Thursday, May 10, 2007


Some more good news... Big Top is open on East Hartsdale Ave. It's a great toy store that deserves your business. Big Top, like the other stores on E Hartsdale Ave, has been out of business for almost a month because of the flood. Earlier today I reported that the Liquor store is also reopening. Unfortunately, not all the stores are reopening. This week we learned that HSBC bank is closing the Hartsdale branch. Some of the other businesses are facing enormous financial difficulties. I have a suggestion: the town should rent the vacant space on the avenue and turn the space into a satellite library (while the new library is being constructed). This will help stop the bleeding on the avenue -- will generate more street traffic on the avenue. The existing businesses will benefit because of the additional activity on the street.
In the past vacant storefronts have remained vacant for a long time--a few years. The street needs the town's help.
I welcome your thoughts as to what action steps the town can take to help the existing businesses succeed.


Anonymous said...

Any idea about NYSC?

Paul Feiner said...

I was told today that they will reopen but wasn't told when.

Anonymous said...

The Greenburgh Library could help keep East Hartsdale Ave alive!

Anonymous said...

IF the Greenburgh Library will help bring business, then let's do it.

day late and a dollar short said...

Having the library occupy one of the empty storefronts -- especially the one vacated by the bank -- won't bring any more people to East Hartsdale Avenue than the existing cybermobile does.

And because the flooding problems on East Hartsdale Avenue have not been addressed, locating a satellite library there would put the book collection at risk should there be even a moderate rainfall.

Why do you think the bank was in such a hurry to leave? Their loan officers are being asked to underwrite risks like this every day -- and they know better.

The flooding was caused by a severely clogged drainage pipe -- wait until the public sees the pictures of all the debris that was found in there -- and a drain pipe that was too small to accommodate the water flows in any event.

The tragedy is that the town engineer warned about all this in 2005 --and made clear that flooding there was inevitable.

As the nor'easter approached, Feiner had time to issue a press release contratulating himself for being pro-active in getting the drains cleaned. But the drain pipe on East Hartsdale Avenue was not cleaned.

And even though he apparently had plenty of time to do so, Feiner never warned the merchants and property owners that they'd better protect their property and move to higher ground.

The result is losses of property and income in the millions of dollars -- and a number of empty storefronts on East Hartsdale Avenue for the foreseeable future.

Anonymous said...

Bob: The satellite library would not have to use the basement, only the ground floor--which did not experience flooding.

day late and dollar short said...

The HSBC bank had a completely flooded basement and about 8 inches of water on its first floor. Its vault was destroyed. Bank furniture and papers on the first floor were floating before the doors were forced open and the water was allowed escape onto East Hartsdale Avenue.

This is no place to store a library collection.

hal samis said...

Yes the Big Top is open. Stop in and ask to see the pictures from the video made in 2005. What was removed from the drainage pipe is astonishing.

And this brings us back to last Tuesday's Town Board work session.
Attending by invitation were the store owners and one of the landlords. Plus a few interested residents. And yours truly.

I came specifically to ask our DPW head, Al Regula a question or two. You all know Mr. Regula as one of the Town's hard-working Department honchos that Mr. Sheehan described as fabulous and working all hours of the day, attending Town Board meetings etc. Of course he had managed to leave that particular meeting before Diana Juettner, permanently out to lunch, asked if Al could prepare a report on the flooding. Poor DJ, DPW had indeed done so weeks ago. And that Report concluded: blame it on the bossa nova. Apparently there is land behind the stores that "no one owns" So hurry to the land rush. Valuable unclaimed downtown commerical waterfront property is there for the taking.

I was tipped off as to the existence of the video and the information that Regula had seen it. I sat at the meeting waiting to hear an extensive grilling of Mr. Regula by the "concerned" members of the Town Board. This never occurred even by Mr. Sheehan who does it so well at Board meetings when the subject isn't permitted to respond.
Silence is golden so I assumed that the Town Board was trying to protect the Town's gold -- which they should -- but you can't play both sides of the fence, trying to appear concerned while hiding the information that may help the flood victims in their forthcoming lawsuit against the Town.

So as he was about to leave I asked Mr. Regula these questions:

HS: Mr Regula did you view a video about 2-1/2 years ago of the storm drains located behind the stores from behind the Chase Bank (now) on over?
AR: Yes.
HS: Did you see evidence of any blockage which would hinder the passage of water.
AR: There was some but it wasn't enough to block water flow.
HS: Are you sure that it would not block water flow?
AR: Water could still pass through.

The recent revival of "Chorus Line" and its story inspires me to lift a few lines to work them into this posting. "Everything's ok at the ballet". Mr. Regula always reports that everything's ok. In fact it's ok for him to leave the Town Board meeting if he just leaves behind his recording: "Everything's ok".
It can be used for garbage pick-up problems, leaf pick-up problems, litter, sidewalk and curb disrepair, clogged storm drains, Library construction, snow removal...

At the ballet is the politicos who have danced for the media because the sun didn't shine. Look at all those names touring the "length" of East Hartsdale Avenue storefronts. Even a senior citizen with a walker can do the length in under five minutes. Brodsky working closely with Steve Bass...ha! Ms Cousins waiting in her car for the photographer to arrive, snap, snap and she's off.
Don't they realize the merchants are laughing at them. But it never was about the merchant's was it? More like "one singular sensation, every chance they get..:

So when it comes down to actual help for the merchants, the Town's dance card reads: Dance 10, Looks 10.

But wait and see the show-stopping finale. Coming to a Courthouse near you will be the blockbuster "Hartsdale Survivors Sue". And on the same bill, "Dobbs Ferry Survivors Sue".

But, having a downtown Library branch would be a plus for Hartsdale, no question about it. It would be open more hours and it would free the cybermobile to make more stops elsewhere. While it would also increase the Parking District Revenues by restoring the lost income from the three parking spaces that the Cybermobile occupies as while returning these three spaces (location, location, location) to assist the stores still open. Not to mention reducing the storage costs for the unavailable Library collection.

You have to give Feiner credit for this win win idea. What say you, Howard Jacobs and your fellow Library Trustees?

Paul Feiner said...

dear day late: I have been in touch with the building dept. We can use the ground floor for a satellite library. We can't use the basement. We need to do something to bring street traffic to the street, otherwise there will be more vacancies.
If you don't like this idea, please come up with your own alternative suggestions.

Release the 2005 report! said...

Dear Mr. Supervisor - Rumor has it that the Town new all about the inadequacy of the drain pipes back in 2005 - If there is a written report, it should be released immediately. Right now residents, merchants and the press are asking, what did the Town know and when did they know it? You issued press releases. Now it is claimed you didnt even clean the drains as you claimed to have done. Tell us everything the Town knew if you are as committed to open government as you profess to be.

key question for Feiner said...

regarding the inadequate drainage on east hartsdale

what did the town know and when did it know it?

day late and a dollar short said...

The first thing the town must do to protect business on East Hartsdale Avenue is to put in place -- right now -- a short-term plan to protect the area from flooding.

Right now the town cannot protect the area from flooding -- even from moderate storms -- because, as the town was told in 2005, the main drainage pipe that runs underneath the apartments is too clogged with debris and, even if cleaned, it would be too small to handle the flow of water.

As a result, the town was warned in 2005 that even a "moderate" storm would resulting flooding on East Hartsdale Avenue.

This is, and always was, a town responsibility.

Armed with the information about how dangerously flood-prone this area is, no one would want to rent space on East Hartsdale Avenue unless and until the town comes up with some kind of flood protection plan.

And those who have just pledged their life savings to rebuild their businesses are in for a very unpleasant surprise when they find out what the town has already known since 2005.

So, what to do? Put together a flood mitigation plan right now. For goodness sake, you should have done this three weeks ago when Regula showed you those memos from 2005.

Buy sandbags. Figure out where the water should be diverted. Put in place an emergency notification system so that, when storms are forecast, property owners can take precautions and move their property to higher ground.

What you don't do -- pretend these problems don't exist by, for example, proposing to use the bank space as a satellite library. Using the library as a prop to create a "Potemkin" street won't fool anybody.

Once an emergency flood mitigation plan is in place, there's at least a chance some of the most popular businesses will come back.

Until then, those empty storefronts will remind everyone what might have been avoided if only Greenburgh's government had been responsible two years before and the storeowners there had been given fair warning.

hal samis said...

Dear Mr. Bernstein aka "day late",

I don't think that with the heavy senior citizen population in the immediate East Hartsdale vicinity, we won't have to worry about the Library intentionally shelving materials 8 inches off the ground.

The cybermobile however is more than 8 inches off the ground but seniors have to climb up several steep steps while using the handrail for support, a balancing act further enhanced when also carrying a book.

Given the choice of excluding seniors from the Library or shelving the Collection above the 100 year flood plain, given the choice of having a fixed library for more days and longer hours, I choose renting the vacant store.

And having raised the issue, I ask if you were the Town's legal counsel and they your client, would you advise them to take out ads proclaiming their culpability?

Like your own issues, the matter of fault and whether it was through negligence or not and what are the damages...all will be determined by the Courts, not by popular opinion.

I do offer this:
an opinion that whenever Regula's name appears, irregularity
follows. However that opinion is not legal proof.

day late and a dollar short said...

Samis is wrong to play politics with what occurred on East Hartsdale Avenue.

He's also apparently not familiar with the documents.

Had he read them, he would know we're talking here about "moderate storms" -- not a 100-year flood. Should copies now be distributed to every merchant and senior citizen on East Hartsdale Avenue so they'll know what the supervisor didn't tell them? I'm sure that can be arranged.

And if he and Feiner think this is about proving legal liability, they're sadly mistaken.

Indeed, if the town's continued failure to come to grips with what's needed right away on East Hartsdale Avenue is motivated by a belief that any corrective actions it takes may be incriminating in court, the town had better consult a real lawyer real quick.

Greenburgh is not the first town in New York history to deal with flooding; nor is it the first town in New York history to be told, before the flooding, that its infrastructure is so inadequate that flooding, even from moderate storms, is inevitable.

Nor is this the first time that town officials in New York that could have warned property owners to move their property to higher ground did not do so.

For a variety of public policy reasons, courts in New York generally treat towns in such situations very kindly. An awful lot of wrongdoing must be shown before a town will ever be found liable in such circumstances.

How political leaders might fare in the court of public opinion, however, is another matter entirely.

What is one to make of a town supervisor who knows of critical problems with infrastructure, tells no one about them, warns no one of inevitable flooding that will occur, and even after the flooding, even after being reminded of being told of the infrastructure problems two years before, still doesn't tell anyone and then, of all things, comes-a-begging on a blog for ideas on what to do?

Greenburgh needs help. Now.

Anonymous said...

DID YOU EVER STOP TO THINK that Feiner was never told of what was found in the drainage system ,by the person in charge. You should know that every thing in this town is kept under wraps. Feiner is the only one who blurts out the truth,or his ideas to the public.

day late and a dollar short said...

Feiner was reminded on April 20, 2007 of what the town engineer had found in October 2005 about East Hartsdale Avenue. He hasn't blurted the truth out so far -- even after meeting repeatedly with the merchants.

So how much credibility do you think he's going to have with them or anybody else if he denies knowing about the problem in 2005.

When will Feiner learn to stop governing like a "put-upon gadfly" complaining about everything being kept under wraps from him and for once take responsibility for what he does, or in this case, didn't do?

The buck stops with him.

Anonymous said...

6:03 in your comment you say Feiner was briefed on the problem April 20,2007 about the findings in 2005.How could you say that he knew about the problem with this flooding.Who's lying now.

hal samis said...

Dear Mr Bernstein,

"Samis is wrong to play politics"?

To me that is not so self-explanatory. Or it it just because you want all the toys in the sandbag.

You announced that Feiner was reminded on April 20, 2007...and fault him for not blurting th truth out...

Previously I asked if he, (the Town) was your Client what would you advise him to do...blurt the truth out? I think not.

I think we agree that the Town faces legal action, something that you will rejoice over. Nevertheless, the smart thing for him to do is say nothing and try and console the merchants. There is nothing more he can do at this point. We agree that the Town screwed up and this is something that you would be right to pursue. Still, at what additional cost to the Town, will you be satisfied that you have received adequate compensation for your gored ox?

The cost of the cure is starting to exceed the replacement cost.
With that thought in mind, I say to you: Bernstein is wrong to play politics.

Anonymous said...

"In the past vacant storefronts have remained vacant for a long time--a few years."

Is there an economic plan in place yet for the commercial areas of Unincorporated Greenburgh (management, marketing, development, etc.)?

An ongoing increase in vacancies along Central Park Avenue, plus East Hartsdale Avenue concerns mentioned here, make me think that no such plan has been developed.

Other than sanitation and roadway maintenance, of course, I can't think of any higher priority for a municipality than economic development.

Anonymous said...

If Bob loves the Hartsdale hamlet as much as he claims he does why didn't he say anything about E Hartsdale Ave drains prior to the flood? He likes to complain. He likes to divide. He doesn't like to solve problems.

Ted Mann said...

Brilliant! Opening up a satellite library in the old HSBC -- what an inspired idea.

This is the kind of pro-active leadership this town needs more of. Yes, there were clearly mistakes made re: the Hartsdale drainage system, but there's absolutely no need to attack Feiner when he's apparently the only official in this town who gives a hoot about Hartsdale.

Did anyone else read this week's story about the flood aftermath in The Journal News?

Give Feiner credit for bluntly, honestly characterizing the situation -- "It's a real mess" -- and even more credit for trying to come up with some practical solutions.

Anonymous said...

KUDOS for Ted Mann.This is what is great about this blog. Giving credit where credit is due.Feiner is realy trying his best to help this bad situation.Too bad the rest of his board is sitting back doing nothing to encourage the merchants.

Feiner is all wet said...

Get real. Feiner issues press releases while the merchants were left to drown. Let the merchants see the 2005 memo about the inadequate drainage. Show us proof that the drains were actually cleaned before the storm.

day late and a dollar short said...

The problems on East Hartsdale Avenue won't begin to be fixed unless and until Feiner decides to get candid about the town's role in the "real mess" that he, as town supervisor, helped to create.

So far, Feiner is not being candid.

He knows that the town engineer reported in October 2005 that the town's drainage system was inadequate for East Hartsdale Avenue. He knows the engineer believed the system was too small to handle the water flows and that it was clogged with debris -- thereby putting East Hartsdale Avenue at risk for flooding even in a "moderate" storm.

Yet Feiner told no one about the problem. Nor, when the nor'easter was forecast, did he warn anyone on East Hartsdale Avenue to move their property to higher ground.

He did, however, issue a press release two days before the storm congratulating himself for running a town that was being "pro active" by cleaning the storm drains. In fact, as we now know, the drains on East Hartsdale Avenue were not cleaned.

On April 20, 2007 -- after the flooding had occurred, Feiner was again told about the town engineer's report from 2005 -- as part of the recommendation he received for creating a "drainage district."

Feiner issued a press release about the "drainage district" issue but never disclosed that it was based on the 2005 engineer's report that said the infrastructure was inadequate.

It is unconscionable for a public official, knowing the infrastructure is no inadequate that it can't tolerate even a "moderate" storm, to keep the matter a state secret.

Yet that's what Feiner has done. He never once told any of the merchants or the apartment dwellers what he knew the town had known going back to 2005.

Instead, he has urged merchants whose businesses were wrecked to spend their money to re-open -- while doing nothing to protect them in the meantime should there be a "moderate" storm.

Even after being told that common sense and fairness requires -- for the sake of anyone rebuilding and for the sake of enticing anyone back -- that he put in place emergency procedures to mitigate the flooding that he knows will inevitably occur there again, he doesn't do it - but instead talks about using the abandoned bank space as a "satellite library."

Feiner is the only full-time elected official the town has.

Blaming the part-time town council for not stepping in to clean up Feiner's mess is no answer.

Excusing Feiner's failures to act because of some mistaken belief that it will expose the town to liability shows remarkable ignorance of the law -- and is no answer either.

There are those on East Hartsdale Avenue for whom the flood is an inconvenience. They, like Ted Mann, didn't lose a car in a flooded garage. They, like Ted Mann, don't know what it's like to have to run a business in a flood zone. They, like Ted Mann, don't know what it's like to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal funds to rebuild -- and then discover the town has no plans in place to protect against another flood -- and that the town engineer thinks one will occur with only a "moderate" storm.

For Feiner it's not about solving problems on East Hartsdale Avenue -- it's more about fooling those who live, work, and shop there into thinking he and no one else "gives a hoot" about Hartsdale.

East Hartsdale Avenue residents like Ted mann who think Feiner "gives a hoot" would be well-advised to take a look at what Feiner let happen to the business district in the Greenburgh part of Elmsford that used to exist on Route 9A just after the exit on Route 287.

Because of repeated flooding, most of the businesses that used to be there, including a luxury car dealership, are gone now. Despite lots of meetings, Feiner did nothing and got nothing accomplished.

Anonymous said...

Like the ongoing neglect of roadway maintenance, instead of action, there will probably be a committee established to look into the matter. In the unfortunate meantime, the East Hartsdale Avenue merchants will be at risk for years to come.

hal samis said...

Dear Bob,

And where did that luxury car dealership move? I bey you know but aren't saying...
And was Route 9 the best location for a luxury car dealership? I think not.

But you are right that the problems exist in other parts of town.

But, as much as you would have us believe in waiting out a storm on the high ground, you have misled the readers as to whose fault it is. That is the low ground.
Again, Feiner's job is not to actually clean drains. If he was deceived by those who do the cleaning, he should indeed fire Al Regula.

Otherwise, can you prove Feiner knew the drains weren't cleared and still issued his press release.
You know that to win, you have to present the facts before the jury deliberates. Why hold back the facts, don't tell us, show us.

What did Feiner know before the press release? said...

We are still waiting for Feiner to post the 2005 memo from Regula. Again, residents and merchants want to know, what did Feiner know and when did he know it? And if didnt know, why and who is he going to fire?

Anonymous said...

I think one of Feiner's worst moments in trying to deal with businesses was not allowing the home depot to locate on route 9 in greenburgh, when anyone would have guessed its alternate location, which it did go to, taking with it all of its property taxes, was just yards north on route 9 in mt. pleasant. Instead of analysing and explaining the situation to residents, he took the reflex step of discouraging the home depot.

Anonymous said...

This is blame Feiner month.He started the floods in Hartsdale,He had home depot build elsewhere other than Greenburgh,What's next.Too bad you could only list the bad things ,Maybe in june you will come up with something lovable about him.

Anonymous said...

3;25 Department heads sometimes do not report their findings to the supervisor.You are stating that someone should be fired. I agree,The DPW commissioner should be the one to go because he is not doing the job he was hired to do. If Feiner is not told of the problem,there is no way that he could take the necessary steps to fix the problem especially when he is told two years after the initial findings.

Anonymous said...

If Feiner isn't telling the public today what was said in that 2005 memo -- and we know he's been sitting on it for more than three weeks now -- why would anyone believe Feiner wasn't told about it when it was first issued on October 4, 2005?

Did it ever occur to Feiner that even if he didn't know, it's his job to know? Doesn't he communicate with the department heads?

Or is this one of those situations where Feiner puts on his "put upon gadfly drag" and claims the department heads don't talk to him?

Feiner is clearly not a standup guy.

After 16 years in office, he can't seem to take responsibility for much of anything these days.

feiner era must end now said...

unfortunately its 17 years! time for a change.

Anonymous said...

east hartsdale ave is not the only downtown area that flooded. Municipalities throughout the metropolitan area experienced significant flooding. Bronxville High School was forced to close because of flooding. Many other communities saw their business districts flooded.
We don't know the reasons for the flood but the town council should consider Feiner's request for a study.
Factors could include: drainage, central ave, the scarsdale golf club, ridge road, the parking district (construction of the garage).
The anonymous bloggers may not know what they are talking about.

Anonymous said...

The Supervisor has asked the Town Board to authorize a study to determine the cause of the flooding and to make recommendations. The Feiner haters can do two things: they can support the study (which would be constructive). Or, they could continue to look for scapegoats and get nothing accomplished. Support the study. Persuade the Town Council to take immediate action.

Anonymous said...

As with everything Feiner purports to propose, the devil is in the details or in his case the lack thereof.

It's not clear what Feiner wants studied and why, and who would pay for it.

His proposed resolution calling for a study is not posted anywhere and probably hasn't even been written yet.

It's important to see what's being proposed because the town's 2005 memo made clear that flooding was likely because the drainage pipe running under the apartments was too small to handle the load and because the pipe itself was clogged with debris.

A third cause might be debris blocking drains leading to the drainage pipe.

A study could perhaps pinpoint all the contributing factors, but it would be wasteful to duplicate the work the town engineer did two years ago.

Regardless of the causes, however, Feiner seems to be conditioning the cost of a study on the formation of a drainage district so that only those who own property in the proposed "district" would be required to pay for it.

We know this because that's what DPW proposed in its April 20, 2007 memo to Feiner -- form the district first, identify who'll pay, and then conduct whatever studies you like.

If that's what Feiner's proposing, that's wrong.

The problem along the Bronx River basin is regional.

The better course of action is to first commission a study of the town portion of the entire Bronx River basin. It should logically be a town-wide cost and the town should seek reimbursement from federal, state and county funds.

Only after remedial recommendations are formulated should the town address the specific question of who should pay and for what.

Anonymous said...

"The Feiner haters can do two things:"

Actually, there's a third option - demand that the pipes actually be cleaned right now. Same with the roadway maintenance neglect - forget the committee - let's see him be a manager and direct that actual work be done.

Anonymous said...

or even better than cleaning it, dig up the pipe and install a larger one. I'd like to see ACTION, particularly in this situation, when "a study" is certainly not needed.

Anonymous said...

THe pipe is not on town property. That's why a district may need to be created.

Anonymous said...

The drainage pipe that runs underneath the apartment buildings was put in by the town. No drainage district was required. It's the town's responsibility to deal with this problem.

Anonymous said...

yes, it's a fact that it is a town pipe

Anonymous said...

Hope the Town Board will support the supervisors suggestion to put a library on E Hartdale Ave. Good for the library. Good for library patrons. Good for E Hartsdale Ave. Good for the merchants.

Anonymous said...

you have to be kidding. When does the town board go along with the supervisor's suggestions.

Anonymous said...

When he bullies them by bringing in mobs and not requiring order in meetings.

hal samis said...

When the Town Board follows its own rules, when the Town Board does not show favoritism, when the Town Board is consistent and when the Town Board answers questions
-- even the difficult ones -- and when Mr. Sheehan doesn't avail himself of every opportunity to lecture, then there will be no need for any shouting.

Remember that the Town Board, Mr. Sheehan in particular, has the "right" to speak first, during and last on anything. The Public can only speak for 5 minutes and not respond to what may be following. If the Town Board, particularly the Town Council, is so certain in their take on matters, then how could a dialogue hurt them?

Is a $310,000 maintenance expense charged to the vacant Library such a trivial matter that it doesn't even an explanation?

Silence may be golden unless the gold is being stolen from the taxpayer's wallets.

Anonymous said...

Hey sheehan we need answers as to what has happened to the 310,000.00 dollars slated for the non existing ,non conforming library Where is our tax monies going.This is a question that is very hard to answer,by you and your goodfollowers.With everything going up,school taxes, Con edison wants a raise,gasoline is hitting an old time high,town taxes are also going up.,our pockets are not that deep anymore,in fact they are getting very holey,We just want the facts and nothing but the facts.

Anonymous said...

I want to know when we are going to ask for the money back from Valhalla. Teh state has spoken.

Anonymous said...

Please Vote NO!!!! on the Greenburgh #7 budget

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I was reading the local paper today, the headline is Mt. Kisco Cops get support. Deputy Mayor expects officers to be cleared.

Would be nice if the Town of Greenburgh Police Department Officers had YOUR SUPPORT in the upcomming federal law suit mess that you have created !!!!

Should be funny when you come ask the POLICE OFFICERS for their support in your upcomming election ...... just makes me laugh

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I was reading the local paper today, the headline is Mt. Kisco Cops get support. Deputy Mayor expects officers to be cleared.

Would be nice if the Town of Greenburgh Police Department Officers had YOUR SUPPORT in the upcomming federal law suit mess that you have created !!!!

Should be funny when you come ask the POLICE OFFICERS for their support in your upcomming election ...... just makes me laugh

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the landlord have a little responsibility here? Flooding is no surprise for these stores. Ask the NYSC employees: I have been there at least twice in the last two years when they had flooding on the lower level during heavy rainstorms.

Anonymous said...

You can ask the Police officers for support during an election, but it doesn't really matter because not many of them live in Town to Vote.