Saturday, February 09, 2008


I am contacting our county lawmakers and will ask that the town get some tax revenue from the county in the event that the Board of Elections moves to Saw Mill River Road. I am of the opinion that this is a bad location for the Bd of Elections - it is not centrally located (the Bd of Elections should be located in White Plains)'s not easily acccessible to people around the county. Traffic in Ardsley is horrible - this will generate additional traffic in and around Ardsley. I would prefer that the county locate the Bd of Elections elsewhere. Non profits and county governments do not pay taxes to local governments.
Glenn Blain writes in the Journal News:
WHITE PLAINS – In what may be the first test of the Democrats’ super majority on the Westchester legislature, County Executive Andrew Spano is reviving a once-defeated plan to move the Board of Elections to Greenburgh.
The Spano administration re-submitted to the Board of Legislators a $13.3 million proposal to purchase and renovate a vacant industrial building at 450 Saw Mill River Road for use by the Board of Elections.
“A decision was made to resubmit because we need a (new) facility,” said Deputy County Executive Larry Schwartz.
Since the plan fell one vote short of approval in the legislature last spring, the administration has investigated several other properties but found none that were as affordable or as convenient as the building on Saw Mill River Road, Schwartz said.


Anonymous said...

Not just Ardsley how about traffic control in Hartsdale during rush hour.

feiner right on this one - berger mia said...

this corrupt deal is exposed in today's journal news
by columnist reisman

the seller is a major contributor to mr spano

hey suzanne berger, where is your voice on this or are you still beholden to spano and the rest of the party bosses???

Anonymous said...

The idea of placing the Board of Elections outside of White Plains is wrong. White Plains is the county seat, the home of the legislature and the courts. It is the natural location that has housed the Board of Elections since probably it inception. The corner of 9A (Saw MIll River Road) and Route 119 is quite congested, and access to the Elmsford Post Office is already a problem.

The proposed site is an out of the way location that will be extremely difficult for people to find. I believe that the citizens of Greenburgh would not be happy that this parcel would be permanently off the tax roles.

I hope that the Greenbugh Town Boad and Elmsford oppose this giveaway.

Richard J. Garfunkel

Anonymous said...

Why is a warehouse on Central Avenue OK but not this facility in Ardsley?

Does unincorporated Greenburgh have any representation?

Anonymous said...

Feiner at 8:09

This is what happens when you elect Feiner who has no support elsewhere in the county, the town has problems dealing with the county. Grow up -- eveyone who voted for Feiner should have foreseen this. It is like when Spano (not the county exec, the state legistlor) didnt get re-elected and funding for projects was pulled.

Anonymous said...

To the 10:11 a--hole. Do you really think that by continuing to refer to a self-storage facility as a warehouse you will do anything other than prove that you are what I say you are?

Anonymous said...

Isn't lois bronz our legislator? Can't she deliver?

Anonymous said...

Feiner has been busy firing people she supported. Once again, he has closed more doors.

Anonymous said...

Abinanti represents the district where the building is. He has voted agaisnt it in the past.

Anonymous said...

Well this is what happens when Democrats are reelected over and over again.
This is not Feiners fault.
The fault falls on the republican party for not having good leaders to help us in Westchester.
The county seat should have the board of elections in White Plains.
What the hell does Spano care,he got all that development that will give him plenty of tax money.
Could it be possible that we have to be under Democratic rule for the rest of our lives.
Wake up Republians your time is coming arround again bring in some good leaders.

Anonymous said...

Now is the time for all good people to get together to fight this proposal.
Regardless if we are with the supervisor or against him we have to stop this because it not only will hit us in our pockets but what will this do to our roads with all the extra traffic,
Ardsley is suffering enough with what they have now.
The county should have this building in White plains but because it will not bring in the same revenue as CAPPELLI the executive wants to dump on Greenburgh.
Why didn't he choose Harrison?

Anonymous said...

If Spano is running roughshod over people, then it is no different than when Feiner runs roughshod over people he doesnt like in Greenburgh.

Anonymous said...

Why should I feel sorry for Ardsley? They undercut teh Greenburgh library for the Elmsford money.

Anonymous said...

The JN article says that the lawyer for the Ardsley property is Marc Weingarten. Isnt he the guy who runs fundraisers for Feiner?

Anonymous said...

Paul,Why are you making such a racket about this proposal? This won't be the only tax free land in Greenburgh. What about the County records bldg and Westchester Community College?

Anonymous said...

And if Ardsely was so concerned about traffic on the Saw Mill River Rd, why did their library enter into an arrangment with Elmsford for library service? How did they think the Elmsford people would get to the library?

Anonymous said...

In the two years since this proposal was first floated, no one, including Feiner or Abinanti, has come up with a better proposal to locate the Board of Elections for any less money.

Nor is anyone other than Reisman (who's got no facts to back himself up) suggesting that the price the county is paying for the property is artificially high.

The idea that Westchester County should pay taxes for the property is unrealistic. Why should the county be required to pay taxes for that particular property when no other state, county, town, school or fire district is required to pay taxes for the other property it owns in any other given area?

The fact that the property in this case happens to be in unincorporated Greenburgh or within the Ardsley School District is not a good enough reason.

The fact that Weingarten, who has been Feiner's biggest fundraiser over the years, as well as Spano's, is representing the seller (a major Spano contributor) is probably reason enough to be suspicious of the proposal, but without any other proposals on the table, and without anyone coming forward with any evidence to suggest that the price is unfairly high, this may just be one of those government deals that makes sense, regardless of what Feiner and Abinanti have to say.

Anonymous said...

This proposal raises many questions, some included in the Phil Reisman piece and some not.

First, there is the issue of fair market value. Mr. Halpern has been unsuccessful at unloading this “dinosaur” for quite some time. Who says that it is worth the $5 + million that is being considered? How was this determined and by who? If is truly is worth that, why hasn’t it been sold in the years that it has been on the market?

Second, the building itself is located far off Saw Mill River Road (Route 9A). While the building has available parking, it is I would guess at least 1/4 mile from the nearest bus stop. Is that good for patrons? I don’t know. How many persons having business with this activity don’t come by private auto? If the answer can be documented and it is small, maybe this is not an issue.

Thrid, traffic. The intersection of Route 9A and Ashford Avenue has I believe been rated an “F” intersection by the State Department of Transportation (DOT). What are the environmental impacts of additional traffic in terms of idling traffic trying to pass through this intersection? Have any studies been done? What are the traffic projections? The County Planning Board assailed the Yonkers development (Ridge Hill) over traffic in part because of its impact on surrounding municipalities, unfortunately to no avail.

Fourth, tax fairness. The better solution in cases like this, and I realize that this impacts many government properties throughout the county, is for the county to pay the fair market taxes to the various jurisdictions. In this way the total tax bill becomes a county wide expense and is shared by all, not unduly by any one municipality or school district. That’s the real answer, I think. While White Plains has many county properties within its borders, these facilities and their visitors generate enormous parking revenues and parking fines that no doubt offset either in part of maybe even more than these “lost” property taxes. I am sure that this applies to many other municipalities around the county.

Anonymous said...

The real issue here is not a "warehouse" on Central Avenue but the removal of a large parcel of commercial real estate from the tax rolls. I've been to the County Board of Election in White Plains many times. While it is true that the Board of Elections does need more space it is also true that the amount of traffic in and out of the Board of Elections is so small as to be almost non-existent. We are not going to beat the County by citing increased traffic because it just "ain't" so.

While I do feel that the Board of Elections properly belongs close to the other County offices in White Plains, my real objection to the County acquiring this parcel and moving its office there is that it will result a further reduction of ratables in Greenburgh. What this means to the Town and to the Ardsley School District is a reduction in real estate tax revenue in perpetuity. While I have no idea what the assessed valuation of the parcel in question is, I am relatively certain that absent some legislative action at a level higher than the Town (which, of course, won't happen - and why should it?) Greenburgh and the Arsley Schoold District both stand to lose a substantial amount of tax revenue if this property is acquired by Westchester County.

I can't comment on whether the $13+ million price is artificially high or not as I don't know. Nor can I comment on Supervisor Spano's motives for wanting this particular property as I'm not in his head nor do I know who his friends are. I can, though, assure the readers is that the $13+ million is only the beginning. Supervisor Spano is also talking about some amount of money for renovations so we don't really know the entire cost of moving the Board of Elections to Saw Mill River Road.

Anonymous said...

An independent appraisal of the worth of the property should be done in any event so that county taxpayers know that the building is indeed worth the purchase price.

It wasn't too long ago that Weingarten, Feiner's largest fundraiser, tried to get the Town of Greenburgh to sell the old Town Hall site to firm client Sunrise at a sweetheart price far less than fair market value, and Feiner, who supported the deal, refused to do an appraisal or release an earlier appraisal that was done on the property.

The county should show Feiner how it's done by demonstrating that in this case, even though Weingarten and the seller are both big Spano contributors, the price really is the fair market price.

Assuming that the price can be justified, issues with respect to traffic and the site's user friendliness to "patrons" should easily fall by the wayside.

The Board of Elections keeps records, stores voting machines, and registers voters. The facility itself doesn't generate much traffic and doesn't need expensive White Plains real estate. Using the Saw Mill River Road site for the Board of Elections would probably have far less impact on traffic than if the site were used as a commercial office building or a retail shopping center.

As for the tax impact, there should be no taxpayer payment made to offset taxes unless all other government-owned facilities make similar payments. Despite what Feiner and Abinanti say, that's not likely to happen in anybody's lifetime.

Anonymous said...

Dear 3:36 PM,

The property appears to be assessed at $377,900 (source the Town's GIS data) so the lost revenue to both the "A" and "B" funds will approximate $1,900 and $52,000, respectively. The loss to the Ardsley School District is probably about double this, but the Ardsley School District doesn't publish its budget on its web site, so this is just an estimate.

I don't believe that this site is zoned for a shopping center. As to an office building, it would generate traffic in the morning and then probably again at the end of the work day, but probably not all that much during the day, whereas the Board of Elections will also generate morning and evening traffic (employees) as well as visitors during the day. Nevertheless, from a planning perspective, why haven't any traffic projections been made and presented to the communities in the area. This includes Hastings and Dobbs Ferry. Let's get some "facts" or at least reasonable projections before anonymous posters reach conclusions.

As to 3:51 PM, I agree that it is unlikely that the County will change its ways, but do we as citizens agree that the earlier poster's suggestion at least makes sense, regardless of whether it is implemented?

Anonymous said...

1011AM: It's in unincorporated Greenburgh, not Ardsley. (Just has an Ardsley ZIP code.)

Anonymous said...

The brouhaha is generated by the Ardsley School District -- and I have trouble believing the Town B taxes are = to the ASD taxes.

Anonymous said...

To 8:29PM,

Where do you live? Have you ever compared your school taxes to your municipal taxes, whether that is unincorportaed greenburgh or a Village within the Town. The school taxes are the greatest % of a property owner's tax bill. Upon I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the ASD taxes are $150,000 or more. But why speculate. Find out. Call the ASD business manager and then post the results.

Anonymous said...

To 2/10 8:29 PM and 2/11 7:17 AM,

This property is scheduled to pay $205,617.06 in Ardsley School District taxes for 2007. The poster from 2/10 7:19 PM just had to look a little further on the Town's GIS web site. It's all there.

hal samis said...

Does it seem that this subject has become more grist for rotund lawyer? Twice he has already come to the table bearing an empty plate.

Look at the irresistible courses on the blog buffet, as usual, they are too "inviting" for him to ignore.

Being yet another opportunity to mention Feiner and Weingarten together again in his postings.

Never mind that Feiner and Weingarten are on opposite sides.

However it must have seemed important to note that no one, including Feiner, has come up with a better location.

Is the Supervisor supposed to be in the real estate business. Is he supposed to be the County's site selector? But the way this was presented was to make readers believe that Feiner is required to come up with an alternative.

Feiner does not work for the County.

Feiner's immediate Greenburgh problems this term include finding ways to increase ratables. One of the corolaries of this very real problem is to try and prevent existing ratables from exiting the tax rolls entirely. Such should be the basis giving rise for these blog discussions.

I don't know what the property is worth and I don't care. Assuming that no one has offered more (or made a higher offer but one with contigencies which could cancel a contract), that the seller and the buyer have a "relationship" is not meaningful to Ardsley/Greenburgh residents. Perhaps, when wearing the hat of County residents dissecting the County's offer, posters on this blog may wish to pursue the price issue.

But there is nothing to prevent the seller from accepting a price higher than "market" or even below "market". And, an appraisal is not the mechanism that justifies the sales price; it only presents a broad based presentation of value based on a synthesis of cash flow production and/or replacement value while also considering (if directed) the value were the land (with or without the improvement) used for some other permitted purpose. Obtaining an appraisal is the responsibility of the County because, in this case, it is spending County tax dollars.

However, the purchase of this property by the County has nothing in common with the sale of the old town hall by the TOG. As rotund one knew then and still doesn't allow, that there are many factors which will never appear in an appraisal and these factors have a great impact on sales and purchases by and for municipalities. Some of these circumstances are being discussed on this very blog. But in the case of the sale of the old town hall site, the intended use of the land had a great deal of influence regarding the disposition -- and such uses have little discussion in any appraisal. To revisit the phrase "sweetheart deal" is an incenidary tactic which has very little to do with "Valentine's Day" sentiments when the favored purchaser offered a use that was unopposed by the neighboring civic association and one that would bring little traffic to Knollwood while, at the same time, not only bring few traffic and parking problems to the parcel's other occupant, a larger Library, but also brought a natural synthesis with an age group that is a Library mainstay. Perhaps someone would have offered more money, say a fast food operation, but that use would not have been acceptable to the community. Rotund one doesn't like to be reminded of the other conditions when he replays dated wax tracks in a download world.

But the reason that we are here assembled is not to dicuss whether or not the County is getting a good deal but instead whether the proposed use by the County is a fitting one located in Greenburgh and whether, regarding this context, Greenburgh has any ability to prevent such a purchase.

Clearly the ususal villains are loss of tax revenue, traffic and politics.

Government services have to be located somewhere and wherever they do reside, local property taxes are lost.

The lesson from WestHelp is that you cannot assist the communities/school districts that bear the brunt of playing host.

Traffic is often a perception rather than a reality and, in any case, a tenanted building will always produce more traffic than a vacant one and perhaps even more than a vacant piece of land. There will always be more traffic from occupancy; however the volume of such traffic and the hours of same seldom conform to the traffic study: perhaps because few drivers read the study and drive instead by exercising their free will.

This bring us to the one issue, that does have some relevance and a basis for the residents' (Greenburgh and County) reasonable indignation, is whether the location is a viable one for the County to select based on the function.

The Board of Elections, the office of, is a active and year-round division of County government which needs to be located convenient to all County residents. Ardsley is not such a location. Granted that storing voting machines can be done anywhere (even in another county where costs are lower) because the public need not interface with "mothballed" equipment; however the public often has to deal with the employees of the Board, a motley crew of brigands at best and oftentimes the result is to deal with government at its worst -- even to the extent that return visits are engendered.

Certainly election campaigns, alone, in Greenburgh generate a substantial number of visits to obtain copies of campaign contributions. But the everyday in play aspect of the Board of Elections is to administer the complex and cumbersome details of ensuring that integrity of the election process is being upheld. One of the mainstays of this is registering to vote and this requires the participation and physical presence of the public.
Not everyone has personal transportation and thus the office functions need be in a readily accessible location -- as is the current location being in the heart of the County's municipal buildings and courts. Think for a moment beyond Greenburgh and recognize that citizens come to the Board of Elections from ALL OVER the County and some them must travel by public transportation.
Throwing roadblocks in the way of this is what a relocation to Ardsley entails.

However, what I would not object to, is relocating the two overpaid Board of Election Party heads to the proposed self-storage facility on Central Avenue.

Herb Rosenberg said...

As usual, Hal Samis poses the real issues.

As a Dobbs Ferry resident who owns a car (and my wife owns another, in case mine is in the shop), the location of the Board of Election in Ardsley would be more convenient than a White Plains location. For the vast majority of county residents, the opposite is the case.

The county government should reconsider its decision.

samis and rosenberg shoot blanks said...

Samis, Greenburgh, Garfunkel, Feiner and Abinanti had better come up with better arguments as to why Westchester County shouldn't buy that building on Saw Mill River Road for its next Board of Elections HQ because so far they've come up with nothing.

They all seem to think that just because the facility would be in unincorporated G'burgh, rather than downtown White Plains, that it's therefore inconvenient to most residents of the county. Says who?

The facility would be around 3 miles from downtown White Plains, and away from all the traffic and parking issues that a trip to White Plains entails.

Still, they argue that the facility is not close to public transportation. That's not true either. Ardsley's public library is located a block and a half off Saw Mill River Road. As Ardsley and Elmsford demonstrated so eloquently before the Westchester Library System, there is ample public transportation that would take residents of Elmsford to Ardsley's public library. The same transportation can take Samis and other county residents to Elmsford and then to the new Board of Election facility.

And for those who drive, it would be much easier if the facility were located on Saw Mill River Drive because not only would they not have to contend with White Plains traffic, the site is easily accessible from the Thruway, which makes it much easier to get to for residents of Yonkers. Last I checked, Yonkers was the biggest city in Westchester. And the Saw Mill River Road site is also much easier to get to for those county residents who live north of Interstate 287.

Samis seems to think it's real important for the Board of Elections offices to be in White Plains because then he can more easily get copies of campaign contributions. However, campaign contribution filings are all available online and if it's that important to Samis that he see Greenburgh's filings before they get posted, and he can't find his way to Saw Mill River Road on the county bus, surely there's someone who'll be working for Feiner's reelection (how about Feiner, Garfunkel, or Rosenberg?) who'll give him a lift.

Samis, Garfunkel, Rosenberg et al think that all that matters here is the potential loss of ratables. That's a valid concern to all of us in unincorporated Greenburgh, but the facility has to be located somewhere. And while it's not Feiner's job to find another suitable location in Westchester County, the fact is that this particular location has been on the table for two years. Surely, if preserving ratables in unincorporated Greenburgh were all that important to Feiner, he'd have at least whispered in Abinanti's ear to find someplace else.

But he never did, or if he did, no one's heard about it and that certainly doesn't sound like Feiner.

Anonymous said...

Just read Samis' posting. Couldn't believe he was defending Feiner's refusal to turn over the appraisal that was done on the old Town Hall property on the ground that a a nearby civic association favored the sale of the site to one of Weingarten's clients, no matter what the price. Wow!

Even if Samis thinks the appraisal would have meant bupkis, it's still a record that the town should have turned over.

hal samis said...

Public Transportation (i.e. Bee Line buses were not created specifically for yours truly or even for the residents of Elmsford en route to the Ardsley Library.

However, it is a big County and buses serve residents of Yonkers, New Rochelle, Peekskill, Lewisboro, Somers, Croton...

Gosh, I don't have any names handy other than mine to answer your question "says who" (nor should I need them) and even though it may be just three miles from White Plains (as it is to Edgemont), I would direct your eyes to a map of the County and point out that the other 65% of the County is more than three miles from White Plains.

A message sent that the Ardsley location, reached by just one direct bus route, is not as convenient as is White Plains.

But what are those parking issues in White Plains? Have you discovered something that no one else knows? That there is a shortage of parking spaces in White Plains?
Says who? Traffic? You mean that perhaps sitting through two traffic light changes behind the wheel is a burden but that "catching" a bus to White Plains to transfer to another bus is less of an issue while the process itself is not at all time-consuming. And, just in case you don't ride a bus, buses are subject to the same traffic lights as automobiles.

What I really don't get from the blogger, Shtng Blanks, is, if actually a Greenburgh resident, why it is so important for this transaction to occur? What's in it for an unicorporated Greenburgh resident?
What's in it for an Ardsley resident?

I can't think of a single benefit to Greenburgh to have the Board of Education relocate to Ardsley.

And if the property were on the table for two years and Feiner didn't have a rabbit to pull out of his hat and suggest an alternative, just how do you know for certain that there were no other locations that would have fit the bill, price, size and location. The County has not published a list properties that were rejected, a list of properties that were submitted for consideration, or even the results of a presumed RFP.

All we humble residents are to assume is that there is only one property, even in more populous southern Westchester that would be ideal (well, perhaps the subject is not without some problems too).

You ought to learn by now when to pick your battles. This feeble attempt to find a reason to cast blame on Feiner is the most pathetic yet.

And such displays of stupidity on the blog are my invitation to join the party.

While the last time that Feiner whispered in Abinanti's ear, the result was secret meetings in Harrison. Perhaps Mr. Sheehan and Mr. Bernstein will give us their world view of Greenburgh ratables and tax exempt property in forthcoming depositions re Dromore.

hal samis said...

To wow @4:ll,

Why don't you, yourself, FOIL for the appraisal instead of parroting the phrase "refusal to turn over".

It is and should be FOILable document and you have every right to accessing it.

While you do this, please send me what is not FOILable, your list of bonafide offers which were better than the "sweatheart deal" that Sunrise offered. I'm wondering how anonymous real estate experts, lacking the appraisal, really know what the value of the property was and thus concluding it was being given away.

The only way to convince me is to show me; not tell me.

Anonymous said...

Samis, you really go off the deep end sometimes.

A blogger questioned whether the price the county was paying for the building it wants for the new Board of Elections was fair because the seller and his lawyer were both Spano contributors. The blogger suggested that the county have an independent appraisal done. Why does Samis have a problem with that?

Another blogger, or maybe it was the same one (it's so hard to keep track) pointed out that when Feiner wanted to sell the old town hall site to a company represented by Feiner's biggest fundraiser, residents back then asked to see an appraisal for the property and Feiner refused to produce it.

This is where Samis really loses it. He defends Feiner's refusal to produce the appraisal because, says Samis, the neighboring civic association was in favor of the sale and, Samis says, what good is an appraisal anyway?

Now Samis insists that someone today should FOIL that old appraisal so we can find out once and for all whether the appraised value back then was more or less than what Feiner was willing to sell the property for.

Sorry, but why would anyone waste his or her time today FOILing a three or four year old appraisal for the old town hall site?

That appraisal was only relevant when Feiner was trying to sell the property. It should be obvious, even to Samis, that if the appraisal would have helped Feiner show that the selling price was fair, Feiner would have produced it for all to see. But he didn't.

Perhaps in one of Samis' late night chats with the supervisor he'll tell him to dig up that old appraisal. Or maybe Samis will send one of is trademark personal messages to Feiner's private aol account.

The real issue for me is what right does Greenburgh have to tell the seller of that property that he can't sell it to Westchester County?

Seems to me that if the seller wants to sell, and is willing to take what the county is offering, and some independent appraiser can tell us the price is fair, Greenburgh doesn't really have much to say about it unless it knows of a better place where the county should spend our money.

Repeating over and over again that the location is really lousy, which Samis does, sounds more and more like whining.

The last time the issue came up, 11members of the county board of legislators thought the deal made sense; six didn't. If all Greenburgh's got to offer is Samis whining, the chances of getting 12 or more votes become that much greater.

hal samis said...

It is amazing how this anonymous liar still trys to take what is written just a few paragraphs above his own entry and then shape and misquote my satements so that it appears the opposite of what I wrote. How confident he must feel that no one will take the effort to see if what he says I wrote is actually what I wrote.

Someone wrote that I was defending Feiner's refusal to turn over the appraisal for the old town hall property. Where's the blog entry where I am cited to have done that, just scroll up and find where I did. Nowhere, right! In fact, what I wrote was that if someone really wanted to see it they should and have every right to FOIL for it. Does that seem like a defense? So now that I wrote in effect, 'put up or shut up' the blogger writes that seeing the appraisal doesn't matter anymore which is true: the property wasn't sold, all that remains is the very deliberate revival of an unproven allegation. Why indeed would anyone waste their time when reading lies is so much easier. Does anyone even know if there was ever a formal request to see such an appraisal?

To be honest, I don't really remember what went on regarding an appraisal and at the time I too might have asked for an appraisal. But having ordered some appraisals in the interim, my position on the usefulness of them has diminished. I have not discussed this matter with Feiner and I have not sent him any emails regarding it.
But let me respond to my attacker who continues to jerk off with nothing over nothing.

First some possibilities. Was there an appraisal? I don't know; I never saw one. If the Town had ordered one, there would be a record of the Town paying for one. So all of you parties who are no longer interested in actually seeing the appraisal don't have to jump start the ball rolling by FOILING to see the purchase order or the payment voucher. With these in hand, it would be reasonable as taxpayers to see the appraisal -- if one existed. Which leads me to another speculation. What if the Town did not have an appraisal? What if there was an appraisal and the Town did not order one and the Town did not pay for one? What if there was an appraisal and it was ordered and paid for by the "buyer", Sunrise? The appraisal would be the property of Sunrise and not FOILABLE even if Feiner had alluded to it.
These are completely hypothetical possibilities; I have no basis to confirm, much less deny, speculations but I'm really not interested in the answers. For those who are, I've done the spadework, now follow through.

But let me discuss an appraisal that I was very much interested in around the same time or shortly thereafter. I haven't kept my files on this so the numbers I'm going to quote are from memory but the near accuracy of them is sufficient to make my point.

When the Supervisor announced the purchase of the 177 Hillside Avenue building for town hall, he said "what a bargain the Town was getting, purchasing it for $6,$7 million? and it was really worth $20 million". Remember? I knew that this was sheer puffery so I asked to see the appraisal which I assumed the Town would need to complete its due diligence. I also knew that I had Feiner cornered because there was no way it was worth the still unheard of $435 per foot price for Westchester, especially for an inferior location with incomplete highway access. So I persisted in my quest to obtain the appraisal just for the purpose of embarrassing him. Feiner did provide the appraisal and it justified a number by a blend of income, replacement value and comps approaches to arrive at the grand total of......
$11 million or maybe even $9 million, I just don't remember anymore.

Why have I dredged up this old news? Because it illustrates the point I made earlier on this blog: that appraisals don't matter that much and depending on what you request or need, you can pretty much can get whatever number is needed by the party that pays for the appraisal. You may have read this recently about home values being inflated by appraisers to qualify borrowers for high leveraged mortgages. MAI, the appraisal gold karat standard, was always joking referred to as Made As Instructed.

Countdown starting to anonymous blogger reply that Samis is smearing all appraisers.

Back to the Town Hall purchase, what have we learned. First of all, Feiner did inflate the value of the building to make it appear to be a really good buy. We already know that he tends to be a tad enthisastic regarding his accomplishments; you don't like this, don't vote for him. On the other hand, he did buy the building for well under the appraised value which you either have to praise him for OR join me in rejecting blind dependence on appraisals. How could Feiner make this fabulous buy, don't sellers want to realize the highest price when it is time to sell? Wouldn't a seller know that his building was worth more, wouldn't he get his own appraisal? In fact, the Town got the building by breaking up an existing contract of sale for the building at an even lower price. In the real world of real estate, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; the buyer does not consider an appraisal to determine the property's true worth. In a zero sum equation, like the exchange or real estate or the buying and selling of stock, there is a price at which the seller is willing to sell and the buyer is willing to pay. Buyers generally think the purchase is undervalued; sellers think it is overvalued. The only practical use for an appraisal is to justify the maximum amount of a mortgage loan should a Lender be asked to supply one. Or for insurance purposes. So, when I say that an appraisal means nothing, I say that fully aware of what I am talking about. The introduction into this blog topic of needing to see the "appraisal" for the sale of the old town hall and the other introduction of it as a "barometer" in the County's purchase of the Ardsley property were just detours away from the issue at hand: there is no reason for any resident of Ardsley or Greenburgh to favor removing another property from the tax rolls. Give me a good reason why Greenburgh residents should be in favor of this purchase by the County.

My bet is that there is none forthcoming, no one responded to my earlier pronouncement. Anonymous blogger also says under the banner that I "go off the deep end sometimes" and then
"what right does Greenburgh have to tell the seller that he can't sell it to Westchester County" which I totally agree with but where did I ever write anything that said or implied that the seller can't. What I did say is that the seller can sell his property for more or less than any appraised price.

And where did I defend Feiner for not producing an appraisal -- instead I suggested that you show him up by FOILING for the appraisal that the blogger alleges to exist. I argued that an appraised price or the highest offer should not be the sole determinant in the old town hall proposal. Mind you, at the time I opposed selling the property to anyone until the Library knew the scope of its expansion project, but I also acknowledge that the Sunrise use was the best use, the one most amenable to the neighbors which included not only the civic association but also the Library itself.

Perhaps the anonymous blogger knows something I don't but really, does he really put forth the proposition that me "whining" on this blog is going to cause, the needed vote to approve the purchase, to do an about face and vote in favor.

But this is great fun for me to watch how my keyboard strokes invoke a return round of criticism Keep up your posting, you need all the practice you can get in evading and distorting. We'll see how well you do on graduation day aka Deposition Day.

Lest I forget before logging off, the Ardsley proposed location is really lousy.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind being grouped with intelligent people that feel that the Board of Elections would be better served in White Plains. I am sure there are some nice affordable spots in Peekskill also, but White Plains is in a central location, and at the heart of our political and judicial system. Also it is the hub of our public transportation center.

I certainly agree with the premise that the Supervisor is not a real estate agent (or does he play one on television) and it is not incumbent on him to find a better location for the County.

As to anon 10:18 statement that "the Supervisor does not have support in the rest of the county!"

What does that have to do with the price of onions in Bermuda? How does that blogger know whether the Supervisor is liked, respected, or has support outside of Greenburgh. My travels indicate otherwise.

I have been in, and out of almost every community, and when Feiner's name is mentioned, it engenders a great deal of respect. Of course his last approval rating was quite high (Election Day) in Greenburgh where it counts. Most politicians would love to be elected 12 or 13 times in a row. Most politic1ans would love to be able to ignore the bosses of their own party and handily win re-election. So that specious issue is a non-starter.

As to the problems of the two-party system, Anon 1:29 pm should refer to the GOP and its lack of viable candidates.

My sense is that Lois Bronz should get involved for a change and consult with both the Supervisor and Tom Abinanti.

Richard J. Garfunkel

feiner, samis and garfunkel are right said...

Garfunkel is right. And where is suzanne berger and the other local democrats on this issue?

as samis correctly argues, relocation to ardsley/greenburgh serves neither.

the proposed location stinks in more ways than one.

feiner is right on this one.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so Feiner and his campaign manager Garfunkel don't want the county to move the board of elections to that vacant building on Saw Mill River Road.

They fear the loss of a ratable at a time when the town can least afford it. But that would be true of any location, be it White Plains or any other place.

The question is why should Greenburgh be deserving of special treatment. Is it because its supervisor used too much accumulated fund balance over the past four years when he was in election trouble and then, as a result, the town's unincorporated area was forced to deal with a 19% tax increase?

That's what it sounds like and that's not much of an argument.

So we're told that all county buildings should stay in White Plains. Well, that's not exactly right either. If our county legislators can find a reasonably priced location outside of White Plains that's accessible to most people in the county, they're going to vote for it. If that reasonably priced site happens to be in Greenburgh, which is just as centrally located as White Plains, why wouldn't the county legislators support it?

Does it make sense, if you're a county legislator, to spend considerably more taxpayer money for a site in White Plains? I doubt it.

Garfunkel nevertheless argues that the sheer force of Feiner's awesome prestige county-wide will prompt Spano and the county legislators to re-think the matter.

That's about as silly as windmills twirling on Taxter Ridge.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 2/12 4:03 PM,

First, the vote on the prior two budgets was 5 (five) to 0 (zero) in favor of the budgets, which agreed used too much fund balance. The Supervisor was not alone. Of the current Board members, both Councilwoman Juettner and Councilman Sheehan (only one direct budget vote) must share their portion of any responsibility. Can you be fair oh "legal" beagle? I don't think so.

Does Greenburgh deserve special treatment? No. Does this location really make sense? That's clearly debatable, not just because of the tax impact. How many government facilities that don't pay taxes are in your (Edgemont) school distric? There are many other school districts within the Town that have a lot more than the Ardsley School District so the ASD's argument is a little weak. How about a better answer? Like getting the County to pay each municipality the fair market taxes and then including these costs in the County budget for all County property owners to share according to their assessed valuations? Isn't that a better answer?

What you also overlook is that Phil Reisman who has no stake in the ASD aspect of this has raised the question as to whether the proposed purchase price is in fact fair. What say you to this? Let me guess silence, because that doesn't suit your agenda.

Why don't you just set up a local blog (for Edgemeont only) and sound off all you want. Your candidates were soundly beaten in the primary and you don't recognize that you just might have been a very large contributing cause.

Anonymous said...

The campaign for me is over, but the 730 Day campaign goes on for the remaining Cabalists, like it did in 2003 and 2005. I don't offer my views as the campaign manager of Paul Feiner. He got along quite well long before I arrived in Greenburgh almost six years ago. I, like other citizens who contribute to their communities, have perspectives and views on the future of Greenburgh, Westchester, NY State, and even the country. Since I became politically active in White Plains, in the fall of 1969, I have backed many winners, some losers, and have worked on a number of causes. While many of our carping, critics were in short pants or not born, I was out on the street in White Plains raising money for Charles Evers of Mississippi, and campaigning for progressive Democratic causes. I happened to be the co-chairperson for McGovern, with my good friends Lynne Weiner and Arthur Bondy in 1972, and McGovern, with our hard work, carried White Plains. Too bad he did not have other equally dedicated folks all around the United States. Things may have been a bit different.

On one hand many of the bloggers here, opposed the acquisition of Taxter Ridge. In fact, a number of these individuals want to sell it off. I say to whom? It was bought as a "green" buffer, and a recreational area for people to use as a hiking park. The support for its purchase was overwhelming, as I recall. Of course, people in Edgemont, and other areas, may not care a hoot about Taxter Ridge, but if it were sold off, commercial development would be inevitable. Of course, that would lead to congestion, pressure on the local schools, new sewer and electric lines, more town services, extra traffic and the rest.

Therefore, I wonder why these same carpers also complain about the summit being used as a potential wind farm?

Which way do they want it? They are unhappy with it laying fallow, as a "green" buffer, but their East Irvington neighbors are not anxious for its sale and development, if that were possible. But again, the carping critics of the CABAL still accuse the Supervisor for being in bed with the developers, even though he supported "steep slopes" laws and the Town's purchase of that hilly site. Again, which way do they want it?

These folks are only interested in power, and they are thwarted because they do not have that power. Whatever the Supervisor would do, they would oppose. So they would oppose development, they would oppose it as a parkland buffer, and they would oppose windmills, far from sight of almost anyone.

To the readers of this blog, it is all politics, wouldn't you know.

I, along with a few others, sign our names. I would like to see some of the other creative writers out there have the intestinal fortitude to come out from under their anonymous hoods, with their poison pens, and come clean. The public would be anxious to know who are these unknown mysterious night writers of fiction.

Richard J. Garfunkel

Anonymous said...

I read the anonymous posting at 4:03 and didn't see the word Edgemont mentioned anywhere. I then read the anonymous posting at 7:28, and learned that the anonymous writer at 4:03 is not only from Edgemont and should set up his own blog for Edgemont residents only and sound off there, and was responsible for causing the defeat of Feiner's opponents in the last election.

Wow, that's great work 7:28. If 7:28 is right, and he sure sounds like he is, Feiner's team is doing a helluva job tracking down who is posting anonymously on this site.

Bravo, and let that be a lesson to anyone posting anonymously who dares to criticize Feiner.

Contrary to what we've been told, the Feiner blogometer is alive and well and if you say anything critical, rest assured you will be tracked down and exposed. If you like the Patriot Act, you really gotta love what Feiner is doing with this blog.

By the way, that very knowledgeable blogger at 7:28 may be interested to know that the U.S. Postal Service has a very large building on very expensive Central Avenue in the Edgemont School District and it doesn't pay a dime in taxes. If county residents should kick in and compensate the Ardsley School District, as 7:28 suggests, shouldn't the Feds kick in and compensate Edgemont?

Neither is likely to happen and for good reason. Where do you draw the line?

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous 9:23 (and other Edgemont civic leaders)

Ardsley already has a Post Office as does Edgemont.

Are you going to sit back and let Ardsley get one up on Edgemont and snare the prestigious Board of Elections too?

hal samis (what the bling bling is going on here regarding signing? what's a url?)

Don't let Ardsley walk away with the prize. What kind of a school district are you running there anyway; just think how valuable it would be having the Board of Elections nearby. How about a destination for class trips for starters?

Where's your civic pride. Get on the booster club bandwagon and help find a suitable location for the Board of Elections in your community.

Don't waste a minute, start looking right now. I hear that the County Board is going to pick Ardsley because of Samis' whining on this blog.

There still may be time if you act fast. And don't just focus on Ardsley, this is also your chance to put one over on White Plains as well. Remember, Edgemont is even closer to White Plains than Ardsley so you've got that in your favor too.

Anything I can help you with regarding getting the Board of Elections to choose Edgemont, just let me know.

Anonymous said...

Dear 2/12 9:23 PM,

You ask where do I draw the line/ My answer is clear. Over things that we (the County residents) can change. Throwing in a US Government building is another of your actions to move away from a reasoned debate over the issues.

At the county level, we (the county) can do or try to do the right thing. Will you agree that all ( I would underline or place in bold, if I could) county facilities throughout the county ought to pay their fair share of local taxes to each respective municipal unit, whether that be a Town, Village or School District and that as a result the entire county tax base will pay its fair share rather then placing a burden on any one entity?

As to anyone providing me with who actually posted, no one has. I just guessing, but my bet is that I'm pretty accuracte.

Anonymous said...

Hey there Anon at 11:21. Any idea what it would cost if all county facilities in Westchester would have to pay its fair share of local taxes?

I bet if the county is responsible today for 10% of my taxes, it would quickly balloon to 15%. And just think of all the new found money that White Plains would get, since so much of its ratables are already in county hands.

But wait, there's more. You say we should draw the line over things that we as county residents can change. Well why don't we start with Greenburgh. Surely we can start right there. How 'bout the entire Town of Greenburgh, including the villages, start footing the bill right now for all the town buildings located in the Greenburgh Central school district? C'mon, the school district really needs the money.

Let's see, we've got the new town hall at 177 Hillside, that's quite a ratable that's been lost. How shall the assessor value it? Feiner said it was worth $20 mill, but we paid only $8 mil with improvements. Then there's the library, TDYCC (with that indoor swimming pool), and all those parks, including Taxter Ridge, shouldn't they be taxed as ratables too?

After a while, the exercise gets pretty silly. Governments, be they local, state or federal, are not going to be paying taxes on the properties they own, ever.

questions for mr garfunkel said...

questions for mr garfunkel: does one get to taxter ridge?
2.why did the moonies get a $3 million dollar tax break from the town when they never used the parcel for religious purposes? there any parking for taxter ridge?
4.after the steep slopes law was passed, didnt this devalue the taxter ridge parcel signficantly? if so, why did the town still pay the moonie's full asking price?
5. before taxter ridge was purchased, the supervisor was told it had to be paid for on a townwide basis. the budget allocated the debt service only to unincorporated greenburgh. the courts have ruled that is illegal (now on appeal). do you agree with the supervisor's position?
6. did the town ever have the parcel appraised after the steep slopes law you mentioned was passed?
7. wasnt taxter ridge purchased for the benefit of the irvington school district? if so, is this a proper town purpose.

other bloggers are invited to submit more questions about this most taxing matter.

hal samis said...

I screwed up my signature on my comment at 11:57 last night.
Lacking the "nickname" option, I got confused -- not about the topic but how to post with my name.

This probably explains why the Edgemont mafia didn't have anything negative to say.

Anonymous said...

I cannot speak to or for any of those questions. I was not involved, consulted or aware of the issue. It predates my time, but I suggest you write a letter to Mr. Danny Gold who was a driving force behind that effort.

With regards to the Irvington schools, I assume that every citizen is a resident of one school district or another, and they should be concerned and interested what affects their district. I would also be surprised that a concerned citizen would not aware of future tax implications, or crowding when it comes to their home school district.

It is naive to think that lobbying with regards to land use does not exist. Public policy decisions will not please everyone. Therefore, understanding the complexities of Greenburgh, one shouldn't be surprised that one decision that pleases many, may infuriate others.

With all that in mind, I am sure that the Supervisor had the highest motives in mind when he supported the purchase of Taxter Ridge, which for your information is located off Taxter Road.

As to the tax relief afforded the church, many religious institutions have been the benefit of tax exempt status. Many times religious groups run stores, offer bingo and gambling evenings, sell books, and run schools and still enjoy tax exempt status.

I believe that the issue of the Moon Church was aired many years ago. With regards to the litigation against the Town, I support the appeal and the position of the Supervisor, and the Board did support his effort.

I am not a lawyer, and do not purport to be one. I personally hope that our state legislators work to make sure the law delineating financial responsibility for parks is re-drawn for greater clarity. I cannot, and will not believe that the Supervisor did not have the best interest of the citizens of Greenburgh in mind. Somehow the "big lie" has been spread around and constantly repeated by political hatchetmen that the Supervisor is some nefarious soul. I am sure that the public will never swallow that claptrap.

Richard J. Garfunkel

give us a break richard said...

garfunkel is naive. the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

funny how garfunkel has views on everything but taxter ridge which he claims "predates him."huh?
mr garfunkel was quite alive when taxter was purchased and was probably mr feiner's campaign manager at the time.

garfunkel correctly notes that having the board of elections in greenburgh on saw mill river road is a poor idea. here the supervisor agrees.

while garfunkel rants about cabals, he is the true believer who worships at the altar of feiner, the well intentioned one.

richard, i think you can do better than that last "it predates me" non response.

would it really kill you to admit what everyone knows - taxter was mistake.

correction to garfunkel said...

correctpion - that is:

taxter was a mistake.

Anonymous said...

The Oracle -Anon 4:44

Thanks for telling me that everyone believes Taxter Ridge was a mistake. I am sure that the vast amount of people that supported and lobbied for its purchase are very happy!

I also believe that the vast amount of residents of Greenburgh do not know where Taxter Ridge is. Therefore they could care less. By the way the vast amount of residents of Greenburgh would be hard pressed to know where Hart's Brook is or a dozen other parks. That is not a knock or criticism of the average citizen of Greenburgh. I live near the Glenville Woods Park and I am sure that 98% of Greenburgh has absolutely no clue where it exists or why it does. Only some of the residents of the area know that it was part of a concession given to the residents when Watch Hill was created.

Therefore your (anon 4:44) assumption is basically meaningless. Personally I never hasd the occaision to be on Taxter Road before I heard of Taxter Ridge. You can make any unsubstantiated anonymous claim you wish. That comes with your territory. Again, please call Danny Gold, I am sure his number is in the phone book. In fact, since that parcel became a park, I have rarely seen him at any public hearing, meeting or function. Of course, that doesn't mean that he doesn't get out and about, but I haven't seen him and I assume he and his neighbors were very happy with their accomplishment.

As I said earlier, it pre-dated my involvement. But for sure, each community has their pet peeve and what affects their neighborhood, or school district, or livihood is most dear to them.

Many actions in a municipality are geared to specific neighborhood needs. So keep on harping on Taxter Ridge. No one is listening. Keep on harping against the Wall at the Webb School, no one is listening, keep on banging the drum of whatever turns you on.

Richard J. Garfunkel

garfunkel is no pundit said...

last i checked the taxter ridge matter was alive and well in the courts. one thing is probably certain, a hack fool like juettner will not so easily go along with feiner proposals like the presser park wall eyesore.

so danny gold is happy. this only illustrates the fact that feiner and juettner failed to understand that the proper way to have done taxter ridge was by creating a special park district, not by saddling the town with millions of dollars in debt that only benefits one school district.
when juettner runs in 2009, all of her mistakes and her general ineptitude and arrogance will be issues. francis should be distancing himself from her because she has been in office too long and is not doing the job. she is just collecting a paycheck.

Anonymous said...

One can assume both Diane and Francis will be gone, one way or another in the next election. Dromore will do them in no matter what!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the barrister from Edgemont crusading against Taxter and Feiner!

not bernstein said...

sorry to disappoint you but criticism of taxter and feiner is quite widespread. now we need to see if the judicial disapproval is seconded by the appellate division.

the taxter folly was headed by feiner but juettner genuflected also at the altar of danny gold and rev moon. her sorry record has been exposed and she will be facing an uphill battle if she runs in 2009.

francis should move his seat on the dais.

ps - this blogger aint bernstein.