Choose the 2001 CNR White Plains “Person of the Year”

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Who is the person who had the most impact, the most effect on the future of our city and our neighborhoods and way of life in 2001? White Plains CitizeNetReporter has nominated a list of 12 outstanding individuals whose tireless devotion to service has made a big difference in our lives and we present them to you in the first White Plains CitizeNetReporter White Plains Person of the Year Poll.

The following are capsule descriptions of why the individuals deserve your consideration for ” White Plains Person of the Year.” If you wish to point out other individuals for honorable mention, don’t hesitiate to drop us an e-mail.

To vote, point your “indicator” on the empty circle next to the candidate, CLICK, then CLICK on the gray “VOTE” Trigger. We do not expect any “jammed lines.”
Nominations were selected at random, and all achievements are to be lauded and commended for their creativity and response to the community:

First nominated is Reverend Daly Barnes who singlehandedly organized the feeding of over 400 residents of the Winbrook apartments when that complex was shut down because of a rupture of a gasline pipe in August. Reverend Barnes was a quiet hero who organized volunteers, sought contributions and cooked meals for 7 days in his church, feeding the residents of Winbrook.

Second nomination is Kate Brown of the Trust for Public Land who negotiated the first White Plains purchase of significant Open Space ever: the D’Elia property for $1.7 million. She demonstrated a model for the White Plains of the future and would not take “no” for an answer. Her ability to negotiate rationally with a longtime city adversary showed how land use disputes can be resolved for the public good.

Louis Cappelli, “The Super Developer.” It was the winter of 2001, when the dashing developer came on the scene and expressed the desire to purchase the Macy’s property from Tishman-Speyer. He did. Within a month he showed plans for a grand City Center with matching Cappelli Towers breaking the height ceiling in downtown. Within 7 months he had his approvals and is building. His gutsy investment in the downton, arguably turned around the city and is the reason why White Plains is the only city booming in Westchester County.

Frank Williams, Director of the Youth Bureau. Frank takes care of the youth in White Plains who need help, a place to go, a future to build on. He runs the Youth Bureau and has secured by Pauline Oliva’s figures over $600,000 in grants for Youth Bureau programs in the last two years. He negotiated and supervised the move from the DPW garage to Eastview, without a hitch. He has instituted programs for bilingual students and made them feel a part of the city. He is the reason why the youth have a voice in White Plains.

Saul Yanofsky. Dr. Yanofsky is the “hands-on” Superintendent of Schools who will have served the School District for 12 years at the end of his contract in June, 2002. He has overseen the racial balancing of the White Plains Schools. He organized and inititated the technology upgrade of the school system into a model other school systems envy. He has overseen the White Plains reaction and successful negotiation of state mandated test challenges. He will be missed.

Susan Habel:Deputy Commissioner of Planning. Habel is a tireless public servant who oversaw the first revision of the city zoning code since 1982. Her vision of the city and the needs of the city as it proceeds into the 21st century and coordination of codes to preserve neighborhood character and provide for responsible city growth was accomplished in just two years with a minimum of neighborhood and business opposition. Truly a Solomonesque achievement.

John Dolce:Retiring Commissioner of Public Safety. A man who shuns the spotlight, detests publicity, and loves his job as the city’s chief law enforcement officer. A man who looks like he stepped off the set of “Dragnet,” he has developed a police and fire department that operates efficiently, protects the public with a velvet glove, and has earned the respect of the entire community and surrounding towns.

Mayor Joseph Delfino He came into office with the city at a standstill. In four years, his administration has turned that perception around, putting over 1,600 new apartments into construction, two new developments: the Bank Street Commons and City Center, and initiated the “Digital Divide Program,” the “Open Space Initiative,” and brought Fortunoff’s to White Plains. His administration has brought more development and progress to White Plains in four years than any other.

Mike Graessle, Retiring Commissioner of Planning. His 32 years of service to White Plains leave a legacy of projects that changed the city: The Galleria, The Westchester, the development of White Plains as a business center. His smooth style of bringing developers needs together with neighbor and city needs set a model for how development should proceed in a city.

Pauline Oliva Ms. Oliva has throughout her service as a Councilperson, been a voice for the residents of White Plains. She introduced a policy in the city of requiring housing units be set aside for moderate incomes. She has pioneered youth services in White Plains and has long been its voice.

Louis Fortunoff The owner of Fortunoff’s, the upscale jewelry and consumer products store, has followed Louis Cappelli into the White Plains down, giving White Plains a dramatic one-two punch to revitalize its core and anchor its East End as a posh retail destination in Westchester County. Mr. Fortunoff’s faith in White Plains in a tough economic climate is a terrific vote of confidence for the city.

Frederick Bland, The “Super Architect.” Mr. Bland was brought in at the eleventh hour to make the Cappelli Center apartment towers architecturally acceptable to forces opposed to the City Center. Under intense pressure he devised a design, enhanced it and combined the grandeur of Cappelli design with the elegance White Plains sought. His designs created in less than a month answered Common Council objections and clinched the project approval by the Common Council.

Pauline Oliva:Ms. Oliva is retiring after two terms as a councilperson, and has long served White Plains as a neighborhood advocate. She pioneered the moderate income housing percentage rule in White Plains. A good listener, a rational evaluator, and a politically independent representative, she will be missed.

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Big Tent to Go Up Monday for New Year’s Eve Mayor’s Bash

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Mark Scuyler of White Plains Downtown reports reservations moving briskly for the Mayor’s New Year’s Eve Street Party “under the big top.”
White Plains socialites should reserve promptly if they want to bring in New Year’s with the Mayor Monday evening.
Schuyler advised WPCNR that tent technicians will begin assembling the “Big Top Tent” on Mamaroneck Avenue between Main Street and Martine Avenues on Monday at 8 in the morning (when Mamaroneck between Main and Martine will be closed to vehicular traffic), in preparations for the 9 AM party Monday evening.

The Mayor’s Vision

White Plains Mayor Joseph M. Delfino announced, “The City of White Plains has much to celebrate in the New Year. The exciting new development of the City Center site builds optimism and pride in the Downtown and all of White Plains. The Downtown is already a destination for entertainment and fine dining. The addition of new retailers, new residents, a new performing arts space and movie theaters confirms that White Plains is alive and thriving.”

Splendid Coffee Shop Proprietor to Chair the Ball

The Chairman of the Gala, Gus Manessis reports that “The City of White Plains’ sponsored count-down and Fireworks has captured the public’s imagination. People are excited and pleasantly surprised at the whole idea. Imagine, being able to celebrate New Year’s right near our own homes and businesses. Companies and local businesses are stepping up to make this a success. The City of White Plains has helped us with the Gala at every step.”
The BID processing reservations now. “It’s terrific!”

Mr. Schuyler reported Wednesday morning that “It’s terrific! We’re still processing orders for the last two days,” when asked how the response was building. Only 300 swingers will be allowed in the “Big Tent,” which will be heated and furnished with nightclub tables, buffet, bandstand and dance floor. Free party hats and noisemakers will be furnished. Schuyler suggests you phone in reservations now at 328-5166.

Look at all you get without leaving town

For just $75 per person, folks wishing a New Year’s Celebration without leaving town gain entry into the “Big Top Tent” complete with nightclub tables, bar, buffet, and entertainment. Mr. and Ms. White Plains can turn back the clock, dance to musicians of the Count Basie touring swing band. indulge in an elegant buffet feast catered by Sam’s of Gedney Way, and enjoy beer, wine and champagne.

Cappelli’s City Center Combines with Louis Fortunoff to Launch New Year’s Eve Fireworks

This is the first year that fireworks will fill the skies of downtown White Plains on New Year’s Eve. During previous years, the building landscape of the city did not allow for launching fireworks, due to the lack of open space. With the demolition of the former Macy’s store now complete, Cappelli’s City Center site provides the ideal location.

Louis Fortunoff, whose East End Fortunoff’s complex was approved just last week is contributing $10,000 to pay for the fireworks display and the other Louis in town, Louis Cappelli is providing the City Center excavation for a launching site.

Cappelli organization provides launch pad

“We are thrilled to be a part of the New Year’s Eve festivities in downtown White Plains this year, “ said Bruce Berg, Executive Vice-President of Cappelli Enterprises. “We can’t think of a better way to bring in the New Year than by having fireworks launched from the City Center site.”

The City Throws a Party. Ball to Drop at Midnight with Fireworks Display

The City of White Plains and White Plains Downtown, the Business Improvement District management association are partnering this year to provide a New Year’s Eve countdown and fireworks display. The event is designed to bring residents together to celebrate both the New Year and rebirth of downtown White Plains.

An official “2002 Ball” will be dropped from atop a White Plains Fire Department Hook N Ladder apparatus at midnight. Actual plans for the launch have not been released.

Residents not attending the party are invited to mingle

City Hall envisions residents not attending the party in the “Big Tent,” (revelers in the heated tent will be held at 300) coming downtown about midnight, filling the center of downtown to witness the ball drop and enjoy the fireworks.

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On the Night Before Christmas…Holiday Greetings from WPCNR

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WPCNR wishes all of our loyal readers and citizens a joyous and fulfilling holiday, and dedicates this “takeoff” to good old City Hall:

On the night before Christmas…

And all through White Plains

Not a Developer was Stirring

Not even a Cappelli Crane Whirring…

The Council was home snuggled up with their DEIS

Visions of Proton Accelerators blasting their brains

A glow of half moon illuminated the City Center excavation

Larry Delgado and Glen Hockley dreamed of Judges’ vindication

As Planning Commissioner-to-be Susan Habel sat down at her table

To draw up plans for her grandiose new Planning Department Ediface.

When up on City Hall there sprung such a clatter it was Mayor Joseph Delfino with another pressing matter.

Driving a sleigh drawn by his 10 Commissioners and stalwart legal legions, the dapper Mayor cried

“On Gretsas, On Wood, Go Graessle, On Dolce, and Gammon,

Be Brief Dunphy, Dash on Earle. Count well McCarthy. Type Fast Minieri and drive on Davidson and Gismondi and Nicoletti,” the red-suited Mayor urged on his prancing 24-hour team

While out in sleeping White Plains, Malmud and Greer,

Oliva and Delgado, Boykin and King flew open their shutters aghast!

The agenda was faxed, and loyal council persons in nightshirts

Trudged to festooned council chambers at last.

Out on the darkened gloom of the City Center, fireworks were being spread out.

In anticipation of a New Year Celebration, and to finally tap

A third councilperson, should appellate judges arise from their long winter’s nap.

As the jolly old mayor spread the communciations to commissioners in their caps,

“Ayes” were said, one-by-one, the executive session ended, the resolution passed

Hitching his commissioners to his sleigh,

the Mayor’s great team took to the starry sky

I heard him read the profound resolution just passed:

“To Barbara Benjamin, and Allan Teck, visions of open space dancing in their heads

Louis and Andrea Fortunoff creators of a new fashion trend

To Fred Bland designer extraordinaire for getting us into the air

To Mary Ann Keenan and Robert Ruger, Al Del Vecchio and Sy Schulman and all who lend a hand to keep White Plains grand.

To Cavallero and Bikkal, Carbone, Gould and Fleishman, Stackpole and Early, Landesman and Garment, stalwart Fighters for FARS, sentinels of setbacks of taste and ‘elan.

To Noll, Bergens, Harrington and Weingarten formidable barristers droll

To Pollitzer and Waterman, Higgins and Falzarano, Shakeridge and Katz and the South End patrol

To Hildersley and Thompson, who have Presbyterian Hospital on a roll.

To “The Gunner,” and Connie in the Office, and “Bull” Wood, the voice of city protocol.

To the Flowers of the News World, the Three Susans and news dog Philippidis and the Dour Dean, Benerofe who tell the story to all.

To crusading attorney Edward Dunphy and the Statuesque Solicitoress always on call.

To the White Plains Bravest and Finest, Dolce, Hickey, Daimon and company, writing tickets, apprehending perps and protecting our ground.

To Adam and Frank, Candyce and William, Bob and Rita and Glen and Tom, loyal opposition who raise issues probing and profound.

To Ron Jackson and Maria K and the Reverend Barnes who stand up and have their say and crusade for the American way.

To Cappelli, Fortunoff, Kilpatrick and Ian Behar wherever you are, entrusted with our future, good luck to you.

I heard the Mayor proclaim, as he drove out of sight,

“Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to All citizens of White Plains, and to All a Good night.”

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Mayors Told “Not to Ask for Anything,” in State Budget. Off $9B

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Mayor Joseph Delfino reports from Albany that the State Conference of Mayors received grim news on the state revenues last week. The state is looking at revenues off $3 billion this year, and project revenues to be down $6 billion in 2002. The Mayor, member of the Executive Committee of the Conference of Mayors, said the Mayors asked the governor’s office not to cut revenue sharing for the state’s cities in 02-03 budget.

After a meeting of the New York State Conference of Mayors Executive Committee, Mayor Delfino delivered the somber news to the White Plains Common Council last Thursday.

WHITE PLAINS MAN IN ALBANY: Mayor Joseph Delfino is a member of the Executive Committee of the NYS Conference of Mayors. He met with them in Albany last week.

The Mayor said the Conference had gone to Albany to pre-lobby the Governor’s budget experts on the 2002-03 New York State Budget. Their mission: to inform the Governor of the impact of any budget cuts before they were presented with the state version of what cities should or should not receive in 02-03 spending.

Mayor Delfino reporting last Thursday evening to the Common Counci, said that the Mayors were told “not to ask for anything,” in 02-03. Delfino and members of the Conference of Mayors Executive Committee were briefed on the dwindling New York State revenue situation after September 11 by John Cahill, Deputy to the Governor, and Cathy Duncan, First Deputy Director of the Budget.

$9 Billion in the hole.

Delfino says the Mayors were advised the state was estimating a $3 billion reduction in state revenues this year and a $6 billion reduction in 2002.

The Mayors advised Cahill and Duncan, that the cities needed the governor to “keep revenue sharing where it is,” according to Delfino, and he had an admonishion for the Common Council.

“We’re (White Plains) going to have to be very creative next year in our budget,” the Mayor told the Common Council Thursday evening. “We also told the governor’s people that we do not want any more mandates that force cities to put policies in place without money to pay for them.”

Fiscally responsible White Plains is shortchanged, while profligate cities cry for aid and get it.

The Mayor groused about how White Plains contributes $67 million in sales taxes to the state, and only receives back $4.7 million in revenue sharing from the state: “Look around us. You have some cities that do not spend responsibly and ask the state ‘please help us.’ White Plains does a good job, and we shouldn’t have to be penalized. The last time we received an increase in revenue sharing was 1991.”

John Dolce, Commissioner of Public Safety, echoed this sentiment last month during a capital projects meeting, pointing out how his department lost a grant for new radio equipment because his department was told it did not need the aid as much as other police departments.

More militant attitude among Mayors

The Mayor said the mood among his fellow Mayors on the Executive Committee was of deep concern that cities were not receiving their fair share of aid. “We had one Mayor from Long Island threatening to start a political party for the cities to run candidates to get more money for cities. That’s how people are thinking and it’s frightening.”

He said several Mayors he spoke to said their cities were already being hard hit, naming Utica, Binghamton, Buffalo and Rochester as facing severe budget problems.

State unemployment up

The state Chief Economist, Stephen Kagann reports soft employment figures last week. According to Kagann’s analysis, in November 2001, private employment was off 92,200 or 1.3 percent from last year with the largest decline in New York City of 83,700 jobs, off 2.6% from 2000. Including government sector jobs, total state employment declined 75,100 or .9%.

Statewide, manufacturing has lost 5.4% of its jobs since the middle of the year 2000. Manufacturing layoffs have been the key to the larger upstate regions losses.

The Albany region gained .3%, Dutchess County declined . Small losses were registered in the North Country (-0.3%), the Mohawk Valley(-0.4%), Central New York(-0.7%), and Western New York (-0.7%). Losses were more severe in Rochester (-1.8%) and Binghamton (-2.3%).

The Executive Committee of the New York State Conference of Mayors includes Mayor Delfino of White Plains, Ellen Polimeni of Canandaigua, Eugene Murray of Rockville Centre, Gerald Jennings, Albany, Joseph Griffo, Rome, Michael Bloomberg, New York, Richard Bucci, Binghamton, Alan Cohen, Ithaca, Susan Goetschius, Wellsville, William Johnson, Jr., Rochester, Thomas Nyquist, New Paltz, Frank Pagano, Fredonia, Alice Roth, Tonawanda, Ernest Strada, Westbury and Gary Vegliante, West Hampton Dunes.

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Sergeant Joe Friday Reports Update, Dec. 21:A WPCNR reader contacted us to advise that the “SULFNBK.EXE” virus warning making rounds is a hoax, and the Sergeant has confirmed that with Symantec Corporation, the virus security firm.
The reader advised us that she had received the same e-mail and was about to delete the suspect SULFNBK.EXE file. However, her husband, a computer expert apparently checked with Symantec and discovered the letter itself was classified as a hoax. She advised WPCNR after reading our report, and Symantec confirms that this email letter is officially a hoax.

Symantec reports that this hoax letter originated in Brazil, and is intended to create anxiety and concern, which it does very well.

If you followed the instructions and found and deleted the SULFNBK.EXE file, Symantec reports there is no harm done to your computer. The file is little used and is used only to restore long file names on your computer. Symantec advises you do not have to restore the file, but provides instructions on how to do so.

For the Symantec “take” on this annoying hoax, go to:

Sergeant Joe Friday Reports is the consumer investigator column for WPCNR.

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Help for Senior Caregivers from Project Time-Out

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Project Time-Out is taking its respite service for seniors who are caregivers one step further by offering a new escort program. Seniors over age 60 can enlist a carefully screened and specially trained escort to accompany their loved one to a doctor visit, shopping trip, errand run, movie or restaurant.

For nearly 20 years Project Time-Out, a program of Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS), has been providing in-home respite services to Westchester families who are caring for either a dependent older person or a child who is mentally retarded or developmentally disabled. The service allows caregivers short-term relief from their responsibilities.

The escort service is free. Users are only responsible for transportation costs for their relative and the escort if they travel by taxi or bus. If Para Transit is used, the escort rides free.

For more information, contact Project Time-Out at 914-949-7699, ext. 308.

For nearly 20 years Project Time-Out, a program of Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS), has been providing in-home respite services to Westchester families who are caring for either a dependent older person or a child who is mentally retarded or developmentally disabled. The service allows caregivers short-term relief from their responsibilities.

The escort service is free. Users are only responsible for transportation costs for their relative and the escort if they travel by taxi or bus. If Para Transit is used, the escort rides free.

For more information, contact Project Time-Out at 914-949-7699, ext. 308.

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We Got D’Elia! Property In Controversy for Years Purchased by the City

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Special to WPCNR:The Trust for Public Land and Mayor Joseph Delfino announced Thursday the completion of a project protecting of one of the last remaining open spaces, (known as the D’Elia Property), in the City of White Plains after more than 25 years in private ownership.
The 5.3-acre wooded property is located in a densely developed residential neighborhood and has been the subject of numerous plans for residential development over the years. The acquisition as open space, links to two greenways within the city—the White Plains Greenway and the Highland Avenue Nature Trail.

Trust for Public Land Negotiates the Deal

“This project preserves a key piece of open space for a community with limited publicly accessible land,” said Kate Garrett, project manager for the Trust for Public Land. “White Plains has shown its commitment to preserving the few remaining parcels of open space before they are lost to residential development. The foresight and partnership of Mayor Delfino and the Common Council are to be commended.”

Council takes the funding lead. Awaits County to put in its share

The Common Council voted unanimously to approve the purchase bonding for the $1.75 million purchase. The Council is anticipating $500,000 in funding from Westchester County to aid in the purchase. The city is floating a short term bond for the $1.75 million in anticipation of the County participation in the funding.

Mayor quietly proud:

“This is the first of what I hope to be many more acquisitions by the City to preserve open space. This truly is an important legacy that will benefit our residents for generations,” said Mayor Delfino.

CCOS partners with the Mayor

The White Plains community, represented primarily by the Concerned Citizens for Open Space, has been clamoring for the protection of this property for more than a decade. Members of the citizens group were key partners in convincing the city’s Common Council to authorize the funding for the acquisition.

Harrington, Creator of the Green Way hails the Acquisition.

“I’m elated that the city recognized that this property is a critical link to the in-city trail system that we have visualized for so long. After 14 years, we are so fortunate to have this protected from development for open space and we are grateful to the Trust for Public Land for all they did to make this dream a reality,” said Jack Harrington of the Concerned Citizens for Open Space.

Only the beginning

The acquisition of the D’Elia property is the first in a series of acquisitions contemplated by Mayor Joseph Delfino in his environmental protection initiative introduced in early 2001.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), brokered the deal with the owner who has long been mired in controversy with neighbors of the D’Elia piece, his efforts to develop blocked consistently. The Trust for Public Land is a national non-profit land conservation organization that specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiation, conservation finance, and law to protect land for people. TPL has long been involved in land conservation initiatives in Westchester County.

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Council Approves Fortunoff’s; Hears Taxi Hike; Mulls MacMansions Rein-In

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The Common Council approved the Fortunoff’s complex proposed for the former Saks Fifth Avenue site Thursday evening. Louis Fortunoff saw groundbreaking in the spring, opening in fall, 2003.

The Council heard the Taxi Fare Increase proposal and agreed to pass the MacMansions Zoning Ordinance as soon as possible in January or February at the latest, after hearing half of all homes in the south end appear to be not in compliance with current zoning.
In a Special Meeting of the Common Council, Louis Fortunoff received unanimous approval of 6-0 for an upscale retail complex on the corner of Bloomingdale Road and Maple Avenue, setting the stage for the creation of White Plains’ own “Million Dollar Mile” by the fall of 2003. Approval of the city proposal to execute the street improvements was delayed because Councilman Benjamin Boykin was not in attendance, (a unanimous vote of the Council being required), however the approval of the street work is expected to be forthcoming.

Mr. Fortunoff thanked the council, saying, “We felt welcome from Day One. The White Plains team of professionals and Common Council did their due diligence and did what they had to do to make it a reality.”

Fall, 2003 is the Fortunoff Target

In an impromptu news conference in the City Hall mezzanine, Mr. Fortunoff spoke of the time schedule. He said the first thing his construction would be doing was to eliminate the asbestos from the Saks Fifth Avenue building, then obtain demolition permits. He said he expected to break ground sometime in the spring and expected to open by Labor Day, September 2003.

Just a few good stores

The complex he said would not be seeking to attract what he described as “boutique” stores, but instead feature only 4 to 7 “larger store units” at ground level wrapping around the Bloomingdale Road, Maple Avenue corner, serving as satellite draws to the Fortunoff’s anchor. He said he would seek one or two restaurants to share the street level arcade presenting on Bloomingdale Road and Maple Avenue.

Holding space off the market he says

Asked to name prospective tenants, he said it was too early. He is thinking of “keeping the space off the market until the economy improves,” delaying seeking tenants until eight months before the opening. Fortunoff pointed out that eight months was the normal amount of time retailers needed to put their retail space in order normally, anyway. He said the economy was not in good shape right now, but “we’re going ahead anyway. We have faith in Westchester’s economy and the American economy.”

Taxi Cab Fare Increases Outlined

Taxi Commission Chairman, Daniel Hickey briefed the Common Council on his proposal for restructuring White Plains taxi rates. Hickey said the had met with Jeffrey Klein, an attorney representing the taxicab drivers and owners, heard their concerns.

He outlined past rate increase history, the last official raise being in 1996 of 10% across the board, followed by a 50-cent surcharge added for cab rides between midnight and 5 AM, and 30 cent timed-out gas surcharges in 2000 and in 2001, a 30-cent surcharge that expired in October to meet rising gasoline prices.

The Wish List

The drivers asked Hickey for a $1.25 across-the-board increase, he said, which the Chairman said would mean a 40% rise in the closest-in zone to a 15% rise in the farthest out zone. (White Plains taxis are based at the Trans Center.) Mr. Hickey added that the drivers wanted changes in the exclusive use policy, the dispatched call issue.

The Hickey Compromise

Mr. Hickey advised the Council he had arrived at a series of compromises to address these issues.

1. A $1.00 surcharge for exclusive use of a cab.

2. A 50-cent surcharge on dispatched calls. (Where cabbie is dispatched to one point to go to another point in the city.)

3. He is shrinking Zone 3 so that it stops at Maple Avenue, rather than Bryant Avenue as it does now. Zone 4 would be extended North to Maple Avenue and Bloomingdale Road to the new supermarket (Stop N Shop). This Hickey feels will provide cabbies with more revenue on trips out to The Westchester and Westchester Avenue. This, Hickey says, is to counter cabbie complaints that trips to Zone 4 take longer because of the heavier traffic in the Central Business District (Zone 3).

4. Flat fees would be increased 50 cents a trip in Zones 2,3, and 4. (From the Trans Center to Bryant Avenue, which comprise 50% of all cab calls.

5. Flat fees would be raised 25 cents a trip in Zones 1,5,6, and 7. (Zone 1 is the North Broadway Woodcrest Heights area; Zone 5, South of Ridgeway to Sammis Lane; Zone 7, South of Sammis Lane.)

6. He is calling for a $10 Safety Inspection Fee twice a year. (Currently there is no fee.) Police inspect the cabs in June and December.

Hickey advised that he expected the cab drivers would be seeking relief from expected rising gas prices very soon, since gas prices are expected to rise sharply.

The Common Council did not raise strong objections to the proposal, and Hickey said he hoped the plan could be put on the agenda for the February 2002 Common Council meeting.

Council finds out more than 50% of homes in south end neighborhoods are “nonconforming” now.

The council heard Deputy Commissioner Susan Habel’s report on how many homes to be affected by the Planning Board so-called “MacMansions” Zoning Ordinance that the Council considered in September, but postponed due to a loud outcry from three persons appearing at the public hearing.

The Habel Dart Survey

Ms. Habel said she assigned David Marinelli, a draftsman in the Planning Department, a person she described as unbiased and not familiar at all with White Plains to throw darts at maps of neighborhoods in the south end, and based where the darts landed, to draw up a survey of how many homes on the “darted” sectors were not in compliance with present zoning. Mr. Marinelli’s “Darted Maps” were shown to the council. Taking randomly selected (by dart throw) maps of areas of Battle Hill, the Highlands and Westminster Ridge, the maps showed that over half the homes on the diagrammed blocks were found to nonconforming to setback regulations now under the present zoning.

Habel said one of the arguments of the “September 3” against the new “MacMansions” proposed zoning ordinance that seeks to limit the footprint of new construction and increase setbacks in the south end residential neighborhoods, was that the new ordinance would make many homes nonconforming, and that few homes were out of conformance now. Habel said the random “dart survey” revealed that this argument simply was not true.

The council, noting this information, and many neighborhood organizations, particularly the Highlands Civic Association, wondering why the “MacMansions” ordinance had not been passed, expressed a willingness to put the zoning ordinance on the agenda for January or February at the latest.

Tom Roach, Councilman Elect, Contributes.

Sitting in on the Common Council meeting, getting comfortable with his seat at the decision-making table was Tom Roach. Roach even made his first contributions, advising council members that in his experience in real estate closings, that the issue of whether a house was nonconforming or conforming “has never come up,” and has never held up or stopped a sale.

Roach said that persons speaking to him about it were simply fearful that if they were made “nonconforming,” they would not be able to rebuild their house. He advanced the theory that if residents were assured they could rebuild or the 70% damage figure raised, (the city building code allows an owner whose home is 70% destroyed to rebuild as before), and that fear of the new ordinance would prohibit them from rebuilding a house that had been nonconforming. Ms. Habel and the Law Department agreed to look into what was involved in raising that 70% percentage.

Loan rates for Community Development Loans, proposed to be lowered

Susan Habel advised the council the city was proposing to lower interest rates to persons seeking city development funds to 2%, 3%, 4% and 6% for persons with incomes less than 50% of median income, 50% to 60% of median income, and 70% and over 100% of median income, respectively. She also said the city wanted to raise the amount senior citizens on fixed incomes could borrow from $6,000 to $10,000.

Nicoletti asks for funding of study to multi-deck Waller and Maple parking lot.

Joseph Nicoletti, Commissioner of Public Works, asked the Common Council to study the feasibility of multi-decking the key Waller and Maple parking lot in the downtown (The lot behind the Acapulco Mexican Restaurant). Nicoletti pointed out that parking could be increased to 290 spaces from 185 by single decking…but the cost would be $30,000 a parking space. However, he said that by multi-decking (up to six decks, providing 800 spaces) the price per space could go down dramatically. He asked the council for permission to pursue a study of the multi-decking costs.

Streetscapes Project Continues

The council was advised by Deputy Commissioner of Planning, Susan Habel that IQ Associates would be returning shortly to show the Common Council designs for reconstruction of the “promenade gardens along Mamaroneck Avenue, in upgrading the city street ambience. Lampposts, benches, and refuse receptacles have already been installed. Habel said designs are being worked out with the City Center planners.

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Planning Board Roundup: Block that Subdivision! Love Those Fortunoffs! Read DEIS

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Updated 3:00 PM Dec. 19: New Final Fortunoff’s Fotos:The Planning Board December monthly meeting told would-be sub dividers the board had major problems with their plans for Greenridge Avenue, Scott Circle and Woodcrest Avenue, praised the final site plan for Fortunoffs and indicated widespread diverging views on the New York Presbyterian Hospital DEIS.

THE PLANNING MAN SAYS GOODBYE TO THE PLANNING BOARD: Mike Graessle, appearing far right in your picture, in his fairwell to planning last night said, “This Planning Board has had some difficult tasks in front of it. You’ve been fair, impartial and it doesn’t allow politics to interfere.” Board Chair, Mary Cavallero, returned the bouquet, saying,” The city has been well-served by you as a commissioner and a citizen. You managed to calm people down.”

Michael Graessle, retiring Commissioner of Planning, returned from vacation to praise the Board as being “one of the hardest working (Planning) Boards I’ve ever seen. At no time has this Board been better served by its members and its chair (Mary Cavallero).”

Woodcrest Sub Divider Warned

The Jaffee Subdivision planned at 89 Woodcrest Avenue in Woodcrest Heights got an ultimatum from the Planning Board to come in with plans with specific dimensions and diagrams of their proposed “shared” driveway solution. The Board demanded that the real owners of the property identify themselves before the next Planning Board meeting on January 15, or the Planning Board would deny the application. Susan Habel said the applicant had not demonstrated “sensitivity” to Planning Board recommendations, and recommended that if the applicant is not “responsive” the Planning Board deny the subdivision application.

Gritty on Greenridge

The Bayrakdarian Subdivision two-lot plan for 60 Greenridge Avenue was told by the Planning Board to communicate with the immediate neighbor, (who is former councilperson, Mary Ann Keenan), on their proposed driveway solution which the Planning Board felt would shine lights through the shrub property line between the proposed subdivision and Ms. Keenan’s property. The architect for the property, as well as the owner, protested that they had communicated to the Highlands Civic Association, and had been met with a flat rejection of their proposal by the HCA.

You got to talk to MAK

Susan Habel said, “It is the policy of the (Planning) Board to consider the impact to adjoining property owners…The owner of the adjacent property has not been contacted by the applicant in good faith. The applicant should meet with their neighbor and work out a solution between the two properties.”

Ms. Habel’s suggestion was met with the comment, “That’s absurd,” by the architect.

The owner of the property accused the Highlands Civic Association of being “a private club,” that he had made “extensive calls” and that the association made a decision that they did not want the project without giving him feedback of any kind.

The architect said, “neighbors should not have veto power” over a property owner’s plans.

Subsequently, that the owner and his architect admitted they had not contacted Ms. Keenan, their immediate neighbor, about their plans person-to-person at any time.

The architect was disturbed that the revised plans for the driveway he had delivered to the Planning Department, were not available according to the Planning Board for referrals. The Planning Department representative said she would check, but had only received three plans to her knowledge.

At the close of the proceedings, they admitted the revised plans for the new driveway design arrived late Tuesday afternoon. The hearing resumes January 15. In the meantime, the applicant and his architect are to discuss matters with Ms. Keenan.

Scott Circle Subdivision Given Slim Hope of Approval

With six neighbors from the Prospect Park area looking on, the three-lot subdivision met troubled skepticism from the Planning Board.

Paul Bergens, the noted attorney representing the owner, said that the Department of Public Works Commissioner, Joseph Nicoletti, was comfortable with the road alternatives proposed for accessing the three-lot development. He said he hoped the Planning Board would review coming revised plans on treating the steep slopes on the property.

Susan Habel was skeptical, saying, “The Planning Board is concerned about steep slopes, and though the applicant’s plan is not completed, how you’re going to treat steep slopes. You cannot have an irregular-shaped lot line to meet a minimum lot requirement.”

She said she was concerned that the Lot B plan particularly used an erratic lot line to meet compliance with the 100-foot frontage requirement, “Our concern is that it turns it on its head without sensitivity to these features (the steep slopes). We believe (by Lot B), the application be denied.”

Bergens said dryly, it would have been “helpful if we had seen the comments (of the Planning and other Departments).” Bergens doggedly said that his client’s plan would “enhance” the slopes, providing a site design that would preserve them from erosion and other factors, and said he hoped the Planning Board would consider them.

Mary Caballero, Chairperson, said she felt “torn, I assure you this board keeps an open mind.”

The hearing continues January 15.

Fortunoff’s praised

FORTUNOFF’S UNVEILS FINAL DESIGNS PRIOR TO COUNCIL FINAL VOTE THURSDAY: Michael Divney, engineer and Scott Pollack, architect, present the Fortunoff’s “Ocean Liner” design ready to dock at Martine Avenue and Bloomingdale Road, as Planning Board looks on.< br>WPCNR PHOTO.

THE FORTUNOFFS BACK THEIR TEAM. Andrea Fortunoff, left, and Louis Fortunoff, right, watch Divney and Pollack present the final designs. The Fortunoffs have appeared at every council work session and public session and numerous meetings in support of their project, sometimes waiting for hours to present their plans. They have been responsive, sensitive and creative in changing their project to deal with Hale Avenue concerns and the concerns of the City.< br>WPCNR PHOTO.

The Fortunoff’s entourage arrived to present their final designs to the Planning Board that were well received. William Null, the Fortunoff attorney, noted that substantial progress had been made allaying Hale Avenue neighborhood concerns involving the loading dock, landscaping, hours of operation, lighting, rodent control, and a host of other matters.

Fortunoff representatives displayed the final design for the Fortunoff’s complex, which looks like the bridge of one of those transatlantic ocean liner ships of the past.

SS FORTUNOFF ARRIVES ON MAPLE: Final design seen from the Maple Avenue view as shown at the Planning Board last evening.< br>WPCNR PHOTO.

SS FORTUNOFF FROM BLOOMINGDALE ROAD: Final design seen from the Bloomingdale Road view, showing the parking garage at the left, shops, restaurant at street level. Restaurant has not been selected yet.

THE “BRIDGE” OF THE SS FORTUNOFF, shown looking West corner of Maple and Bloomingdale Road, looking up Maple Avenue. The clear and opaque “bridge” will be a rounded column wrapping around Maple and Bloomingdale Road with an enclosed collonade at street level.

Materials included red brick, transparent and opaque glass panels. A third lane has been added to Bloomingdale Road to accommodate turns into the proposed Fortunoff’s garage.

FORTUNOFF PLAN MAP shows deeper tree landscaping on West side of property, (top of map), more space between service ramp and Hale Avenue, and the city road improvements on Bloomingdale Road, (bottom of picture), adding a third lane for turns into and out of the parking garage. City will spend $2MM on the road improvements.

The loading dock has been covered and moved to the direct rear of the complex, out of view of the Hale Avenue residents. The rooftop parapets have been raised to shield rooftop machinery and climate control units from the Hale Avenue view. The Planning Board heartily endorsed the project, suggesting that Westchester County add a bus stop.

In other Planning Board Action…

The Planning Board set a public hearing for January 15, 2002 on a complex of town houses planned for 319,321 and 325 West Post Road, proposed by the DeKalb Development Corporation.

The Board approved cell towers at 199 Main Street, 709 Westchester Avenue, and 149 Mamaroneck Avenue. It set a hearing for a Satellite Radio antenna at 30 Lake Street for January 15, 2002.

It approved a two-story home at Fifth Street, with the proviso the builder preserve existing woods and limit his paving.

It approved a resolution to go to the Zoning Board recommending they approve a day care program for children of teachers employed at Solomon-Schecter School. Mark Weingarten, presenting for the school, pointed out that aggravating (to the neighbors) traffic patterns at the school had considerably diminished and that the school had agreed to deduct one student from their student cap total, (currently 500), for every child they accept as a straight day care child (of teachers who are employed at Solomon-Schecter) at the proposed day care facility.

New York Presbyterian Hospital Preview

The board also participated in a preliminary discussion of the New York Presbyterian Hospital Draft Environmental Impact Statement, agreeing to meet in late January to formulate a statement to present at a public hearing on the hospital DEIS February 4, 2002.

Robert Stackpole voiced particular concerns that the financials of the proton beam accelerator project had to be looked at with an eye for traffic patterns – whether the number of persons treated to make the facility profitable would impact traffic.

James Gould, pointed out that the 150 to 200 persons a day cited as profitable treatment traffic, paled in comparison to the “thousands” the Planning Board had just endorsed coming to the Bloomingdale Road area as part of the Fortunoff’s project.

Susan Habel, Deputy Commissioner of Planning, went on record as saying the DEIS revealed alternate sites for the proton accelerator and research facility that “turned out to be very viable,” and that the Bryant Avenue location was “just flat-out not the right place for it.” She urged the Planning Board members to examine closely the alternate site descriptions and alternatives within the DEIS.

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Older Buildings Without Security,Targets for Weekend Burglars

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With a third reported burglary in one venerable Main Street landmark building within four months, added to other unreported break-ins at the same location, White Plains Police are encouraging tenants of office buildings without doormen and concierges to store portable office equipment such as laptop computers and palm pilots in secure locked locations on the premises.
Detective Sergeant Kevin Christopher of the White Plains Police told WPCNR Tuesday there was no “outbreak” or “upward trend” in burglaries in office buildings, but said older buildings presented a security problem to tenants:

Speaking by telephone, the detective said, “The problem is, with these older buildings, they are left open on weekends. People have access. These buildings don’t have the security they should have. There are no concierges, no doormen, no person in the lobby.”

Detective Christopher said that the police will schedule “security surveys” for buildings and businesses in them that are victimized by burglars, and that he would be scheduling one at 199 Main Street, the building suffering a burglary over the weekend.

The detective reports three burglaries have been investigated at that premises by the police, with the first two resulting in the apprehension of a suspect, currently facing charges. The suspect in question is alleged to have burglarized one office twice within a two-week period, both break-ins occurring over a weekend.

Sergeant Christopher said he encouraged tenants in office buildings with unsecured entrances to keep laptops and palm pilots in a “secured closet.” He also said the police would perform security checks for concerned office tenants.

The most recent burglary at 199 Main Street, occurred over the past weekend of December 15, 16.

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