Youth Bureau Sponsors Free Computer Camp on Spring Vacation

WPCNR NewsReel, Reported By City Hall News Bureau, 3/7/02: The City of White Plains Youth Bureau is very excited to be sponsoring a free mini vacation computer camp at their new technology center located at 11 Amherst Place in White Plains for middle school students.
This computer camp will run from March 25, 2002 through March 28, 2002 from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. These 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students will learn how to do a Power Point presentation, surf the Internet and how to do research on the computer. Limited space is available. To register, please contact Raymond Tribble at the City of White Plains Youth Bureau at 422-1378.


FRANK WILLIAMS SHOWING OFF THE YOUTH BUREAU NEW TECHNOLOGY CENTER, where the Vacation Computer Camp will be held. The facility has 12 new computers, and 3 new printers, purchased by the city through community development funds, as part of Mayor Joseph Delfino’s Digital Divide initiative.
Photo by WPCNR

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Drought Drains. Spano Taps White Plains Louise Doyle H2O Chief. County Prepares.

WPCNR NewsReel, from Westchester County Department of Communications Reports, Filed 3/8/02:County Executive Andy Spano appointed White Plains resident Louise Doyle to head the County’s new Water Agency in response to the County’s continuing drought. County water reservoir waterlevels are filled to half of their capacity as of this week. In an average year they are filled to 86%.
Ms. Doyle’s appointment was one of several steps the county government is taking to prepare for a potential drought Ms. Doyle will coordinate the county’s drought effort.

Doyle, a professional engineer, has worked for the county’s Department of Health since 1988, first as a senior engineer and since 1994 as an associate engineer. She has provided engineering supervision of the Land Development Program, particularly as it relates to the implementation of the New York City Watershed Rules and Regulations. She has been a member of the Westchester Water Works Conference since 1983 and has extensive knowledge of Westchester’s water suppliers.

County Executive Readies

Saying he would not wait to act for an “official announcement of a drought emergency” — one that comes from New York City — Spano said the county is gearing up on many fronts on the assumption that mandatory conservation measures are inevitable.

County water reservoir waterlevels are filled to half of their capacity as of this week. In an average year they are filled to 86%.

In the meantime, he reiterated his request that residents and businesses voluntarily conserve water.

“All expectations are that there will not be enough rain over the next few months to fill our reservoirs,” Spano said. “While the official declaration of an ‘emergency’ may not come for 4-10 weeks, we will not wait until then to act. We want to be prepared.”

Public Works Moves to Stop “Water” Leaks

He added, “And we as the county government have taken steps to save as well. Our Department of Public Works has an ongoing maintenance policy to repair water leaks or other water problems as they are reported. County vehicles are not being washed at our county garage, but are being brought instead to outside places that use recycled water. Our county buses are being washed less frequently and with less fresh water and more recycled water. And caution is being used on all county construction jobs to identify water lines to prevent any breakage.”

County Parks Finetunes Plantings

The county’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation will not be doing its usual spring plantings of annuals that use a lot of water.

“In place of these plants, we will place wood chips and a sign that explains that we are conserving water,” Spano said.

Why Westchester Water Depends on New York City Policy

Westchester gets about 85 percent of its water from the New York City reservoir system; therefore it follows the lead of New York City in regards to the water shortage. Westchester and New York City previously declared a “drought warning,” which calls for voluntary conservation and education measures.

The next stage – a “drought emergency” mandates certain water restrictions. These get more severe if the drought persists.

How White Plains Will Have to Sacrifice

Should the prolonged drought continue, and a draught emergency declared, White Plains residents can expect a range of enforced savings from limits on when or if lawns may be watered, cars washed and swimming pools filled and when water may be served at restaurants.

Businesses will have to cut back water use 15-25%.

In addition, if an emergency is declared large, non residential water wpcnr_users must develop and implement plans to reduce their use 15 percent to 25 percent, depending on the severity of the drought.

New County Water Policies

The county government is contacting schools, day care centers, nurseries, landscape associations, municipalities, businesses, landlords and building owners to acquaint them with what the law will require of them if a drought emergency is declared.

Specifically, all businesses and governments that use more than 1,000 gallons of water per day would have to develop a plan to decrease water usage by 15 percent. In the meantime, the county is asking these businesses to check for and repair leaky faucets and pipes and take voluntary measures to conserve.

Restaurants Called on for Voluntary Water Conservation

The county has asked restaurants to participate in a voluntary effort to conserve water by not serving water except upon request. The county has distributed posters and menu cards to restaurants for them to display to explain this policy. If a drought emergency is declared, restaurants would be barred from serving water except upon request.

County Acts to Increase Water Awareness

The county has posted on its website, www.westchestergov.com, water conservation information, and this site will be expanded in coming weeks.

• The county has “blast faxed” letters to all chief elected officials asking them to help promote water conservation, to check for water leaks, distribute water-saving tips posters, post information about water conservation on their own websites and on public access TV.

• The county has contacted the various water suppliers, offering to provide them with “Water Savings Tips” inserts for their water bills.

• The county has printed posters with water-saving tips that it is distributing throughout the county, including to municipal buildings, supermarkets and other large retail stores, businesses and schools.

• The county has prepared and distributed Public Service Announcements for airing on TV and radio urging conservation.

• The county will use its “outbound calling system,” to call Westchester homes with a recorded message urging conservation.

• Previously, the county appointed a Drought Emergency Task Force, whose job it is to oversee some of the public education efforts and establish administrative procedures to enable it to monitor compliance with the county’s water conservation program. The task force, along with the water agency, will work with the business community to formulate and implement water conservation plans.

Information in this report was provided by the Westchester County Department of Communications and edited by WPCNR.

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County Chamber of Commerce Endorses NYPH Biotech/Proton Accelerator Complex

High Noon News, From Marsha Gordon, 3/8/02, 11:00 AM:The Westchester County Chamber of Commerce voted Wednesday to support the New York Presbyterian Hospital’s proposal to create a biomedical research center at the Hospital White Plains Campus.
However, no specific site on the campus was singled out in the Chamber’s statement as preferred location.

Gordon speaks

Chamber of Commerce President, Marsha Gordon, strongly supported the biotechnology initiative in Westchester County, saying, “The development of Westchester County as a Biotech Corridor will enhance our scientific capabilities, create high quality jobs, and ultimately, spin off new industries which meet the needs of society’s future. Biotechnology creates the future of medicine.”

Board of Directors Votes Support of Proton Accelerator/Biotech direction, sees it as “hospital use.”

Dennis B. Kremer, County Chamber Chairman of the Board saw the biotech center/proton accelerator proposal as consistent with the New York Presbyterian Hospital “mission,” stating,

“We (the Board of Directors) agree that the New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s project embodies the types of medical research and clinical uses already there. We are pleased that the New York-Presbyterian Hospital views their research capabilities as a key piece to forging partnerships with other biotechnology efforts in Westchester County.”

Development Chief Weighs In

Warren Lesser, County Chamber Area Development Vice Chair remarked, “The mission of the Area Development Council is to further positive business development in our County. New York-Presbyterianb Hospital’s Proposal clearly meets this mission. We are pleased to offer our support.”

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Council Demands Heavyweight Fire Expert for Police/Fire Study

Milkman’s Matinee News, by John F. Bailey, Filed 3/7/02 2:00 AM EST: Councilmen Tom Roach and Robert Greer raised serious questions about the ability of the CGR fire consultant’s ability to evaluate the White Plains Fire Department Wednesday night, and requested the CGR Project Manager to find a fire consultant who had experience running a professional fire department instead of a volunteer department.
Charles Zettek, Jr., Director of Government Management for CGR, the Center for Government Research, based in Rochester, New York, said he would address this concern brought up by Roach and Greer, and would find a fire consultant with those qualification.

Zettek explained how CGR would conduct its study of the efficiency of the White Plains Public Safety Department to Councilpersons Rita Malmud, Roach and Greer at a Special Meeting of the Common Council meeting to consider hiring the firm to execute the long-awaited study.

A four-month Time Frame

The Council learned the study would take a minimum of three months before a first draft was presented, and a fourth month to complete the finish product based on Council questions.

Conducted in 4 Phases

Zettek said the study would begin with listing confidential interviews of police and fire personnel and other personalities CGR feels appropriate to the study, as well as any persons the Council felt should be included.

In the second phase they would schedule and conduct interviews. In the Third Phase they would identify trends borne out in the interviews they conduct, and consult with their own experts to verify and weigh what they are finding through the interview process, culminating in a rough draft, which the Council would see and comment upopn. with the fourth and final phase, the completion of the study.

Police Expert, a 32-year veteran of the Rochester Police Department

Zettek said the firm’s police consultant had spent 32 years with the Rochester Police, a department serving a city of roughly 220,000 people.

Mr. Roach actually raised the question of the kind of experience the CGR fire expert brought to the table. Zettek described his fire consultant as having been the professional manager of a volunteer fire department for the suburb of Rochester, the Gates-Chili Volunteer Fire Department.

This fact troubled Mr. Greer, who solemnly expressed concern that the White Plains Fire Department was a professional department and that the whole purpose of the survey was to put aside once and for all, without question, whether the splitting of the departments was or was not efficent.

Zettek said he would check back with his offices before turning in his final proposal, and find an expert with this kind of background: professional fire department management.

Zettek is due back Friday with his final proposal. The study will cost the city $84,000, and if a study of Emergency Medical Services is included, $96,000.

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School Tax Increase: Less Than $1 A Day. 02-03 Budget Hike Filleted to 7.1%

Milkman’s Matinee News, By John F. Bailey, Filed 3/7/02 2:00 AM EST: The Citizens Annual Budget Committee heard the School District’s latest version of the 02-03 budget Wednesday evening at Education House, and came away impressed at the steady drop in the school budget since its emergence in December.
Based on committee member reaction and comment on the 8.1% increase projected three weeks ago, the District has taken out an additional $1,146,508 in cuts, bringing the next year’s projected increase down to 7.1%, producing a budget of $127,125,740.

The 7.1% increase is the precise amount of increase voters approved by a 4 to 1 margin last year. Since first presented on December 5, the budget has shrunk from $132MM to the present $127.1MM, as revenue sources, needs, school aid, transportation contracts and retirements have been finalized.

More finetuning is expected before a Preliminary Proposed Budget is presented to the public, Monday, March 18th. The Final Budget is scheduled to be adopted on Monday, April 1st by the Board, followed by a Public Hearing on May 13th. The public vote on the budget will take place on Tuesday, May 21st.

Tax increase is 96 cents a day more than 01-02.

With Superintendent of Schools Saul Yanofsky, and Assistant Superintendent for Business, Richard Lasselle doing the honors, the ABC committee was told that the 7.1% budget increase could mean an 8.9% tax rate increase.

What this means for the White Plains homeowner with an average home assessment of $15,000: The homeowner would pay $351 more per year in school taxes with the 7.1% increase now planned. This $351 figure works out to 96 cents a day more over the course of a year, as the promotionally minded Marc Pollitzer put it, that’s only about a “dollar a day.”

This year the School Tax on a $15,000 assessment was $3,011 with STAR Exemption. In 2002-03, with a 7.1% increase, this rises to $3,362, the difference, year-to-year, $351.

Half of Latest Cut from Favorable Transportation Contract and Elimination of 9 New Positions.

Mr. Lasselle said that of the $1,146,508 in fresh cuts, $304,296 came from what he termed a better-than-expected new 5-year contract hammered out on school bus transportation reestablishing the District relationship with the White Plains Bus Company coming to approximately $5 to 6 Million, when it was projected at $6.5MM. The contract has only recently been negotiated, and he provided no further details.

Remedial teaching positions planned for the five elementary schools were eliminated because Dr. Yanofsky said the schools had not presented detailed enough plans on how the 2.5 new positions (at a cost of $175,000) would be utilized.

At the close of the meeting three members of the committee objected to this, suggesting that a least one teacher should be assigned to one school to see if an additional remedial teacher would make a difference. Yanofsky said this was a good idea and it would be looked at.

Three Computer Teaching Assistants were eliminated saving $135,000. Two full-time security assistants ($45,000)to occupy reception desks at Eastview and Highlands were eliminated because the security was being handled by staff now without a problem.

Other cuts were comprised of an additional savings from a retirement, recalculated fringe benefits and reduced equipment.

Referendum for $2.5MM to $3MM Considered for Capital Improvements

The proposal that was new this evening was Richard Lasselle’s presentation of a proposal to fund a series of urgent capital improvements to the schools by floating a $2.5MM to $3MM referendum before the voters in November. The majority sentiment of the ABC appeared to favor presenting the referendum to the voters.

Lasselle said the referendum would be used to replace the boilers at Eastview School, one of which dates back to 1927, another to the 1950s. He said it was getting very hard to find replacement parts for the old boilers. Heating modifications were also planned for Ridgeway School, Post Road School and Highlands Middle School. Ridgeway will also be scheduled to receive replacement of part of a roof section.

At Church Street School, a portion of the referendum monies would create a new bus loop and parking renovations.

Up at Highlands lockers dating from the year the school was built (1929) would be replaced.

At White Plains High School the referendum would fund replacement windows in the Pool Building, painting of interior corridors, locker renovation, and to install a Video Surveillance System. The Varsity Baseball field would undergo a raising of the field to improve its drainage at a cost of over $100,000.

Lasselle said he envisioned the referendum not affecting debt service until 2004, when at monies borrowed at a projected 4.2% interest rate, the first payment would be $125,000 with payments averaging $400,000 from 2005 to 2013.

Consequences of an Austerity Budget

Lasselle painted the grim picture of what an Austerity Budget, (which activates if the public defeats the school budget twice), would mean. According to Lasselle, if an Austerity Budget had to be adopted, the budget would have to be cut an additional $5,576,476, to $121,549,264. Lasselle said the bulk of such a cut would mean elimination of teaching positions.

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White Plains Parents to Unite with Scarsdale Parents to Protest the Tests

Drivetime Edition, Filed By Mary Cavallero, 3/6/02, 3:45 PM EST:This year, our Eighth Graders will be taking 5 seperate state-mandated tests. If you feel the burden created by this many tests is excessive please try to attend a rally organized by the Scarsdale Middle School PTA to speak out against state-mandated testing. The rally is scheduled for this Thursday, March 7th, from 8:30-9:30 a.m. at the Scarsdale Middle School.
Parking at the School is limited, so interested White Plains parents will meet at the Recreation Department parking lot on Gedney Way (next to Gillie Park) at 8:00 a.m. and will car pool from there. Speakers at the rally will include NYS Assembly Representatives, the Scarsdale School Superintendent and Parents.

Scarsdale Middle School is on Mamaroneck Rd. (not Old Mamaroneck Rd.) From White Plains – Take Hartsdale Av. which becomes Garden and make a left when Garden ends onto Mamaroneck Rd.

Bring signs

If you go, you might want to bring a sign – “White Plains Parent says No to 5 STATE TESTS.” 0r, “White Plains Parent says No to state mandated tests.” The idea is to let the media know that it’s just not Scarsdale that’s opposed to the tests.

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Café of Broken Dreams: After 19 years, Corner Nook Innocent Victims

“Sergeant Joe Friday Reports” By John F. Bailey, Filed 3/6/02, 3:00 PM EST: What are you doing for lunch tomorrow? A lot of City Hall movers and shakers go across Main Street to The Corner Nook for the souvlaki, the club sandwiches, the eggs any time of day and the hominess of the “hometown diner” out of the past.
But you may not be able to do it much longer.
After 19 years, the friendly little place that takes care of you with Linda, Peter, Joanne, and Anthony at your service may be closing, a casualty of “downtown revitalization.”


THE LAST OF THE REAL DINERS WITH REAL GREASE AND REAL JAVA: The Corner Nook, 238 Main Street, where Jim Benerofe, “The Dean of White Plains Journalism,” eats lunch, as do many kingpins of City Hall, could close any month now. The diner along with two neighbor properties, is being dangled by its owner to developers who want to continue “revitalization” along Main Street. Pending outcome of a court suit between the delicatessen owner in the block and the owner of the building, The Nook may soon close, their owners left with nothing. The property is being coveted by A. J. Rotonde, the developer, for transformation into condominium apartments.
Photo by WPCNR

A different kind of lease.

A funny thing happened last year when Linda Dimitrakakis, owner of The Corner Nook (she takes those nostalgic little green checks with your money at the cash register) and her husband, Peter, signed their new lease. The owner, Joshua Makanoff, of CMC Company, did not include a renewal clause in the lease.

When she asked him about it, she said, he said not to worry about it, “to trust him,” she said. She said she regrets having not been more suspicious.



LINDA DIMITRAKAKIS, OWNER OF THE CORNER NOOK was denied a lease, and has no protection.

Photo by WPCNR

Now it is one year later, and Mr. Mackinaw is attempting to sell his building which has been home to The Nook for 19 years. However, because Ms. Dimitrakakis does not have a lease for 2002, her previous one expiring, she is not entitled to any relief, in the form of payments to her business should Makanoff sell the building.

She would, she claims, have at least a stake in the form of a lease buyout to relocate her property elsewhere in the city if she had been allowed to sign a lease for 2002.

Makanoff, according to Dimitrakakis, is attempting to sell his property to A. J. Rotonde who hopes to build high rise apartments on the corner as a compliment to the City Center project.

That sale is being held up because Makanoff is being sued by another tenant, who owns the delicatessen next door to The Nook. The deli owner claims he has the right of first refusal if Makanoff is about to sell.

Makanoff has stated publicly in the press, that he does not believe the delicatessen owner can give him the kind of money that would match any offer Rotonde, a partner with a major national developer, would make. The dispute between the deli and Makanoff is being litigated.

Nook Could be closed within 30 days of any purchase.

“If I had a lease,” Linda Dimitrakakis told WPCNR Tuesday, (as I paid her for a chicken salad club on toasted rye), “I’d be protected, and have a little money, some equity to open elsewhere in the city. I don’t have $200,000 to open a new restaurant. We have kept up the property, improved it, invested $175,000 in equipment over 19 years. Most of the equipment is not movable. And it is not salvageable.”



THE LOOK, THE FEEL, THE HOSPITALITY THAT ONLY A REAL DINER GIVES: What a diner gives you that a formal restaurant doesn’t is informality and friendliness. Nowhere is that more on the menu than at The Corner Nook. From the Yankee memorabilia on the walls, to the friendly sayings and the conversation, Joanne, Anthony, Linda and Peter Dimitrakakis make you feel at home. (That’s Peter at the rear, Anthony in foreground. )The old-time touches are there: from the desserts on display underglass, the globe coffee pots and the gleaming stainless steel. This is where real food lives! At 2 PM Wednesday, when we had lunch the place was milling with lunchtime regulars.
Photo by WPCNR

We asked if the owner Makanoff was aware of her plight. Was he negotiating a payment for her should he sell the building? Dimitrakakis said, he has told her “my hands are tied,” that there was nothing he could do at the present time.

Makanoff is in a legal suit of his own. To be fair, he may be more forthcoming when the delicatessen suit is settled and he can move on with his sale.

Nook legal options can not begin until she is evicted.

Presently Dimitrakakis says, she has been advised by an attorney that she cannot start any action of a legal means until she is actually evicted by a building owner.

To date, all the owner has done is not grant her a new lease, which is not against the law. She continues to pay him $4,000 on a monthly basis, $48,000 a year rent for the space, without any protection. He could ask her to leave on 30 days’ notice.

She is interested in finding other space for her restaurant in the city but a money problem does exist in moving the restaurant.


NINETEEN YEARS ON MAIN STREET: Joanne Flynn gets coffee for a customer. The cheery, cozy interior of the diner is a warm respite from the stark, competitive, Byzantine intrigues of City Hall for many commissioners and followers of City Hall action. Construction workers from the City Center across the street drop in regularly and the banter is always lively. It’s a place that feels like home away from home, where they are always glad to see you.
Photo by WPCNR

The Corner Nook would appear to need a bridge loan. Perhaps the owner and his eventual buyer will see their need.

Without a lease from Mr. Makanoff, the Nook investment was not protected. Owners of businesses on Martine Avenue faced a similar problem.

When Cappelli Enterprises was attempting to acquire properties along Martine Avenue, he personally arranged payments and offered assistance in relocating the businesses there.

Perhaps Mr. Rotonde and his development partners, if they acquire the building, or whoever does, will adapt a similar good neighbor attitude that will come to the rescue of The Corner Nook.



“SIT LONG, EAT WELL, LAUGH OFTEN,” the motto of
The Corner Nook.

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Council to Study Organization of Public Safety Department.

The 10 O’Clock News Edition, by John F. Bailey, Filed 3/6/02, 10:00 AM EST: The Common Council will meet Wednesday evening at 6 PM in the Mayor’s Conference Room to discuss studying the impact of reorganizing the Public Safety Department, specifically making the police and fire departments separately functioning departments with autonomous commissioners.
Hickey Holds On

The Common Council has also delayed indefinitely the appointment of a new Commissioner of Public Safety, pending the completion of the study. The Mayor’s Office advised that Acting Commissioner of Public Safety, Daniel Hickey, will continue to serve as Acting Commissioner until the study is completed, “in about a couple of months.”
Upstate Think Tank Studying Rochester Police Expected to be appointed.

The Common Council is expected tonight to authorize the appointment of the Center for Government Research, CGR, to conduct the long-awaited study of the impact, positive or negative of splitting the city’s police and fire departments. For decades, the city has operated the police and fire units under one Commissioner.

Fire Department Wish

The White Plains Professional Firefighters Union has long lobbied the Common Council for autonomy from the police department. The WPPF asserts that a Fire Commissioner with career experience in firefighting would be better able to address the equipment, personnel deployment, and organization of the Fire Department than a Commissioner without that experience.

Council previously did not want to touch the issue.

A year ago, the Common Council had an opportunity to do that. However, after the Mayor’s Office issued requests for proposals, the Council found that Ernst & Young, the consulting firm, would have charged the city $200,000 for that study, and CGR, $95,000. The study was put off by the Common Council. Now, with the Public Safety Commissioner position vacant, the issue has risen again.

CGR on assignment with Westchester County Association.

CGR (for Center for Government Research) is expected to be appointed. CGR is a government think tank, “a nonprofit center for objective policy analysis and pragmatic change,” that has been in existence since 1915 when it was founded by George Eastman of the Kodak Company in Rochester, NY, to offer “management assistance to governments.”

Currently, according to CGR, they are under contract with the Rochester Police Department to evaluate delivery of police services. They also conducted a study of the Niagara County workforce in 1999, and reported working with the Westchester County Association.

The organization in the last decade appears to concentrate its assignments in western New York State. Members of the New York Conference of Mayors are prominent on the CGR Board of Directors, including the Mayor of Rochester.

Their assignment with the Westchester County Association is studying legislature-mandated expenditures in Westchester County compared to similar counties in other states; how diversified housing options could continue economic growth by attracting more of a middle class workforce, and the impact of e-commerce on the county sales tax base.

Studied Rochester Police

The CGR assignment with the Rochester Police appears similar to what they would be expected to evaluate in White Plains. They are studying the costs and benefits of 5 versus 7 patrol sectors in the city, accountability and communication issues, impact of costs and ability to meet demands.

Hickey Twists in Wind on Indefinite Hold.

The study impacts the city search for a new Commissioner of Public Safety, which has been put on hold by the Common Council, according to the Mayor’s Office, while the study of reorganizing the departments is completed.

The Mayor’s office in a statement, reported that the Common Council has asked that no city recommendation for a new Commisioner be made until the process of studying reorganization is completed. Any appointment of Mr. Hickey, or other candidate to the vacant position will be delayed until that time. This means that Acting Commissioner Daniel Hickey will continue to make the decisions on a job he does not officially have yet. He has already been the de facto Commissioner of Public Safety for two months.
Police, Fire unions watch with keen interest.

The heads of the White Plains Police Benevolent Association, the police union, and the White Plains Professional Firefighters will be scrutinizing CGR’s work with keen interest. Contract negotiations for both unions begin shortly.

The Mayor’s office reported that fire negotiations had been opened, but would not comment on any issues raised by the firefighters at this time as a matter of procedure. Police negotiations will open later in the year.

The study the Common Council is about to commission will be watched with an eye towards personel impacts, benefits, salaries and organization recommendations by the police and fire unions.

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Council Closes Hospital DEIS Hearing In face of Opposition from Near Neighbors

Milkman’s Matinee Edition By John F. Bailey, Filed 3/5/02, 5:00 AM EST: The Common Council closed the Draft Environmental Impact Statement hearing on the New York Presbyterian Hospital at midnight Monday evening after listening to four hours opposition to the project, with just three speakers of approximately 26, in favor of the project. This was in contrast to the previous February 4 hearing when sentiments were evenly divided.
The public still has until 5:00 PM, March 22nd to submit its comments to the City Clerk’s office, with a copy to the Common Council, to add its comments to be answered on the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

The hospital has 45 days to submit a FEIS answering the volumes of questions raised by some 51 voices (some of whom have spoken two and three times on the bio-medical facility proposal the hospital is seeking a Special Permit to build on its property). Technically the 45 days runs until April 18 when the hospital has to file the FEIS.

Hearing on the Special Permit is next at April 1, Council Meeting.

However, according to the Planning Department “Environmental Review Timeline” “if it is determined that additional time is necessary to prepare the statement adequately; or if problems with the proposed action requiring material reconsideration or modification have been identified,” additional weeks may be added to FEIS preparation or revision time.

These two SEQR regulations appear the basis for the mantra which Concerned Citizens for Open Space President, Allan Teck , urged the council to fellow during the eveing: keep rejecting the FEIS virtually to infinity if they want.

Countdown to approval or denial has started.

With the vote to close the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the Council started the machinery to a decision on this decade’s New York Presbyterian Hospital proposal. When the FEIS is filed, (due by April 18), the Lead Agency (Common Council) has 10 calendar days for “consideration” of the FEIS, mad are required to “act on and file” a written Findings Statement and make a decision on the action within 30 calendar days after the filing of the FEIS, which if no further time relief is granted for preparation of the FEIS (which is very likely), pursuant to the regulations mentioned previously in this article.

Next:

A list of the questions rose by the DEIS hearing just concluded will be submitted to the hospital and the preparation of the FEIS begins. There is likelihood, however that the Special Permit hearing could remain open beyond April 1, or that the hospital may request additional time to prepare the FEIS. Or, more likely the Common Council may even request more time.

At this point it appears that a vote may be taken on the proposal in June or late July, almost two years to the month when the previous proposal, Plan A, was not referred out to departments by the Common Council, barring an unforeseen settlement or agreement.

Boykin reveals that the hospital has approached him on private hearings

Benjamin Boykin, asked about whether private meetings with the hospital to discuss the location of the biomedical facility on the property are in play, revealed that he had been invited to participate by the hospital, but had to this point declined to participate.

Boykin also said he would not participate as of last night. He felt he did not need to. Mr. Greer, Mr. Roach, and two possible sixth councilpersons, Larry Delgado and Glen Hockley have participated in such private discussions, according to Mr. Greer.

CCOS reports raising $12,000 to fight the proposal.

Allan Teck told WPCNR that a fundraising mailing sent by Concerned Citizens for Open Space last month cost them $600 to mail, and has so far raised $12,000. He declined to specify how many had contributed, saying it was more than 100 persons. WPCNR has learned that Arnold & Porter, the city’s environmental lawyer has charged $150,000 in legal fees so far, which will be paid by New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Laundry list of complaints center on traffic, safety, environmental concerns, quality of life, need for proton accelerator.

Resident after resident complained both rationally and irrationally on concerns they felt the Hospital failed to answer in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Allan Teck painted the picture of terrorists attacking the proton accelerator facility, exposing radiation to residents. He also called for soil analysis to determine if the proton accelerator would sink into the alleged swampy Hospital area, and leak radiation into the water supply.

Doctor not impressed with proton accelerator.

A retired surgeon in White Plains, downplayed the role of the proton accelerator in the treatment of cancer. He said controls did not exist in clinical trials of the proton accelerator in the treatment of prostate cancer, and that it had very limited use, limited to tumors of the eye and spinal cord.

He cited a Dr. Luther Brady at Philadelphia General Hospital, a cancer expert, involved with the proton accelerator, who told him this information.

What the White Plains surgeon failed to mention is that it is very difficult to get a person dying of cancer to agree to be a “control.” The “control” is the person(s) who does (do) not get the treatment that may not cure them as efficiently as the proton accelerator. The surgeon later told WPCNR he did not feel that Brady was against the proton accelerator or that East Coast surgeons were against the treatment. He had no insight as to why the technique was not more widely used here in the East, other than what Brady had said.

Not the first time, accelerator “dissed.”

Lack of clinical trials is the chief argument WPCNR has learned the medical establishment has used against adoption and, more importantly, recommendation of proton accelerator technology. East Coast oncologists and radiologists earn good livings off surgical, invasive removal of cancerous tumors and invasive radiation treatments for prostate cancer that are not as precise as the proton accelerator.

The more WPCNR has learned of the proton accelerator politics, the more we have noted the mysterious reluctance of East Coast physicians to recommend the treatment, which is disturbing to this reporter. Eighty percent of patients at Loma Linda are self-referred.

Another case uncovered.

Last evening a flamboyant personality at the meeting, requesting anonymity, revealed to WPCNR that his brother has prostate cancer. He has urged his brother to go to Loma Linda, California to explore proton accelerator treatment. His brother met with a doctor at Loma Lind, however his doctors in Florida, refused to release his medical records to the Loma Linda physician.

The Florida specialists proceeded to talk the brother into having a more traditional procedure instead of the proton therapy. The jury is still out on the brother who has had the more invasive procedure. We will see if it works.

This is the second such case WPCNR has learned, where Eastern cancer specialists have gone out of their way to veto proton accelerator treatment. In one case, a surgeon himself, found even Johns Hopkins in Baltimore did not know of the proton accelerator.

He found this hard to believe. He was advised against the treatment by Johns Hopkins. He was impressed however and opted for proton therapy treatment. He is now cured. This case was documented at an early Common Council meeting on the accelerator.

Greed called hospital motive

A thoracic surgeon criticized the hospital for being motivated primarily by greed in pushing for the biomedical research facility, saying it was part of a plan simply to conglomerate health care and monopolize it in the area. He cited a recent article in a medical journal detailing the financial management of the two hospitals and their acquisitions of competing hospitals as evidence for this.

He did not mention that biotech has been prominently pushed by New York State over the last four years. He did not say the Empire State Development Corporation had handpicked the medical schools of Columbia and Cornell and the New York Presbyterian Hospital property in particular for the site of the proton accelerator. He did not mention that Governor Pataki’s office envisioned the medical schools helping to make New York State competitive with other biotech centers in the country.

Scientist Researcher questions deep pockets of workers/ too much “hot” garbage.

Rosemary Hicks, a scientist-researcher herself played on the greed angle. She said the facility had to be commercial since it did not call for extensive residential development on a scale with her employer, Albert Einstein Hospital.

Without residential, she said the facility had to be commercial. She also said that the math did not indicate high enough salaries to support economic windfall from the disposable income of potential new employees.

She painted a grim picture of the massive waste created by research labs where she works, and noted a number of possible biotech threats that have taken place recently.

Just three favor project last night.

Jeffrey Binder, representing Responsible Growth Association of Westchester, which has as member-firms, Cappelli Enterprises, Clayton Park Development, LCOR and JPI, all of whom have projects under way in White Plains, stressed the jobs and payroll the project would bring to Westchester County.

Binder said the new project would employ 958 new positions with payrolls estimated to be $35 million, for a total on-site payroll of $64 million. Responsible Growth Association of Westchester feels 25%, or about 250 new residents will be brought to White Plains to populate the new apartment units in downtown White Plains.

Binder also said 450 construction jobs would be created. Office occupancy outside the hospital would be filled. He said it would be “creating competitive advantage for Westchester to attract companies to the I-287 corridor.” He gave the opinion that the “project is a response to the City’s Comprehensive Plan goal to expand medical sector activities along Bloomingdale Road.”

Masback, former Councilman supports project

Harold Masback, a former Councilman, was the second strong advocate for the project. Masback, recalling his days on the Common Council, said that every project he can ever remember has been opposed because of the problems it would cause with traffic.

He said the current situation the Council finds itself in stemmed directly from their refusal to refer out the hospital’s Plan A back in January, 2000. He also said when he drives through White Plains, he never sees “any traffic.” When he sees cars stopped at traffic lights, he says he ‘thanks our lucky stars they are in White Plains.” Masback warned that the park envisioned on the hospital property would create the need for extensive parking since the location is by no means centrally located in White Plains.

A third contractor who built biotech centers stressed that building the center would spur new construction of facilities that would build on the availability of a first biotech center at the NYPH campus.

Traffic, construction main points of contention.

However, there were plenty of persons who spent extensive time on traffic worries, many speaking for well beyond the five minute limit requested by Mayor Delfino.

Allan Teck said the traffic study in the DEIS did not take into account extensive Thanksgiving and holiday traffic where he said 35,000 cars would visit the area around Bloomingdale Road once Fortunoff and the new Stop N Shop were in place, but he constructed the figures himself.

Another Bryant Avenue resident, Amy Barish, who wrote WPCNR, pointed out the noise of construction among other concerns was a threat to environmental quality. She said the pedestrian traffic from the schools had to be considered, and that the traffic studies were not done around the holidays and other peak traffic times.
Zoning Zoning Zoning.

Citizen zoning experts stressed to the council that the hospital had to provide more detail on what types of firms would be moving into the proposed biotech buildings, and that if the firms, or research partners, were profit-oriented, a zoning change to “commercial” was called for to make the project acceptable. These advocates included John Sheehan, Rosemary Hicks, Lewis Trippett, and Joe Farber.

Doris Simon pointed out that when residents in her neighborhood on Richbell Drive wanted to keep chickens and when she wanted to keep a pony, the city refused to allow her to do so because it was against zoning. She felt the hospital should be no exception. Another resident complained that overcrowding the hospital site was like overcrowding in the Bronx Zoo, that it did not work, and that the newer, looser natural habitats were better for the animals. The rights of the council to uphold zoning were referred to time and again.

Farber suggested that the Common Council not be afraid to ask the legislature to overturn the law cited by Arnold & Porter where the state upheld the hospital’s freedom from eminent domain. Edward Dunphy, Corporation Counsel, observing the proceedings on television in the Mayor’s conference room was asked by WPCNR, whether he would consider going to the legislature to ask them to repeal that decision. Dunphy, grinning widely, asked if I was prepared to go up and appeal with him. We interpreted this to mean “no, he would not.”

Sharp exchange between William King and the Mayor.

The most unpleasant interlude of the night occurred when Councilman William King aggressively asked for the DEIS hearing to be kept open because he had not had time to read the Planning Department statement on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. That statement prepared by Susan Habel and Rod Johnson, Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners of Planning was released to the Common Council very late last Thursday afternoon.

King said it was “irresponsible to close the public hearing.” He sharply criticized the city’s Traffic Department for writing only a one-page analysis of the traffic. He said “C’mon guys!” in rebuking the sparseness of the city traffic department’s analysis. Mayor Delfino said if it were up to Councilman King, the DEIS Hearing would never be closed, because he’d send 15 e-mails a day about it.

King bristled about this, saying, “I don’t send 50 e-mails a day.” The Mayor corrected King saying he said “15” not “50,” and that he did not care to hear any more discussion on the matter. King, visibly smoldering, bowed his head and stared in front of him, head down the rest of the meeting.

The Gladiator as Peacemaker

Robert Greer, moved quickly to diffuse the situation, soothing Mr. King, by saying, “This is all of a process. The ball is in the Hospital’s court (by closing the hearing).”
Mrs. Malmud, eager to close the hearing, said that this moves the process along to the FEIS stage: “I agree with Mr. King. We need answers and the easiest way to get them is to close the hearing and move on to the next step. (The FEIS).”

With this the motion to close the DEIS hearing was made, seconded, and passed 5-1, with Mr. King voting against the motion to close.

Mrs. Malmud said she was very proud of White Plains citizens for their participation in the process, and for all their e-mails on the project. Mr. Roach said, he was impressed with the “excellent” comments the citizens had made.

Good news. The jut outs will be saved.

In an anticlimactic exchange the streetscapes project was moved along after a brief presentation by Susan F. Habel, Commissioner of Planning. She assured Rita Malmud that the jut outs or “Promenade Gardens” as the Beautification Council insists they should be called, would remain part of the city scope.

Habel said that five of the jut outs would be slightly redesigned to permit “drop-off parking,” at key locations. She advised that bricked crosswalks would be installed from Main Street to Maple Avenue intersections, and that the planters on the Promenade Gardens would be lowered and redesigned with custom flower bed arrangements and plantings.

Rita Malmud ended the meeting on a note of optimism saying, “the jut outs will remain.” Mrs. Habel assured her they would.

The meeting adjourned, to be resumed Thursday morning at 8:30 AM, when the second reading of the ordinances would take place.

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MIDNIGHT SKATING AT EBERSOLE RINK

WPCNR City Desk, from City Hall, Filed 3/04/02, 2 PM EST: City of White Plains Mayor Joseph M. Delfino announced today a new MIDNIGHT ICE SKATING pilot program for High School students starting this Friday March 8, 2002. All that’s needed to enter Ebersole Rink will be a High School picture ID, and the admission fee.


MAYOR JOSEPH DELFINO
Photo by WPCNR

Mayor Delfino said, “Our Friday night ice skating at Ebersole Rink has been a tradition for students in and around White Plains for decades. Many of the children skating here on Friday night are the children and grandchildren of skaters from years past. The majority of students are middle school aged, so the Recreation Department is adding another session for High Schoolers from 10 pm to Midnight.”

The cost for the 2 hour session, from 10 pm to midnight, is $3 for residents and $6 for non-residents.

Mayor Delfino also said, “We’re always looking for new ways to involve our young adults in recreational activities. Ebersole rink is a familiar place where they can listen to their own music and enjoy an evening out. If this catches on we’ll expand the schedule throughout the season.”

Ebersole rink is located on Lake Street in White Plains. If you have any questions, you can contact Matt Hanson or Ebersole Rink at 422.1390

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