Park Crusaders Fail to Sway Council in Marathon Last Stand.

WPCNR Common Council Chronicle. By John F. Bailey. August 6, 2003: Twenty-seven White Plains neighborhood activists and eleven New York Presbyterian Hospital supporters took five hours Monday evening to deliver in passionate, eloquent, and poignant voices their opposition and support respectively, for the New York Presbyterian Hospital biotech/proton accelerator proposal subsequently approved by the Common Council at officially 2:32 A.M. Tuesday morning.

THE HOUSE AT 1:30 A.M.: Diehard Council watchers observing William King’s 50-minute attempt to persuade Council colleagues to turn down the New York Presbyterian Hospital project.
Photo by WPCNR

For perhaps the last time, the “Park Crusaders” who have worked for “A Central Park for White Plains” for almost a quarter of a century stalked doggedly and spiritedly to the podium delivering both eloquence and innuendo, at times pleading, at times cajoling, other times scolding the council for backing off their campaign promises.

They included Alan Teck, Barbara Benjamin, Don Wilson, Claire Eisenstadt, and were joined by concerned neighbors from the Gedney Association, Bryant Circle, neighborhoods directly affected by the hospital project. The ranks were swelled as the evening moved past midnight by persons watching on television, then coming to City Hall to speak.

The supporters included a handful of professionals employed on the White Plains New York Presbyterian Hospital campus, and some notable White Plains personalities, including former Councilman Hal Masbach, Carl Barrera, Tim Sheehan, and former Mayor Michael Keating. A last minute mailing from New York Presbyterian Hospital which arrived only Monday in White Plains mailboxes failed to bring more “in-person” support for the hospital to City Hall.

The Council meeting attracted 45 persons at its start, and had dwindled to a diehard 25 by the time the final vote was taken.

Supporters Advocate the Medical Future.

Behavorial specialists from New York Presbyterian Hospital began the reopening of the marathon public hearing in its seventh month. Dr. John Docherty, leading off for the hospital, commented how the close proximity of researchers at the proposed biomedical research facility would result in “knowledge transfer,” between doctors and researchers, a key component of progress in mental health treatment, saying “The White Plains campus is a very unique opportunity to bring these communities (treatment specialists and researchers) together.” He said treatment of depression in the elderly would be one of the hospital missions that would be facilitated by the biomedical facility.

Gail Ryder of the hospital, said, “This is a great evening. This is the next generation of health care. Thank you for reading what I know has been reams of material. This (proposed facility) is the future pace and future direction for wellness.”

Hal Masbach, of the Downtown Business Improvement District, a former Councilman, said, “It’s mind-boggling that the city fathers could consider not adding this facility (to White Plains). I’ve heard all the objections. There’s not one of these objections that’s either untrue or dealt with (in the resolution to approve).”

FORMER MAYOR ENDORSES PROJECT: Michael Keating, Mayor of White Plains for a portion of 1974 and all of 1975, addressed the Common Council, recalling the New York Presbyterian Hospital’s history of treating the mentally ill. He recalled when the hospital applied for and received approval for the Bloomingdale’s project in the mid-70s. He described that as a period of time when the hospital “had lost their way,” but now, he feels that the present project shows that they have “found their way” and that he encouraged the Council to approve the resolution.
Photo by WPCNR

Opposition centers on Zoning Change, Ancillary Use Turning into Primary Use.

After an initial sequence of supporters, the long familiar line of those opposed to the project weighed-in, one after another.

One gentleman likened the hospital proposal on the table to an orchestrated, calculated plot leading off with the worst proposal first, (locating two buildings on Bryant Avenue), then strategically withdrawing to the Site 8, 6-story one building proposal the council was voting on.

This gentleman reported that former White Plains resident Joseph Clark was the mysterious reporter of the toxic dump site on the campus. Mr. Clark’s identity has been long shielded by Concerned Citizens for Open Space, which has refused to reveal their source for this charge they have made throughout the current review process.

WHYATT FOR THE DEFENSE: Thomas Whyatt urging defeat of the hospital proposal on zoning, ancillary use violation, and failure to produce a detailed master plan Monday evening.
Photo by WPCNR

Whyatt: Proposal Violates Zoning, Ancillary Use Definition.

Concerned Citizens for Open Space Attorney, Thomas Whyatt, constructed the legal argument that the size of the project, with over 900 employees expected, dwarfs the number of employees now on the campus, saying this made the project far from ancillary (defined as “subordinate”), thus violating the city’s Special Permit conditions. Whyatt, in addition maintained that the project violated the R-1-12.5 residential zoning, and called the project an industrial park. He said the Council was in its resolution, its controls on the project were being left to future councils.

He said, “I don’t think this is legal.” He called for the Council to reject and ask the hospital to come back with a request for a zoning change, prepared to discuss land. “It should be on the table,” he said. Marc Pollitzer of the North Street Civic Association echoed Whyatt’s arguments saying the project violated zoning.

Doris Simon called on the council to “stop this monstrous project,” calling it “an environmental crime.”

Rosemarie Hicks, a research technician, criticized the hospital description of their proposed research facility as “a fantasy,” saying, “they’re throwing out numbers that do not make sense in an every day laboratory facility.”

Benjamin cites wide anti-project sentiment.

Barbara Benjamin said she had been inundated with telephone calls over the weekend from persons opposed to the project after reading the Journal News story that the council was going to approve the project. But, to anyone following the council maneuverings in recent weeks, it has become apparent the Council was spelling out conditions under which it was going to approve this project. Public Access Channel 71 White Plains Week commentators James Benerofe and John Bailey have been predicting this approval on the air for a month, and they said so again on last Friday evening’s show.

Benjamin said she had heard from a vast and diverse number of citizens, who, she said, ended their conversations with the same words, “I’ll never trust anyone on the Common Council again.”

Benjamin said she also resented the hospital’s alleged attitude that those opposing the project were indifferent to the pain and suffering of cancer victims, remarking her own husband had died of the disease. This criticism was echoed by several other speakers, one of whom had trouble holding on to her emotions, fighting back tears.

CAMPAIGN PROMISES QUOTED TO THE COUNCIL: Resident Claire Eisenstadt, quoting from the White Plains Watch, reads the campaign promises and quotes of several councilpersons, in which the councilpersons promised they would not support development of the hospital in any way, and would work for a park. Eisenstadt said, “We voters will not forget this project on the next election day.”
Photo by WPCNR

READING OF THE NO ROLL: Eva Stern commanded 15 minutes of hearing time by reading 434 names of persons opposed to the project from a CCOS advertisement that appeared in the White Plains Watch. Stern began her “roll call” saying, “I’m very disappointed in you. I think you’re making a terrible mistake. I hope you have the guts to say No to this project.”
Photo by WPCNR

Wilson, founder of CCOS calls for a new dialogue.

Don Wilson, speaking early in the evening called on the council to deny the resolution, ask the hospital to come back, asking for rezoning. He urged, “using the rezoning process to permit an industrial park on the (medical) oval only, and work with the New York Historical Preservation” to preserve elements of the hospital’s Millennium Preservation Plan to make part of the open space a city park.

VOICE OF REASON: Donald Wilson, CCOS founder, who helped stop the infamous “City Within a City” project in 1984, called for the council to reject the proposal. Later in the evening, Councilman Benjamin Boykin was to call for the hospital to discuss land appropriations to the city after the council had approved the project.
Photo by WPCNR

Others speaking strongly against the project were Robert Wall, Amy Barish, Brian Henderson, Louis Trippett, and Betsy Desoye. Desoye particularly drew Mayor Delfino’s ire by bringing up Robert Greer’s disclosure of his wife’s employment at the hospital. Desoiye was of the opinion Greer should have recused himself from the impending vote. Mayor Delfino stated the Corporation Counsel, Edward Dunphy had absolved Greer of any conflict of interest, and that the Ethics Board had declined to take up the issue.

GRILLING GREER: Betsy DeSoye made Robert Greer uncomfortable challenging the ethics of the Councilman for not recusing himself from the vote. The Mayor dismissed her charges as already having been dealt with.
Photo by WPCNR

After Carl Barrera, the 38th speaker of the evening, ended the comments at 12:30 AM Tuesday morning, supporting the project, the Mayor introduced Michael Gerrard, the city legal environmental attorney who assisted in preparation of the environmental review and the Findings Statement. Gerrard said that comments from the public received up until July 29 did not introduce any new matters impacting the Findings Statement. With that the Mayor asked the council to close the hearing after seven months, and it was ready for the Council to be heard.

INTERMISSION: SCHMOOZING IN THE ROTUNDA: During one of three breaks in the seven hour and 45 minute meeting, White Plains movers and shaker schmooze, speculate and rumorize in the famous City Hall rotunda.
Photo by WPCNR
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Gedney Association to “Digest” Hospital Decision.

WPCNR Afternoon Tribune. By John F. Bailey. August 6, 2002: The President of the Gedney Association, Guy D’Antona , commenting on last night’s Common Council approval of the New York Presbyterian Hospital biomedical research/proton accelerator project, said “We’re disappointed in the vote, and we’re going to digest its contents and see what’s going to happen.”

D’Antona, a lawyer by profession, said that he personally had never been involved in an Article 78 legal proceeding. Asked what monetary resources would be required for a legal challenge to reverse the council decision, D’Antona said he expected it would “cost a substantial amount of money.”

He said his association will meet to discuss the decision aftermath, its impact and possible future action on the part of his neighborhood. He did not say an Article 78 was ruled out, but did not say it was certain, either.

Mr. D’Antona is President of the Gedney Association, the neighborhood south of Bryant Avenue, closest to the New York Presbyterian Hospital Property. Residents of that neighborhood have been the most vocal and active in opposing the hospital project, under review by the Common Council the last 18 months since January of 2001, when the city agreed to settle the Article 78 lawsuit the hospital had filed against the city and review their “Plan B” project under threat of $500 million damage suits from the hospital were to lose the proton accelerator franchise opportunity for their campus.

Speaking thoughtfully, D’Antona said the Association could not understand the Council decision. He said the Association disagreed because “the traffic would have been too much,” and because the environmental impact would aggravate a city already plagued by air pollution.

He also took issue with the Councilpersons’ conclusion about “ancillary use,” praising Thomas Whyatt’s comments made at the Monday Council meeting. “It is not ancillary,” he said, “It’s a primary use. It is industrial, and inappropriate (for this location)”

He said the Association had sent three or four letters to the Council expressing these reasons to deny the project.

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Lasselle: High School Buildings Under Renovation to be Complete by Opening.

WPCNR School Days Dispatch. By John F. Bailey. August 6, 2002: As window work continues at White Plains High School, Richard Lasselle, Assistant Superintendent for Business of the White Plains City School District reported today that the North House, C Building and C North wings of White Plains High School will be completed in time for the start of the new high school year in September.
Lasselle said that there remained a “punch list” of matters to be completed, including electrical work and some heating installation to be executed in the fall, but assured WPCNR that the windows in North Building, C-Building and “C-North” would be in by September 4, the Wednesday after Labor Day when school traditionally begins with all three North, C and C North wings functioning.

At this point, Lasselle said the project remains “on budget.”

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Teck: CCOS will not Mount Article 78 Action to Stop Proton Accelerator.

WPCNR Daily Mirror. By John F. Bailey. August 6, 2002:The President of Concerned Citizens for Open Space, reacting to the Common Council vote approving the New York Presbyterian Hospital project early Tuesday morning, has told WPCNR the citizens’ open space and parks advocacy group was not contemplating bringing an Article 78 action to overturn the council approval.

CCOS LEADER CONCILIATORY IN AFTERMATH: Alan Teck, President of Concerned Citizens for Open Space, is shown speaking out at last night’s Common Council meeting. Teck, in a thoughtful and rational discourse citing eloquently pleaded for the Council to have a “death bed converson” and vote the hospital plan down. He finished his remarks saying, “It takes a Common Council to make a great city. It takes an UnCommon Council to make a City great.” Teck was just one of 38 speakers to address the Council in a 5-hour marathon finale to the New York Presbyterian Hospital biotech/proton accelerator saga.
Photo by WPCNR

Alan Teck, President of Concerned Citizens for Open Space which has long crusaded for a “Central Park for White Plains” on the hospital property told WPCNR this morning that the citizen’s group was not considering an Article 78 action to attempt to overturn the Council decision in the courts. A gracious man, speaking at a time that must have been very difficult for him, said he and the organization were “looking forward to the city negotiating with the hospital.”

Asked if he had any indication that New York Presbyterian Hospital, now that it had received its approval, was inclined to discuss providing some of its property for a park, Teck said, “not at all.”

Teck said he felt it was “interesting,” that Mayor Joseph Delfino ended his remarks with a reference to the fact that now perhaps White Plains could have a Central Park.

Asked for his comments on the historic Council vote ending twenty-seven years of Common Council wrangling with the hospital, Teck said,
“Over this long process, significant changes occurred from the original plan to the one that was ultimately approved, and those changes, in every case, benefited the city.”

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Council Approves NYPH Biotech Research/Proton Accelerator Project by 6 to 1.

WPCNR Daily Sun. By John F. Bailey. August 6, 2002.: The Common Council approved the New York Presbyterian Hospital biotech research and proton accelerator cancer treatment center project by a vote of 6 to 1 Tuesday morning, approving its location on the golf course meadow of the property, known as Site 8.

COUNCIL PRESIDENT CASTS DECIDING VOTE AT 2:23 AM. Common Council President Benjamin Boykin is seen announcing his intention to approve the controversial hospital project, the fifth and clinching vote. Boykin said “It is time for a new beginning with the hospital. I ask the hospital to immediately meet with us to address pressing community concerns. I look forward to working with the hospital to provide the residents of White Plains with public access to the beautiful property for passive as well as leisure and active recreational uses.” He also said, in explaining his vote for the project, “I am concerned that if we deny this application, the city may lose control of our special permit and zoning rights and the courts will determine the fate of this project. This would be the worse of all situations for the residents of White Plains.”
Photo by WPCNR

APPROVED ACCELERATOR/BIOTECH LAB SITE: Known as Site Eight, is the so-called “driving range meadow” is the site the Council has approved for the building of a 6-story doublewinged biotech research lab facility and proteon accelerator cancer treatment center. John Bailey points to the site in a photograph taken in May of this year.

Constance Hildesley, Vice President of Real Estate for the hospital would not comment after the historic vote, but instead passed out a prepared statement which said, in part,

“NYPH thanks the Mayor and the members of the Common Council who spent many hours in careful deliberation and ultimately voted approval for this important medical research and cancer treatment center this evening.”

Dean Bender, spokesman for the hospital and Paul Bergins, hospital attorney said it was too early to say what would happen next now that approval had been granted.

Mayor Delfino, Rita Malmud and Robert Greer, councilpersons voting for the proposal said they expected the hospital to begin a new dialogue with the city on possible use of land for a park for the city.

Thomas Whyatt, attorney for Concerned Citizens for Open Space said he had no idea what the organization would do next, or how much money an Article 78 challenge to the approval on the part of CCOS might cost. He also did not know what lawyers CCOS might use.

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Presbyterian Hospital Letter Requesting Support of Biotech Proposal Arrives Late

WPCNR Sunset Sentinel Courier. August 5, 2002: A letter mailed first class by New York Presbyterian Hospital requesting community support for their biotech/proton accelerator proposal has apparently been either mailed too late to have impact, or has arrived only today in local mailboxes. It requests citizens to attend tonight’s council meeting and support the proposal
The letter arrived this afternoon in the Haviland Manor neighborhood, a scant 5 hours before the Council is scheduled to take up the issue. Obviously too late for most citizens to contact the Common Council to have any impact, or attend the meeting.

When was it mailed?

The letter, signed by “The Administration and Staff of New York-Presbyterian Hospital” was dated July 30, 2002, and mailed with First Class postage indicia out of New Rochelle.

Apparently, the post office mistook the first class indicia for third class mail, for it has taken the better part of 4 to 5 days to be delivered to White Plains.

The text of the letter is as follows:

On August 5th, the Common Council of the City of White Plains will be voting on a proposal by New York-Presbyterian Hospital to add a Biomedical Research and state-of-the-art Cancer Treatment Center at our White Plains campus.

For the past 100 years we have been your neighbors, offering the highest quality healthcare services and community programs to White Plains, Westchester County and beyond. With the creation of this new biomedical facility, we are looking forward to enhancing and enriching the delivery of healthcare, community outreach and cancer treatment.

We are asking that you reach out to the Mayor and Common Council to express your support and help make this dream a reality.

Thank for making this effor on our behalf and we welcome your participation at the August 5th meeting.

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Attorney General’s Panel Doesn’t Request Breakdown of District 18 Voting Machine

WPCNR Sunset Sentinel Courier. August 5, 2002: City Clerk for the City of White Plains, Janice Minieri, advised WPCNR today that the investigative panel of attorneys appointed by Eliot Spitzer, New York’s Attorney General met with her, her custodians, and election inspectors Friday morning as part of their investigation of whether or not the Attorney General’s office should bring a quo warranto action on behalf of Larry Delgado, White Plains deposed Councilman, restoring Mr. Delgado to his seat on the Common Council.
Ms. Minieri said the inquiry conducted by the three attorneys was observed by Edward Dunphy, city Corporation Counsel and the two Deputy Commissioners from the Westchester County Board of Elections.

She reports that their questions centered on procedures undertaken by the custodians to set the voting machines up for the election on November 6, 2002, and whether or not there was anything unusual that election inspectors observed in the District 18 location that day. She reports that her inspectors said there was nothing unusual reported during that fateful election day.

WPCNR asked if they viewed the voting machine. Minieri said they did and observed “exactly what you saw (the jammed Delgado counter wheel) the day we opened the machine.”

What Happened to the Delgado “Counter” Still in Doubt Because Attorneys Do Not Ask for Breakdown.

WPCNR asked whether the attorneys asked her custodians to remove the back of the voting machine to see exactly what had happened to the jammed Delgado counter, what made it jam, and she reported they had not.

“No one took it apart,” she said. “They were mainly concerned with what the process is, and whether there was anything unusual taking place at the polling place.”

Minieri said she would continue to keep the machine in question in its present condition, “just in case it is needed. I’m glad I didn’t have it repaired.”

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“New Fuji USA HQ IS In Westchester County!”: Pataki

WPCNR Afternoon Tribune. By John F. Bailey.August 5, 2002.UPDATED 2:30 PM E.D.T.: Governor George Pataki appeared in Valhalla today, with County Executive Andrew Spano to announce that Fuji USA, the international film giant, is locating its new USA Headquarters at The Summit in Valhalla, and will be leaving its present Elmsford location in April 2003.

“FUJI TOOK A LOOK AND FOUND WESTCHESTER COUNTY TO BE IN THE FOREFRONT,” Governor George Pataki announced today in Valhalla. The Governor said that Fuji’s selection of the The Summit, Westchester corporate park over Stamford and other out-of-state locations, saved 400 Westchester jobs and will bring $18 Million into the county for the renovation of the new headquarters and an additional 250 jobs. The Governor praised County Executive Andy Spano, shown at left at this morning’s news conference, saying “It’s been a partnership. All of us are on the same wavelength, working together, making great things happen in the county.” Pataki announced the State and Westchester County are contributing $1.9 Million in aid towards the project.
Photo by WPCNR

“WHEN IT COMES TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, THERE ARE NO PARTY LINES,” County Executive Andy Spano said today, echoing Governor Pataki’s praise for the Westchester County IDA in putting together a state-county package of $1.9MM that helped to keep Fujifilm in Westchester County. Spano praised Fuji Film for being a good corporate citizen in the county, singling out their lead sponsorship that brought the New York Philharmonic to Westchester County, as an example of the company’s involvement.

HAPPY TO STAY IN WESTCHESTER, FUJI FILM EMPLOYEES, observe the Governor’s news conference. Stamford, New Jersey and locations outside the New York Tri-State area were considered in Fuji’s three-year search for a new USA Headquarters location. The Summit was announced as their choice today. The company will be closing its Elmsford location.

Largest Lease Deal in Westchester in Two Years. Moving from Elmsford to Valhalla Venue

Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. said in a news release that the company is leasing 164,000 square feet, part of the second and all of the third and fourth floors at 200 Summit Lake Drive in Valhalla. This expands by 64% its current headquarters in the Taxter Corporate Park, which the company will vacate and move into the new Summit heaquarters in April, 2003. Current space at the Taxter facility comprises just 106,000 square feet.

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Swimmers in Long Island Sound Warned of Swimmer’s Itch

WPCNR Getaway Gazette. From Westchester County Department of Communications. August 2, 2003: The county warned residents about a new parasite in Long Island Sound that is causing “Swimmer’s Itch” in persons bathing in the Sound along County and Connecticut beaches. Residents are urged to shower as quickly as possible after swimming in the Sound.
In a news release this morning the county reported widespread complaints about swimmers experiencing irritating “Swimmer’s Itch” after trips to Long Island Sound beaches.

The County Department of Health attributes this to a parasite found in the intestines of water birds which infests Long Island Sound snails. The snails, found on the beaches then pass the parasite along to swimmers.

The county does not report any ill effects on swimmers other than itching after swimming in the waters.

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Housing Authority Appoints Mack Carter

WPCNR Morning Sun.August 2, 2002: Former member of the White Plains Planning Board, Mack Carter, has been appointed by the Housing Authority to succeed Anthony Tascione as Executive Director, it was announced by the Housing Authority Thursday.

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