King Komments: Calls for New Fountain Cost Breakdown

WPCNR’S KING KOMMENTS. By Councilman William King. September 9, 2002: The councilman takes a look at the White Plains downtown fountain and raises some concerns about the $3 Million fountain project described to the Common Council last week.

MAKEOVER FOR DOWNTOWN FOUNTAIN PLAZA: The White Plains Main Street and Mamaroneck Avenue fountain on Monday, September 9, 2002.

Photo by WPCNR

How sure are you of the general $#’s for the Main-Mamaroneck Fountain Plaza work? Do you know what the annual costs of operation and maintenance will be? Can you give a breakdown of the construction costs? i.e., how much to remove the 15-20 trees, how much for regrading and resurfacing, how much for demolishing the existing fountain (will the new proposed fountain utilize any of the existing underground pumps, etc.?), how much for the new fountains themselves?

SHADE TREES TO BE REMOVED: The Main and Mamaroneck Fountain as it appears in bright sunlight Monday. As part of the city’s second phase of Revitalization, the city proposes removing the present plaza and trees for a new fountain/lightshow/ plaza (See last week’s story), at a projected cost of approximately $3 Million. The fountain has been criticised by the city administration as in poor repair, dark and uninviting, and an encouragement to loiterers.
Photo by WPCNR

I went to the plaza yesterday to give it a good look, to see what actually has to be dealt with and to size it up and picture what it would look like with the new design. It struck me how many trees are there now (all of the same variety which I could not identify), how well they are actually doing in an otherwise paved-over, shady space with a lot of traffic going by, and how many pigeons actually sit up in the branches (a lot).

It struck me when I heard the church bells sounding from Grace Church that there was no way to actually see Grace Church from the Court Street side of the plaza, so thick are the trees. I wondered if it was actually necessary to cut down and uproot the trees nearest the buildings, in order to plant new trees that the landscape architect is proposing (I forgot the variety Sasaki said would do well there).

PROPOSED DESIGN, as seen from Macy’s looking back towards the City Center. The three green squares to the right are “greens,” the four blue areas are proposed fountains that would stage a “choreography of waters” at various times throughout the day and evening to recorded music.
Photo by WPCNR

In essence, I would just like to know how much would it cost to “open up” the plaza by removing most of the trees, demolishing the existing fountain, removing the earthen barrier on the Main Street side, and replanting the whole area with grass or grass and new sidewalks and how much will it cost just for the new fountains proposed? How much for regular fountains versus the high-tech, software-dependent ones?

I would like to be assured that the high-tech sound and light shows don’t cost an arm and a leg over and above everything else (would that be what Cappelli would be paying for?).

I am concerned that the City, and specifically the Downtown, also has other needs where we have to spend money, including the Community Theater at the City Center, fixing up Tibbits Park more and doing the Court Street extension. But, believe me, I would like that ugly fountain out of there quickly and the plaza area fixed up.

Councilman William King

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Super Lawyers File for White Plains. Move to 360 Ham

WPCNR WHITE PLAINS LAW JOURNAL. From Reckson Associates. September 7, 2002: Reckson Associates Realty Corporation and the Mayor’s Office jointly announced that the nation’s largest law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom will park their attache cases at Reckson Metro Center, 360 Hamilton Avenue, leasing 48,842 square feet at the Center.
Skadden Arps ranks first in the dollar value of merger and acquisition agreements in the United States in 2002. The firm serves a clientele of leading corporations. They will occupy the space vacated by Metromedia Fiber.

Mayor Joseph Delfino of White Plains, in a statement, welcomed the “Super Lawyers” to Westchester’s fastest growing city and business center: “I want to take this opportunity to welcome Skadden, Arps to the White Plains Central Business District. I also want to commend the Reckson Metro Center on its ability to attract firms like Skadden, Arps to White Plains and contributing to a flourishing Central Business District.”

Skadden Arps joins a roster of bluechip tenants at Reckson’s gleaming 360 Hamilton venue which Merrill Lynch, Prudential Insurance and Heineken USA, Inc.

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Bradley Campaign Irked by Spano’s “Dial-A-Democrat” Calls.

WPCNR NEWSREEL. By John F. Bailey September 7,9 2002 UPDATED MONDAY 3:30 PM EDT: The Bradley campaign contacted WPCNR Friday to register an official protest of what some District 89 Democrats described as “heavy-handed” tactics by County Executive Andy Spano in the September 10 Democratic Primary race.

In a “Dial-A-Democrat” Campaign of their own, a prerecorded phone message from White Plains Councilperson Rita Malmud was being automatedly sent out to Democrats Monday. In it, Malmud urged Democrats to vote “for our own Adam Bradley.”
Mr. Bradley’s Campaign Manager reported Friday and the Westchester County Department of Communications office confirmed, that District 89 Democrats were telephoned Thursday evening and received a pre-recorded message from County Executive Spano urging them to vote for the Spano-endorsed District Leaders, rather than the Bradley candidates because “he needed their support.”

Maureen Keating-Tsuchiya, Co-Chair of the New Castle Democratic Party said a number of Democratic voters registered to vote in the Tuesday primary had contacted her protesting the pressure tactic. She said this was “unprecedented” in a primary campaign, “disturbing” and “heavy handed.”

Asked if such calls were made, the Westchester County Department of Communications responded, “Yes.” No other comment was made.

Speculation in the Bradley camp was rampant Saturday evening as to what organization paid for the pep talk, and where Mr. Spano’s pep talk calls were made from, since no political action committees exist for the Spano-endorsed delegates, according to B. J. Marcus, a District Leader candidate running with Adam Bradley, targeted by the calls.

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Matusow Supported by Democratic Gubernatorial Nominees

WPCNR NEWSREEL. From the Naomi Matusow Campaign. September 7, 2002: State Comptroller and Democratic gubernatorial candidate H. Carl McCall and his running mate Dennis Mehiel today endorsed Naomi Matusow in her bid for re-election to the State Assembly.
“Naomi Matusow’s record of looking out for our families and children is unsurpassed,” McCall said. “It takes a solid commitment and a lot of hard work to get the kind of results Naomi has. I look forward to continuing to work with Naomi to make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.”

In particular, McCall noted Matusow, a former teacher, has a distinguished record of improving children’s lives. Not only has she secured a record $20 million increase in aid for local schools during her tenure, Matusow authored historic legislation to protect children, including measures to ban assault weapons and require background check on school employees.

“New York needs more leaders like Naomi Matusow,” Mehiel said. “She’s demonstrated strong leadership on the economy, and she understands what’s necessary to get our state back on track and stay competitive with the rest of the country.”

“I’m honored to have this endorsement, which affirms all the hard work I’m putting into making Westchester County and New York State a better place for our families,” Matusow said. “Carl, Dennis and I share many of the same goals for our working families – providing a first-class education for all our children, creating good jobs, and making health care and prescription drugs more affordable. Working together, we can accomplish great things for New York.”

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County Says “No” to White Plains Shuttle Bus.

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From Councilman William King. September 6, 2002: White Plains Councilman William King reports that County Transportation Commissioner Lawrence Salley has ended White Plains hopes for a county-subsidized shuttle bus between Westchester Avenue corporate parks and the White Plains residential neighborhoods.
The final answer is “no” from County DOT Commissioner Larry Salley on adjusting Westchester Avenue office park shuttle bus routes for 2-way commuter bus service serving White Plains residential neighborhoods (like the Highlands, Gedney Farms, Bryant Gardens, the Dales, Soundview, Reynal Park, Colonial Corners, Havilands Manor …).

The only option now is for the City of White Plains to buy one or more of the County’s older shuttle buses for $1 each and pay for bus drivers and maintenance out of city funds. State or federal subsidies might be a possibility but requires someone to apply for a grant. I have fyi’ed state and federal elected officials. – Bill King

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Connors, New Superintendent of Schools Visits CNA Tuesday

WPCNR TOAST OF THE TOWN. From Marc Pollitzer, Council of Neighborhood Associations. September 6, 2002: Residents of White Plains are invited to meet Timothy Connors, new White Plains Superintendent of Schools, Tuesday evening at the monthly Council of Neighborhood Associations meeting. The meeting begins at 7:45 at Education House, 5 Homeside Lane, White Plains.

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Matusow Receives Lewisboro Ledger Nod.

WPCNR NEWSREEL. From Barry Malvin. September 6, 2003: Barry Malvin of Assemblyman Naomi Matusow’s campaign reports that the Lewisboro Ledger has endorsed Ms. Matusow for reelection, prior to Tuesday’s September 10 primary. Herewith are the Ledger’s comments, reprinted with permission:
Used with permission, The Lewisboro Ledger, Sept. 6, 2002:

Give Matusow your vote

Assemblywoman Naomi Matusow has served the 89th state assembly district well, with five consecutive terms for the past 10 years. Voters should give her another two: Choose Naomi to run a sixth term.

Mrs. Matusow is running on her record, and she should. It’s a good one. She has worked to ban assault weapons, to require fingerprinting for school employees, and on numerous conservation issues.
When asked about the most important issue in this campaign her answer is education, particularly at the local level. This issue resonates with all residents and Mrs. Matusow has worked tirelessly for the local school districts, helping to obtain an extra $20 million in funds during her tenure.

Mrs. Matusow’s experience has also translated into concrete results for Lewisboro, in the form of the more than 100-acre Houlihan property,
which she worked to preserve as open space.

Mrs. Matusow’s career has been one of diligent service. She has
constantly campaigned from door to door and at train stations. She has
connected with people in the local area and has given them a voice in

Her opponent, Adam Bradley, has said that local residents need a new
voice in Albany. And his tenure as the chair of the White Plains
Democratic City Committee offers a nice background to rely on for a
first foray into politics.

However, Mr. Bradley is a man first and foremost of White Plains, where he is an attorney and a political figure and where his policies seem more suited.

In terms of his major campaign issues, he wants to tax people who shop in White Plains and reform the Rockefeller drug laws. The first will adversely affect those in the Lewisboro area and the second is more of a concern for the White Plains voter, remote to the consciousness of Lewisboro residents.

It’s ironic that Mr. Bradley has denounced Mrs. Matusow for her use of
rhetoric because he has been the candidate more dependent on it. He’s
claimed that she has been late in responding to resident concerns about Indian Point, but she has a record of involvement with the issue since before 2000. He’s criticized her for wanting to reform the Rockefeller drug laws, but her decision was based on concerns laid out in a report by the district attorney’s office. Mrs. Matusow has in fact gone on the record for decommissioning the power plant and for reforming the Rockefeller drug laws.

But what’s been most disturbing about his campaign is how it’s handled the ‘issue’ of Matusow’s mailings. These mailings are to keep
constituents informed. It’s unfortunate for challengers that incumbents
benefit from the extra contact with constituents but the mailings are a
necessary part of the political process. Mr. Bradley’s campaign has
created this issue to gain traction in his long-shot bid for office.

But what has been even worse for his campaign is that Mrs. Matusow has the advantage of experience and holds nearly the same position on Mr. Bradley’s two key issues: Indian Point and the Rockefeller drug laws.

She also offers an attention to smaller towns and the issues they face
that seems foreign to the White Plains-based Bradley.

As Mrs. Matusow says, he’s been grasping at straws and it’s a mistake
for him to think the White Plains voting districts are enough to carry
this election.

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First West Nile Virus Case Diagnosed in Mamaroneck

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From Mary Landrigan of the Department of Communications. September 5, 2002:The Westchester County Department of Health today received notification from the New York State Department of Health that an 83-year-old man from the Town of Mamaroneck has tested positive for West Nile virus.
The man was reported to be recovering from his illness in the hospital. This is the first identified human case in Westchester County this year. No spraying is planned at this time.

In response to this finding, the Westchester County Department of Health will be conducting additional local environmental assessment including monitoring in the area of the man’s home for potential mosquito breeding grounds, checking the status of larvicide in and around the Town of Mamaroneck, conducting additional mosquito trapping in the area, and developing detailed information about the travel history of the affected individual. A review of the Health Department’s mosquito and bird surveillance data also is being conducted.

The Westchester County Department of Health today also reported that the New York State Department of Health has announced that from September 3 through September 5, 2002, there have been four additional mosquito pools and four more birds from Westchester County that have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The mosquito pools were collected in Yonkers, New Rochelle, Scarsdale and Mt. Vernon and the birds were found in Irvington, Mamaroneck Village, Hastings-on-Hudson, and New Rochelle. The mosquito pools and the four birds were collected between August 15, 2002 and August 28, 2002.

With the addition of these four new positive mosquito pools, a total of 23 mosquito pools from Westchester have tested positive for the virus this year. To date, out of 511 mosquito pools submitted for testing, 366 have been tested for West Nile virus, of which 343 have tested negative.

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“Choreography of Waters” Proposed for City’s Center

WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL CHRONICLE-EXAMINER. By John F. Bailey. CORRECTION, September 6, 2002: The designers of the dynamic fountains of Disneyworld and Epcot Center showcased their design for a new fountain plaza and concert space in the heart of the White Plains downtown Thursday evening at a Common Council work session.

NEW FOUNTAIN PLAZA DAZZLES COUNCIL: The view of the new fountain as seen from Macy’s, looking East towards the City Center. On the left is Main Street, to the right is 14 Mamaroneck Avenue, owned by Marc Ellman of 14 Mamaroneck Avenue LLC. It is also the headquarters of the Business Improvement District property. (Not owned by Leon Silverman as previously reported.) Planned for the fountain are a low lying planted buffer bordering Main Street on the left, a spectacular fountain in the upper right near a kiosk for a possible Starbucks or upscale restaurant. The centerpiece of the design is a series of fountains that will shoot colorful spectacular ropes, and streams of water in mesmerizing water shows to recorded music at all times of the day, late into the evening. The three grass greens in the right foreground are planned for outdoor concerts. The city is budgeting the project at $3 million to $3.5 Million dollars, and is now in negotiations with public and private funding sources to float the project. The project is planned to be completed by October 2003 to coordinate with the opening of the City Center. Sasaki Associates of Watertown, Mass., and fountain designer Aquatic Design & Engineering of Montverde, Florida presented the concept Thursday evening and the Common Council was favorably impressed.
Photo by WPCNR

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CCOS in Court: Send NYPH Proposal Back for “procedurally correct review”

WPCNR Milkman’s Matinee News Delivery. By John F. Bailey. September 5, 2002: Concerned Citizens for Open Space Wednesday evening issued a statement confirming they had filed an Article 78 suit in New York State Supreme Court asking that the August 5 approval by the Common Council of the proton accelerator/biomedical research facility on Site Eight of the New York Presbyterian Hospital Property be reversed. They ask the matter be sent back to the Common Council for a “complete and procedurally correct review” with the Common Council, not the court, retaining final decision-making authority over the hospital proposal.

SHOT ACROSS THE BOWS: The Concerned Citizens for Open Space News Release announcing their legal positions in their Article 78 lawsuit filed yesterday against the City to overturn the Council approval of the New York Presbyterian Hospital proton accelerator/biotech research complex approved August 5.
Photo by WPCNR

The news release discussed the reasons behind the suit that was served on the City of White Plains Wednesday afternoon, reciting objections to the city’s decision based on four matters.

The statement says that the Article 78 petition alleges that the Council approval “is in violation of local zoning ordinances and, in addition, does not fully meet the legal requirements of the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).”

The action, the statement continues, “petitions the Supreme Court to review the approval process and determine its procedural legitimacy and is the natural extension of our opposition to what we believe is a violation of developmental restrictions.”

It cites the following legal objections in an accompanying fact sheet:

• The suit rejects the Common Council acceptance of the 394,000 square foot building as an “ancillary (secondary) use.”

• It alleges that the Council failed to consider the building in the context of development of all of the property by not requiring a complete master plan.

• The suit maintains that the Council’s approval of the building as a Special Use permit rather than a zoning change was incorrect procedure.

• And, finally that the council “failed to guarantee meaningful open space planning for the city as intended by zoning,” saying “proper review of a “master plan for the property would have ensured this.

“Majority” Believes Zoning Laws Should be Defended.

The News Release remarks that “CCOS, along with a majority of White Plains residents, believes the integrity of White Plains’ zoning ordinances must be defended. We also believe it is the responsibility of elected officials of White Plains to protect all its citizens from further deterioration of our already badly compromised environment.”

Barbara Benjamin, contacted by WPCNR, asked what the release meant by the words “along with a majority of White Plains residents.”

Definition of “Majority”

Benjamin said it is “a majority of people who know anything about it (the project).” She did not give a figure of persons specifically opposed to the project.

Ms. Benjamin went on to explain, in her opinion, that many persons in White Plains who have not voiced opposition to the project no longer read The Journal News the daily countywide newspaper, or the White Plains Watch, the monthly city newspaper, and therefore are not informed on the hospital issues, or know what is at stake. She said that she gets calls every day from one or two persons who have learned about the project, and ask what they can do to help. She implied that citizens who know the project well are convinced it is wrong for the city, for the traffic it will bring, the pollution it will bring to the city.

What the Suit Expects:

The fact sheet sent with the news release specifies three results CCOS hopes to achieve by filing the Article 78 procedure:

• They hope the court will reverse the approval and send it back to the Common Council “for a complete and procedurally correct review,” reserving the Common Council the right to make the final decision, not the court.

• They want the court or the Common Council, (the fact sheet is not clear) to “reject the request for a Special Permit and work with the hospital to craft a zoning change proposal beneficial to both the city and the hospital.”

• They want the court or the Common Council “to consider the environmental impact of developing all 214 hospital-acres and provide for meaningful open space preservation for the public and the city.”

Benjamin: 50% of Legal Fees in Hand. Fundraising effort planned.

The suit is being handled by Oxman, Tulls, Kirkpatrick, Whyatt & Geiger, with Thomas Whyatt, pointman on the suit. Benjamin said the suit “is being done at an enormous discount,” and said that the firm had set a “cap” on the amount of legal work they would conduct, but declined to reveal what that was, and that there was “no timeline” saying that Mr. Whyatt had assured her he would stick with the suit.

Ms. Benjamin said they group would not be intimidated by possible threats of a counter suit by the New York Presbyterian Hospital, even though it is the city CCOS is suing. “It’s our constitutional right (to sue),” Benjamin said.

Benjamin said “of the people who know, there is a solid majority, and by people who call us,” against the project, and that CCOS would soon do a fundraising mailing among its members to raise funds for the suit.

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