Wednesday, April 11, 2007


The Greenburgh Town Board unanimously voted to rename Webb Park in honor and in memory of Richard Presser who led the efforts to acquire Webb Park, the Gaisman Estate (now called Harts Brook). Richard also assisted in the efforts to acquire Glenville and Taxter Ridge. He was instrumental in pushing for the open space referendum that was approved by Greenburgh voters in 1997. Greenburgh was the first town in NY to have an open space referendum. The park will be dedicated as the Richard Presser Park & Webb Field in June. The town will also be enhancing the park -thanks to a $97,000 grant received from the federal government (Congresswoman Nita Lowey).


Anonymous said...

It should not go unnoticed that Webb Field was destroyed by the insertion of that hideous concrete wall along central avenue with its ponderous "art." The other side of the wall was given away to the rotary to promote itself with its equally ugly mural. The further disgrace is that $15,000 in FEMA money was used in connection with the erection of the wall. So much for preserving open space.

Anonymous said...

Ah, but Greenburgh was the first community in Westchester to have a 9/11 Memorial, giving Feiner another feather in his cap, and some additional media coverage.

Anonymous said...

That wall is such an embarassment. Can't it be moved somewhere where it doesn't obstruct and isn't as much of an eyesore.

Anonymous said...

Who is/was Webb, whom I assume the field was initially named in honor of?

Anonymous said...

dear anon at 11:40 am - thats what you get with government by press release, an eyesore for the rest of our lives! Again, we cannot afford Feiner and his gimmicks that only promote himself at our expense!! If the Berlin wall can come down, why not the webb field monstrosity? For this alone, Feiner should be booted out of office if not the entire town.

hal samis said...

The memorial wall is a disaster, no question about it.

But if I may be permiited to switch "sides" and say that this is an example of how not having a diligent civic association in place can lead to the ensuing and still unmitigated result.

On the other hand, to be fair that when this was proposed,it was a different "era" and the topic of 9/11 was still fresh in resident's minds. And several Greenburgh residents were among the fallen.

The sponsor of the wall was the Westchester Arts Council and the Rotary Club which normally would not head the list of Feiner dupes or sympathizers. The Arts Council was stuck with these memorial tiles and nowhere in Westchester to unload them.

First they tried the wall of the then IGA supermarket in Hartsdale Center but the nearby residents would not tolerate this. No one else came forward with a better location so the Town proceeded to dump it upon a very poorly chosen venue just to get it done quickly. Meanwhile the deep pockets with the cash was the Rotary Club. And without an existing civic association to register their disbelief and concern, there was little vocal opposition. And again considering the subject and the timing, it was an uphill battle similar to say...exposing the flaws in the Library's project.

However what needs again be stated is that the "Town" is not just Supervisor Feiner. There were four members of the Town Council who bought into the same misconception: that the Arts Council and the Rotary Club knew what they were doing. And NO ONE exercised any oversight, judgement or due diligence in the rush to be "first". But they ALL came out to be photographed endlessly in the multiple ribbon cuttings etc.

But if you have to identify the most vulnerable co-conspirator in the Greenburgh connection to the 9/11 bad aftertaste, then point to my particular favorite of doing nothing, knowing nothing and allowing everything. Of course, that person is Diana Juettner, the Town Board liaison on this project.
Not Steve Bass (Hartsdale) or Eddie Mae Barnes (Edgemont) who live just down the road (opposite directions) from the site but Diana Juettner who lives far away on the other side of Greenburgh and thus never actually has to travel past the monstrosity.

So it is with further irritation that I read that the Park is to be re-named for Mr. Presser who arguably was the force behind the purchase of this parcel(s) to preserve "open space". Not that he is being honored but because this location is the poster for how to turn open space into a visually enclosed area.

More is the pity that even the aesthetics of the wall itself aside, the open space tableau could have been preserved and the wall remaining intact if it had merely been located parallel to the parking area (perpendicular to Central Avenue)and adjacent to the parking for those who would come from all Westchester to experience firsthand the majesty what the Arts Council and the Rotary Club hath wrought.

The problem, as do all matters, rests with not one title or one office's occupant but with the three votes that are necessary for both the good and the bad that transpire. On this blog I only see that Feiner has done something bad and that the Town Board or Town Council does all the good.

Do we need yet another wall to remind us of that?

Shame on Juettner said...

If Samis is right about Juettner, then the wall should be moved to her front yard. Shame on you Diana Juettner for saddling the town with this eyesore. But lets not forget that Feiner feels that use of FEMA money for this project was proper. Shame on you Mr. Feiner. Maybe you should spend some time in New Orleans. You have been in Greenburgh way too long.

hal samis said...

Dear shame:

Thank you for your comments re Ms. Juettner. However your comment regarding using FEMA funds would more properly be addressed to those dispensing FEMA funds. And FEMA, like the Town of Greenburgh, is not a one man operation. Have you heard anyone of the Town Council saying that using those funds was improper?

Stop confusing Feiner with Hurricane Carter or Hurricane Katrinka.

Meanwhile is there any truth to rumors that FEMA funds paid for beads for boobs on Girls Gone Wild at the Mardi Gras?

Anonymous said...

The entire Town Board voted for the 911 memorial, not just Feiner. I personally like the memorial

Anonymous said...

Of all the things that Feiner has done as supervisor, I find the wall one of the least offensive.

It doesnt rate with:

1. Purchase of Taxter Ridge, attempts to charge only to unincorporated Greenburgh.

2. Valhallas School/Westhelp deal.

3. Unable to show any leadership with Village/Town disputes.

4. Repeated attempts to torpedo libary.

Anonymous said...

Taxter Ridge
Glenville Woods
open space referendum
comprehensive plan
interactive kiddy pool
outstanding playgrounds
lowest crime rate in history
bond rating increases
cyber bookmobile
what's to complain about?

Anonymous said...

"... considering the subject and the timing ..."

Understood. And, if you actually look at it up close, it's not extremely hideous. But there are few pedestrians who walk by it, so ultimately it remains a drive-by eyesore. How much would it cost to relocate it to a more appropriate location?

Anonymous said...

"comprehensive plan" ... LOL ... what town do you live in?!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Taxter Ridge, Harts brook, etc are great. Particulary when you live in the part of greenburgh that doesnt have to pay.

Jim Lasser said...

Dear Anonymous at 11:22 -
What's to complain about? Your list makes an excellent starting point. Take the three parks you casually mention. They are beautiful greenspaces largely inaccessible by public transportation, hampered by inadequate parking, and while the Town's parks have tripled during the last 16 years, our long term debt has increased more than 10 times. A significant portion of our annual operating budget now goes for debt service. Which brings us to your citation of bond ratings. Be prepared for our bonds to decline several notches as the ratings services notice our budget surplus which was once sufficient to cover our debt has declined in recent years. The good bond rating was a direct result of a "coverage ratio" (which one derives by dividing the total outstanding debt by the unencumbered surplus) of better than 100%. In other words, because the Town didn't need to borrow money it could get a good rating. As the coverage ratio slips below 100% because we have both increased our borrowing and used the surplus to reduce the need to raise taxes, our ratings will decline precipitously. The money we've borrowed imprudently(using the capital budget and bonding the debt rather than taxing ourselves through the operating budget for ordinary expenses) has gone for that kiddie pool and our beautiful playgrounds. Of course we haven't planned to maintain those facilities - and we probably don't have sufficient insurance should some child have an accident on an unmaintained piece of equipment, but who cares? Those terrible naysayers who think maintenance and insurance are prudent uses of tax money are the only ones who object. Well, count me in that group - I love those things, but recognized we must pay for them, not saddle the next generation of residents with the financial burden for our chosen lifestyle.
Finally, there is the matter of the "low crime rate". This is particular phenomenon is a secular trend - claiming credit for it is like claiming credit for a bright sunny spring afternoon. Would that a politico could actually cause either. At least you had the decency to leave out "sanitation" this time. Were you concerned that everyone would notice that Greenburgh, alone among municipalities, grants a paid holiday to its DPW because Easter fell on a Sunday? Our sanitation workers (who are wonderful) deserve better working conditions - including adequate, safe staffing levels on the trucks. And the trucks should be maintained in garages large enough to accomodate them and extend their useful lives. Those are not outrageous goals - just beyond our reach, given where we currently stand.
The failure of leadership extends beyond your list - how about an independent cable TV board? What happened to the 1992 "blue ribbon" certiorari committee report? Why hasn't there been any followup on either of those issues? By the way, is anyone concerned about the kind of research Regeneron will be pursuing in it's beautiful new "tax advantaged" facility? And could we taxpayers know, please, just how large that tax advantage is? After all, we will have to make it up from our tax levies.
I guess you're right. Compared to the above list, the insult perpetrated on everyone involved in 9/11 by the memorial wall is nothing to complain about.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot Nita -- drop dead.

The town overtaxes anyone and the school districts are in need.

you and paul can both float away

More Town Board Waste said...

If the wall is so great (its not) and people so love open space, why didnt the town get private donations for the enhancements? Another $97,000 in the sinkhole. Add the $15,000 grand and you have the makings of a scandal on either Dateline or 20/20 - as Stossel often says - give me a (tax) break!

Samis wrong again - Feiner mostly at fault said...

THE PEOPLE's September 11th Memorial Mural has found a permanent home at Webb Field in Greenburgh. Leading the effort to situate the mural in a visible and accessible site was Paul Feiner, the eminently resourceful Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, with support from the Greenburgh Town Council and the people of Greenburgh.

Anonymous said...

"the mural in a visible and accessible site"

accessible: yes, but it's not at a location that people happen to walk by often

visible: yes, but just driving by, no one knows what it is other than an ugly random wall blocking the view of something that actually looks nice on Central Park Avenue (a large green field)

Anonymous said...

.Where were all the people who are against the wall ,when this was just in the planning stage. I do not think Feiner decided to put this MEMORIAL WALL,where it stands now.stop bad mouthing him for this deed.The decision was made by many people ,go after them if you dont like what you call an eyesore.

hal samis said...

SAMIS STILL RIGHT sees nothing inconsistent between Feiner leading the way and having four followers on the Town Council.

All of them are guilty in not envisioning, (likely never even seeing the layouts) for the project assuming that the Arts Council and the Rotary Club knew what they were doing.

And again, it was closer in time to the actual disaster and people everywhere needed a display of local acknowledgement. Is it any better that the NYC site has not gone forward after all these years?

However, what I feel was the tragedy of the response was the siting of the wall (blocking the openess) and the slopiness in execution. The off-center tile mounting and the visually intrusive plaque is just inexcusable. As for the "art" of the design, to me it makes little sense to use a long horizontal wall as a reminder of tall vertical structures. Of course since they were stuck with the tiles which begged inspection from a low height level, the incongruity between the twin TOWER memorial theme and the mounting medium was ignored. And on the left side, the white smoke? souls becoming freed as doves? or smoke chasing doves? of clouds sucked into the towers? Even though art may be controversial and inspiring individual interpretations, I think that to confound by the subject matter (if that was the intention, even after the faact) is not an appropriate memorial for an essentially conservative community. As for the Rotary side's mustard colored backing of the WPA derived style, a more outdoor setting neutral color would have made the mural less offensive.

And if you feel that it is ok to let the four Town Council members off the hook because Feiner led the charge, the four of them had four opportunites to absent themselves from the four staged photo ops held at the wall.

As for the $97,000 in the sinkhole, the mystery is why it is taking so long to be used. The grant was written and awarded for "improvements" to the Webb Field playing fields with some of the money going to mitigations to hide the wall. The whole wall was conceived and erected in less time than the $97,000 is being spent.

Anonymous said...

I drove past the wall today and took some time to slow down and look at it closely (despite honking cars).

It actually does have some potential to be nice if it were moved to a place where people walk by. Everyone knows that this was a reactive thing at the time, and so planning probably wasn't done, but moving it now would be wise.

Though I wonder who is responsible for repairing the cracks in the wall - the township or the county. If they're not repaired, this drama won't matter anyway because it'll eventually just crumble and need to be trashed.

Anonymous said...

I remember the nice statements that Eddie Mae Barnes and Diana Juettner made about the wall at the time they voted for the wall. Steve told supporters of the 911 wall that he liked the art. He told opponents that he didn't like the wall. He likes to tell everyone what they want to hear.

time for a change said...

That last blog entry was, of course, from Feiner himself.

The town council sure has come a long way since the days when it rubber-stamped ill-considered Feiner fiascos like the 9-11 wall.

No longer will any town council member ever again take Feiner at his word and be blamed for yet another one of his mistakes.

They can't afford it politically and the rest of us can't afford Feiner anymore period.

Anonymous said...

The Town Council never rubber stamped Feiner. The council members (Barnes, Bass, Juettner) must be held accountable for every vote they cast. Each has been in office for many years. They were not elected as puppets. They were elected as independent thinkers. Saying that they voted for the wall because they were rubber stamps or for WESTHELP because they were rubber stamps is not a legitimate excuse.

Anonymous said...

On WestHELP, it's clear from the state comptroller's report what happened:

Feiner told the town council members in 2004 that the town must give away millions of taxpayer dollars to the Valhalla School District to compensate the Mayfair Knollwood community for the impact of having a homeless shelter continue to be located for another ten years a mile away from that community on the WCC campus.

The state comptroller found in his report that there was no evidence to substantiate what the comptroller said was Feiner's claim that the homeless shelter was having any adverse impact on the Mayfair Knollwood community.

There was therefore no need to give the money away in the first place.

Town council members who took Feiner at his word back in 2004 got their heads handed to them.

They at least have learned from their mistakes. Feiner has not.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea. To determine whether someone is a "puppet" or not, examine her/his campaign finance filings. If, as in the case of the former Town Board member Timmy Weinberg, every nickel of campaign funds came from a single source, one might reasonably infer a puppet/puppeteer relationship. Ms. Weinberg, Ms. Barnes, Ms. Juettner all filed campaign finance disclosure statements which listed Paul Feiner's campaign as either the largest or sole contributor to their respective campaigns.
It is silly to speak about any independence in past Town Boards when the Feiner campaign got them elected. It may be a slightly different story now, but for many years of his 16 year rule, Mr. Feiner bought the loyalty of the Town Board by funding their campaigns for office.

Anonymous said...

Feiner ,with the board that you have now keep the money,don't spend a dime on their campaign. This was never mentioned at town meetings by the bully,he only concentrated in you doing the wrong thing that should be reported to ethics,Bernstein,did you know about this,and said nothing. Bad bad you are not a man of principles.