Council Demands Heavyweight Fire Expert for Police/Fire Study

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

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

A four-month Time Frame

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

Conducted in 4 Phases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consequences of an Austerity Budget

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

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

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

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

Bring signs

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

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

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


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

A different kind of lease.

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

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



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

Photo by WPCNR

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

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

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

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

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

Nook Could be closed within 30 days of any purchase.

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



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

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

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

Nook legal options can not begin until she is evicted.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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Council to Study Organization of Public Safety Department.

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

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

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

Fire Department Wish

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

Council previously did not want to touch the issue.

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

CGR on assignment with Westchester County Association.

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

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

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

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

Studied Rochester Police

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

Hickey Twists in Wind on Indefinite Hold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Countdown to approval or denial has started.

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

Next:

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

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

Boykin reveals that the hospital has approached him on private hearings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doctor not impressed with proton accelerator.

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

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

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

Not the first time, accelerator “dissed.”

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

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

Another case uncovered.

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

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

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

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

Greed called hospital motive

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just three favor project last night.

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

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

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

Masback, former Councilman supports project

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

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

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

Traffic, construction main points of contention.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharp exchange between William King and the Mayor.

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

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

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

The Gladiator as Peacemaker

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

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

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

Good news. The jut outs will be saved.

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

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

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

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

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MIDNIGHT SKATING AT EBERSOLE RINK

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


MAYOR JOSEPH DELFINO
Photo by WPCNR

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

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

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

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

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COUNTY EXECUTIVE SPANO TO HONOR NEW YORK RAPTORS

WPCNR Press Box, from Westchester County Department of Communications, Filed 3/04/02, 1:30 PM EST: Developmentally-disabled athletes will carry the Westchester County flag at Albany competition.
County Executive Andy Spano will bid farewell and good luck to the New York Raptors, a hockey team for developmentally disabled athletes, as they embark on a trip to Albany to represent Westchester County in the annual Special Hockey International Tournament.


THE 2001-02 NEW YORK RAPTORS HEADED FOR ALBANY: County Executive Andy Spano will present the Westchester County flag to the team Tuesday in a special ceremony at the team’s home rink, Westchester Skating Academy in Elmsford. Jason David Bailey, second from left, Second Row, formerly of White Plains, has been skating with the Raptors since 1997.

Spano will meet the coaches and members of the team on Tuesday, March 5th at 4 p.m. at the Westchester Skating Academy on Rte. 9A in Elmsford. He will also present the team with the Westchester County flag, which members will carry on Thursday when they participate in Olympic-style opening ceremonies at the Big Arena in Delmar, N.Y., a suburb of Albany.

“The Olympics recently treated us to some amazing athletic feats and inspiring stories of the athletes and the sacrifices they made to get there,” said Spano. “These athletes — those with disabilities that prevent them from competing in other games — are just as dedicated and determined. I want the Raptors to know that all of us in Westchester County are behind them 100 percent as they head to Albany. We wish them the best of luck.”

The New York Raptors were founded in 1996 to provide an opportunity for developmentally disabled children in the New York area to play in an ice hockey program designed especially for them. They participate in one of more than 15 special hockey programs in North America, playing under the aegis of Special Hockey International – The Heart League. Similar non-profit programs are based in St. Louis, Denver, Hartford, Albany and Canada. All of these clubs will participate in the upcoming tournament.

The program is open to players of any age, male or female who are ineligible or unable to participate in an existing, organized program due to a disability.

For information on how your disabled son or daughter can participate with the Raptors for the 2002-03 season, call 698-4871.

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How to Run an Ice Rink: Ebersolettes Present Two Shows March 9 & 23.

WPCNR Press Box, by John Baseball Bailey, Filed 3/04/02 12 Noon, EST: Ebersole Rink is ending a great year according to Department of Recreation & Parks Commissioner, Joe Davidson. “Kristen Fuerst and her staff of instructors are topflight professionals,” he told WPCNR Monday. “The parents with children involved in the figure skating program have nothing but the highest praise for them and the way the program is administered.” The Figure Skaters will present two end-of-year programs for the first time this month.


FIGURE SKATING DIRECTOR KRISTEN FUERST OF EBERSOLE ICE RINK, architect of the White Plains Ebersole Rink Figure Skating School after Advanced Figure Skating Club practice Friday night. Ms. Fuerst is in her eighth year as director of the school which this year saw its best year ever. Three skaters competed in the Empire State Games last week. The White Plains Figure Skating Club hosted its second United States Figure Skating Association Test Session. The rink will have presented three ice shows this year with the final two coming up March 9 and 23rd, free to the public.
Photo by WPCNR

Kristen Fuerst, Skating School Director, said that for the first time in the rink history, this Saturday there will be a “Night in the Spotlight” program beginning at 5:30 PM, featuring three hours of skating solos:

“Possibly 70 skaters will be peforming Saturday,” Fuerst told WPCNR. “We have a wonderful evening planned. The skaters will be at a Gamma Level and above. It’s also open to all our advanced figure skating members. We’re going to have soloist exhibitions by some of our public session members who are preparing to get ready to join our advanced figure skating club from our group classes. We have a lot of kids in our Camp Chill who also are doing programs that they learned at the camp in exhibition. So it’s a wonderful opportunity for new skaters and skaters who have in the program.”

The idea for “A Night in the Spotlight,” grew out of discussion with Fuerst and her instructors: “This was an idea that was kind of like a group effort from all who thought you know what, how are we going to make the advanced figure skating program grow? This is an opportunity to get those kids from the public sessions to where we say ‘look we have other programs. It’s like a feeder program to get them into the more advanced skating.”

2002 “TV Land Show” slated for Saturday March 23

Two weeks from this Saturday, all the skaters in Ebersole Rink programs will be staging their annual “themed show,” this year it is “T.V. Land,” the traditional end-of-the-year show, Fuerst said.

“Our end of the year ice show, it’s our 39th annual show,” Fuerst continued. “We’re doing T.V. Land this year. Basically that’s all our group class kids who are in our skating school. Approximately 250 participants. Twenty-eight soloists will be skating. We’re looking forward to a wonderful program of fun and enjoyment. We’re doing different tv programs throughout the decades, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s.”


JUST A FEW EBERSOLETTES with Kristin Fuerst, Skating School Director, (at left), displaying the new White Plains Figure Skating banner that will hang from the roof of the outdoor rink shortly. Many of the girls learned to skate at Ebersole Rink and will be performing March 7 and March 23 in the two end-of-year shows.
Photo by WPCNR


Calls it her most successful year.

We asked if 01-02 had been her most successful year: “I think so,” Fuerst reported. “We’ve had a lot of fun. A lot of different programs are running. We’d have a good year with skating school. Our Advanced Figure Skating is up another 10% from last year. Our Tuesday night for our more advanced, more competitive figure skaters, we had a beautiful test session. The program’s growing. Overall, I think a good year. We’ve had a lot of beginners because of an Olympic year, has helped out. Everyone wants to skate like Sarah Hughes now. A lot of the fathers are saying, ‘I want my daughter to be a figure skater.’


FIGURE SKATING MOMS: Mary Reinthaler, President of the White Plains Figure Skating, (at left), Susan Murphy, (Test Chair), and Yvette Salinger , parents who organized the Ebersole Rink United States Figure Skating Association Test Session in February. Seventeen of 23 Ebersole skaters passed their tests at that session. Ms. Reinthaler ordered the figure skating banner that will be raised to accompany the Plainsmen Hockey Banner.
Photo by WPCNR


Praises parent support.

Fuerst said that like a lot of White Plains operations, parents are a big part of the rink success:

“If it wasn’t for all the group efforts of the parents, too, it wouldn’t be possible. We have a lot of parents who volunteer and put a lot of time into the program. That’s what it is. It’s like a big family. Everybody gets together and gets everything done. I’m very lucky like that.”

This is Fuerst’s eighth season at the rink, and the last four to five years have seen the most growth:

“I think we offer a nice recreation program and we offer a branch to those more advanced skaters who want to get to a new level.”

Test Session: Trauma on Ice.

One of the advances in the last year that parents have contributed is the organization of an annual USFSA test at the Ebersole Rink. Organized by Susan Murphy, Mary Reinthaler and Yvette Salinger, officers of the White Plains Figure Skating Club, the test session provides competitive skaters the opportunity to showcase their moves for USFSA judges at their own local rink, without traveling to other rinks.


POISE UNDER PRESSURE, one of the side benefits of figure skating is built by the scrutiny of United States Figure Skating Association Judges who check skaters edges, power thrusts and techniques against their standards. Alone on the ice, the skater learns to quiet nerves and execute. Here a test candidate performs at the February 13 Test Session at Ebersole Rink
Photo by WPCNR


Ms. Salinger organized the hospitality for the judges last month. Susan Murphy supervised the sequence and bookkeeping of the candidates, and judges, and Mary Reinthaler coordinated operations.

Lake Placid Miracle on Ice II

Three Ebersole Skaters competed at the Empire State Games in Lake Placid February 23, skating solos in the Intermediate Level of competitions before USFSA judges.


EBERSOLETTES IN LAKE PLACID AT THE EMPIRE STATE GAMES: Kathleen Murphy, left, Juliana Bailey, center and Amy Reinthaler, wearing their Empire State Games jerseys before taking the ice in competition in Lake Placid last week. All three learned to skate at Ebersole Rink and skated with poise, tenaciousness and without fear at the famous Lake Placid complex.Photo by WPCNR


The Empire State Games, presented and sponsored by the New York State Lottery provided a taste of the Olympic experience for the three girls from White Plains, complete with opening ceremonies featuring former Olympians, and live “feeds” of encouraging messages from Salt Lake City, last week.


OPENING CEREMONIES OF THE EMPIRE STATE GAMES, attended by Ebersole skaters.
Photo by WPCNR

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King Klean-Up Reveals County-Owned Silver Lake Property Poorly Maintained.

Sunrise Edition, By John F. Bailey, Filed 3/04/02,UPDATED 1:00 PM: Councilman William King conducted the second of his King Klean-Up sweeps Saturday morning on Westchester County-owned property on Silver Lake in White Plains.


KING OF THE ROYAL MOUNTED ON PATROL, arrives at Silver Lake Saturday morning for the first of his King Klean-Ups.
Photo by WPCNR

King and three volunteers cleared one-third of a mile of shoreline of bottles, refuse, and assorted litter. The woodsy slope up to fencing of the Pettinichi property on Woodcrest Heights The Councilman’s foray into county “open space,” revealed a shocking neglect of forestry practices.

Sunrise Action

The King Klean-Up began at 7:15 AM, with the arrival of Kevin McGrath of the White Plains Conservation Board and his son, Dan who were shortly joined by Councilman William King, and another volunteer from the White Plains Middle School, Geoff DeSoye.


DONNING WADERS,FAVORED BY TROUT FISHERMEN, the Councilman, McGrath and Desoye waded into the freezing water armed with rubber gloves and plastic litter pales, fishing for litter.
Photo by WPCNR

One-third of White Plains side of Silver Lake cleared.

After an hour and a half, the vigilante cleaners has cleared about one-third of a mile of deceptively benign-looking shoreline of beer bottles, brake shoes, lead piping, baby carriages and assorted refuse littering the banks and waterbed of Silver Lake.


ISN’T THAT COUNCILMAN BILL KING? Yes, it is, removing human pollution from Silver Lake Saturday morning.
Photo by WPCNR

Sixteen bags of trash were bagged and ready for Department of Public Works pick-up Monday. King said he would notify City Commissioner of Public Works, Joseph Nicoletti of the trash heap for collection.

King Officially Notifies Nicoletti

Mr. King advised the Department of Public Works Monday morning, and released this statement:

“There are two piles of collected trash to pick up, one by the trash receptacle by the parking lot, the other in a little bit, beyond the gate to the Dellwood property, as pictured in the attached website article. Could your 2 depts. have these piles picked up? Thanks.

King also said in his statement:

“There will be more piles showing up in the near future at Dellwood and along the Bronx River Parkway. I keep getting adults saying to me that they would like to help and want to know when the next cleanup will be and would I advertise it (I am telling people to keep April 6 open = when I will be with the girl scouts and maybe boy scouts in the BRPR and possibly also back at Silver Lake and points between).”

“I think people are sick and tired of seeing our parkland and alongside our streets just get more and more littered and appearing to be uncared for.”

Hopes for the future.

King told WPCNR Monday,

“I could have done it all day. I actually have fun doing litter cleanups. My other volunteers usually have to leave after only a few hours. I am telling people about April 6.

Perhaps we can have a couple of armies out there and finish what we started. I want Dellwood to be a de facto park by this Spring. I want to cut back brush and briar patches along the lakefront as well so people can actually put their canoes in and sit on the banks.”


COUNCILMAN KING AND GEOFF DESOYE STANDING WITH SIXTEEN BAGS OF LITTER, they and Kevin McGrath, and Dan McGrath removed from county-owned land for a third of a mile along the shoreline of Silver Lake Saturday. The White Plains Department of Public Works was notified Monday to pick up the trash.
Photo by WPCNR

County, City Collaboration?

King said he had walked the property with county officials William Ryan and George Latimer with Concerned Citizens for Open Space representatives two years, and was enthusiastic about the county-owned land then as possible park for the City of White Plains.

However, he was concerned about the litter dumped there over decades. He reports he has cleaned up himself close to a dozen times since then.He decided to do something about this more dramatically last week.

After a personal clean-up attempt last Wednesday, he enlisted the McGraths for Saturday’s first “King Klean-Up.” A second is planned April 6 for the Bronx River Parkway at 10 AM, enlisting the aid of local Girl and Boy Scout Troops.

An archeological dump

The amount of junk and outright garbage dumped on this property, obviously there for a long time is immediately apparent on just a short walk into the property. The build-up indicates, to this reporter, and to Mr. King the problem with this parcel of passive open space: it has become a dumping ground, and, sadly, a home to the homeless.

Where to spend the night in White Plains at bargain rates.

Two persons were encountered by this reporter, prior to the Councilman’s arrival, obviously rising Saturday morning form spending a night lakeside. One dumped a tattered blanket on his way out of the property. King said he had seen the two in the area Wednesday morning when he stopped by to retrieve litter from the lake for the first time, and felt they had been spending the night in the area for sometime.

WPCNR encountered these two men when we arrived prior to the Councilman’s arrival. We thought they were there to help with the councilman’s clean-up, but they appeared to not have any particular business in the area and did not speak English.


EVIDENCE OF HOMELESS SQUATTING in Silver Lake: a towell soapy and recently used hanging out to dry Saturday morning.
Photo by WPCNR

After the two men had proceeded out of the lake area, last seen walking towards West Harrison, passing McGrath and King and their young helpers as they were preparing to enter the waters, WPCNR inspected the area where we had encountered the two the first time.

There was evidence of a campfire, and a little further down the shoreline a very fresh towel smelling of soap. McGrath reported to CNR on his hikes in the Silver Lake property, he has encountered what he calls “stashes” of belongings, in tarps, that were stowed by persons he believes are using the Silver Lake county property as a base of operations, and a place to spend nights.


OH GIVE ME A HOME BY SILVER LAKE WHERE NOBODY ROAMS: Remnants of a campfire on Silver Lake, observed by WPCNR, after two persons were seen leaving the area at 6:45 AM.
Photo by WPCNR

The problem with passive open space.

It is lovely to look at, but not so lovely to walk through. The results of King’s Klean-Up indicate Westchester County does virtually nothing in the way of forestry to keep the Silver Lake property (which it owns) maintained.

The litter consisted of beer bottles, wine bottles, junk of all kinds, from baby carriages to discarded furniture. It reminds one of empty lots in the Bronx. Huge trunks of rotting trees, there for years, judging by the mushroom growth on them, are encountered. King said the county owns this White Plains land but obviously has little interest in maintaining it for public use.

City reported in negotiations with county to lease the West Bank of Silver Lake property

The Councilman said that the City of White Plains is negotiating with Westchester County to lease the property. However, the county, King said, because of its budget problems, is demanding more than the city feels is fair. King said city leasing of the property would include the ability to build facilities on the property to make it more recreational, and cleaner.

King did not elaborate on what the city had planned, but said the Mayor’s office was dickering with the County. Another city source confirmed that leasing of the West Bank of Silver Lake was being entertained by the City.

The City Recreation Master Plan calls for a trailway along the East Branch of the Mamaroneck River which flows out of Silver Lake, and advocates removal of the litter found in the Mamaroneck River bed flowing on the East boundary of Delfino Park.

Councilman King began Saturday taking clean-up matters, at least into his own hands.

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