Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Last year I proposed the formation of a Greenburgh Affordable Housing Committee to explore additional affordable housing opportunties. The Town Board approved the creation of an affordable housing committee. At tonights Town Board meeting the Town Board will appoint members to the committee. I look forward to working with the committee on this important issue.
LAST WEEK Mayor Jay Leon of Ardsley appeared before the Greenburgh Town Board to discuss the future of the waterwheel property. The property was acquired by the town as a result of a foreclosure action. Mayor Leon suggested that the Ardsley Affordable Housing Committee and Greenburgh Affordable Housing Committee meet to consider the possibility of creating some affordable housing units at the foreclosed property. I support Mayor Leon's initiative.


Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting. Anywhere affordable housing can be created should be welcome. But let's really think about what is considered "affordable". Most of the time if we went with the mean income of this county or whatever, that would definitely not be affordable to a working poor or middle class family.

I hope that one day soon we will reach a state where we can provide real affordable housing in this county.Until then any effort like the one mentioned is welcome and is a step in the right direction.

Time to Get Serious said...

Resolution of what to do with the unproductive waterwheel property must have a deadline for a decision. No one is paying any taxes on it. It is an eyesore. Anyone appointed to the AHC must commit to act expeditiously. We dont need another Facelle type ethics board that drags its feet for years.

Anonymous said...

The property belongs to Greenburgh. No way should Greenburgh give it to the Ardsley Fire Dept. If Affordable, everyone in Gburgh must get equal shot.

There are plenty, plenty of deserving people other than the AFD

Jim Lasser said...

Affordable housing is a good idea. Tying access to affordable housing to employment is not a good idea. Using income and asset criteria to determine eligibility is a terrible way to go about making the decision, but it is far better than any other idea yet proposed.
Why is tying eligibility to employment a bad idea? Changing one's job (or losing it) should not mean one loses one's home. For example, if we gave firefighters (for whom I have the greatest respect) priority for open housing - would we want them moved out if a firefighter were injured and retired? If we don't require them to relinquish the housing upon retirement, we won't have housing available for the replacement firefighter.
While income and asset criteria aren't perfect (witness what just happened with the affordable housing in Fairview) it seems reasonable that as someone earns more and can afford to pay more for housing, they should. Public housing, like public service, was not intended as a permanent condition.
Please think through the criteria carefully BEFORE making any decisions.

Anonymous said...

Who owns this property now? If Ardsley owns it then what's the fuss? Why does the Town need to get involved in a village decision?

Anonymous said...

the town of greenburgh owns it

AFD wants it for them

Feiner will give away anythign for votes

Anonymous said...

Isn't it illegal for the Town to give away something of value? I thought it was subject to a vote by the people or something. How can they just give it away?

Anonymous said...

Contrary to what Feiner may have done in the past, it would be illegal for the Town to give the property away to a village -- even for a "good cause."

The property may be sold only if the Town itself has no use for it, and the proceeds from such sale must be credited to the town-wide budget.

That means that regardless of what Feiner and Ardsley's mayor might like the town to do, the unincorporated areas and the villages all have a financial interest in making sure that if the Town sells the property, the sale is made to the highest bidder.

Alternatively, if the Town does not sell the property, it must be used for a town-wide purpose.

Within these parameters, there are still legal ways to develop the property for affordable housing, if that is something the town would like to do, but such housing cannot as a matter of law be reserved for residents of one village to the exclusion of residents of other villages or the unincorporated areas -- unless little Ardsley agrees to compensate the rest of the town for such exclusive use.

Anonymous said...

"Changing one's job (or losing it) should not mean one loses one's home."

Ah, very good point.

It really should just be sold to the highest bidder - period. Plus, we can't handle an additional town-village drama.

If affordable housing is desired, let villages handle their own properties and let the town handle its own properties solely within unincorporated Greenburgh. The town should be meddling as little as possible in village affairs.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Sheehan, Bernstein want to stop every quality of life benefit in our town. I predict that Sheehan won't allow Bass, Juettner or Barnes to vote on an affordable housing - waterwheel proposal. They are afraid to stand up to him.

Anonymous said...

to anon at 9:18, if Leon and his good friend Feiner have their way, the only peopel living their will be Ardsley Fire men.

to anon at 11:19, no one can prevent a vote. If there is a motion and a second, there will be a vote. If you cant get a second, go home

Clean for Gene - not for Feiner said...

to "anon" at 11:19 (isnt that you mr feiner?)

It seems you are once again whining about the fact that you can no longer get away with giving away valuable town property to pander to individual villages or other perceived voting blocs.

Btw, how is your resume looking these days?

Anonymous said...

when's the first meeting?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lasser raises a good point about not linking jobs and housing. When Port Chesters United Hospital went out of business, some of the employees (who were mostly lower level, not doctors) lost jobs and subsidized housing.

And I agree with the poster who says no village/town ventures. The Town should just sell the land.

And Hal where are you on this? Should the land be sold?

Anonymous said...

If the Village of Ardsley wants to buy it, then sell it to them to them to decide its use. If not, sell it to the highest bidder. Bottom line: Sell this property ASAP.

Anonymous said...

Sell the property as soon as possible.We do not need more green eyesores.

Anonymous said...

Since we are giving land away, I recommend we give Hartsdale to edgemont school district. Its only fair since Hartsdale does not have a school. The town without a home!!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last comment about giving Hartsdale to Edgemont. Hartsdale is without a school. We have to pay tuition for our children to attend other public schools or private schools.

Anonymous said...

Hartsdale is an integral part of Greenburgh 7 School District. They voted for it. When Edgemont wanted to build a new high school, Hartsdale residents were not willing to pay their share, so they voted to join Greenburgh 7.

And no one is giving land away. Feiner knows it. He is just trying to be able to go back and tell Leon and Ardsdley, well I wanted to give you the land, but the council wouldnt allow it. Shame on them for not realizing wha tis goin on.

Anonymous said...

That is an unfortunate but true point. Residents in central Greenburgh did have the option to choose Edgemont or Greenburgh. As an unfortunate result, a responsible parent needs to send her/his child to private school after the elementary years.

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that the Town Council was receptive to Mayor Leon's proposal to have the affordable housing committee work with the ardsley affordable housing committee. Both committees will consider the waterwheel property as affordable housing. Hope the rumors turn out to be true.

Anonymous said...

I bet if we had that vote again we would choose edgemont, because I know I would pay the tax increase and I know the parents of about 100 children that currently go to nursery school in Hartsdale would love to send there children to a school in there neighborhood. Everybody should get a second chance even our 5 year olds who never had a first. Mr. Finer or anybody running against him, if you want the parents of Hartsdale's vote, give the children of Hartsdale a fighting chance.

Anonymous said...

The only way the Waterwheel property should be considered for affordable housing is if residents of unincorporated Greenburgh, the owner of the property, have priority. No first dips to Ardsaly Fire Dept.

Anonymous said...

Hartdale, it is not up to Feiner (thank g*d), what school your children go to. To alter districts, you must go to the state education department. Even when both the district gaining enrollment and the district losing enrollment agree to the change, the state has been known to turn it down. Without the permission of both School Districts (and I doubt you could get either), they will laugh at this.

Nice try, though, wanting to join Edgemont after High School Bonds paid off -- the Feiner, Village shcool of mooching

Anonymous said...

Thats what Greenburgh needs more affordable housing, I think we have enough already. Whenever someone wants to build a housing complex they come to good old Greenburgh. And people wonder why our schools are failing.

Anonymous said...

The waterwheel property is in the ardsley school district (I am pretty certain). It would not affect Greenburgh 7

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that Feiner is trying to save political face in Ardsley after promising to give away for free the multi-million dollar town-owned Waterwheel property to the Village of Ardsley for affordable housing when he had no legal authority to do so.

Rumor has it Feiner's suggesting, falsely, on this blog and elsewhere, that he can accomplish the same thing by having the Ardsley and Greenburgh affordable housing committees take up the issue of what to do with the Waterwheel property.

He can't. What Feiner doesn't seem to get is that the rest of the entire town -- the unincorporated areas and the five other villages -- all have an economic interest in the Waterwheel property. It's not something Feiner can just give away for free.

Those days are over.

rumor has it said...

Feiner's free hand is certainly over. We will find out soon if he is politically over. Rumor has it he is in trouble.

Anonymous said...

This message is from Jay Leon, Mayor of Ardsley - my computer is not permitting me to choose an identity.

Please permit me to clear up some incorrect rumors that I see printed here. Supervisor Feiner has never offered to give Ardsley the Waterwheel property, nor have I ever asked him to.

I am very sensitive to the budget controveries that currently plague the Town. I therefore tried to come up with a compromise plan that would satisfy opposing viewpoints regarding Affordable Housing on the property.

A few weeks ago at a Town Board work session, I suggested to the Board that they issue Requests for Proposals to developers to purchase the Waterwheel property, with the caveat that it only be used to construct affordable housing.

I further suggested that the Greenburgh Affordable Housing Committee, along with representatives of the Ardsley AHC, meet to come up with recommendations on how to approach the many questions that must be answered before and after the RFP goes out (such as who is eligible, what income levels are eligible, how many units, rental vs. purchase, etc.).

While an important goal of mine is to supply affordable housing for Ardsley emergency services volunteers, I recognize that the committee may recommend that some units be set aside to Greenburgh volunteers or municipal workers. I do not know what they will eventually recommend; I can assure you that I will remain open minded and reasonable to their suggestions.

And note that the Ardsley ambulance corps and Fire Dept. cover large areas of Unincorporated Greenburgh as well as Ardsley. A strong ASVAC and AFD may benefit more non-Ardsley residents than those who reside in the village.

I realize this compromise will not result in a market price sale of the property, since developers cannot afford to pay market price and construct affordable housing. However, it will still command a sizable amount of money, which after deductions for back taxes, penalties and legal fees will go into the appropriate municipal budgets.

Some people may be unhappy that there is not a larger windfall from this property entering the "A" budget. I respect those opinions, but please consider that this suggestion gives most people some of what they're asking for.

Who wouldn't want first-responders living across the street from their home? These people are also less likely to own multiple vehicles and more likely to take busses and to walk to shopping, since their income would be lower than those who would purchase market value housing (the property is near bus stops and close to Village shopping). Selling the property at market value would generate luxury housing, generating more units, more vehicles and more traffic than this alternative.

I doubt any problem has perfect solutions. However, if one believes that affordable housing is a worthy endeavor, then this compromise comes as close as possible to satisfying all sides.

I heartily believe that building affordable housing is the right thing to do. In addition, selling the property to the highest qualified bidder willing to construct affordable housing will make a sizable contribution to the Town budget. I respectfully hope that most of you will consider all of the benefits and support this plan.


Jay Leon
Mayor of Ardsley

no deal jay said...

The problem with the mayor's proposal is the cost to town taxpayers, which he does not disclose.

A sale of the property to a developer of "affordable housing" will of course generate less revenue than a sale at market value, as the mayor readily admits.

The question is how much?

Town taxpayers have a right to know how much cash it will cost them to subsidize the development of "affordable housing" in Ardsley.

Depending on how much it will cost, it may not make a whole lot of difference to anyone that some of the units might also be set aside for low-income persons who don't work in Ardsley itself.

But there's an even bigger problem with doing any deal with Ardsley right now.

Residents of the unincorporated areas would be especially interested in knowing how much of their tax dollars would be used to support Ardsley in this venture.

Six months ago, Ardsley captured at least $1 million of revenue that unincorporated Greenburgh would have received from the Village of Elmsford for library services when, with Mayor Leon's enthusiastic support, the Village of Ardsley secretly negotiated its own deal with Elmsford.

The real losers in that arrangement are the low-income folks who live along Route 119 in Elmsford and unincorporated Greenburgh who were the chief beneficiaries of the programs offered by the Greenburgh library and its cybermobile. They won't get that from Ardsley's little library.

No one heard Mayor Leon offering unincorporated Greenburgh any grand compromises after he got away with getting Ardsley that huge windfall from the library deal.

Affordable housing is, of course, a worthy endeavor. But as the library deal demonstrates, Ardsley itself has plenty of its own money to subsidize the development of affordable housing. If Ardsley really wants affordable housing, it can spend its own money.

Indeed, why is Ardsley insisting that Greenburgh should subsidize its effort?

Maybe at the end of the day a deal could be struck here, but one hopes it certainly won't be on the giveaway terms that Mayor Leon suggests.

Anonymous said...

The reason that Mr. Leon must press for such deals is that otherwise the homes in unincorporated Gburgh which have use of the Ardsley Schools (but still have access to parking at Hartsdale and the Veterans park) will be vastly favored over the Ardsely Village homes

Anonymous said...

If Ardsley were sincerely interested in developing the Waterwheel property for affordable housing, it would use its money from the library deal to permit an affordable housing developer to purchase the property from Greenburgh at full market price.

Anonymous said...

The deal with Elmsford was negotiated by the Ardsley Library Board, not the Ardsley Village Board. Those proceeds go into the library budget. They are not available to purchase the Waterwheel property. You can corroborate that - ask the Ardsley Library Director or Library Board President.

Meanwhile, it's the last remaining lot in the village available to build a substantial number of affordable units. It's here or never.

Anonymous said...

Oh puhlease, its Ardsley.

Anonymous said...

The deal with Elmsford was negotiated by the Ardsley Library Board, but was subject to approval by the Ardsley Village Board, led by Mayor Leon.

The Waterwheel property was foreclosed on by the Town of Greenburgh last summer.

Mayor Leon should have realized that by approving the deal with Elmsford, he might be souring any future partnership with Greenburgh on the Waterwheel property.

Put Waterwheel issue to the voters said...

Mayor Leon's proposal is very sensible and he makes many points favoring both villagers and residents in unincorporated Greenburgh. However, given the divisiveness in the Town about A v B budget matters, it might be a good idea to put the use of the Waterwheel property for affordable housing to a vote this September in the primary or in the general election in November.

Anonymous said...

Ardsley wasn't interested in paying for the facility at Anthony Veteran Park - or any other town-wide amenity. They are entitled to make that choice. The appropriate response from the Town is to sell the property acquired because of its failure to pay taxes and sell it to the highest bidder - not give it away to a village which would prefer to go its own way.

Anonymous said...

I don't completely agree with him, but this Leon guy sounds pretty intelligent. There will be a Town Supervisor position available soon, Mr. Leon, and maybe you should consider running.

town's policies foster divisiveness said...

dear anoon at 6:10:
4 of the 20 acres in veteran park plus the entrance are all in the village of ardsley. the town pays nothing for these 4 acres and ardsley receives nothing for its "donation." your post also omits three facts about veteran park. first, it operates at a loss of over $200,000. second, use of the park has been declining. third, barring ardsley village residents creates divisiveness in the town and pits neighbor and those in the ardsley school district against each other on this issue. we need to get rid of town politicians who profit from this polariziation. it starts at the top.

Veteran Parker said...

Dear Town Policies Foster Divisiveness -
Well said, and absent evidence to the contrary, asssumed to be accurate. Your post does not address the uncomfortable fact that it is the Village of Ardsley which bars residents of unincorporated Greenburgh who live in the Ardsley School District from the Village's parks. The Village Board in Ardsley can rectify that injustice any time it chooses to address the matter. According to the Town, Ardsley was compensated for the property when AF Veteran Park was created. That there is no continuing stream of revenue reflects the nature of the original deal. Should it be discussed? Certainly. Should it be corrected? Possibly. That Veteran Park operates at a deficit - yeah, that's generally what parks do. It may not be the best way - but politicians aren't necessarily economically literate and place the need for personal re-election above anything else. So, your most important and indisputable point is at the bottom - we need leaders not politicos.

Michael Kolesar said...

In the interest of addressing some misinformation:

To veteran parker - your posting about the Village of Ardsley barring residents from unincorporated greenburgh from "its" parks is flat out wrong and if intended a lie. The Ardsley Parks have received Federal grants over time and under Federal law must be open to the public irregardless of where one resides, whether that be California, the Bronx, White Plains, etc. Second, the Ardsley Little League, which is open to all students who attend school in the Ardsley School District, of which approximately 50% is in unincorporated Greenburgh, extensively uses McDowell Park. My Village complies with the law.

To all of the posters - you are, I beleive incorrect about the proceeds from any sale of the Waterwheel property. The Town of Greenburgh is only entitled to keep any unpaid taxes and interest. If the property is sold for more than that, the excess goes back to the owner of record, not the Town Treasury. So, how much is this property in arrears? maybe the Town Supervisor or someone else at Town Hall could post this so we may have an informed discussion

Ardsley - Elmsford Library deal - fact - Unincorporated Greenburgh Library patrons were and have been for many yaers net users of the Ardsley Library with no compensation to the Village budget. For the last yaer that there was data, I recall that there were either 10,000 or 15,000 net transactions from unincorporated Greenburgh. The Greenburgh Library Board took a heavy handed approach from what little I know first hand in its discussion with Elmsford. By the way, unincorporated Greenburgh Library users account for approxiamtely 40,000 net borrowings in Scarsdale. It that fair???

kolesar ignorance astounding said...

Kolesar doesn't know what he's talking about.

It is black letter law in New York (NY RPTL 1136) that when a municipality forecloses on property because of unpaid taxes, as the Town of Greenburgh did here with respect to the Waterwheel property, the Town is awarded all right, title and interest in the property, and all persons who may have once held any right, title, interest or equity in such property are forever foreclosed from asserting such rights.

So this nonsense that Kolesar spews about the sale proceeds after taxes reverting to the property's prior owner is just that -- nonsense.

How could Kolesar, a former Ardsley trustee, be so ill-informed about a matter so important to his village?

And if he's ignorant about a matter as fundamental as that, why should anyone take seriously what he says about anything else?

Indeed, his comments about the Ardsley library deal with Elmsford, and about library usage generally, show that he's just as unfamiliar with the regulations and legal standards governing intermunicipal library contracts in Westchester County.

More than that, though, Kolesar's got no answer to the suggestion that if Ardsley wants the Waterwheel property to be used for affordable housing, it can use its own money to buy the property outright from Greenburgh at auction and thereby subsidize any affordable housing developer that it chooses.

Michael Kolesar said...

I stand corrected re the tax liens, although I did consult with a reasonably well known attorney to this (Greenburgh) community who gave me that input. Sorry.

Bob, at least I put my name on my "errors". You continue to hide behind "Anonymous" or some other "ID".

Anonymous said...

How come every time Kolesar gets his clock cleaned on this site, he insists its some anonymous guy name "Bob" who did him in?

Sounds to me like Kolesar would be taken much more seriously by the rest of us if before he pressed "send," he focused more on making sure he's got something accurate and useful to say -- and less on worrying who among the countless "Bobs" in blogland is the one Bob out there who's keeping him honest.

Michael Kolesar said...

I can accept criticism. Why are all of the "Anonymous" postiongs afraid to add their names? No courage that you might be wrong?

As to why "Bob", because there is one certain "Bob" whose writing style and speaking style are pretty unique, or whoever posts these comments likes to steal someone else's words.

Fire away again "Anonymous".