to the Town Board last June.

Feiner never showed for that meeting last June, but it is still available on tape for him to watch.

If he watches, he should ask himself the following question:

Why does the need for public safety warrant a sidewalk on Chatterton Parkway when the need for public safety doesn't warrant a sidewalk on Seely Place in Edgemont, or on West Hartsdale Avenue near Four Corners or at the intersection of Dobbs Ferry Road, or on a host of other dangerous heavily trafficked roads that cars and trucks must share with children and other pedestrians?

Anonymous said...

Last year the Town Board directed the Supervisor to adopt a sidewalk policy. The Supervisor complied with the Town Board's wishes. The Town Board should take action -- they can approve or modify the sidewalk policy Feiner had proposed. Once the policy is in place sidewalk construction can start.
Last year the members were enthusiastic about sidewalks. I hope that Steve Bass, Diana Juettner, Eddie Mae Barnes and Francis Sheehan work with Supervisor Feiner and approve a policy.

Anonymous said...

I recall Steve Bass saying that having a sidewalk policy was urgent. That's why the Board approved a resolution directing the Supervisor to draft a sidewalk policy. After the Supervisor complied and came up with a policy the Bass and company lost interest in the cause.

hal samis said...

Pass the buck ad nausem department.

Town Supervisor + Town Council = Town Board.

Town Board + Town Attorney + Commissioner of Public Works + Chief of Police + Comptroller.

"All the king's horses
And all the king's men
Can't build sidewalks
To Protect ourselves and children."

What's wrong with this picture?

If ALL our well-paid Government officials can do is point the finger and pass the buck and the PUBLIC only tolerates this folly as a harmless form of entertainment, then WE deserve the what we get.

The ISSUE is NOT the physical or mental capacities, the age, the location, the gender, the habitation arrangements or all the other infinite qualifiers that can be entered to create a lengthy list.

Let's stipulate, for argument sake, that there are streets/places that need sidewalks.
Let's stop re-establishing that there is a need.

The ISSUE is that whatever their differences, All of the Town's paid officials must find a mechanism to SOLVE problems. As far as I know, EVERYONE AGREES that there is a townwide need for sidewalks.

Still in the at least three years (and I have no quarrel if others say much longer) that I remember the issue coming before the Town BOARD, we are no closer to resolving the matter.

I do remember, though, that the Town Board voted against exhibiting wild animals on Town property; that the Town Board voted for a moratorium on the death penalty; that the Town Board voted to sustain an energy-saving "display" at Town Hall and more recently that the Town Board voted to ask the President to increase aid to Darfur.

Let's get back to Resolving in favor of the daily problems of Greenburgh and let residents, privately, solve the troubling world problems through the offices of their State and National representatives.

Instead what this blog topic tolerates is more of the same old, same old story. Feiner this, Feiner that, the Town Council this, the Town Council that...
Feiner has been in office a long time AND so have three of the current members of the Town Council. The fourth member of the Town Council, although only a year into his first term, was a long-standing civic-minded civilian. The result is that there is a lengthy collective body of knowledge that has collectively failed to rememdy even the simplest of problems.

Perhaps the answer is one of wrongfully assuming that collective length of service is useful. However what is becoming apparent is the conclusion that residents are only getting the benefit of just one year's experience, repeated anew every year.

Isn't there ONE problem that the entire Town Board can focus upon and solve? And, if such a formal arrangement is not sustainable in the current climate of power allegiances, can not any THREE of the FIVE members, comprising the Town Board, join forces to vote in a solution?

Or is fighting the fight more desirable than fighting the problem.

Anonymous said...

The reason that Feiner and the town council keep pointing fingers at each other over sidewalks has to do with the state comptroller's opinion from last year.

The problem is not so much what to do about new sidewalks, but rather what to do about existing sidewalks.

For partisan political purposes, Feiner has for years used unincorporated area taxpayer funds to pay for the cost of building and maintaining sidewalks in certain neighborhoods, but not others. Thus, for example, Feiner uses unincorporated area dollars to pay for maintaining the rustic red brick sidewalks in old Edgemont.

Because these sidewalks benefit only the residents in those neighborhoods by enhancing the value of their homes, it is illegal to do what Feiner has done, which is to charge their cost to residents of the rest of unincorporated Greenburgh.

The state comptroller last year said that the town must either charge these costs town-wide, so that the villages would have to pay, or the town must establish sidewalk districts so that only those residents who benefit from such sidewalks actually pay for them.

Complying means that Feiner would either have to upset village rsidents by making them pay for those red brick Edgemont sidewalks, or he'd have to risk upsetting vote-rich residents of Old Edgemont by making them pay for their sidewalks themselves.

Feiner wants the town council to make the choice for him so that they can be blamed in this election year instead of him.

In the meantime, because Feiner refuses to take responsibility for solving the larger problem, the issue of sidewalks needed for public safety, whether on Chatterton or on Seely Place or on West Hartsdale Avenue, doesn't get any closer to resolution.

WE DON'T NEED A DO NOTHING TOWN COUNCIL said...

There are 5 members of the Town Board. 3 votes are needed for the Board to make policy. Feiner can't act alone. Council members Bass,Sheehan,Juettner and Barnes asked Feiner to prepare a draft policy regarding sidewalks. Feiner did what he was asked. The Town Council members were then supposed to hold hearings on the draft recommendations and make changes to the draft. What have they done? Nothing! Feiner already made his position clear. Is his report perfect? NO! Does it require modifications? YES! The Town Board could implement sections of suburban town law and avoid creating sidewalk districts. Our Town Council members get paid the big bucks to take action on issues of importance to the community. They don't get paid to do nothing. I'd like a sidewalk on West Hartsdale Ave. Many of my friends want to walk to the Hartsdale train station.

Anonymous said...

The prior blogger doesn't seem to understand what the problem is.

Suburban town law allows the town to charge only unincorporated area taxpayers for certain types of sidewalks on a project by project basis.

It cannot solve the problem of what to do about sidewalks that have already been built and are being paid for illegally by unincorporated area taxpayers.

Resolving that problem is the key to breaking the logjam here. But solving the problem requiring the town board to make a choice -- either create sidewalk districts and make the residents whose homes benefit directly from such sidewalks pay for them OR charge such costs town-wide, as the state comptroller says the law requires.

Even though the costs of the latter approach would be hardly something village taxpayers would ever notice, villagers used to getting a free ride would probably be even more upset by having to pay these costs than they were in having to pay their fair share of the costs of Taxter Ridge.

Either way though, some group of voters will be upset, which is why Feiner is passing the decision-making buck to the town council (even though Feiner himself created the problem).

Feiner for sure won't accept responsibility for solving the problem and what the town council will now do is anybody's guess.

Anonymous said...

The Town Council should work with the supervisor. Together they should come up with a new sidewalk policy so that the town can move forward on building new sidewalks. Doing nothing is unacceptable. If the Town Council does not like the supervisors proposed policy they could and should amend the proposed policy law. Doing nothing is a cop out.

Anonymous said...

The supervisor and town council should schedule a public hearing on the supervisors proposed sidewalk policy, modify the proposal and take some action--soon, as the council promised us last year. If a sidewalk policy was important in 2006 to Steve Bass - why isn't one important to Mr. Bass in 2007?

Anonymous said...

Is Feiner prepared to support charging the villages for their share of the cost of maintaining sidewalks now being illegally charged to unincorporated area taxpayers?

If that's what must be done in order for the town council to establish a policy for charging only unincorporated area taxpayers for the cost of new sidewalks, will Feiner attack the town council members for doing what the law requires?

You can bet on it. With Feiner desperately needing village votes to hold on to his job, about the last thing he'll do is shift any expense to the villages, no matter what the law requires.

So Feiner will continue to hold new sidewalks needed for public safety hostage to his refusal to comply with state law when it comes to paying for the maintenance of existing sidewalks.

It's a shame that Feiner puts politics ahead of public safety.

When someone walking along one of Greenburgh's dangerous roads without a sidewalk gets hurt, residents of Greenburgh should remember who among its elected officials chose to put himself first and the people last.

Anonymous said...

SIDEWALKS must be maintained by the home owners and businesses.They must also have insurance just in case someone gets hurt. Yes we all want but are we willing to go for the other costs.

Anonymous said...

Sidewalks in residential areas that are needed for public safety are generally maintained not by the homeowner but by the municipality that installs and maintains them.

Sidewalks that merely enhance the value of one's home, or are located in urban areas, are generally required to be maintained exclusively by the property owner.

Greenburgh's laws are set up to discourage sidewalks. Maintenance is the exclusive responsibility of the homeowner, no matter what kind of sidewalk it is, but the town only enforces these regulations against homeowners in places where the sidewalk is needed for public safety.

There is thus no enforcement in areas like old Edgemont where the sidewalks are there not for public safety but to enhance the value of the homes.

Civic leaders have been telling Feiner the law is bass-ackwards for years, but he's put civic leaders on ignore for years.

hal samis said...

Dear Anonymous,
In particular 5:18, 7:07 and 3:56

I see that you have the easy answer, the how to get things done and Feiner, who is busy politicking and befriending the Villages etc, just won't apply your simple solution. And this frustrates you...

There, there, everything's going to be all right.

Unless you don't really want sidewalks but a target to throw darts at?
Because, if you really want sidewalks and really have the solution, I know how you can get the problem fixed to your liking.

Ignore Feiner.

Just spend your energy on getting 3 of the 4 Town Council to believe you. The Town Board has 5 votes, 3 are all that are necessary.

You rule out Feiner. That means that even with 1 of the other 4 not agreeing with you, we will soon see the DPW trucks rolling toward your favorite boulevard of broken dreams. And from nonce a sidewalk will bloom.

Just 3 votes.

School children can walk in safety to school.

Just 3 votes.

Commuters can walk in safety to the train.

Just 3 votes.

The sidewalks could even be red brick or concrete or asphalt, your choice.

Just 3 votes.

Bass, Barnes, Juettner, Sheehan.

Pick 3 of the 4.

Just 3 votes.

Sidewalks will no longer be an issue.

Just 3 votes.

Hal, you must be kidding us said...

Hal, you know better. Diana Juettner do something about sidewalks in Greenburgh? She is too "busy" letting the library project self-destruct to get involved in that. Juettner + Feiner + Bass + Barnes = ) (thats one half of zero.

Anonymous said...

This is a pretty silly discussion you guys are having with each other.

Feiner doesn't want to solve the sidewalk problem because he's so lacking in leadership skills he thinks that if he did, he'd have to alienate either village voters or those segments of the unincorporated areas that have sidewalks paid for courtesy of other residents of the unincorporated areas.

The town council doesn't want to solve the sidewalk problem either for the same reasons.

So each points the finger at the other and the stalemate continues.

Greenburgh's next supervisor needs to be someone who is unafraid to be a leader.

Anonymous said...

Feiner proposed a sidewalk policy. He did what he was asked to do. The council has done nada, nothing. They should approve Feiner's proposal or make changes in the proposed plan.

Anonymous said...

Feiner proposed a sidewalk policy which was contrary to what the state comptroller said was legal and which put the interests of village residents ahead of unincorporated area residents.

In so doing, Feiner put politics ahead of people.

The town council knows if they fixed Feiner's mess that Feiner would blame them for either trying to shift taxes to the villages (as state law requires) or for trying to tax certain vote-rich neighborhoods, like the old part of Edgemont where those red brick sidewalks are (which is the other option available).

So, because of politics, nothing gets done.

Paul Feiner said...

Bob: I do not believe that village residents should have to assume the costs of sidewalks. Residents of unincorporated Greenburgh do not pay for the costs of maintaining sidewalks in the villages. If we don't pay for their sidewalks, they shouldn't have to pay for our sidewalks. There are other approaches we could take (for example we could comply with suburban town law) that will enable the town to move ahead and have a sidewalk policy. I urge the Town Board to schedule a meeting promptly so we can work cooperatively on developing a sidewalk policy. I'm not looking to point fingers. I want to get results.

Anonymous said...

If Feiner does not believe village residents should have to assume the costs of sidewalks in the unincorporated areas, he should have complied with the legal requirements to do so.

He did not.

The state's suburban law permits towns to charge only unincorporated area taxpayers for the costs of sidewalks needed for public safety -- but only on a project-by-project basis going forward and only by adhering to its requirements (public notice, hearings, determination of need and allocation of cost, if needed, between unincorporated area generally and individual neighborhoods that benefit).

The state's suburban law does not cover the cost of maintaining sidewalks that have already been built, and that's where the problem is.

For those sidewalks, like the red brick sidewalks in old Edgemont, the town can either create a sidewalk district and charge only the residents there for the costs or, failing that, as the state comptroller's opinion makes clear, like it or not, the town must shift the costs to the entire town.

Understandably, village residents wouldn't want to see even a penny of their town taxes go to paying for sidewalks in the unincorporated areas. They didn't want to pay for the cost of settling that $9 million tree liability a few years ago either, but they did.

Before ruling out on principle any shifting of these costs to the entire town, wouldn't it make sense for a responsible public official to calculate how much money we're really talking about here?

The total costs involved in correcting the errors of the past might turn out to be very small if spread among all taxpayers town-wide.

Furthermore, covering these costs as part of town taxes wouldn't necessary be unfair either.

Village residents just received a windfall from the town when the state comptroller directed that the $1.2 million in annual revenues received from the WestHelp contract must be credited to the "A" budget.

A second comptroller opinion held that all other town "rents" must be credited to the "A" budget as well.

Village residents might not like having to cover the costs of these sidewalks that weren't done by district or in accordance with suburban law.

But should one pedestrian ever be injured because the town knowingly did nothing about an unsafe condition on its streets, the entire town will have to bear that liability.

That is why there is no excuse for any public official to hold hostage the sidewalks needed for public safety in the unincorporated areas of the town.

hal samis said...

Just three votes

Village lawyer said...

Anonymous at 10:57, better known as Bob Bernstein, has stated several times that the law and the Comptroller’s opinion say that sidewalks must be a town-wide charge and that the Suburban Town Law applies only to future sidewalks. Since Bob Bernstein has often made statements about the law which really are statements about how he would like the law to be rather than how the law is, I got hold of the Comptroller’s opinion. No surprise. Bernstein has misstated it.

The Comptroller’s opinion says that Highway Law section 151 provides that sidewalks are generally town-wide expenses, but that law doesn’t apply to towns in Westchester County, so that is Bernstein’s misstatement number 1 –neither the law or the Comptroller says what Bernstein says they say. The Comptroller then says that the town can adopt a local law to construct and repair sidewalks and charge the expenses town-wide, BUT THE TOWN HAS NOT DONE SO AND IS THEREFORE NOT AUTHORIZED TO CHARGE THE COSTS TOWN-WIDE. That is Bernstein's misstatement number 2. Any local law would have to apply to the future.

Whether or not the Suburban Town Law can only authorize the construction and repair of future sidewalks is something that is not at all explicit in the Suburban Town Law. If Mr. Anonymous Bernstein wants to make a case for it, let him do it in detail, not by just making statements.

Something can be learned by looking at Highway Law section 277, which provides that in a town which has villages, and villages maintain their roads and streets at their expense, town roads and streets shall be maintained at the expense of the unincorporated area. Since Highway Law section 151 does not apply to Greenburgh, and there is no local law, Highway Law section 277 is as close as we can get to a law that has relevance.

In this case you see the problem that Bernstein, and a few others, are doing to create trouble. In this case Feiner is right. Why should village residents pay for unincorporated area sidewalks when the unincorporated area doesn’t pay for village sidewalks? Can anyone say that is fair? I think not. These people seek to persuade the town that a grave injustice will be done unless the village residents can be made to pay for the unincorporated area costs in addition to their own. This kind of shameful behavior should be rejected. Bernstein won't be satisfied until he can get the Edgemont residents' electical bills charged to the villages.

Village "lawyer" wrong said...

The town of Greenburgh has no legal authority to charge only unincorporated area residents for anything unless state law expressly authorizes such a charge.

Expenses for sidewalks are a case in point. There is no law authorizing the town of Greenburgh to charge those expenses to the unincorporated area. Therefore, those costs are town-wide charges.

The comptroller's opinion last year could not have been more explicit about this.

It said, "A town in Westchester County ... may not adopt a local law authorizing the cost of sidewalk construction and repair to be raised by taxes levied only in the area of the town outside villages."

"It is a general rule that all real property taxes raised for town purposes must be levied on the whole area of the town, including the real property located in villages within the town, unless there is a state statute that requires or permits monies for any given purpose to be raised from taxes levied only in the unincorporated area of the town."

The comptroller further states, "because there is no state statute applicable here authorizing the cost for sidewalks to be raised by taxes levied only in the town outside village area, the cost of the sidewalks authorized by local law would be raised by taxes levied on a town-wide basis."

What is it about these words that the so-called village "lawyer" doesn't seem to understand?

The only way to have avoided this result would have been for the town to have complied with the suburban law on a project by project basis. Alternatively, the town could have tried to create a sidewalk district consisting of the specific area to be benefited.

The town did neither of those things.

Instead of ad hominem attack, if village "lawyer" would like to be heard, he might try reasonable dialogue.

Anonymous said...

Wow! It seems village "lawyer" would sooner see pedestrians in unincorporated Greenburgh get killed walking on unsafe streets than see the cost of sidewalks previously constructed in the unincorporated area charged town-wide -- even if such town-wide costs are minimal and even if the law requires it.

The next time village "lawyer" addresses the town board and speaks about this issue, ask whether he really cares whether the streets in unincorporated Greenburgh are safe for walking. Ask whether he really cares if town officials do anything about this problem.

Ask whether all he cares about is whether village taxpayers might have to pay their share of a town-wide expense, no matter how tiny that might be.

The problem with such selfish thinking is that if someone is killed or injured along one of these unsafe routes, the town may be sued because its officials were negligent, and then the entire town will be liable.

That was the basis for the $9 million tree settlement for which the entire town was liable.

hal samis said...

Just three votes

Village lawyer said...

No, village lawyer doesn't want to see pedestrians killed on streets that have no sidewalks. It is typical of some of the Edgemont activists and their friends that they twist everything around. What I said is that sidewalks in unincorporated Greenburgh should be paid for by unincorporated Greenburgh, just as village sidewalks should be (and are) paid for by village residents. Do you want to see pedestrians in the villages killed because you don't pay for sidewalks in the villages? I didn't think so. Would you rather see pedestrians in unincorporated Greenburgh killed because you don't want unincorporated Greenburgh to be charged for the cost? I would say I don't think so, but I'm not so sure in light of your letter.

By all means, press the Town Board to build sidewalks. The streets should be safe for walking. The Comptroller has given the Town Board several ways to proceed with the payment which doesn't impose the cost on the villages. Just leave the villages out of your fights. The point is that the law doesn't require village residents to pay for previously constructed sidewalks. Show me where it says that it does and I'll be happy to change my opinion.

As far as addressing the Town Board, I wouldn't go near your meetings. I have seen them on TV and it looks like a snake pit there. You ought to attend some Village Board meetings to see how meetings should be run.

Village Lawyer said...

Mr. Bob Anonymous Bernstein is still at it, carefullly quoting phrases out of context or minimizing the importance of words in a senence. It is tiresome to answer his deceptions, but I'll take a stab at it and then rest, since he will never stop.

He quotes several of the Comptroller's phrases and then asks what it is I don't underdtsnd. Like this one:

"A town in Westchester County ... may not adopt a local law authorizing the cost of sidewalk construction and repair to be raised by taxes levied only in the area of the town outside villages."

I understand perfectly. To help Bernstein, it says that the village cannot adopt a local law that taxes only the town outside. I never said that the town could adopt such a local law. The Comptroller said that to charge the entire town the town board must adopt a local law, and I said that the town had not adopted such a local law and therefore there is no statutary authority to charge the entire town under the Highway Law.

Bob Anonymous then states:

The comptroller further states, "because there is no state statute applicable here authorizing the cost for sidewalks to be raised by taxes levied only in the town outside village area, the cost of the sidewalks authorized by local law would be raised by taxes levied on a town-wide basis."

That sentence again talks about a local law, and the town has not adopted a local law. But that doesn't stop Bob Anonymous.

He also quotes the general rule:

"It is a general rule that all real property taxes raised for town purposes must be levied on the whole area of the town, including the real property located in villages within the town, unless there is a state statute that requires or permits monies for any given purpose to be raised from taxes levied only in the unincorporated area of the town."

But Highway law section 151 specifically exempts Greenburgh unless it adopts a local law which, I say for the third time, it hasn't done. So there is a statutory exemption.

There is no difficulty understanding the words. The trick is to spot the misstatements that Bob Anonymous spins.

Why does Bob Anonymous do this? It makes him a big shot in his "local"world. Sad.

village "lawyer" still wrong said...

Village "lawyer" just doesn't get it.

He says, "sidewalks in unincorporated Greenburgh should be paid for by unincorporated Greenburgh, just as village sidewalks should be (and are) paid for by village residents."

The problem is that what village "lawyer" thinks the law should be is not what the law is.

As the state comptroller explains, costs for unincorporated area sidewalks are a town-wide charge because there is no state statute permitting the town to charge only unincorporated Greenburgh for such sidewalks; furthermore, he says town boards, which are elected town-wide, don't have legal authority on their own to enact local laws charging only its unincorporated areas for such sidewalks.

So, where does that leave us? Like it or not, sidewalks in unincorporated Greenburgh are by law a town-wide charge.

The only way the town could have acted to avoid this outcome would have been by creating a sidewalk district or by approving specific sidewalk projects under the state's suburban law.

The town can still do this on future sidewalk projects but, like it or not, the cost of maintaining existing sidewalks in unincorporated Greenburgh is a town-wide charge.

The vehemence with which village "lawyer" insists that sidewalk costs can never be a town-wide charge is the reason why the town board has so far not been able to adopt a sidewalk policy.

It's easy to fix the problem on future projects, but to do so would require the town to start complying with the law on existing sidewalks.

Because of political pressure from village "lawyer" and others like him who should know better, the town won't act to build sidewalks where needed for public safety in unincorporated Greenburgh unless and until unincorporated Greenburgh agrees to pick up the tab for the cost of prior sidewalk projects which the law says must be a town-wide charge.

In the meantime, children continue to walk to and from school on dangerous streets in unincorporated Greenburgh. Bus and rail commuters likewise face similar dangers.

If someone is injured along these unsafe routes, the town may be sued because of the negligence of its town-wide elected officials in not addressing a problem that was staring at them in the face. The $9 million tree settlement is ample precedent for this.

Yes, like it or not, the failure of town-wide elected officials to address a significant public safety problem in the unincorporated area of the town is, by law, a town-wide problem.

When the state comptroller told the town it had to credit the $1.2 million in Westhelp money to the town-wide budget, the town couldn't move fast enough and village "lawyer" cheered and said, "I told you so."

But when the state comptroller told the town a year ago that the costs for maintaining sidewalks in unincorporated Greenburgh were by law a town-wide charge, town officials led by Feiner persist in defying the law, and people like village "lawyer" cheer them on.

Feiner seems to have made a career out of refusing to comply with laws he doesn't happen to agree with. Here, however, there are lives in the balance.

Here, getting town leaders to address public safety issues in the unincorporated areas of Greenburgh is just as important to residents of Greenburgh's villages, whether they like it or not.

Leadership needed - incumbents are sinking us said...

Feiner, by his shameless parading of young group home residents, seeks to create his own potemkin village of appearing to be doing something about sidewalks in greenburgh when in fact he has no such intention. While Feiner is generally an ends justify the means politician, here there is no end and his means are bordering on cruel.

While Hal Samis is right in his comment about 3 votes, the 3 votes remain illusory since there is no leadership at the stern of the sinking ship called the town of greenburgh. Residents might check their life jackets.

Anonymous said...

So vote out this group which are slaves to the Edgemont royalty. You can start by forcing the Democratic Comittee to nominate intelligent and independent people to serve instead of Barnes and Bass. And if they oppose Feiner they should do it with a person who is both capable and willing to tell the edgemont royalty to stuff it.

Anonymous said...

Slaves to Edgemont "royalty"?

Edgemont didn't get a 200-acre park to protect the Irvington School District from residential development. No, Irvington got that, and Edgemont got the bill.

Edgemont also didn't get an illegal $6.5 million grant from the town. No, the Valhalla School District got that.

Edgemont did ask, however, that sidewalks be built where needed for public safety. But during Feiner's 15-year tenure in office, not one single sidewalk has been built.

Edgemont's also been asking that the town comply with state laws requiring that parks and recreational facilities that are open town-wide be paid for town-wide. But the town refused -- agreeing only to charge Taxter Ridge town-wide after a court ruled against them, and then voted to appeal that decision.

Incumbent town council members are obviously not "slaves to Edgemont."

Because village residents constitute a majority of the town's population, but pay only 4% of the town's taxes, the more realistic concern is that the entire town board, led by Feiner, may be more "slave to the villages" - no matter what law or common sense or fairness requires.

hal samis said...

Just three votes.

Why isn't this clear?

The votes can be "yea" and they can also be "nay".

Three "nay" votes and no 200 acre park.

Three "yea" votes and the cost would be charged town-wide.

Three "nay" votes and no grant to the Valhalla School District.

Three "yea" votes and Edgemont can have sidewalks.

Three "nay" or three "yea" votes and anything can be undone or done.

So what is the problem?

The problem is that none of these issues is either black or white, and choosing grey is viewed as a cop out.

The problem is also that although bloggers are quick to defend their side of the street as being the logical and better location, these troublesome issues are complex and still have miles to travel before bloggers (residents) can sleep.

My position is, although that labels me as a Feiner apologist, is to try and defuse these feuds and point out that whatever the Supervisor does, he is bound to be criticized. He is bound to offend someone. Likewise he gets tagged and criticized, even when he doesn't take action.

So, I have tried to illustrate that when the other four votes, even as currently positioned, they being opposed to Feiner, cannot choose a course of action for the same reasons, it is likely because the problem lacks a solution that makes everyone a winner.

My objection is that in this kind of environment it is unfair to continually dump on the Supervisor when the Town Council doesn't have the correct answer either.

If issues are to be resolved they must be considered solely as policies not as personalities. Otherwise, what we are left with is a Supervisor role which is to only administer the asylum which is Greenburgh rather than lead it in new directions.

If the basic structure doesn't work in the new millennium, then tear it down and build anew. If Greenburgh represents too many opposing interests and these interests appear to follow geographic lines, then dissolve Greenburgh and have only independent villages.

On the other hand, think New York City with a Mayor and separate boroughs which (before varying layers of gentrification existed) were run by borough presidents and borough councils. Nevertheless, there is one mayor, one sanitation department, one police department, one school system, one etc. And it seems to work.

We need an overhaul of the structure more than an overhaul of the elected officials. It just doesn't work as a system. Even the land use patterns are inconsistent.

Band-aids no longer work. Patches no longer work. What is needed is major surgery on the patient. It is impractical to think that just changing the surgical team will cure the patient. Someone has to actually conduct the operation.

For years the anesthesiologist has kept us drugged, but now it is time to wield the scalpel.

The patient, Greenburgh, is unmanageable. The demographics are too wide; the land mass is too broad; the unincorporated/incorporated mess is to cumbersome to sort out.

It is time to start the operation. If we wait any longer for the magic syrum to arrive, we will lose the patient.

Of course, I can always write:
Just three votes. But that isn't an answer; just a way of effecting a course of action; of adminstering another band-aid.

And to "incumbents are sinking us", your analogy is generally on target but the better mental image is to have your leadership not at the stern, but located in the bow so they can see ahead rather than backwards. Suggest you do another reading of George Bernard Shaw if you want to tighten up the "ship of state".

Anonymous said...

Village "lawyer" doesn't seem to read the law very well.

Highway Law 151 says that town boards don't need to pass a local law to require the construction of sidewalks and that their cost is a town-wide charge. However, village "lawyer" points out that certain large towns, like Greenburgh, are exempt from Highway Law 151.

The state comptroller said last year that what this means for Greenburgh is that construction of sidewalks in the unincorporated areas would still be a town-wide charge, but such expense must first be authorized by a local law.

Village "lawyer" points out that prior sidewalk construction took place without the town first enacting a local law authorizing it.

Village "lawyer" argues, however, that because the town failed to enact a local law authorizing such expense, that sidewalk costs may then be charged only to the town's unincorporated areas.

That logic is self-serving and nonsensical.

The general rule is that all real property taxes raised for town purposes must be levied on the whole area of the town, including the real property located in the villages, "unless there is a state statute that requires or permits monies for any given purpose to be raised from taxes levied only in the unincorporated area of the town."

Highway Law 151 nowhere requires or permits part-town taxation for for sidewalks.

Therefore, by rule, maintaining sidewalks previously constructed can only be a town-wide charge.

This whole sidewalk stalemate comes down to village "lawyer" drawing this baseless line in the sand. No matter what the law requires, town board members are either with him, or they're against the villages.

It's a shame that elected officials like Feiner are so irresponsible that they allow public safety for unincorporated area residents to be held hostage to the outcome of debates such as this.

Why don't they just do what the law requires and comply?

How many times do the newspapers have to point out that there isn't one set of laws for Feiner and another set of laws for the rest of state's town supervisors?

Anonymous said...

Dear Blogger: How come you single out Feiner. There is only one policy in the town - and that policy is set by a majority of the Town Board. Feiner seems to want the Town Board to take some action. The other members of the Board aren't working on the issue or interested in addressing this matter.

Feiner deserves to be singled out said...

Feiner deserves to be singled out because, for partisan political purposes, he deliberately proposed a sidewalk policy that he knew required unincorporated area residents to pay for the cost of maintaining sidewalks that the state comptroller said was a town-wide expense.

Feiner did so in order to force the town council to "modify" the policy and thereby find itself subject to political attack by Feiner as being "anti-village."

For partisan political purposes, Feiner has already embraced the "pro-village" position, which is to say that, regardless of what the law requires or the state comptroller says, costs of sidewalks in unincorporated areas should not be a town-wide expense.

The alternative here is for the town council to do nothing, which is what it's done, and thereby be criticized by Feiner for not addressing the issue.

Responsible public officials would comply with the law and explain to any complaining village constituents that the economic ramifications are too trivial to get in the way of doing the right thing here.