Cappelli to council: No 34 stories is a Deal Killer

Louis Cappelli,made it bluntly clear to the Common Council that he would not compromise with the city on the 34 story heights of his proposed City Center towers Wednesday night.
The super developer expressed anxiety that worsening economic conditions could upset the whole City Center financial structure if he changed his project even one story, effectively killing the project perception with the banks, Avalon, his residential partner, and his prospective tenants.

The Common Council hunkered down in their seats at Wednesday evening’s work session and their eyes became smaller with each sentence uttered by Louis Cappelli who gave them an update and virtually an ultimatum on the City Center project. Councilman Benjamin Boykin, was not in attendance and did not hear the sober, friendly, frank warning delivered by the indefatigable developer.

Cappelli said that all demolition would be completed within the next three weeks, and that he wanted the Council to approve the project at their September 4 Common Council meeting because he feared any further delay could jeopardize the financing of the project.

He presented the council with his “term sheet,” an economic breakdown, floor-by-floor, of the buildings demonstrating how most of the profit of the residential towers was contained in the upper 10 stories of their projected 34 story heights. Lessening the height by one floor, he said would cause him to have to go back to the banks and reconfigure all his leases, financing, and residential partnerships.

“I sense from certain councilmen that theCity Center project was enough. I get a sense from other councilmen that 34 stores might be too high, that it’s something to come off of. It’s really not a negotiation. The bottom seven floors are worthless,” Cappelli said. “Lowering the buildings affects the performance. The top four floors are very valuable. I have to go back to Avalon, the banks. Everywhere today, you see stuff(bad economic news) happening. Time is the enemy.”

Cappelli said bluntly, “I can’t stress enough for you to move on this, say yes so I can close with my banks. I don’t want anybody to think knocking floors off is not a big deal because it is a big deal.”

Cappelli added that he is scheduled to sign a lease with National Amusements, the theater tenant, on September 4 which he will have for the Council in time for their September 4 Common Council meeting that evening, when he urged them to approve the project.

At this point, Cappelli turned to aesthetics and presented eight different brick colors and design treatments for the twin 34-story towers he was demanding. They ranged from redbrick to blue-gray, from vertical to horizontal window treatments, from a block structure pinnacle to varying pyramid pinnacles. He said he was willing to come back with 8 to 10 more treatments of the buildings to hone in on what design the Council was comfortable with.

Rita Malmud reacted to the designs with some warmth, and did not make any comments on the height issue: “I’m having trouble working with the verticalness. The vertical lines need more sense of distinction. I’ll know when I see it. That’s it.”

Pauline Oliva, however, continued her opposition to the 34-story height, though she liked building number eight. Oliva said she liked Building eight because it had a “heavier, lower look.”

Larry Delgado said “It (the design) is not quite there yet.”

William King said he liked Building number six, “I like where you’re going. I’ll support the height. I think it’sjust a matter of tweaking it. It’s a great look.”

Robert Greer said “I don’t pretend to be an architectural maven, but I’m with you on the height. No problems.”

Cappelli ebullient about the reception the design looks were getting said, “This 34-story building has to be perfect. A symbol of the city.”

Cappelli added that the buildings would be enhanced by skyward-directed flood lights, imparting a nighttime glamour.

Larry Delgado concluded comments with stating that “I’m concerned about the problem of height downtown. As Fred Bland (of Beyer, Blinder, Belle, architects) indicated we’re a city of shoulders, I would not want to see a city of only ‘heads’…I’d not like to see the biggest thing to be the biggest height.”

Cappelli took sharp, rational exception to this comment: “I’m out on the street. I don’t get the sense of what you’re getting a sense of that these stories matter. I can’t agree with a comment that this height is an issue.You show me one letter against the height, I can get you 50 letters supporting the height.”

Delgado said he was supportive of the 28-story zoning change considered by the Council.

Cappelli stood firm: “This is a deal killer. I can’t fit those 8 apartments by six floors into 28 stories. This (28 stories) is a deal killer because it changes the performance of the project.

He added: “Don’t judge us by other projects(in the future). Where were they for the last 10 years? To have you say that what they suggest should affect me that’s not right.We’re here for the first time making history. They’re not here.”

Pauline Oliva took up the anti-height crusade: “I was willing to vote for the proposal for up to 28 stories. It’s not that I am against the height, it’s how high. You just talk to business tenants. But people that talk to me, whom I meet in the supermarket, people say don’t let them build that height.”

Cappelli and Oliva wrangled over what residential homeowners thought and what the downtown needed. Oliva expressed concerns about traffic that was already clogging her Battle Hill neighborhood and what it would be like when the apartments were built at the City Center.
William King suggested part of the increased traffic was due to I-287 cut-throughs.

The Cappelli presentation closed with Mr. Cappelli vowing to return with more enhanced designs for his twin towers within a few days.

City has a deal on capturing D’Elia property for open space

The New York Trust for Public Land, has successfully negotiated a tentative deal to acquire the D’Elia subdivison off Hillair Circle with the purpose of perserving 5 acres of land for city open space as part of the Greenway Trail.
The Common Council agreed 5-1(with Rita Malmud dissenting, Benjamin Boykin not attending) to pursue the deal in its Wednesday evening meeting, after a closed door executive session. The Council did not vote to approve the expenditure which was not revealed.

The deal came as a complete surprise to the Council with the appearance of Kate Brown, Project Manager for the Mid-Atlantic Region of the New York Trust for Public Land announcing the opportunity.

Ms. Brown said she had been working on the request of the Mayor’s Open Space Acquisition Committee to pursue the D’Elia subdivision property as a number one priority of the committee, and had successfully reached an agreement on a purchase price with the owner, Albert Orlando, a developer from Greenwich, Connecticut.

“The Mayor asked us to help out with your Open Space AcquisitionProgram. It’s a typical role for us (The New York Trust for Public Land). We serve a nice role of keeping some distance between the public agency and the landowner,” she said. “Albert Orlando, buyer of the D’Elia property has agreed to turn over to the public 5 acres on Hillair Circle.”

Rita Malmud, at this point, said “I have no idea what we’re talking about.”

Ms. Brown explained that Orlando, the owner, was willing to turn over the property, (long sought by Concerned Citizens for Open Space for preservation), “at or below fair market value, so we, (The Trust for Public Land) could resell it to the city. We are in a contract situation.”

George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer, explained to Councilwoman Malmud, “We need for the council to show a manifestation of support, an affirmative agreement, or we can just pull the plug (on the deal).”

Pauline Oliva asked what were the intended uses. Brown explained the Trust was acquiring it for the city for open space or park purposes, or as an extension of the Greenway. Susan Habel confirmed this was the intended use.

Councilman Delgado said the D’Elia property was an opportunity he had discussed with members of the Open Space Acquisition Committee, but Councilwoman Oliva pointed out, “You made a recommendation and we (the rest of the council didn’t), and the Open Space Acquisition Commitee has no legal standing.”

Susan Habel gently reminded Mrs. Oliva that “the committee had been operating under the Open Space Policy under the Mayor’s Open Space Initiative (announced last spring). All properties (on the acquisition list) were actually before the Planning Board for some kind of proposal, and it was not appropriate for the city to acquire them.”

Brown said the deal started to fall into place three weeks ago, at which time she obtained independent appraisals: “Mr. Orlando is willing to hold the property off the market for a limited amount of time for us to go to contract.”

At this point, the council went into Executive Session to discuss the purchase price. After the session was over, and the council discussed what they had heard briefly before agreeing in consensus to pursue the deal.

After Executive Session, Ms. Malmud said “We’re not voting are we? I’m still not sure if the numbers are relevant.”

The other 5 members agreed to continue to go to contract on the deal, pending an official vote.

Interviewed by WPCNR in the City Hall mezzanie, Ms. Brown said the puchase price negotiated with Mr. Orlando would still leave the city with enough funds in its $5 million allotment to continue to pursue more acquisitions on the Open Space Acquisition Committee list.

Jim Benerofe, of SuburbanStreet.com, familiar with real estate values estimated that the D’Elia property was worth approximately $2 million.

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Hudson River Bandits Looking for a Few Good Girls

The Hudson River Bandits Fastpitch Softball Organization have announced their team tryout dates for the 2002 season. Two-Session Tryouts will be held at Sprout Brook Field in Peekskill as follows, affording players all important second looks. It is mandatory that players attend both sessions.
Saturday, September 8: 9 AM — for 10Under and 12 U Teams. 11 AM — for 16Under, 18Under Teams

Sunday, September 9: 3 PM — For 14Under, 16Under, 18Under Teams, 5 PM — for 10Under, and 12Under Teams

Age is determined by the age of the player as of January 1, 2002.

The Bandits, founded just five years ago, are fresh off their most successful season ever, with their 16Under, 14Under, and 12Under softball teams going 13-6 in the National Softball Association World Series this July.





The Hudson River Bandits teams and parents on the scene at Freedom Park, Charlotte, North Carolina on their March through the NSA Nationals.

In one week of intense competition among the best teams from the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest, the Red and the Gray clubs delivered “The best showing ever by the Hudson River Bandits organization at a national tournament,” according to the team founder, Rudy Netek.

The 12Under Banditas tied for 17th out of 78 teams. The 14Unders tied for 9th out of 107 teams, and the 16Under teams tied for 13th out of 92 teams.

According to Netek, there are no guaranteed spots on the Hudson River Bandits from year to year: “The Bandits believe in an ‘open tryout’ process for all 14 roster spots, where COMPETITION drives the players on each year. The primary criteria given to the coaches when they select teams each year is that a ‘new face’ must be a ‘significantly’ better player than a returning player to capture a roster spot, and displace a Bandits player from the previous year,” according to Netek.

Factors determining whether a player makes the Bandits are physical ability, athletic attributes, softball playing abilities and softball skills, attitude and approach to the game of both the player and the parents.

The Bandits play a 50 game schedule beginning in May, requiring extensive travel around the Rockland County, Dutchess County and Connecticut region, culminating in a trip to the Nationals at the end of July.Players selected will also play a fall schedule of games on Sundays beginning September 16.

Netek, who founded the Bandits in 1997, remarked: “As the Hudson River Bandits organization matures, the pool of capable, qualified, and distinguished coaching applicants widens, making the coaching selection process easier, while at the same time, makingit more difficult to settle on a limited staff. We simply have no bad or questionable options this year. The coaching staffs for all teams from this past summer were outstanding. All were successful with the girls both on and off the field.”

Commenting on the Bandit philosophy, Netek said, “The winners on the Bandits are the girls, the players who comprise the Hudson River Bandits. They are the reason we all, parents, coaches, and friends, happily do all that we do for ten months of the year. They are the beneficiaries of excellent coaching staffs year after year. Their careers on the softball diamonds, playing a game they simply love to play, are fairly short lived. Every year needs to be their best year ever and it’s all of our jobs to see that it is. Memories are lasting.”

For more information, contact the Hudson River Bandits by e-mail at HRBandits@aol.com.

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CitizeNetReporter to Affiliate With Westchester Network

The CitizeNetReporter announced today that the popular White Plains news website is becoming a flagship affiliate of the Westchester Network on September 5. A prototype of a redesigned site has already been built and preparations for going live are already underway.
“I’m excited about the new features the Westchester Network format brings to my demanding, news-starved audience, ” said John Bailey, Executive Editor of The CitizeNetReporter. “With the ability to let me instantly update the site, I can put up more news faster than any other news medium in the city. The site design has built-in interactive comment features, access to Westchester County government news, Yonkers news, Scarsdale news and the ability to conduct viewer surveys on an instant turn-around status.”

Bailey added: “The Westchester Network format brings three new and unique dimensions to my readers. The format is more accessible to them, easier to navigate and presents more details on more stories faster at a glance.”

Viewers will still access the site at the old URLs they have been using: WhitePlainsCNR.com, WPCNR.com, or WhitePlainsCitizeNetReporter.com. However, they will soon see a redesigned front page but with the old familiar trademark White Plains Cityscape.

New WPCNR Website
The new WPCNR website.
Click on the image for a larger version.

Weather, Government, School, Community, and Sports categories are covered with picturesque logos.

Stories will be listed with bullet headlines, complete with synopsis so viewers can tell instantly exactly what stories they want to read first. As with the original CitizeNetReporter site, running stories from the past will appear in chronological order on the right side of the page.

The changeover will take place officially September 4, according to Bailey.

There will be no downtime while the site is readied. Within a few days, prototype postings will be made to the new site, according to Bailey. However the CitizeNetReporter will have no suspension of service.

“That’s the beauty of the Scarsdale Technologies system, ” Bailey added. “It is a turn-key operation putting me and the Yonkers Tribune way ahead of any other news website operations in the County. It could be a prototype for any news organization in other Westchester cities to just jump in and instantly upgrade their ability to service their news niche.”

The Westchester Network is the creation of Sean P.Cover, who is attempting to build a string of independent news operations providing gritty local coverage now missing from the Westchester news scene.

“The whole idea of The White Plains CitizeNetReporter,” Bailey added “was to force the traditional media to cover more White Plains news by providing the timely detail and local knowledge of White Plains that traditional news outlets no longer provide. The Westchester Network believes in the same philosophy.”

Cover, Publisher of the Westchester Network and editor of ScarsdaleToday.com, commented: “I’m pleased to welcome John Bailey’s White Plains CitizeNetReporter and Hezi Aris’ Yonkers Tribune as they join ScarsdaleToday as partners in the Westchester Network as independent affiliates.”

He welcomes what they bring to the table:

“With Mr. Bailey’s White Plains reporting and with Hezi Aris’ Yonkers reporting, our network adds two professional stalwart news operations and now simply provides more significant news about Yonkers, Scarsdale and White Plains than any other medium. By joining the Westchester Network, WPCNR and The Yonkers Tribune end up with beautiful, state-of-the-art, maintenance-free portal systems, giving the Network and the affiliates the status of a leading medium for prospective advertisers.”

“WPCNR and The Yonkers Tribune will get traffic from all the other Westchester Network sites, consisting of real estate listings, restaurant listings, classifieds, personals and more because their name and link will be in the header of EVERY page of the Westchester Network. Fans of the two sites will still get Bailey’s and Aris’ objective, insider reporting from persons who live in the communities they cover. Meanwhile Bailey and Aris will get more exposure and traffic.”

Bailey founded White Plains CitizeNetReporter in February, 2000. His coverage has brought White Plains citizens inside, in-depth coverage of city happenings that no medium, print or electronic duplicates. His stories have been complimented by public officials, politicians, public relations experts, and community advocates and longtime leading citizens as being balanced, fair, blunt and accurate and ahead of other media.

Bailey, in deciding to join the partnership said, “We decided to affiliate with Westchester Network to upgrade our site and make it more interactive and technically professional. Not only does it allow me, a non-technical person hands-on, instant access, but its thoughtful infrastructure gives advertisers more frequent venues for repeated exposure and good will.”

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American Cancer Society “Making Strides Walk” October 14th

Candyce Corcoran writes: This morning (August 2) I attended the American Cancer Society’s annual 7 am breakfast kick off for breast cancer awareness. What made today’s breakfast a little tougher on me was not the fact that a a movie was shown that made everyone’s eyes fill up with tears, but that somewhere in the very same room was my mother, Yvonne.
My mother is a breast cancer survivor. She had a radical mastectomy in 1979. And quite frankly, now I know where I do get all of my energy! Right from her!

As many of you are aware, I have been a team captain for many years trying to raise funds to rid all of us of this dreadful disease. Last year, thanks to many of you, I was able to send money to the American Cancer Society in a package.

Just remember, “that if it has not already, breast cancer will touch you or someone you know. The disease will strike nearly 200,000 times this year and claim more than 40,000 lives.” (according to the American Cancer Society)

Since, 1993, Making Strides has been the rally to raise awareness. Last year 325,000 walkers across the country collected more than $26 million dollars.

Please join me again this year by walking with me (I will attempt some of the trip because of my broken foot) or at least by making a contribution to the American Cancer Society.

The walk is on Sunday, October 14, 2001. Registration is 8 to 10:30 a.m. and the event starts at 9:30 to 10:30. We will be walking 5 miles at Manhattanville College.

Thank you once again for all of your support,

Candyce Corcoran

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School Board Authorizes $100,000 in Overtime to Complete High School

In its regular Board of Education meeting Monday evening, August 13, the Board authorized spending up to $100,000 in overtime construction costs to complete the new high school media center, administration offices, new cafeteria and science lab expansion in time for the first week of school.

Richard Lasselle, Assistant Superintendent for Business, requested the
increase in order to cope with a shortage of electricians on the high
school renovation, which has 21 days before students are expected to arrive.
Lasselle, speaking to WPCNR, assured WPCNR the high school would be ready
to serveallhigh school students by the first day of school, September
6.

Lasselle said the contractor has been working 6 days a week to ready
the $28 million expansion. He said the authorization of $100,000 in overtime
expenditure was an effort to assure availability of electrical contractors,
whom Lasselle described as being in great demand around the county due
to the large number of construction projects throughout the region.

WPCNR spoke with a supervising contractor on site at the high school
last week who told us that he was anticipating the project being completed
by the third week in September at the earliest. Our source said that the
new cafeteria had all kitchen and serving facilities in place and interior
renovation installed, and that the electrical work which including wiring
air conditioning and ventilation systems (delivered and cranelifted onto
the building the last week in July) were about to be “hooked up.”
This on-site source reported that the electrical subcontractors were the
keys to getting the entire project student-ready by September.

On the science lab facilities, the contractor told us last week that
labtables and heavy counter furnishings were in place, and were awaiting
electrical, plumbing and gas hookups. He speculated that the science labs
would also be completed approximately about Setember 15 but stressed that
work was intensifying. He gave us this estimate the first week of August.

NEW SCIENCE Labs being enclosed week of August 6.
Contractor reports labtables in and electrical work remains. Photo
by WPCNR.

The contractor also reported that work on the new media center was in
good shape, but that too was awaiting electrical wiring for technological
resources. He said that the school district had concentrated on the cafeteria
and science facilities, and that the new administrative offices and circular
media center section would be completed last.

MEDIA CENTER and ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES under construction.
Media Center awaits wiring, is expected to open mid-September. New
Administrative offices in this section will be last to be opened.
High school brain-trust will continue in trailers. Photo by WPCNR.

A teacher interviewed by WPCNR at the beginning of August advised us
that she had been told that the administration offices would continue
to be in the temporary trailers through September because the new administrative
offices would be completed last in the construction sequence.

Lasselle, speaking to WPCNR after the Board of Education voted the overtime
funds, said that “I don’t want to make predictions, it’s still too
close to call, but we’re going to be ready for the kids.”

He said the new cafeteria, as of last Monday’s meeting, needed the electrical
work to be completed, and that the media probably would not be functioning
until about mid-September, when all books and materials and equipment
would be moved into the facility.

New Cafeteria nears completion. Shown August 6, Cafeteria
is having air-conditioning, vents, electrical work installed and is
expected ready for service the first day of school. Photo by WPCNR.

However, Lasselle was optimistic. He emphasized that the construction
situation improves each day, and pointed out that once contractors left
a clean-up operation would be needed before the new facilities were ready
to be activated. He did say the new cafeteria was expected to be ready
for the first day of school and there would be room for all the students.

Asked if WPCNR could go on a walking tour of the construction this week,
Lasselle suggested that the time for the tour was when the new facilities
were opened officially.

The renovation of the high school lost 17 construction days at the beginning
of the project in the year 2000, due to union disputes that the nonunion
contractor, Tratoros Construction was not using enough union operators
on heavy earth-moving equipment and concrete pouring. This was resolved,
and there have been no work stoppages since August, 2000.

In other action –

The Board of Education approved a resolution going on record as opposing
a bill that Dr. Saul Yanofsky said which would direct the School Districts
across New York State authorize “unemployment compensation”
to “non-instructional 10-month employees, (not teachers) across the
state.”

Yanofsky said that the bill was sponsored by State Senator Nicholas Spano.

Yanofsky said this bill which apparently has widespread support in the
legislature could cost the City School District more than $500,000 a year
increased expenses because the School District is “self-supporting,
in terms of its unemployment compensation.”

The Personnel Office of the School District reported to WPCNR that 10-month
employees include “teaching assistants, cafeteria workers, and some
clerical staff.”

The Superintendent of Schools said “It (the bill) is disturbing,
because its purpose is not what unemployment compensation is all about.
People on these 10-month jobs take them because they only want 10-month
jobs. They want the summer free.”

Yanofsky expressed concern that teachers would desire the same unemployment
benefits in the future, creating the specter of a massive increase in
unemployment compensation.

Yanofsky said he had written State Senators Suzi Oppenheimer, Nicholas
Spano, and Assemblypersons Amy Paulin and Naomi Matusow opposing the project,
but mentioned that Senator Spano is the actual bill sponsor.

“The bill is still alive in Albany,” Yanofsky reported. “The
tax PACS and business interests have not heard of it, and it is my understanding
that this (bill) is going to happen very quietly.”

WPCNR contacted Senator Spano’s office to find out exactly why this bill
is being sponsored in Albany, and exactly what it would do. The Senator’s
press secretary, Claire Wainwright, reported that the Senator is away,
and that she will be reporting back to WPCNR with more background on the
reasons behind this bill.

On Albany issues…

Dr. Yanofsky, in his remarks to the Board, expressed concern about the
impact of the Albany “bare bones” budget passed against Governor
Pataki’s wishes two weeks ago.

The budget he said, means that the District will not be getting state
aid they anticipated for BOCES, small cities and the disabled. “(These
cuts) will have a devastating affect across the state,” Yanofsky
said.

He also said the legislators’ $4 billion in cuts would deny any possibility
of added funding for magnet schools. He also said Pre-K funding could
be affected, though the school district is planning to stay with the Pre-K
program this year.

New Director of Adult Education…

The district approved the appointment of Claudia Jarmillo to the position
of Director of Adult and Continuing Education replacing Anthony Morzello,
who is retiring.

Ms. Jarmillo was described by Dr. Yanofsky as having been found after
two “searches,” and that she had very impressive credentials
in curriculum development. She holds an Bachelor of Arts and Masters Degree
from St. John’s University.

Watch your mailbox for The Code of Conduct

For the green and tan Code of Conduct Summary. The flyer outlines the
27-page Code of Conduct approved by the School Board June 25, 2001. Versions
are available in both English and Spanish. All families of secondary school
students will receive the flyer with the school calendar in the next two
weeks. Assemblies will also be held in schools discussing the Code of
Conduct.

Anyone wishing the complete Code of Conduct may request it from the School
District in English or Spanish by calling 422-2039.

Posted in Uncategorized

Mayor Moves to Place Time Limits on Council Meetings

The Delfino Administration is proposing changes to the way monthly Common Council meetings are conducted “to prevent the Common Council from discussing and voting on public issues after midnight.”

In an official news release from City Hall, Mayor Delfino made this statement:

“The last Common Council meeting lasted until 3:45 A.M., long after
most people have gone to sleep. It is insane and prevents many of our
residents from participating in the public debate on some of the most
important issues facing our City in the last twenty years.”

There was a full house at City Hall on Monday August
5 at 8:10 PM for start of “The Mother of All Common Council Meetings,”
or “The Meeting That Would Not End.” Meeting lasted 7 hours and 40
minutes, adjourning at approximately 3:45 AM Tuesday morning, prompting
the Mayor’s initiative. Photo by WPCNR.

The Mayor proposes starting Common Council meetings at 7:30 PM, instead
of the current 8 P.M. start. He also wants the Council to agree to an
automatic curfew at midnight, with a mandatory “carry-over”
of the remaining agenda to the next night, Tuesday evening.

Says Delfino: “The Council should be prepared to meet every night
if it has to in order to get the people’s business done. This is what
we need to do in order to ensure that the public is included in the process.”

The Delfino Administration, by unofficial count, has staged more council
meetings than the previous Schulman Administration. In 1994, the Common
Council under Mayor Sy Schulman met 21 times. In 1999, Mayor Delfino doubled
the number of Council meetings “to reflect the flurry of proposals
created by what Delfino calls ‘the revitalization era of White Plains,’”
according to the City Hall statement.

In the year 2000 the Council met 61 times, tripling the number of Council
meetings from 1994.

The Common Council meeting of August 5 to 6, which ran from 8:10 PM to
3:45 PM with two 10 minute breaks, was the longest council meeting in
30 years, according to the city Registrar, Janice Minieri, who recalled
that in the 70s, Council meetings used to have an 11 o’clock curfew.

Last week’s council meeting featured 6 Public Hearings and discussion
of a resolution. Speakers were not limited to specific time limits. All
speakers who wanted to be heard were allowed to speak. Several persons
awaiting for their opportunity to present during their hearing were obliged
to wait 4 hours, 6 hours, and one, a full 7 hours before their hearing
came up.

What disturbed the news media personnel covering the meeting was that
the Beyer Blinder Belle presentation on the “height study” and
the City Center public hearing did not begin until 11 PM and midnight,
respectively. The zoning hearings were taken first.

Channel 12′s television crew, there to cover the Cappelli City Center
project (which was listed first on the agenda, but was delayed until after
the zoning hearings), walked out after discovering the City Center was
delayed indefinitely into the night. (Public dessemination of the Cappelli
Center models presented later that night, would have been very helpful
to the public if televised clips of the model had been presented on Channel
12.)

BODY DRAIN: The “Meeting That Would Not End” continues.
By 3 A.M., only two Commissioners, a policeman, one spectator and
this reporter watched the Common Council grill Public Works Commissioner
Joseph Nicoletti relentlessly and repetitiously on the $1.2 Million
Youth Bureau and new Public Works Garage cost overruns. This action
took place at approximately 3 AM Tuesday morning. The council voted
7-0 to fund the overruns (See related
story
). Public Access Television Channel 72 will telecast the
first third of the meeting on Mondays; the second third on Tuesdays,
and the final segment on Wednesdays the rest of this month. Photo
by WPCNR.

According to the official City Hall statement released Tuesday, Delfino
in his 1998 Inaugural Address, pledged to “swing the doors of City
government wide open.” In the statement, it credits him with initiating
a series of reforms “aimed at increasing public access and participation.”
Increasing the number of times the Common Council has met has been the
most visible evidence of this initiative.

Delfino is credited by the statement with providing full access to Council
meeting minutes and agendas through the city website at www.cityofwhiteplains.com,
which provides minutes of every Council meeting for the past six years.
The statement also reports: “Delfino has also restored work session
meetings, which allows the Common Council to be briefed in public on City
issues and to ask questions.”

It should be pointed out by this observer of City Hall that without scheduled
Work Sessions, all Common Council meetings would run much longer, and
projects, proposals, and resolutions would take even longer to go through
the presentation, hearing, and approval process than they do now, because
the Common Council would ask a lot more questions.

Posted in Uncategorized

Scarsdale Police Like Corcoran’s Accessibility & Visibility

The President of the Scarsdale Police Benevolent Association, Detective Richard Fatigate, interviewed by WPCNR at the Scarsdale Police Department Tuesday, officially endorsed Candyce Canelstein Corcoran for the post of County Legislator in the 5th District for her familiarity with local issues.
Fatigate said Corcoran had come to the attention of the Scarsdale PBA several months ago by “being very visible in town, and a lifelong resident of our area.” He said he had also talked with police officials in White Plains and Greenburg, whom he said hold Ms. Corcoran “in the highest regard because she has always been accessible and helpful” to them.

Fatigate said these Corcoran qualities were instrumental in the SPBA decision to endorse Corcoran’s candidacy. He feels that her record of being accessible and involved in the community would be a valuable resource to the police in their efforts to improve working conditions and resolve ongoing retirement issues like the police effort to secure Tier 2 status in calculating pension benefits.

“We feel as our County Legislator, she can be a voice in Albany as well,” Fatigate said. “She’s been a resident all her life in our community. She is sympathetic to our community, and has long been visible in it, while her opponent came here to run and is a professional politician. She’s been extremely visible, ever since our Sidewalk Sale and Tricentennial Celebration, while we haven’t even seen her opponent here (in Scarsdale).”

Asked about crime issues that he felt the County might help Scarsdale deal with, Fatigate smiled.

The Village of Scarsdale, Fatigate said, does not have a crime problem, having the lowest crime rate in Westchester County, and is one of the ten safest communities in New York State. Asked how the Scarsdale Police achieve this, he remarked that the “proactive” policy of the department was part of their secret.

“We don’t wait for crime to happen. We actually seek it out and try to deter it, ” Fatigate said. “The people here are not afraid to talk with the police. When they have a concern, we take it seriously, whether real or perceived. We are proactive with residents, talking with them regularly on crime prevention programs, security concerns and other issues.”

Council Authorizes Bonding for DPW Garage-Youth Bureau Extra Costs

In the longest Council meeting Town Clerk Janice Minieri can ever remember, (7 hours and 40 minutes and adjourning at 3:40 AM, Tuesday morning), the Common Council authorized an additional $1.2 million in bonding for additional expenditures in connection with constructing the new Department of Public Works garage on 75 Brockway Place and renovating Eastview School for the new Youth Bureau opening next month.

Approving the decision at approximately 3:15 AM in the morning, the Council
voted unanimously to provide $600 million in bonding to fund extensive
construction upgrades on the new Youth Bureau construction at Eastview
School. The construction consisted of disabled access ramping and automatic
doors mandated by the State Education Department, to the surprise of both
the City School District and Public Works Commissioner Joseph Nicoletti.

The Council reluctantly agreed to Department of Public Works Commissioner
Joseph Nicoletti’s specification for wood and concrete pilings for the
new Department of Public Works garage on Brockway Place, for another $600
million, which also included $200,000 for a separate Purchasing Building
at 202 Westchester Avenue. Total extra expenditure between the Youth Bureau
and the new DPW garage was $1.2 million.

When Commissioner Nicoletti was called to the podium at approximately
3 AM last Tuesday morning to explain the need for the extra funding on
the two endeavors, he was scolded by Councilmembers Pauline Oliva and
Rita Malmud for the unforeseen expenses.

Malmud and Oliva pointed out that Commissioner Nicoletti had told them
the value on the city deal with Bianco & Pep’e (of Scarsdale) that
provided Pep’e land on Brockway Place for the new garage in exchange for
the city’s existing Department of Public Works garage for a new Stop N
Shop Supermarket and Westchester One parking facility would not exceed
$6.4MM.

Commissioner Nicoletti explained that when piles were drilled to test
soil support abilities, it was discovered that the consistency of the
soil on Brockway Place would not support the steel pilings planned. Mr.
Nicoletti personally felt that wood concrete pilings would be the better
long term selection which would add 20 years of life to the new garage.

Selection of concrete pilings for
the new garage foundation is expected to enable the city to get
30 more years usage out of the new garage. The decision will cost
the city approximately $400,000 out of the $600,000 earmarked to
cover extra cost of the sturdier construction. The other $200,00
is earmarked for a new Purchasing Department building at 202 Westchester
Avenue. Photo by WPCNR.

Nicoletti said soil support samplings would usually have been taken before
the cost was determined, but in this case, when the deal was in process,
there was no time to make the soil samplings, and that the Bianco &
Pep’e firm was not prepared to invest more than the $6.4 million value
on the deal, anyway at the time.

Elsewhere on the Pep’e – Stop N
Shop Project: On Saturday, workmen remove asbestos from roof of
old Bank of New York Building on Westchester Avenue. View is from
the Department of Public Works on 111 South Kensico. Commissioner
Nicoletti reports the BONY building should be demolished within
two weeks. Photo by WPCNR.

As followers of the Stop N Shop vs. Pep’e/Shoprite proposals in the year
2000 will remember, the Council had originally voted in favor of the Stop
N Shop proposal which proposed building a public works garage in back
of the Stop N Shop.

The Pep’e proposal suggested building the new public works garage on
its property on Brockway Place and proposing a Shoprite supermarket and
Westchester One parking garage behind the supermarket. The council opted
for the Stop N Shop proposal.

At the time there was much talk from the Common Council members about
Nicholas Pep’e and Stop N Shop combining their proposals. According to
WPCNR observations, Councilpersons Rita Malmud, Pauline Oliva and Robert
Greer suggested that Mr. Pep’e and Stop N Shop might explore how the two
organizations could marry their two proposals.

Mr. Pep’e and Stop N Shop did meet after Stop N Shop was selected and
came to a compromise plan which involved a swap of Stop N Shop land, the
City DPW, and a new garage in exchange for the Pep’e property on Brockway
Place for the new city DPW garage.

The Youth Bureau would have to move as a result of the demolition of
the old Department of Public Works garage, where it is presently housed.
After negotiations with the school district, the city received permission
to use the ground floor of Eastview School for the new Youth Bureau. The
city also understood that the State Education Department would have to
approve any redesigns of the school building.

Originally, $400,000 had been earmarked for the Youth Bureau Eastview
renovation. However, Mr. Nicoletti told the Common Council that neither
he nor the school district ever expected the construction specifications
that the State Education Department would demand the city build into the
new Youth Bureau wing at Eastview. New York state-mandated changes and
other possibilities for the Youth Bureau such as including a 1500 square
foot computer room, access to a gymnasium and new rest rooms are approaching
$600,000, according to Nicoletti.

The original Pep’e-Stop N Shop proposal executing the three-way swap
and build program was approved by the Common Council with the understanding
that its value to the city would be $6.4 million, with no costs out of
pocket for the city, with Pep’e building the new Department of Public
Works garage on Brockway Place and Stop N Shop and the Pep’e firm building
the Stop N Shop parking and new Westchester One parking on Stop N Shop
land consisting of the Bank of New York Property, the bowling alley and
the old City DPW garage.

Two weeks ago, in a work session, Mr. Nicoletti discussed that the city
had run into unforeseen out-of-pocket costs on both the Youth Bureau and
the new Department of Public Works garage which exceeded the $6.4 million
dollar figure by $1.2MM. The Tuesday morning 3 AM vote was to approve
bonding for that $1.2MM.

Nicoletti explained that the Department of Education wanted the ground
floor to be made completely accessible by the disabled, which required
building concrete ramps, special access doors and ramps, replacing internal
stairways and accessible bathrooms. Cost of the concrete alone for ramps
was an additional $100,000, Nicoletti said. As part of the Youth Bureau
renovations, a new computer room was added, and additional wiring and
special computer furniture ran this cost up another $150,000. Access doors
to a ground floor gymnasium were another expense, he said, that the city
felt would enhance the Youth Bureau program significantly.

Pauline Oliva said “I’m not as disturbed about the fact these things
are going to be costing more. It’s just the way I feel we went about approving
the contracts with the Pep’e and Stop N Shop people without a clause specifying
either they would pay or we would share in the costs if an overrun occurs.
We did a bad job there. All members of the council were under the impression
it was an even exchange.”

Mayor Joseph Delfino questioned this logic: “It was always an understanding
(with Pep’e) that we were getting equal value, the value was $6.4 million.
Anything we added on, we would pay for. What would you have them do, give
us a blank check? Would you do this (agree to pay cost overruns if you
were the contractor)?”

Oliva rejoined: “To end up taking it out of the pockets of the people
of the City of White Plains…well when a reporter called me about it
(the cost overrun) and I heard your discussion, it was a big surprise
to me. It just shocked me.”

Rita Malmud weighed in: “What Mrs. Oliva is saying is the expectation
was that we were going to replicate the existing facilities…We were
told there was a generous contingency fund. When the question of cost
overruns came up, and it was we were told not to worry about it. ‘Trust
me.’ ‘Don’t worry about it.’ ‘Don’t worry about it.’”

Mayor Delfino asked, “What’s the difference between a cost overrun
and the amenities we added on to the project?”

Malmud said, “that shouldn’t have been a surprise to us. We hardly
know that this is the end of the cost overruns.”

Malmud, the Common Council President, also raised the issue that the
new Department of Public Works Garage was planned to house the Purchasing
Department, and that was no longer the case, and that that was a surprise
to the Common Council. Pauline Oliva agreed that she could not recall
that moving the Purchasing Department out of the new garage was ever discussed
in work session or any meeting.

However, Mr. Nicoletti produced a memorandum addressed to the Council
dated September 5, 2000, advising the Council that the Purchasing Department
was going to be moved to a new building at 202 Westchester Avenue. Nicoletti
said $200,000 was to be spent on the new building as part of the $600,000,
but said most of the $600,000 for the new DPW garage was to pay for the
more expensive concrete pilings he selected.

The Commissioner said it had become clear over the summer of 2000 that
purchasing would not fit in the new garage. He maintained that he had
always said that purchasing was going to be in a separate building, and
that it was in the ordinance the Common Council had voted on to approve
the Pep’e-Stop N Shop project.

Mr. Nicoletti patiently took great pains to explain why the more expensive
pilings were selected, pointing out that the new garage was a project
that had been treated as a “design concept” where construction
was to begin, and could not be cost out over six months, taking soil structure
samples in the normal Department procedure before it began (as they had
with the Youth Bureau move), because there was a city urgency to lock
in the project, while the developers were in agreement.

The foundation for the new Department
of Public Works garage on Brockway Place is using concrete pilings
(shown on the site) selected by Public Works Commissioner Joseph
Nicoletti after test pile drivings indicated the soil on the site
would not support spread pilings originally considered. Photo by
WPCNR.

Mrs. Malmud did not accept this: “You’re focusing on the nitty
gritty, and we’re looking at the big picture. Where you’re entering into
a financial agreement with another party who is theoretically going to
pay for all this, you have to have an agreement not just involving the
Department of Public Works, but all the departments in the city. We shouldn’t
be entering contracts unless we have a thorough understanding that it
is a good agreement to enter into. There are millions of dollars involved
here…We still don’t know if there are any more millions that we may
end up paying.”

Mayor Delfino supported his Commissioner: ” I disagree. I think
we went through this process. We added amenities, spoke to the Youth Bureau
and the needs of our children that we had to fulfill. I think it is the
greatest decision this council ever made for the youth of this city. We
could have put up a free-standing building for $400,000, but the council
was opposed to that. We spoke to the Youth Board, and all agreed it was
better to move the Bureau to Eastview.”

Councilperson Oliva scoffed that the free-standing building would never
have passed. She pointed out that the old Department of Public Works building
was a fine building (“It was perfectly fine), and that members of
the community, a former Mayor, (Michael Keating) had warned that it was
a fine structure and that the Common Council had to be “careful”
about losing it. Mayor Delfino pointed out that the old garage required
millions in renovation to remain appropriate for the city.

Larry Delgado, Councilman, quietly pointed out that “111 South Kensico
(site of the old Youth Bureau, the existing DPW garage) was not an ideal
location (for the Youth Bureau).” Delgado said the Common Council
in a work session agreed that the Eastview location was better suited
than a free-standing building.

Councilman Greer, pressing Nicoletti on the $700,000 worth of design
attributed to Pep’e within the original $6.4 million, remarked that “Had
we not been so concerned with rushing this through, and had designed it
properly, we could have anticipated this ($600,000 expenditure).”

Nicoletti was hesitant: “But, they said that $6.4 million was it.
We would have said $700 million, but I don’t know if the project would
have gone through.”

Nick Pep’e, principal of Biano & Pep’e, interviewed by WPCNR last
week, told us that his firm had only been paid $300,000 for the design
portion of the project, and had included some design costs of the project
amounting to up to 15% of the total cost of the project without being
compensated for them, including them as a good will gesture. Pep’e also
said that Nicoletti had made a good decision on the pilings.

Ms. Malmud concluded discussion by appearing to fix with glee the overrun
at 24%, laughing at her inability to do the math, including both the Youth
Bureau and new garage added costs.

She had one parting comment to Mr. Nicoletti: “You have to look
at this as a package. The Council is not looking at whether 2 foot or
4 foot pilings are needed. We have to look at the big picture. And the
big picture was that this was an exchange, it is not just your department,
not that I’m zeroing in on you, I don’t want to make you feel bad..”

At which point Mr. Nicoletti softly said, “I do feel bad. I’m sorry.”

Within minutes the resolution was called at the council voted unanimously
to bond for the cost overruns.

But, the Council still had a half-hour to go.

Janice Minieri, the City Registrar, Bureau of Vital Statistics, told
WPCNR she remembered some Council meetings going to about 3 o’clock in
the morning, but never as late as 20 minutes to 4 in the morning. She
remarked that it was the longest Council meeting in thirty years. Before
that she said the Council had met twice a month, and limited meetings
to an 11 o’clock curfew, after a councilmember had had a heart attack
at a late meeting.

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Corcoran Receives 3 Endorsements; Launches Website

The Scarsdale Police Benevolent Association has officially endorsed Candyce Canelstein Corcoran for County Legislator in the 5th County Legislative District, according to a letter to Ms. Corcoran of White Plains, from Detective Richard Fatigate, President of the SPBA.
The key labor support added momentum to Ms. Corcoran’s 7-day-a-week, door-to-door, supermarket-to-supermarket, meeting-to-meeting crusade to unseat incumbent William Ryan, and was the third endorsement Ms. Corcoran has obtained in a week.

Last week, Ms. Corcoran received the endorsement of the United Construction Trades & Industrial Employees International Union of Glendale, NY, in a letter from Andrew Talamo, President of the union.

Talamo called Corcoran “a consistent supporter of the Trade Union movement… her praiseworthy endeavors are a needed example of compassion and concern for a friend or a stranger, stands as an inspiration to all. Her willingness to make great personal sacrifices to aid others is encouraging to all mankind and serves to remind us of the rewards of a life well spent in service to others.”

She has also received the official support of the Republican Pro Choice Coalition, counting among its members Dina Merrill, Governor George Pataki, and State Senator Nicholas Spano, and Jeanine Pirro.

On Monday, Ms. Corcoran officially launched her campaign website, which may be view at www.corcoran2001win.com. Leaving no resource unturned, Ms. Corcoran said the site was created by her 13 year old son Andrew and his friend, Ryan Hansen. The site both English and Spanish, contains listings of her accomplishments and achievements in business and the community, the cornerstones of her campaign in detail: Concern, Commitment, Courage, and a place to volunteer and to contribute.

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