Monday, July 07, 2008

ATTEND BOARD OF LEGISLATORS MEETING ON TUESDAY AT 7 PM AND SPEAK OUT AGAINST 13 MILLION DOLLAR WASTEFUL ACQUISITION THAT WILL RAISE TAXES...CALL!

The Westchester County Board of Legislators will be meeting tomorrow at 7 PM at the Westchester County Office Building, 8th Floor, 148 Martine Ave, White Plains. It is possible that the Legislature might try to vote to spend $13 million to buy a dilapidated office building in Greenburgh. The matter is currently not on the agenda –but there is speculation that a vote could take place tomorrow evening –when few people are paying attention.

This is bad for Greenburgh –this is bad for Ardsley--- this is bad for the county. If the county purchases the building the property will be taken off the tax rolls –which means your taxes will go up unnecessarily.

Between 7 PM and 7:30 PM you can speak at the Legislature meeting to express your concerns. Try to show up a half hour before the meeting so you will be called.

If you cannot attend the meeting please call your Legislators. County Legislator Tom Abinanti of Greenburgh is leading the fight against the acquisition. Phone numbers are posted below.

We are in the middle of a recession.

People are having a difficult time selling their homes.

Property values are falling. There are other, less expensive alternatives. This is not a good time for the county to buy a building.



The following is posted below:

1) Phone numbers of County Legislators. Please call them and urge them to vote no.

2) E mail I sent out last week opposing this outrageous taxpayer waste of money.

3) Column by Phil Reisman, Journal News (Sunday, July 6).


Thanks. Hope to see you tomorrow night before 7 PM at the County Office Building.

PAUL FEINER



Legislators

Name
District
Phone (914) 995-

William J. Ryan (Board Chair)
5
2827

George Oros (Minority Leader)
1
2828

Peter Harckham
2
2810

John Nonna
3
2847

Michael B. Kaplowitz (Vice Chair)
4
2848

Martin Rogowsky (Majority Leader)
6
2834

Judith A. Myers (Majority Whip)
7
2802

Lois T. Bronz
8
2833

William Burton
9
2812

Vito J. Pinto
10
2817

James Maisano (Minority Whip)
11
2826

Thomas J. Abinanti
12
2821

Lyndon Williams
13
2837

Bernice Spreckman
14
2815

Gordon A. Burrows
15
2830

Kenneth W. Jenkins
16
2829

José I. Alvarado
17
2846








No wonder people mistrust and want to abolish County government.

The Board of Legislators, with little public notice, is about to appropriate $13 million to buy and renovate a dilapidated office building/warehouse at 450 Saw Mill River Road in Greenburgh. 450 has been vacant for a long long time -- except for a brief time when the county rented it. The stated purpose for purchasing this 85,000 square foot building is to house the new voting machines the county will purchase to comply with federal and state mandates. $13 million dollars to house machines!

Newspapers have reported that the building is owned by a large contributor to the County Executive.

Most outrageous is that the county is doing what it always protests about the state and federal government. It is placing an unfunded mandate on Greenburgh and the small Donald Park fire district that must protect this building with no taxes, as the county’s purchase takes it off the tax rolls. Taking it off the tax rolls also takes another $200,000 a year out of the pockets of the residents of the small Ardsley school district. So some Greenburgh taxpayers will see a property tax increase to subsidize a questionable deal.

Since the voting machines will need no more than 55,000 sq. ft, no more than 2/3 of the building, the county is now scurrying around trying to find a use for the other 1/3. The county executive first proposed moving the Department of Environmental Facilities from New Rochelle, but backed off when the mayor protested. Now, he suggests moving the police brass out of the Hawthorne headquarters to take up some of the extra space. He still hasn't yet figured out how to use the remainder.

With everyone else hurting and cutting back, is now the time for the county to spend $13 million to take on the obligations of a new building? How about using the office/warehouse building the county already owns at 375 Executive Boulevard in Elmsford?

Right now it houses some files and new equipment but also abandoned motor vehicles and used computer equipment waiting to be sold. With almost 4 million square feet of county-controlled office, warehouse and garage space, can’t they juggle things around to make room.

And at least you can get to 375. It is in used by so many companies as a distribution center (near Fed Ex, UPS, etc). 450 is located on a remote stretch of 9A between two congested intersections Ardsley Road and Jackson Avenue. It has no easy access to major commercial highways - even though all of the county's voting machines will have to be distribtued from there by commercial vehicles.


If this makes no sense to you, tell your county legislator: 995-2800 or westchesterlegislators.com. E mail the County Executive at CEO@westchestergov.com

PAUL FEINER

Greenburgh Town Supervisor



COLUMN BY PHIL REISMAN—WWW.LOHUD.COM, JULY 6, 2008

The Westchester County Board of Legislators is about to make one of Andy Spano's buddies happy - and anything that makes a generous campaign contributor happy makes Andy happy, too.

It appears that there are enough votes on the board to approve the county executive's feverish quest to spend $13.6 million for the purchase and renovation of a vacant office building in Ardsley that no one else seems to want.




As I've reported in this column, the building at 450 Saw Mill River Road happens to be owned by Ardsley Partners III, a firm controlled by Jon Halpern, who has given much in the way of money to help Spano get elected over and over again.

You may connect the obvious dots, but only at the peril of ticking off Spano's right-hand man, Larry Schwartz, who will tell you the deal is a "financial no-brainer" that has nothing at all to do with a political payoff - and if you think otherwise, you're an uninformed, stupid scum bucket. (By the way, is there such a thing as a "yes-brainer"?)

But it's weird how Spano-Schwartz will make up any number of creative excuses to buy Halpern's albatross, er, building. The message is clear: They must have it.

As all issues do, it started with a legitimate problem - where to store 1,600 new voting machines the county must buy to comply with state and federal election reforms. Since the Board of Elections digs in White Plains aren't big enough to hold the new equipment, it made sense to keep the BOE operation intact and move lock, stock and barrel to one site.

Spano-Schwartz chose 450 Saw Mill River Road.

The idea raised all kinds of concerns, many of them articulated by Tom Abinanti, a Greenburgh Democrat whose legislative district includes the village of Ardsley. One argument was that county ownership meant the property would be removed from the tax rolls, which would cost the Ardsley school district $192,171 a year.

Another argument was that the building was off the beaten path, up a hill, hard to find and just an altogether lousy place to put the BOE.

When it turned out that Spano-Schwartz couldn't move the BOE away from the county seat without putting it to a referendum, they were stymied. But only temporarily.

They never for a minute considered the referendum idea, knowing full well that the county's voters would shoot down the expenditure of $13.6 million. So they briefly fooled around with a goofy idea to pretend that the BOE was actually staying in White Plains by, in effect, keeping a light on in the building and having someone sit at a desk with a phone.

Then they tried another idea. They'd still buy 450 Saw Mill River Road for the voting machines and for the Department of Environmental Facilities, which leased space in New Rochelle.

That didn't fly in the Queen City, which gets a piece of the county sales tax and didn't want to lose workers in its downtown.

Now Spano-Schwartz want to put the county's Department of Public Safety in Halpern's building, which presumably would save the county from spending $14.2 million to build the cops another headquarters in Valhalla. See what I mean about Spano-Schwartz? They really want it.

Their morphing of purpose for the Ardsley building may not end there. Who knows? If the public safety excuse should somehow fall apart, they'll probably come up with a scheme to warehouse all the discarded rides at Playland.

"It's so obvious, you're trying to make it look good," Abinanti said last week on my WVOX radio show. "You know the old line, the more lipstick you put on a pig, it's still a pig? That's what you're dealing with here."

Abinanti said Halpern's a "good guy but he's stuck with a problem here." Advancing the pig metaphor to describe Spano's willing assistance, Abinanti quipped. "It's pork, not ham."

The 17-member Board of Legislators could vote on the matter Tuesday. As it now stands, Abinanti looks to be in the minority, which includes three Republicans - George Oros, Gordon Burrows and Jim Maisano. It's such a big deal that even Board Chairman Bill Ryan, who is recovering from heart surgery, is reportedly anxious to show up for the vote.

Abinanti said some of his Democratic colleagues are leaning toward a yes vote because they are simply resigned to the fact that there are no other solid alternatives to 450 Saw Mill River Road and time is running out to meet the voting machine mandate. The reason for the lack of choices, Abinanti suggested, was that developers and commercial property owners didn't want to cross the powerful Spano-Schwartz by coming forth with better ideas.

But there's yet another way to torpedo the scheme, according to Abinanti. The purchase price of 450 Saw Mill River Road, he said, exceeds the $10 million state-imposed limit and must go to a referendum. The purchase price of the building is well under that amount.

The legislator explained, however, that in cases where the property isn't usable in its current condition, the cost of the renovations must be lumped in with the purchase price.

If that's so, then Spano-Schwartz will have to figure out another way to thwart the public. It's a good bet they'd be up to the task.

But it's ironic when you think about it.

After all, the whole thing started with voting machines, the most important instruments of democracy. And democracy can be a messy obstacle when you're trying to help out a pal.

Phil Reisman

Reach Phil Reisman at preisman@lohud.com or 914-694-5008. Read more stuff at lohud.com/reisman.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

"There are other, less expensive alternatives."
What are they? PLEASE BE SPECIFIC. Otherwise you just come off as a whiner.

"This is not a good time for the county to buy a building."
It's not an option, is it? (See above.) Time is running out to meet the state and federal mandates.

"We are in the middle of a recession. People are having a difficult time selling their homes. Property values are falling."
Well, we haven't entered recession yet, but these matters don't only affect Greenburgh. Are there other municipalities/districts "more deserving" to lose property tax money?

Again, if you feel that there are feasible alternative locations in Westchester available within the required timeline, please state those locations specifically. We've become numb to your primary communications strategy that "the sky is falling down." Be a mature professional!

hal samis said...

I wholly agree with the headline but feel bound to note that the County Board doesn't like to hear from a lot of taxpayers who want to speak on a topic that warms their individual pocketbooks. So, don't expect that many of you who may go with expectations of being allowed to speak will actually be given the opportunity to be heard.

This entire issue reflects politics and politicians at their worst.

But before we turn away from Ardsley, let me take this opportunity to ask a question about another Ardsley parcel: the former Water Wheel Inn site.

The Journal News reports that, at this two acre parcel intended to create "affordable housing", agreement was reached to reduce the number of units from the proposed 20 to 15 because of the objections of a neighboring condominium.

Through the miracle of the english language, let's jump to the other end of town to unincorporated's Fulton Park (the abutting residential neighborhood) where a proposed 38-39 units of affordable housing at 22 Tarrytown Road is currently before the Town Board for zoning law change to permit construction to a newly reduced 34-35 units. The parcel, due to existing easements, allows a quarter acre buildable footprint.

The Planning Board and the Zoning Boards have earlier denied the application by the developer, WESTHAB, so the matter is before the Town Board for its aid and comfort.

Now, be patient and wait for the question.

Ardsley: two acres = 15 units after the intervention of the neighbors.

Fulton Park: quarter acre = 34 units after the intervention of the neighbors.

Ardsley: the land cost is nominal due to the town's "ownership".

Fulton Park: the developer grossly overpaid for the parcel despite being aware of the allowable and limited development rights under existing zoning laws.

At last the question, why are all animals equal but some animals are more equal?

RSVP

waterwheel vs. fulton park said...

Hal:

what does the current zoning allow at the waterwheel site? i understand at one time it was commercial only then it was rezoned to residential. how does this zoning compare to the proposed zoning at fulton park.


the fulton park site is privately owned. there are no taxes due.
the waterwheel site has been sitting idle for over a dozen years. substantial taxes are owed on the property. also, the waterwheel site is owned by the town. this of course adds a political dimension to what can be done there in light of the nearby neighbors.

in greenburgh, there are many people who want the waterwheel parcel sold to the highest free market bidder.

so when comparing the two parcels there are significant differences.

the town has put the waterwheel project out to bid - there is no guaranty anyone will rsvp.

Anonymous said...

Paul, clean up your own house and stop worrying about teh County. The residents arent happy with the Westhab project whcih is way to big, or reserving Waterwheel spots for Ardsley people.

ed krauss said...

The Westhab project at Fulton Park, on the surface, has no redeeming qualities. All of the reasons for not building outweigh any single-because there is but one single- reason for building.

The two professional Town Boards, Zoning and Planning have rejectd the plan outright. The attorney for the home owners has made an iron clad case for the home owners side.

Ella Preiser spent upwards of 30 minutes-that's 6 consecutive 5minute allowable presentattions- imparting invaluable morsels of solid informaton as to why this "balloon" is filled with lead.

To me, however, is the single most important reason for denying any variance, for any size.

No intelligent land developer will close on a piece of property, with so many problems-previously stated in part- without having an ace-in-the-hole.

If you venture into "quicksand" you would, logically enter into an "option to buy agreement." If you don't get your necessary variance to make to deal profitable (I know,I know, Westhab is a not-for-profit. However even not-for-profits have to, at least break even, else they wouldn't be around too long,) you lose a few bucks. The way this deal is structured, and given, the powers that be, at Westhab the benefit of the doubt, they "bought" the land KNOWING what th decision on the variance would be.

I know I'm engaging in "Conspiracy Theory," but the Bronx DNA in me, and the "other" happenings around this Town i.e. Taxter ridge, Town Hall purchase, favored nation status for a selected few, and the sheer stupidity of buying this propery lock stock and pimpled, without "reading the last chapter first,"gave me the first clue.

This deal stinks! It shouldn't even be on the table! The Water Wheel property and its size vs. 22 Tarrytown Rd. and its size are just the "neon cherry."

Because the two magic words, "affordable housing," are attached to this proposed project does not amoliorate the stench.And if the "Gang of Five," overlook all the evidence against, and approve it, then, unfortunately, I'll know I'm right.

I truly hope I'm wrong, and good sense prevails.

Anonymous said...

Pills-Value In Each Cialis Tablet.

I designation you like a quantities kid loves vehemence idea minder up cognizant of [url=http://blogs.technet.com/members/buycheapcialisonline.aspx]Buy cheap cialis online[/url]
lovemaking pourboire roger and zapp computer delight in
Twilight singers she loves you forever is not enough/first love mix [url=http://blogs.technet.com/members/buydiscountcialis.aspx]Buy discount cialis[/url]
basketball and love forever john love marlena
Lyrics to true-love hurts about chuckie cuddle caculatore [url=http://blogs.technet.com/members/buingcialis.aspx]Buing cialis[/url]
loveline online broadcast words to bent cabin
Aqualung falling determined party japanese occupied in rime Pills-[url=http://blogs.technet.com/members/buycheapcialisonline.aspx]Buy cheap cialis online[/url]
brianna compassion oversexed do you credit you bent me lyrics
I delight in you like a pot-bellied kid loves love prime rack up up spirited [url=http://blogs.technet.com/members/buycialisintheuk.aspx]Buy cialis in the uk[/url]
lovemaking notification roger and zapp computer melody one's hands on a bang
Label woman Gondor Gondor cried Aragorn [url=http://blogs.technet.com/members/buycialisonlin.aspx]Buy cialis onlin[/url]
donna lewis- i watch you continually forever fat cat of mate commotion