WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT. By John F. Bailey. October 10, 2014:
“It’s the Hearing that Never Ends.
It goes on and on my friends.
Some councilmembers started it a long time ago
But little did they know,
It’s the hearing that never ends.
It goes on and on my friends….”
With apologies to the late Shari Lewis and Lambchop, I am reminded of the theme song of that old children’s show, every time I go to a French American School of New York hearing.
Last week’s three and a half hour Common Council Barbecue of the presenters of The French American School of New York on the school’s excruciating effort to acquire a Special Permit to build their new campus on the former Ridgeway Country Club after three and a half years of silence on the part of the council was very instructive. (Whew, that sentence is almost as long as a hearing…fitting.)
Better late than never, I suppose, but the questions the council fired at the FASNY people were asked really a little late. You can see the key questions each of the 7 councilmembers raised on tonight’s WHITE PLAINS WEEK THIRD QUARTER REVIEW SHOW at 7:30 on Channels 45 and 76, and again Monday at 7 on Channels 45 and 76, or right now on the internet at www.whiteplainsweek.com
The majority of the questions councilmembers fired September 29 night, begged to be asked before the council ever approved the Findings Statement.
Why? The issues discussed last week were actually developed before the FASNY Environmental Findings Statement was approved by the Common Council last December.
Those questions were ignored then much to the amazement of the neighborhood Gedney Association.
When you change the whole concept at city suggestion, it is a mystery who suggested it and who gave them that idea and more questions are raised about the solution, you have to have questions analyzed then, that gives you a better chance of horsing that approval through.
The questions were raised instead by the unpaid passionate defenders of the Gedney Farms neighborhood as soon as the North Street entrance was proposed a year ago last September.
Neighbors were stunned at splashing a concrete entrance way from North Street down two former fairways through the heart of the old country club grounds that were supposed to be part of the natural Conservancy promised by the school. Traffic issues at the White Plains High School were raised. The city’s own traffic analysis raised questions.
The School District another villain in this villainy of a review, said nothing about the North Street entrance until two weeks ago. Again, a little late.
Why in the world if the school district knew about the North Street plan last June, (which it did), did they not say then, we don’t like this, man it’s unsafe.
The excuse of the district was there was no proposal yet, but the school district knew what was in mind: an entrance off North Street.
As Councilperson after councilperson, who O.K.’d a findings statement which found that the project could go ahead and was “mitigatable” threw vague general criticisms at the traffic numbers, the Hathaway Lane closure, the safety factor on North Street, all of which were in the submitted Final Environmental Impact Statement, not to mention the new wrinkle of the Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction question which somehow someone on our long list of city-employed consultants in the city’s unofficial “paid legal aid society”did not pay close attention to.
Now, after hours and hours of this marathon hearing, the council has so many questions, FASNY has to revisit the whole concept and justify, justify, even prepare a 3-D visual.
This amounts to almost a “re-do.” More hot air and analysis ahead.
After all the North Street entrance was city-suggested. Naturally the French American School thought a friendlier reception might have been in order last night.
Each of the answer men for The French American School, have to be saluted for keeping their cool at this embarrassing public display of the council lack of attention to the project when they should have been paying attention a year ago before that FEIS was approved mitigatable.
With each question last week, Michael Zarin the FASNY attorney pointed out that the council had approved a Findings Statement that suggested the closure of Hathaway Lane, suggested entry on North Street, obviously pointing out the Council’s lack of timing. You know where he is going folks if the Fidgety 7 turn it down.
The questioning intensity had it been raised last fall in 2013, would have resolved – maybe – these issues by now. However then safe, cushy seats on the Common Council woul have to be decided with the actual vote hanging over their heads like an albatross.
Could we read the material more closely? It is embarrassing when council members posture on facts that they ask did you include those facts, and they do not know that those facts are included in the FEIS they supposedly approved, saying the accidents were not a factor.
And another thing: The council has been ignoring all the protest on this project for three and a half years. Only now after galvanized opposition and assiduous reading by neighbors is showing up the Common Council and the city’s own highly paid consultants and staff for their lack of attention to the project. They are so smug about it.
It almost gives you the feeling that the Council is supposed to O.K. this project because a higher authority wants them to, has ordered them to, and has told them their political future is at stake if they do not approve it.
The traffic I can tell you since I live off North Street from cars and buses turning left northbound on North Street in the face of traffic turning right into the high school is going to be jam-bo’d. I wonder if U-turns will finally be banned at this intersection…a typical maneuver that drivers execute.
Wait, that’s another question!
Here’s my prediction: there will be a round of new designs. The council and staff will review them. Raise further question, and low and behold it will be summer again. Will public comment be allowed on the tweaks, bussels, and legalese put in? Will the Army Corps of Engineers cooperate and say, “not our problem,” who create big problems.
Hey, better call up Obama Ridgeway and offer him a round on Ridgeway…it is totally secured…and you would be apologizing for the prejudice the golf courses showed by not letting him play there.( I am really incensed about that embarrassment. )
Stamford, Greenwich, northern New Jersey, Rockland are looking so much better to developers
Any developer even thinking about doing anything anywhere in White Plains can see what they are in for when they try and develop in White Plains. They have moved on.
Opportunities slide by while the “professionals” take their sweet time, keep cashing big money fees.
The hearing that never ends continues October 28 at 6:30 P.M.