Tuesday, March 27, 2007

TOWN BD SEEMS COMMITTED TO ADDRESSING ARDSLEY ROAD SIDEWALK SNOW ISSUE BEFORE NEXT WINTER

A meeting last night of residents of Edgemont and town officials produced some positive signs that the town might address the Ardsley Road sidewalk and snow removal problem. Members of the Town Board promised to address the issue before next years snow season.
I have been calling on the Town Board to have the town assume responsbility of snow removal on Ardsley Road sidewalks for a few years. It's a very dangerous situation- pedestrians walk up and down the road when the sidewalks are not cleared of snow.
I suggest that we issue an RFP to landscapers/contractors to determine what the costs will be of snow removal on the sidewalk.

39 comments:

Jim Lasser said...

Why issue an RFP to landscapers and developers to clear snow from the sidewalks. Why not analyze the Town DPW staffing requirements and rather than paying overtime on a regular basis - which adds signficantly to permanent pension costs - add enough personnel to eliminate regularly scheduled overtime and provide the service residents expect?

Anonymous said...

And how can an RFP be issued to anyone before the Town Board determines who shall pay for this snow removal service?

The Town Board was presented at the meeting last night with a petition signed by more than 80 residents attaching a state statute, Highway Law 140(18), which makes the cost of removing the snow on the Ardsley Road sidewalk a town-wide charge.

Feiner then pandered shamelessly to the residents, saying (as he does every year at this meeting) that he supports removing the snow, but he remained conspicuously silent when asked whether the town would comply with the requirement that the cost be paid for town-wide.

In fact, Feiner has held up the entire matter for years by insisting, among other things, that the town NOT comply with the law, that residents in the affected area want the snow from the sidewalk removed they should pay for the service themselves, and that if they won't agree to do that, then he'd charge the cost unilaterally -- and illegally -- to the town's unincorporated areas.

That state highway law's been on the books since 1937 and Feiner's had 16 years in office to do something about it.

Anonymous said...

Give them a chance to come up with a good answer that will make Edgemont happy.Just remember there are other areas in Greenburgh that need assistance with snow removal and new sidewalks.

Anonymous said...

How much can we expect out takes to go up to pay for this, and what happens when other areas of town want the same thing.

Paul Feiner said...

The Town Attorney's office has proivded the Town Board with a list of options re funding of sidewalks. I have asked that the legal opinion be released to the public. Highway Law 140 (18) is not the only option available re: paying for sidewalks. I feel very strongly that the town should assume the costs of clearing Ardsley Road sidewalks.

Herb Rosenberg said...

It is sad that for some people in unincorporated Greenburgh the only thing that seems to motivate them is how to get the village residents to pay for services provided to unincorporated Greenburgh (while the villages provide those services to village residents). The latest seems to be a petition to charge the costs of snow removal on Ardsley Road a town-wide expense. One wonders whether these people have even the slightest sense of fair play.

As it happens, there are legal and factual issues involved which I will mention. But to start with, I have a question and I will put it to the Town Board as well. In the villages the County reimburses the villages for clearing snow on county roads. Ardsley Road is a county road, is it not? Does the town government have an arrangement with the County to be reimbursed for snow removal? If not, why not? Actually, I think that Greenburgh does have such an arrangement, so, petition signers, check it out.

As far as legalities are concerned, here are two (there are several more but too complicated to discuss in a blog):

1. Highway Law 140(18) is not the only law in question. Highway Law 151 covers sidewalk maintenance and requires a local law before a town-wide charge is permitted. No such law has been adopted. It isn’t all that cut and dried that 140(18) takes precedence.

2. More important, since January 1, 1965 Greenburgh has had Suburban Town Law status, and under the Suburban Town Law costs and charges are required to be charged to the town outside budget. Technical objections have been made to argue that the Suburban Town Law doesn’t apply, and I won’t get into those arguments here. The fact that the Town has elected to have Suburban Town Law status sends an overriding message that, as prescribed by that law, the unincorporated area pays for its services irrespective of other Town Law provisions (which had been adopted decades earlier, as early as in the mid-19th century).

So you petition signers, how about a little fairness and neighborliness. You are not victims of the big bad villagers. We can all throw legal points at each other and play gotcha, but that is why we have had a war zone in Greenburgh. There are some things required by the statutes, but when something is not required, and gives the Town Board discretion, why not encourage the idea that the unincorporated area should take care of its area at its expense, and quit throwing gas into the flames.

Herb Rosenberg said...

I forgot to mention this in my earlier posting, but both Highway Law 140(18) and 151 refer to sidewalks in "the town" and do not make distinctions between sidewalks in the unincorporated area and the villages.

It may well be the case that if Highway Law 140(18) and/or 151 apply, the town will have to build and maintain sidewalks in the villages as well as the unincorporated area, and charge the costs to the A budget. In that case the unincorporated area will wind up paying for village sidewalks.

I will refer this question to the village administrations.

Anonymous said...

Highway Law 140(18) gives the town board the right, but not the obligation, to remove the snow from the Ardsley Road sidewalk, but mandates that if it does so, the cost shall be charged town-wide.

The statute only requires that removing snow from the sidewalk be a town-wide charge. The county is otherwise responsible for the cost of removing the snow from the road itself (for which the town gets reimbursement from the county)>

The arguments now being raised about Highway Law 151 are not new. After Edgemont residents began requesting that sidewalks be constructed on certain streets for public safety reasons, Feiner claimed in the fall of 2004 that he had a legal opinion from the town attorney saying that Highway Law 151 prevented the town from building any sidewalks at all in the town's unincorporated areas.

The town attorney's legal opinion turned out to be a joke.

When Edgemont residents objected to it, Feiner asked for and obtained an opinion from the state comptroller. That opinion made clear that Highway Law 151 does not bar the town from building sidewalks.

However, Feiner got much more than he asked for. The state comptroller outlined how the costs for such sidewalks may be paid. These same options may also apply in some respects to the removal of snow from sidewalks.

To remove the snow from the sidewalk, the town has several options.

It could require homeowners to do the work and bill them if they don't, which is what the town currently does. However, that policy obviously isn't working and, because of the unsafe conditions, the town remains liable for any injuries, and such liability would be town-wide.

Another possibility is that the town could create a sidewalk district, in which event the town would do the work, but only those residents whom the town thinks would benefit from the snow removal would have to pay. This was always Feiner's position. You want it -- pay for it yourself.

Feiner now says he wants to create a sidewalk district consisting all of unincorporated Greenburgh. However, the state comptroller said that would be illegal.

Another possibility is that the town could seek to invoke the state's "suburban law" and under those provisions, it could try to enact a local law charging the costs solely to the unincorporated areas.

However, such a local law would supersede an act of the state legislature specifically providing that such costs are to be a town-wide charge.

It is generally against the law in New York (Gen. Mun. Home Rule L. Section 10) for towns to adopt local laws that are inconsistent with the state highway law. It is also generally against the law in New York for towns to adopt a local law that alters state-mandated "areas of taxation."

Here, the local law that would have to be adopted would change a state-mandated town-wide charge and make it an unincorporated-only charge. That would appear to be illegal.

None of this lengthy explanation would be necessary if Feiner were willing to comply with the law as written.

But such explanations are needed because politicians like Feiner think there's political benefit in keeping the town's villages from being charged for anything, even if mandated by the state, even if it means risking public safety for unincorporated area residents, and even if a tragic accident would impose liability on the entire town -- including taxpayers who live in the villages.

Herb Rosenberg said...

I won't debate Anonymous at 4:10 PM, otherwise known as Bob Bernstein, except to say that he revises the laws to suit his agenda and he is wrong in the posting.

It is really bothersome to hear him and his claque always to accuse Feiner of violating laws, of pandering to the villages, etc.

Finer has many faults, but the laws are not as simple as Bernstein makes them out to be, and if Feiner is skeptical about what he is told there is nothing wrong with that. As far as the never-ending charge that Feiner is pandering to the villages, I would simply say that Feiner seems to recognize that village residents are town residents also and do not deserve to be marginalized, nor are the villages supposed to be a piggy bank for the unincorporated area. Would that the Town Council adopt that approach as well -- we would have less acrimony.

rosenberg out of line said...

This Rosenberg guy is off-the wall.

He treats the anonymous posting at 4:10 as somehow a personal attack against him, but his name is nowhere mentioned in that 4:10 post. Rosenberg then launches into a personal attack on Bob Bernstein because he thinks Bernstein must have been the author. But he nowhere demonstrates that Bernstein or whoever the blogger was said anything that was wrong or incorrect.

It's all just ad hominem attack, it's all so unnecessary and if Rosenberg claims to be a member of the bar, he should be especially ashamed of himself for behaving in such a childish and loutish manner.

And as for that idiotic comment about the unincorporated area expecting the villages to be their "piggy bank," the villages pay only 5% of the total town taxes in Greenburgh -- the unincorporated area pays the rest.

And, as Rosenberg's own "SCOBA" report states, in 2004, the unincorporated area subsidized the villages to the tune of nearly $1 million in mortgage recording taxes.

Anonymous said...

I hope that the Town Council will have the good sense to listen to Supervisor Feiner and take measures to protect our safety.

Anonymous said...

Edgemont may just have to wait in line.

Rumor has it that Feiner's 16 years of neglect of town infrastructure, particularly with respect to deteriorating sidewalks and curbing, have created so many threats to public safety in so many places throughout the unincorporated areas that it's hard to know where to begin.

Feiner may be passionate about wanting to do something in Edgemont for "public safety" -- the situation on Ardsley Road certainly warrants it -- but the problems may be just as severe, if not more so, in these other parts of the town.

Edgemont's modest request may thus get lost in the shuffle without the town ever having to address whether or not the costs on Ardsley Road should be charged town-wide.

Indeed, if these problems are as bad as rumored, Edgemont may have no choice, if it values human life, but to pay for the snow removal itself.

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that the town has been addressing the infrastructure needs. Under the supervisors leadership there is a new town hall. The police HQ were renovated twice. A new water facility. Brick sidewalks in Edgemont have been restored. THe sidewalk on Ft Hill has been repaved. Our town is in great shape.

Anonymous said...

There has to be a balance. School tax increases have exceeded or approached double digits for at least a few years. Fortunately, town taxes have not gone up. The town could spend more in infrastructure but if you did and our taxes went up it would drive people out of Greenburgh. The roads and sidewalks seem to be maintained.

Feiner's neglect will cost us said...

Those defensive-sounding anonymous blogs at 11:12 and 6:25 are undoubtedly from Feiner himself.

Why? He knows the public will soon be told that his years of neglect of town infrastructure has created public safety problems on town sidewalks that will ultimately cost town taxpayers millions of dollars to repair or, should there be one or more tragedies, millions of dollars in liability costs.

Feiner pandered to the residents of the "old Edgemont" neighborhood by getting the town's entire unincorporated area to pay for, illegally, the cost of restoring that neighborhood's red brick sidewalks.

But at the same time, he allowed tens of thousands of feet of existing sidewalks along Central Avenue, Route 119 and Route 9A to go unrepaired for years.

Because these are the unincorporated area's busiest, most-traffic-clogged streets, Feiner's 16-year failure to fund these repairs has put untold numbers of pedestrians in harm's way.

And unlike the relatively well-healed residents of the "old Edgemont" neighborhood who, courtesy of Feiner, had taxpayers foot the bill for their sidewalk "restoration," the pedestrians who walk along Central Avenue and Routes 9A and 119, are usually lower-income working class people who must use these sidewalks in order to get to public transportation, their jobs and their homes.

Those are the folks that Feiner's neglect has put at risk.

Anonymous said...

Central Ave, 119 and 9A are state roads, not town roads.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter that Central Avenue, and Routes 119 and 9A are "state" roads. The town is still liable by law for maintaining the sidewalks along those "state" roads.

The law in question is Highway Law 140(18). It says in pertinent part that it is the town's responsibility to "maintain all sidewalks in the town constructed by the state adjacent to state highways."

Feiner knew or should have known (because ignorance of the law is no excuse even for a town supervisor) that the town is legally responsible for maintaining these sidewalks.

He just chose not to do so in order to promote himself come election time as fiscally prudent.

Now, not only has Feiner put the least well-off of our residents in harm's way, but town taxpayers will have to foot the bill for what apparently was deliberate neglect on Feiner's part.

Dan from Hartdale said...

To all you anonymous posters: anyone who has a blogspot site can easily install a "sitemeter" that records the URL and time of anyone who clicks on the site. Often you can only get general geographic information about your visitors (e.g., 123.54.837 from "Dobbs Ferry" visited your blog at 3 pm for 15 minutes). Often, however, when people access the site from their offices that have their own url, large law firms for example, the blogger knows that someone from "Dewey and Cheatum" visited their site. Just thought you all should be reminded that on the internet "anonymous" is never really anonymous.

Anonymous said...

All decisions relating to sidewalks require 3 votes of the Town Board. The Supervisor cannot act unilaterally.

Frank Kaiman said...

This is my first blog.

I want to respond to the Herb Rosenberg's statement in his comment on 3/27 at 3:09 that:

"It is sad that for some people in unincorporated Greenburgh the only thing that seems to motivate them is how to get the village residents to pay for services provided to unincorporated Greenburgh (while the villages provide those services to village residents). The latest seems to be a petition to charge the costs of snow removal on Ardsley Road a town-wide expense. One wonders whether these people have even the slightest sense of fair play."

As the Chairperson and sole member of the Traffic and Safety Committee of the Edgemont Association, I came up with the idea of the Petition, I drafted it and I took a leading role in getting it circulated and signed. I solicited the support of the Edgemont Community Council and the Cotswald Association.

For as long as I have been a resident -- and that is now over 20 years -- and I am sure for longer than that, Ardsley Road has been a problem, a problem of life and safety. It is a damn dangerous road to be on if you are a pedestrian and the sidewalk is not shoveled.

As residents we have continually asked the Town to do something to protect us from a very real physical danger. To me that is one of the essential purposes of government. There has always been a reason as to the Town could not or would not take action. A couple of years ago it was because people in other parts of the Town said "well if you do it there, you should do it here" and the Town could do nothing without a uniform policy".

When I learned of Highway Law 140(18), I realized that the Town did not have to be bogged down with developing a policy: the State gave the Town the authority to do it.

I know that the Highway Law says that the expense would be an A budget item. Frankly, Mr. Rosenberg, I don't care whether it is an A or a B budget item -- I want, and my community wants, the protection that only the Town is truly capable of providing. The expense is not the issue, getting the job done is the issue.

According to the official map of Westchester County, there are two county roads in the villages: a portion of Benedict Avenue in Tarrytown and Ashford Avenue between Dobbs Ferry and Ardsley. If those villages wanted reimbursement for the costs, if any, that the villages actually incur to clear those sidewalks, I have no problem with that. If the Town can pass off the cost to the county, I have no problem with that. And while I cannot speak for the entire Edgemont Association or "Old Edgemont" (the original sponsor of the Petition), I firmly believe that my fellow citizens would agree.

Again, this is not an A or B matter; to us this is a matter of life and potential death. We would appreciate your support and the support of the villages.

Frank Kaiman

Herb Rosenberg said...

I know Frank Kaiman and I respect him greatly. I also respect what he says in his blog.

I am in total sympathy and agreement with the idea that the safety issues have prime importance, and I don't think I said -- I certainly didn't mean it if it so seems -- that Ardsley Road should not be shoveled or otherwise attended to.

My problem, and I am sure that Frank will agree, is that almost everything that needs to be done has been twisted into one of two political fights. One is the tendency to turn everything into an argument over Paul Feiner and his integrity or lack thereof. The second is to turn everything into an assertion that village residents should pay. Because those arguments, which village residents did not start (and wish they would stop) poison the atmosphere, answers have to be given.

I hope that Frank (and everybody else) noticed that nowhere in my posting did I say, or even suggest, that Ardsley Road should not be shoveled. Of course it should. What I said is that there are a number of ways in which the costs of the shoveling can be handled, and that when there is no requirement that the costs be charged to the town-wide budget that residents on the unincorporated area should understand that fairness suggests that these costs not be charged to the town-wide budget. Frank knows, because for a while he was a member of SCOBA, that there are many statutes which require unincorporated area costs to be charged to the town-wide budget, and while I think it is unfair I don't challenge that. The law is the law. The place to go to complain is to Albany, not to Hillside Avenue. By the same token, when there are alternatives to charging the town-wide budget for unincorporated area expenses the residents ought to support those alternatives instead of trying to push all the costs to the villages and causing strain. (By thw way, I think that Highway Law 140(18) applies only to state or county roads, and if Ardsley Road is not a county road then I suspect section 140(18) does not apply, though the town should do what it can to make Ardsley Road safe.)

I am not suggesting that Frank is unfair. In fact, I know that he is not because I have spoken to him in the past and he has shown himself to be a man of great principle. Others in Edgemont have not so shown themselves, unfortunately, and that is why we have these problems, and why some of us in the villages have become rather sensitive to claims and arguments.

By all means, take the steps to insure safety on Ardsley Road, and on other sidewalks which present dangerous conditions (Michelle McNally has been quite eloquent about that). But please also be a bit sensitive to the concerns of the villages in the face of the numerous provocations that have been made by some of Frank's neighbors. Things would be much simpler if we were allowed to look at things purely on the basis of substance rather than on the basis of constant political machinations, threats. accusations, and litigation.

Herb - time for answers said...

Herb - time for you to be straight with us in blogland - as resident of ny state and westchester county you have unrestricted access to taxter ridge and harts' brook but you are not charged by the town for its portion of running these parks only unincorporated greenburgh residents are charged. do you support this? and where does someone go to challenge such a practice if they feel it is illegal other than the courts?

Herb Rosenberg said...

Whoever you are, "herb-time for answers," you have just proved my point. Here Frank Kaiman and I were talking about Ardsley Road, and I pointed out that every discussion becomes one about the Supervisor or that the villages have to pay, and you respond with a comment about who should pay for Taxter Ridge and Hart's Brook.

I'll be happy to talk to you if you would like an answer, which cannot be a paragraph or two in the blog (and in any event will invoke all the people who, as I said, respond with political machinations, threats, accusations. etc)-- and if you are serious about a discussion. Sign your name and let me have your telephone number.

Michael Kolesar said...

Mr. Kaiman's posting is very revealing, if totally accurate. First he writes that the only two county roads are Ashford Aveneu and Benedict Aveneu. In this case, some of the Edgemont leaders have been spreading false statements about Ardsley Road being a County road and then quoting all sorts of sections of State Highway law. Time for an apology???

As to Ashford Avenue, the Village of Ardsley does indeed receive compensation from the County for clearing that section which lies within the Village. I realize that Mr. Kaiman is "new" to this blog, but I posted that fact last month. At that time I questioned why, if Ardsley Road was also a County road, the Town wasn't receiving any money from the County. Maybe now we all know why. Ardsley Road isn't a County road, and therefore doesn't qualify for this.

This doesn't decrease the need for the Town to take effective and timely action to clear any sidewalks that property owners fail to clear in accordance with existing Town law. I doubt that anyone questions the safety aspect. It just clarifies the "budget" issue that this is a "B" budget item, as insignificant as the cost is.

Frank Kaiman said...

Mr. Kolesar:

You misunderstood what I wrote.

I wrote that "According to the official map of Westchester County, there are two county roads in the villages" -- IN THE VILLAGES.

If you look at the official map of Wetschester County you will see that Ardsley Road between Central Avenue and the Scarsdale line is also a county road. Therefore there is no need for me or any other person to apologize for asking the Town to assume this responsibility.

I was attempting to be concilatory in referring to the County Roads that are in the villages -- that is, if the Town assumed responsiblity for clearing the sidewalks next to Ardsley Road (a County Road)I had no problem with the Town assuming the cost of the clearing the sidewalk adjacent to the portion of Ashford Avenue that is a county road.

Frank Kaiman

kolesar blunders again said...

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

There are four county roads in unincorporated Greenburgh, one of which is Ardsley Road from the Scarsdale border to Central Avenue.

No one disputes this.

The three others are portions of Benedict Avenue, Virginia Road, and Aqueduct Road.

The official list is posted on Westchester County's website at http://www.westchestergov.com/dpw/County%20Roads/greenburghroads.htm

Kolesar also doesn't seem to understand the county's reimbursement policy. By law (Highway Law 135-a),the reimbursement is for clearing the county roads in Ardsley -- not its sidewalks.

Kolesar's pretty fast on the trigger in demanding apologies where none are warranted.

But for getting just about everything wrong, if anyone should be apologizing here, it should be Kolesar.

Anonymous said...

it was kaimen who said that Ardsley Road is not one of the county roads. Who should apologize?

Rosenberg is Hiding said...

Herb - stop hiding. Answer the questions. Or are you too busy enjoying your free lunch courtesy of unincoporated greenburgh taxpayers?

Herb Rosenberg said...

To Rosenberg is Hiding, who said... Herb - stop hiding. Answer the questions. Or are you too busy enjoying your free lunch courtesy of unincoporated greenburgh taxpayers?

I'll answer the question when you have guts enough to identify yourself -- although frankly you don't deserve an answer.

Michael Kolesar said...

Mr. Kaiman, I stand corrected. At least you are civil in your response, which is more than I can say about most of the "Anonymous" posters.

White Lie Rosenberg is a problem said...

Now we see why the town is in such a mess. The supervisor takes his cues and legal advise from Herb "white lie" Rosenberg. Rosenberg is the past and village leaders who listen to him are foolish. There are great opportunities to share services and expenses between the town and the villages but Rosenberg's crabbed view of the world is foreclosing that. If you want progress, Rosenberg has to be sidelined. We do that by getting rid of his patron and co-liar - Feiner.

Anonymous said...

Hey Paul you could put this whole issue to bed tomorrow. Why don't you approach snow shoveling in your usual way? In the past when you've wanted to do something that might be improper or illegal you've just gone ahead and done it. You've always said, "If you don't like it then go ahead and sue me." What happened to that kind of courage? Or is it reserved solely for those who've made campaign contributions?

Anonymous said...

I've been reading the messages on the blog for the first time. Is Edgemont the only part of GREENBURGH that needs shoveling of snow and new sidewalks. I was told that GREENBURGH was a large town consisting of many villages.Does Edgemont have anything special that all the comments refer to that area.

Anonymous said...

Yes they yell the loudest ,and have good friends on the board.

Anonymous said...

If Edgemont yells the loudest and has good friends on the town board, explain why there hasn't been an acquisition of any open space in Edgemont since the nature center was acquired 30 years ago?

Explain why Edgemont still has once-a-week garbage pickups during holiday weeks like everybody else?

Explain why no sidewalks have been built on any of the streets leading to Edgemont's elementary schools?

Anonymous said...

NO PARKLAND,NO SIDEWALKS,NO GARBAGE,is because you all want the whole town to pay for it.

Anonymous said...

sheehan wants to increase village taxes by charging villages for sidewalks that aren't used by the villages.

Anonymous said...

How many times must one say that Sheehan does not represent the whole Town Of Greenburgh.He is only interested in Edgemont and their wants. There has to be a special reason for this. Come clean Sheehan ,could it be love of money.

hal samis said...

Is there anyone out there, including the good burghers of Edgemont, who believes that they will see new sidewalks anytime through next winter?

The Town Board talks the talk and walks the walk but not even the circus is coming to Town, maybe because it never left.

Darfur Resolutions they can handle because they don't have to do the implementation.

Three votes.