WPCNR Common Council Chronicle Examiner. By John F. Bailey. June 3, 2002. 10:30 PM E.D.T. UPDATED June 4, 2002 11:30 A.M. E.D.T.: In a listless Common Council meeting, the New York Presbyterian Hospital hearing on the amendment to the special permit hearing was opened, comments heard and adjourned to July.
The White Plains Housing Authority proposal to build a new headquarters on a site adjacent to the Bethel Baptist Church was referred out to city departments for comment, despite all six councilmembers saying “we heard you (the opposition) loud and clear.”
WHAT A LOVELY PLACE FOR AN OFFICE BUILDING: The parcel of land, with the Bethel Baptist Church in the background, where the White Plains Housing Authority wants to build their new headquarters.
Photo by WPCNR
4-Wheel Drive Scofflaws Targeted.
In matters of direct impact on the public, the council acted on White Plains Parking Authority Commissioner Albert Moroni’s proposal to “boot” 4-wheel drive vehicles that cannot be towed. They approved an ordinance allowing the “booting,” or immobilization of such 4-wheel drive vehicles with long histories of unpaid parking fines.
Moroni, in his request for the new ordinance last month said, White Plains is owed approximately $600,000 in fines from repeated scofflaws. According to Moroni, because vehicles can be damaged if towed, towing companies refuse to remove them, and owners simply ignore the traffic tickets, and let them build up.
The new ordinance allowing “booting” will force the owners to pay their outstanding fines before they can get their vehicles back from the city.
In another action, the council voted improvements to Gardella and Tibbetts Parks.
This is the Hearing that Never Ends: New York Presbyterian Hospital Hearing Resumes, Continues, Resumes in July
The familiar lineup of six hardcore anti-New York Presbyterian Hospital personalities appeared before the Common Council to comment on the amendment to the Special Permit for the hospital to construct a biomedical facility on their Bryant Avenue site. Allan Teck, President of Concerned Citizens for Open Space commented lead-off followed by Don Wilson, Carrie Kyzivat, Marc Pollitzer, Barbara Benjamin, Doris Simon, and Thomas Whyatt commenting last.
Pollitzer called for the present proposal to be defeated and then the hospital and the city and community groups to meet together to consider how the hospital could build the biomedical research facility on the medical oval.
Wilson: Build on Medical Oval.
Wilson, in a statesman-like address, called for a park to be created at this hoped-for future conference, reversing the position the Concerned Citizens for Open Space group took in the late eighties, resulting in designation of the medical oval as an historical district.:
“It is my suggestion tonight, that the city ask the hospital to work out with (the state historic preservation agency) major modifications in its preservation master plan to permit approval of the hospital’s new facilities in architecturally appropriate facilities on the medical oval, and at the same time, the hospital and the city collaborate to plan for and devote a large portion of the remaining property as a city park.
CCOS FOUNDER IN LAST DITCH PLEA FOR CONCILIATION WITH HOSPITAL: Donald Wilson, addressing a plea for a hospital/city/citizen group summit to move the the biomedical facility complex to the hospital medical oval with parkland throw-in. Mr. Wilson is pictured in the live telecast of Channel 72 of the Monday evening Common Council meeting.
Photo by WPCNR
It is my opinion…the state would readily give its support to this ‘everyone wins’ resolution of the city’s long-standing issue. This strategy will require that the hospital indicate its willingness to pursue such an option, and that the various city agencies and citizens groups assure the hospital of their support for such an approach….It will require trust, compromise and faith on all parties and the future of this city. Is this ambitious? Absolutely? Is it practical? Absolutely. Are there any here willing to support such an approach? Let us know.
Teck said the proton accelerator was a target for terrorists, and said he was dead set against it, but would accept a biomedical facility if it were located on the oval. He said the Council should require a new SEQRA proceeding and DEIS procedure for the new combination site plan of sites 5 & 8 which is proposed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.
Mr. Whyatt called for a scaled-back footprint on the biomedical research facility in order that it could be built within the design configuration of the medical oval, implying the hospital was not being reasonable in their insistence on such a large facility. He again questioned the commercal feel of the proposal, cautioning that commercial research was not permitted under the special permit.
This Weekend’s Beach Reading:
A new issue raised by Ms. Kyzivat was the alleged inability of the general public to acquire copies of the completed Final Environmental Impact Statement in time to digest its contents. Kyzivat said it was not available to her when she asked at the clerk’s office and at the White Plains Public Library. The massive statement consists of 171-pages and 400 support documents according to the mayor.
The FEIS was quietly made available last week at the Planning Department with no publicity about its availability. It was distributed to persons on a list requesting it. WPCNR, for example, was not notified in any way where or when the completed FEIS was available to the general public.
The Mayor said copies of the document were made available to Presidents of neighborhood associations and interested parties. Comments in the statement, the Mayor said, are on the city’s website at www.cityofwhiteplains.com.
Mayor Delfino pointed out the length of the FEIS made it impractical to distribute to all 53,000 residents of the city, and that it was available at the Planning Department, the city clerk’s office and the White Plains Public Library.
“It is available at those three locations,” Mayor Delfino wearily said. “Every neighborhood association has been advised (of the FEIS availability), some haven’t even picked them up yet. That was over a week ago. We did exactly what we discussed (in work session).”
Doris Simon protested that the hospital proposal if approved would contribute to air pollution, by bringing 900 more cars to the city.
Transit specialist, NYPH employee, Serena Russell support hospital.
John Lyons, The head of Metropool, a nonprofit organization which promotes mass transit and car pooling said they felt the New York Presbyterian Hospital was acting in good faith in preparing for the traffic generated by their proposal because the hospital was working with his organization, approaching them about transit alternatives.
Serena Russell commented that she felt many persons in White Plains supported the hospital proposal and that the council should be aware of that, and not take the vocal opposition as being representative of the entire city sentiments. She suggested the council query residents at random to get more of a range of public opinion on the issue.
An employee of the hospital, Lissette Rodriguez, a White Plains resident, said “Development is condoned as long as it’s not at New York Hospital,” and she felt this was a double-standard, calling for “equal employment opportunity for medical research.”
Council Digesting Ponderous Content, Plans Work Sessions to Formulate Lead Agency Response.
After the commenting concluded, Benjamin Boykin, Jr., Common Council President said the council was going to take up the Final Environmental Impact Statement with their environmental lawyer, Michael Gerard, at work sessions beginning Wednesday, June 5 and continuing Thursday, June 6 and Monday June 10, all at 6 PM. The deadline for the council to accept the FEIS as complete is June 17. Councilman Boykin sheepishly floated a trial balloon, hoping the New York Presbyterian Hospital might extend that June 17 deadline.
Housing Authority Headquarters Moves Ministerial Fellowship Council to action.
The Reverend Daly Barnes, Jr., spoke eloquently in opposition to the locating of the new White Plains Housing Authority headquarters proposed to be built on the grassy slope between 225 Martin Luther King Boulevard and the Thomas Slater Center. He was supported by the Reverend Jacob Stukes, and Reverend Alice Hughes, and the longtime nemisis of and former member of the Housing Authority, Ron Jackson. A large number of Winbrook residents appeared to be in the audience.
Barnes said that the Bethel Baptist Church might have to move out of White Plains, saying the new headquarters construction would disrupt services, “box us in” and block access to the church, and intrude on the character and “spiritual nature” of the community, if the council approved the proposed location.
Five councilpersons and Mayor Delfino, expressed appreciation for the large number of residents from Winbrook, who turned out to have their say on the project.
Rita Malmud said that the Housing Authority had a right to be heard, and that she would vote for referral of the plans to the city departments, as did Councilmen Greer, Boykin, Roach and Mr. King. Glen Hockley bristled about the idea of referral and sharply criticized the Housing Authority for being out of touch with the community they manage, and voted against referring the headquarters plans.
The council voted to refer the headquarters plans to city agencies for comment, not withstanding their comments about “hearing (the people) loud and clear.”
Hockley accuses Housing Authority of reneging on its promise to him.
Glen Hockley was particularly hard on the Housing Authority: I met with two members of the Board of the White Plains Housing Authority, and with the executive director and the deputy director. We all took a walk on the grounds of the Winbrook property, to view sites that…possibly would be looked at (for the office building). During that tour of sites we talked. I explained to the four gentlemen that the concerns of the people of Winbrook were not being heard sufficiently regarding issues on security, drugs, crime in general, sanitation, repairs, senior issues or the location of this particular office building.
I continued to explain that a better relationship and understanding needs to be built between the Housing Authority and the residents of Winbrook. The key is communication. And it starts with the Housing Authority. One of the Board members stated to me in front of the others, that communication is most important, and that we need to have a cooling-down period and that additional meetings would take place to look for other potential locations for this office building. I know these four gentlemen are sincere, honorable, and keep their word.
HOCKLEY HAMMERS HOUSING AUTHORITY, on the Government Access Channel 72 live telecast of Monday evening’s council meeting.
Photo by WPCNR
Hockley said he attended the Ministerial Fellowship Council where he heard the Reverend Barnes say unequivocally,(loud and clear
were his words), he was opposed to having the new headquarters building erected next to his church.
COUNCILMAN AND SCRIBE: Glen Hockley, right, and Jim Benerofe on site of the proposed White Plains Housing Authority Headquarters Tuesday.
Photo by WPCNR
Work session shocker
The Councilman said, At the recent work session, I was befuddled and shocked to hear the Chairman of the Housing Authority state that his board is still moving forward with the process of developing that site without consideration to the history of events that I just expressed.
In addition, I heard the tale from the Chairman, that there is no sentiment on the part of the board to move to another site. Obviously, these comments do not add up with the experiences that I just had with the four board members of the housing authority.
Hockley said he heard the comments that the Housing Authority had retained attorneys to imply a lawsuit if they didn’t get their way.
Hockley, his voice rising in indignation, Winbrook residents supporting him with shouts that reminded this reporter of a revival meeting, slowly said,
Winbrook is public property, and that means as a councilman, I will protect the property that the public has paid for with tax dollars, and there will not be any threat that can, or will intimidate my position or principle when it comes to the people’s right and freedom. And that means the people of Windbrook’s right to enjoy, utilize and preserve the green grass on the corner of Reverend Martin Luther king Boulevard and Fisher Court. Therefore I will not vote in favor of continuing the process on this project at this particular site.
HOUSING AUTHORITY PROPOSED LOCATION: Building outline to right is the footprint of proposed building. Building outline to left is the Bethel Baptist Church. Street at right is Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Street at top is Fisher Court.
WPCNR File Photo