Text of “Secret Fax” sent Tuesday to Common Council

Here is the Secret Fax text in its entirety, sent to the Common Council on Tuesday, September 4 before the Common Council meeting, obtained by WPCNR News.<
Facsimile Transmission

September 4, 2001

Pages sent: 2

To: Hon. J. Delfino
Hon. R. Malmud
Hon. B. Boykin
Hon. L. Delgado
Hon. R. Greer
Hon. W. King
Hon. P. Oliva

Fr.: R. Levine

Re: Cappelli Project

As you prepare for tonight’s Council meeting, we strongly urge you to review the enclosed Talking Points which conclude by recommending that the Developer augment his professional team by engaging a Design Architect to work with the Schuman Lichtenstein (SL) firm who would continue as the Architect of Record.

This arrangement, recognizing specific strengths of various architects, is standard procedure in the field, a natural response to situations similar to ours. SL has often worked as the Architect of Record this way; in fact, several times with Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB). BBB, in turn, has often performed as the Design Architect with others.

BBB’s Fred Bland has indicated today his willingness to meet to further discuss the matter if the City and the Developer are interested in BBB’s participation in this project.

R. Levine
W. Rose
R. Stackpole

Talking Points for Common Council Meeting 9/04/01
Since the Cappelli project relates specifically to the ordinance under consideration, (I/we) would like to register (my/our) strong concerns regarding fundamental functional planning inadequacies of the project as it has been thus far presented, inadequacies which must be dealt with, in full, prior to consideration for Site Plan approval.

1. Access and parking
* What are the options re the dimensions of the main structure, and the resulting number of levels required?

* Is it possible to have more of the parking below grade, with potential tunnel access to adjacent sites?

* What alternatives are there re the number, type and location of curb-cuts and ramps?

2. Building massing and related open space

•What are the options re locations/massing/setbacks/orientation of the residential towers?

•What are the options for distributing the net available open space at grade along the various property/street lines? Specifically, are there better ways to relate to the City Hall vista and to potential future development to the west and northwest?

3. Flexibility: provision for growth and change

•How could future development absorb additional site area to the northeast?

•What would be the effect of a third residential tower on this ‘block’?

•What reasonable provisions can be incorporated to respond to possible revisions in movie-theatre marketing strategies?

Contrary to some recently expressed opinions, these are not mere estheticconsiderations, subject to the whim of the beholder. Past experience, in White Plains and elsewhere, has taught us that a high quality planning resolution is essential to the long-term success of a project, which, after all, will be with us for a long time.

Unfortunately, because (I/we) have come to conclude that the problems outlined have been figuratively “wallpapered” over, with little, or no, recent progress (I/we) feel it is essential that the developer propose to the Council his engagement forthwith of the services of an architect, recognized in the profession for design expertise and for demonstrated accomplishment with urban developers, to assist us in achieving the “elegant” result White Plains was promised and which has thus far eluded us.

Perhaps Mr. Cappelli could address these concerns before we vote.

Secret Fax Shatters Council Confidence in Cappelli Designs.

The first time Louis Cappelli realized the Common Council was against his firm’s designs was at the Council meeting Tuesday night. All Councilpersons received or were sent a fax that afternoon that could have triggered the Council dumping the designs.

It was just a helpful fax.

Local architect Robert H. Levine (whose name is on the fax as sender), faxed the 2-pager to Mayor Joseph Delfino, Councilpersons Rita Malmud, Benjamin Boykin II, Larry Delgado, Robert Greer, William King and Pauline Oliva. Our source said it arrived Tuesday prior to the evening Common Council hearing on a Special Permit hearing for Louis Cappelli. The hearing was to allow Louis Cappelli to build his two towers at the City Center to 34 stories.

Fax promotes Fred Bland as resource for Cappelli team.

The fax held out a very attractive carrot to a Council under pressure: the opportunity to get Fred Bland from Beyer Blinder Bell to advise on the project, or so they might have reasoned from the document.

Here is a quote from the secret fax obtained by WPCNR:

As you prepare for tonight’s Council meeting, we strongly urge you to review the enclosed Talking Points which conclude by recommending that the Developer augment his professional team by engaging a Design Architect to work with the Schuman Lichtenstein (SL) firm who would continue as Architect of Record.

This arrangement, recognizing specific strengths of various architects, is standard procedure in the field, a natural response to situations similar to ours. SL has often worked as the Architect of Record this way; in fact, several times with Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB). BBB, in turn, has often performed as the Design Architect with others.

Here’s the kicker, as it continues:

BBB’s Fred Bland has indicated today (Tuesday) his willingness to meet to further discuss the matter if the City and the Developer are interested in BBB’s participation in this project.”

The fax went on to raise more “Talking Points” for the council to raise in the Tuesday meeting. The complete text of this mysterious fax undisclosed Tuesday evening is available to read elsewhere on the site.

The fax is type-signed without signatures by “R. Levine” and his two co-signers of the fax, “R. Stackpole,” of the Planning Board and “W.Rose,” of the Urban Renewal Board.

(This raises the possibility that Mr. Rose and Mr. Stackpole did not know their names were on the fax.) Mr. Rose has acknowledged to WPCNR that he and Mr. Levine and Mr.Stackpole had been expressing their concerns to “all” Common Councilmembers for sometime.

Anatomy of a Set-up

Cappelli, meanwhile dismissed an early warning sign.

A source close to the Cappelli organization told WPCNR under condition of anonymity that Mr. Cappelli was contacted on an undisclosed golf course early Tuesday morning September 4 and informed of possible Council retreat on the issue of the tower designs.

It appears that no councilmember talked to Cappelli before the councilmeeting about what they were about to do for him and to him.

The project was going good.

Mr. Cappelli had reason to believe 6 days previously on Wednesday evening, August 29, that the council was on board. The Council indicated they liked the way the designs were going.

Five of the six councilpersons expressed enthusiasm with the designs (with the exception of Rita Malmud who made no public knowledge of how she felt about the project on Wednesday, the 29th).No one spoke up and said, “Lou, this is not working for us. We just don’t feel we’re there.”

Mr. King had even said “we’re getting close,” Mr. Delgado liked what he saw, just wanted to see a two-story glass treatment.

Cappelli thinks he has a consensus.

According to WPCNR’s source, the boss was not worried on the golf course call Tuesday morning. He was reported to react in his usual confident manner, saying he was not that married to the designs, that he would just hire Bland, without the expectation that he would ever have to. He had no idea what was about to hit him Tuesday evening.

The Tuesday Night Surprise

He got his approval for the height, but the Council to a man and woman with the exception of the Mayor, told him literally to go back to the drawing board. They expressed, no demanded, he use Fred Bland on the project.

The council told him this, as far as WPCNR can analyze, based on the fax. The fax had told them Mr. Bland was available.

However, Mr. Bland was not “on board.”

George Gretsas, according to the Beyer Blinder Belle offices Wednesday had been trying to reach Bland most of Tuesday afternoon unsuccessfully. Whether or not Mr. Bland has made a verbal commitment to Mr. Cappelli or Mr. Gretsas Tuesday is not known at this time.

Mr. Bland is very committed this week. He was judging an architectural exhibition in New York Wednesday, Thursday according to his office. Mr. Bland has not, at this time, returned WPCNR’s calls.

The situation.

There is no indication in the fax that Mr. Bland had criticized Mr. Cappelli’s designs to Mr. Levine, and Mr. Levine, contacted by WPCNR has already told us he will not comment on any phase of this matter.

We have no way of telling what Mr. Bland actually told Mr. Levine, whether he saw the designs, and it would be irresponsible to speculate.

First sign of trouble

WPCNR first learned that Mr. Bland had apparently seen Cappelli’s tower designs when Robert Greer, a backer of the project, troubled and concerned, told us Tuesday morning that Mr. Bland had criticized the designs.

Greer revealed three architects were going to present their feelings about the quality of Cappelli’s Tower architecture to the Common Council. He did not say when or how the architects would make their feelings known.

WPCNR assumed Greer meant the meeting Tuesday night. But, did it actually occur Tuesday afternoon through the medium of the “Secret Fax,” no longer secret?

Common Councilmembers we have contacted and asked if they received any input from architects did not mention receiving any except Mrs. Malmud. She named Mr. Rose, Mr. Levine and a third architect, as three who had talked with her about the designs after the Council meeting on Tuesday evening. (The third architect was not Mr. Stackpole).

You know the rest.

Cappelli was into damage control at Tuesday’s Council hearing saying “he’d become aware” that there was council dissatisfaction with the designs and that he was willing to hire Fred Bland to bring him on board as the design architect with Schuman Lichtenstein as the drawings architectural firm.

We saw a composed Cappelli, numb after approval by a 6-1 vote of the height, brushing politely past congratulations, his eyes steely and searching, troubled, slightly uncertain, focused on an uncertain future.

This is not just WPCNR’s impression. Witnesses described Cappelli as being “floored” by the Council demand to redesign, “absolutely floored.”

The Mayor’s office had no statement to issue by the end of the day Wednesday on the search for Fred Bland. A somber Paul Wood reported that it was out of the Mayor’s Office control now because Bland would be working for Cappelli, not the Council, if Cappelli succeeds in hiring him.

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Architectural “advisors” lobbied council to discard Cappelli designs

WPCNR has learned that concerned planners, planning board members and architects quietly pressured councilpersons to demand more “extraordinary” design of the Towers of Cappelli.
One of the architects, identified by Councilperson Rita Malmud Tuesday night as having influenced her thinking in her rejection of the Tower designs, confirmed the quiet grassroots effort to WPCNR Wednesday.

William A. Rose, Jr., member of the Urban Renewal Board said he and several other community citizens have been talking by telephone and at gatherings around town (The Rotary Club) to “all of the councilpersons” expressing their concern about the Cappelli designs as first submitted.

Cappelli designs didn’t meet “criterion.”

The architect, William A. Rose, Jr. of Hillair Circle, and a member of the Urban Renewal Board told WPCNR today that “I think that you heard Mr. Cappelli correctly (last night). Several people had expressed concern to the council, and most of this came from Fred Bland’s comment on ‘the need to make sure the architecture is extraordinary.’ After the first submissions of Mr. Cappelli, it became apparent they didn’t meet this criterion.”

Rose said other persons expressed the same sentiments to all the councilpersons in telephone calls and community meetings. He said that critics of the design who spoke out to the councilpersons about “mostly the height” and inadequacy of the design included Robert Stackpole and John Garment of the White Plains Planning Board, David Volberg of the Planning Department and Robert Levine, another architect.

Planning Board members did not react negatively to designs shown them.

Mr. Stackpole and the other reported concerned Planning Department-connected citizens supported a position against the design of the buildings to councilpersons, even though Mr. Stackpole and Mr. Garment signed a letter from the Planning Board to the Common Council saying they supported the 38-story height.

Both Mr. Stackpole and Mr. Garment are reported not to have voiced any concerns about the designs of the Cappelli towers, at the time Mr. Cappelli showcased his designs to the Planning Board. WPCNR points out that Mr. Stackpole and Mr. Garment may have been saving their design concerns until it came time for the Planning Board to review the actual site design plans in the natural scheme approvals.

No comment from Mr. Levine

Mr. Levine was identified by Ms. Malmud as being one of the other architects who had spoken to her privately on the subject of the Capelli Tower designs. However, Mr. Levine declined to comment to WPCNR when asked about his feelings about the Cappelli tower designs, saying that he does not talk to the press because it does not understand and it misrepresents what he says.

Rose pleased with results of lobbying effort.

“Mr. Cappelli,” Rose said, “has done the right thing by agreeing to hire Fred Bland of Beyer, Blinder, Belle to assist in designing the project. A large number of people were concerned about the architecture.”

Rose said the Cappelli designs shown the Common Council August 29, were “better than anything he had previously shown. At last he’s moved ahead with his thinking. He has a ways to go yet.”

No specific suggestions.

WPCNR asked Rose what he’d like to see Bland address in his future design of the building. Rose said the buildings have to be considered “in terms of scale, quality of materials, shapes of the buildings, and what the proportions are going to be.”

He said it was difficult to say precisely what he’d like to see on the buildings, or what was wrong with the three towers presented last Wednesday, and the double glass design shown for the first time Tuesday night. He commented that the designs “because there was such a rush associated with this project, simply didn’t approach the standard that was worthy of being shown to the public. Before things got into the public domain, they should have stayed on the architect’s desk a little longer.”

Cappelli agreed Tuesday to hire Bland

He said he was primarily critical of the architect, not Cappelli Enterprises.

We asked when Rose first heard Cappelli had agreed to engage Mr. Bland. He said, “Yesterday when I learned Mr. Cappelli was going to hire Fred Bland.”

Rose concluded his comments to WPCNR, saying, “Nothing should be considered political in this. There was no collusion. No cabal, nothing to insinuate a threat to the project.”

Bland may not be able to start design until weekend.

However, Mr. Bland is not on the job yet as of Wednesday night. As of 5 PM Wednesday afternoon, WPCNR was advised by Dean Bender of Thompson & Bender, Cappelli’s spokesman, that he did not know if Mr. Cappelli had been able to reach Mr. Bland of Beyer, Blinder, Belle to engage his design services as of very late Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, at Beyer Blinder Belle in New York City

Mr. Bland’s office Wednesday morning advised WPCNR that Mr. Bland was engaged in an architectural jury judging Thursday and Friday and appeared not to be available. George Gretsas of the Mayor’s Office was reported trying to reach Mr. Bland throughout most of Tuesday afternoon before the Council meeting, but he could not be reached, because he was reported to be at the US Open.

WPCNR asked Mr. Rose if he felt the time between now and September 20 was enough for the Beyer, Blinder Belle to input effectively into the design tweaking. He felt that BBB had enough talented persons.

WPCNR was first tipped to this story Tuesday morning by Robert Greer, who mentioned that some architects were very much against the design, and he expected three of them to speak at the Common Council meeting. However, they did not speak.

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Council Approves 34 stories for Cappelli Towers, demands new designs

The Common Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to permit Louis Cappelli to build his City Center towers to heights of 34 stories with a catch. It demanded Cappelli totally redesign his two towers in 16 days, dismissing the prototypes they’d been looking at for 2 weeks.

As reported by WPCNR Tuesday afternoon, the City Center was in trouble: the tower designs were not going to fly.

The Common Counci appears to have been swayed by private input from at least three prominent local architects told to at least one councilperson. The Council is disenchanted with Mr. Cappelli’s submitted designs for the two 34-story residential apartment buildings. The council voted 6-1 (with Pauline Oliva voting against the 34-story height), to approve the Towers of Cappelli, but the designs went out the window.

Council waffles on appearance of buildings

Pauline Oliva, Rita Malmud, Benjamin Boykin, Robert Greer, Larry Delgado and William King all strongly expressed desires for a grander set of towers, completely dismissing the two buildings that they, with the exception of Mrs. Malmud, had lead Mr. Cappelli to believe they liked a scant 6 days ago.

For once Mr. Cappelli had no answer. He appeared shaken. Though he expressed knowledge that he was aware of an undercurrent of concern about the design, he appeared to have been taken by surprise. Otherwise, why had not Fred Bland already been contacted earlier Tuesday, this reporter mused.

”Get Me Fred Bland and Make it Snappy!”

Cappelli says he needs site plan approval (which by definition includes an approved project design), by September 25 when he expects to close on his $375 million in financing with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The beleaguered builder doggedly pledged round-the-clock designing.

He said he would immediately hire Fred Bland, Partner of Beyer, Blinder, Belle, the architectural firm that had convinced the Council that the 34-story height was acceptable, to work with his architects, to work 24 hours a day, if necessary for 16 days to get a design acceptable to the Council’s aesthetics. Cappelli said that since the Council had confidence in Bland, he felt he would be a good choice to start the design process over.

Cappelli told WPCNR he had no idea of Mr. Bland’s whereabouts, or whether he was even available to design personally. He had not yet been in touch with the architect, but he said wryly he’d send people out to find him, if Bland could not be reached Wednesday morning.

All was not well as late as the end of last week

WPCNR first learned of the architectural reservations about the buildings Tuesday morning after Robert Greer’s Campaign for Mayor Kickoff News Conference. Greer told WPCNR the council was having major problems with the design,even indicated that Fred Bland himself, had expressed “disappointment” with Cappelli Enterprises design effort on the building. In fairness to Mr. Bland, this is what Mr. Greer said, and we have not gotten Mr. Bland’s version.

After the Common Council voted the approval of the height issue, Greer confirmed again late Tuesday evening that some architects had been in conversation with some councilpersons about the design issue, and he knew the designs were “in trouble” at the end of last week. He would not say what councilpersons were in touch with carping architects. So WPCNR asked.

Larry Delgado and Benjamin Boykin both said they had not heard or been influenced by any architects regarding the design. We did not have the opportunity to ask Mr. King and Ms. Oliva.

“Attackchitects” catch Malmud’s ear.

Mrs. Malmud, who in casting her vote for the 34-story height, called the two Cappelli designs “towers of mediocrity,” told us she had heard from three architects on the design of the project. She named two architects and a third prominent name architect, extremely well-known in White Plains project circles.

WPCNR feels would be inappropriate to identify all three at this time, though we do know their names and they were named by Ms. Malmud “on the record.” The high profile architect had talked with her about the merits of the Cappelli designs at the Stop N Shop groundbreaking last week. Mrs. Malmud would not say what he actually did say, but indicated he was not enthusiastic.

Mediocrity defined

We asked Mrs. Malmud why she felt the Cappelli designs were “towers of mediocrity.” She said they were “nothing, they were generic, undistinguished. (They) had nothing to recommend them as architecture.”

Asked if Mr. Bland accepted the Cappelli commission to make a last minute save, what her recommendations would be to him, the Council President said “I want to see great architecture. I’d want it to be so special. If he (Bland) were here I would say I want a building that would be distinguished, elegant. It should be soaring. I’m not trying to turn words into architecture, but Mr. Cappelli is an engineer, he’s not an architect. I don’t mean that against Mr. Cappelli personally.”

WPCNR asked why Mrs. Malmud had not expressed her reservations at the final three Cappelli designs at last Wednesday’s work session when Cappelli had presented the very same buildings that were dismissed last night, Ms. Malmud said, “At that point I had given up. (The designs) seemed acceptable to them (the rest of the council).”

Asked when Mrs. Malmud had first known she did not like designs, she told WPCNR, “As soon as I saw them.”

Asked what she was looking for in building increments, Ms. Malmud said “I’ll know it when I see it.”

National Amusements is “in.”

The hearing preceding the approval of the 34 story tower heights, featured an announcement by Mr. Cappelli that he had received a signed contract from National Amusements for a 20-year lease for 15 theaters in the City Center project at 6:30 PM Tuesday evening.
Mr. Cappelli celebrated this by giving a wrapped gift to the Mayor, which when the Mayor opened it on television, was discovered to contain popcorn. Cappelli joked that the gift was a reference to the Mayor’s saying he hoped to be enjoying popcorn at the City Center downtown at the movies in two years.

Then a procession of persons from businesses, neighborhoods, apartments in the downtown, and just every day citizens came up to the Common Council Pulpit to support strongly and eloquently the City Center project. Only one speaker recommended rejection of the height. Only one person speaking expressed criticism of the designs.

Council Sends Cappelli Back to the Drawing Board

Louis Cappelli after receiving his 6-1 approval vote from the council in favor of the height, looked like a man who had been kicked in the stomach after he left the Council Chambers at 11:30 PM, the hour when the council approved the endlessly debated height question.

When another warrior in the approval wars, William Null said “congratulations” to Mr. Cappelli, he appeared not even to hear it. It was a Pyrrhic Victory.

His work was just beginning and it was no longer “his” project. It was Fred Bland’s — if Mr. Bland wants it.

Add Events Instantly to the New WPCNR Calendar

White Plains CitizeNetReporter is proud to announce the debut of the Instant White Plains Calendar. By clicking on “September 2001,” you can review White Plains events and post your own organization, (or candidate’s) events. It’s another 21st Century WPCNR news feature!
Here’s how it works: Simply click on “September 2001″ and you’ll be brought to the calendar page. To post an event simply click on “Submit.” WPCNR will review it and post it. No more sending in news releases or mailing lists.

WPCNR is pleased to add this new feature to our site, an invention and design of Sean Cover, of Scarsdale Technologies, Inc., our new host and creator of The Westchester Network.

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The Towers of Cappelli: The Latest Designs. Controversy Lurks.

During the Common Council Work Session last week, Louis Cappelli, the Super Developer presented two newly developed designs for his “Twin Towers of Cappelli” he plans for his City Center project at Mamaroneck and Main.
At the session, Cappelli shared some new facts about the two residential apartment towers. They would all be rentals. Each tower would actually rise to a height of 38 stories, not 34, when the cupolas of the buildings were taken into account. Each cupola would house boilers, elevator machinery, and air-conditioning units, and automatically goes as of right with the zoning the Council is considering for the site. That 340 feet height privilege for Cappelli’s 7-acre site is being considered Tuesday evening.

WPCNR News learned Tuesday, that some prominent architects familiar with these designs plan to speak out against these designs as not being rich enough looking or classy enough for the city. They plan to do this at tonight’s Common Council meeting.

However, initial reaction from the Common Council was good last week. It is reported from Common Council sources that Fred Bland, the consultant from Beyer, Blinder, Belle whom the Council is relying on for guidance in the appropriateness of these towers, is dissappointed in the design, yet this could not be immediately confirmed.





CAPPELLI TOWER ONE

City Center Tower One is a predominant white brick and green glass design, with horizontal bricking pattern promoting a more grounded, solid feel to it, topped by a traditional slant roof cupola. This design gives a “lower” look to the building that Pauline Oliva, Councilperson most opposed to the height, liked. Mr. Cappelli advised the council that the first ten floors at the base of the building, being backed onto the City Center retail and theater complex cannot rent for substantial money, and can only command about $2 per square foot.

Consequently, he feels he needs the top six floors which move the building beyond the 28-story residential limit the Council is considering for the rest of the downtown “core” area. The top 6 stories, Cappelli says can command rentals of $3/square foot ($3,000 a month and up). According to Cappelli, that is “where the money is,” and is a make-or-break factor in the future success of the building.





CAPPELLI TOWER TWO WITH GOLD CROWN

City Center Tower Two is a white brick, white limestone and clear glass building with a vertical scheme that presents a “soaring to the heavens” look. On Tower Two, Cappelli’s architects have incorporated a slant gold roof pyramid design to the pinnacle portion at the top, reminiscent of the famous Metropolitan Life building in New York City.





CAPPELLI TOWER TWO AT NIGHT

City Center Tower Three was the design that appeared to impress Councilpersons the most. It combines vertical drama with horizontal “grounding” in a rich red brick pattern and clear glass pattern, topped by a substantial gold-plated mansard cupola.

Cappelli spoke in warm, seductive tones, describing the buildings as being “beacons,” “landmark, signature buildings,” that would be visible on the skyline at night for miles while lending an aura of hope, drama and success to the city.





CAPPELLI TOWER THREE WITH GOLD MANSARD ROOF

The landmark height decision is expected to made this week by the Common Council, either Tuesday evening or later this week. But, this does not mean the City Center is cleared for takeoff. The Special Permit approving the site plan will be taken up September 20, at which time the design of the building will be either approved or turned down by the Common Council.





CAPPELLI TOWER THREE AT NIGHT

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Achilles Heel of architectural taste is apparently going to be the vulnerable point of the project, and it appears that beginning Tuesday evening, architects opposed to these designs will be speaking out loudly and long right up until the September 20 day of decision.

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White Plains Finest Want YOU

Do you want to join the best-equipped, best-trained, most respected police force in Westchester County? Apply to take the examination to become one of the law enforcement professionals who make the city what it is, a White Plains Police Officer. Filing Deadline for the December examination is October 12, 2001.

The White Plains Police Department is looking for a few good men and women, under 35 years old as of December 15, 2001.

To be considered for the examination, you must be a legal resident of Westchester, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland or Bronx County as of November 15, 2001, and continuosly until the date of appointment.

You must be a U.S. Citizen by the time you are appointed a member of the department.

All applicants who are appointed to the department, must have a high school diploma or GED, but do not need one at the time of the exam, and a New York State Driver’s License by the time they are appointed.

Pick up an application at either the City Hall Personnel Department, 255 Main Street, White Plains, or at the following locations: El Centro Hispano, 345 South Lexington Avenue, the Thomas H. Slater Community Center or the Commission on Human Rights, 2 Fischer Court, White Plains.

For more information, contact (914) 422-1258 or visit The City of White Plains website

The city is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

“Agenda to Remember:” Council Mulls White Plains of the Future at 8

Tuesday evening, beginning at 8:00 PM, (previous edition reported a 7:30 start time), the Common Council will decide high impact matters affecting the city for decades: the City Center, zoning in the city core, restricted development in the neighborhoods, and whether or not to adapt an aggressive city environmental policy created by the Mayor with community groups.

The regular September Common Council meeting will be the first of the 21st century operating under a mandatory midnight curfew in place. Previously, WPCNR had been told the meeting would start at 7:30 PM, but The Mayor’s Office has confirmed that the normal 8 PM start is still in place.

Meetings, if still going on at midnight, will automatically “rollover” to continue on Wednesday evening (or Thursday evening at 7:30 PM.) As of this morning there was no agreement on exactly what date the meeting would continue on. The Mayor’s Office reported Friday that the Common Council has a “hand-shake” agreement to abide by the new curfew rule.

Greer, Mayor Clash on Speaker Time Limits.

Despite heavy pressure from Robert Greer at a work session where the marathon August 6 Common Council meeting lasting 7 hours, 40 minutes, was discussed, the Mayor refused to enforce any time limits on speakers. He said that people had a right to speak. Greer was unhappy with the Mayor’s position on time limits, saying the Mayor had the tools at his disposal to limit speakers. (The City Charter states speakers should be limited to 5 minutes.) Greer strongly suggested that speakers be limited to 5 minutes only. However, the rest of the Common Council in attendance, was silent on the 5-minute time limit. All were in agreement to the new 4-1/2 hour time limit on future council meetings with continuation to next available night.

Time Limit to be Tested Tuesday evening.

Tuesday evening will be a solid test of the midnight cutoff because it will be the night resuming three controversial public hearings and three resolutions on the Mayor’s Environmental Protection Initiative.

The Louis Cappelli City Center where the “Twin Towers of Cappelli” are planned will face its first test before the Common Council. As that public hearing resumes, the Council will decide on whether to permit a maximum height for residential buildings of 350 feet for development sites of “lots” greater than 200,000 square feet on the Cappelli site. If they approve this, they will schedule one more hearing on the City Center project for September 20, when they are scheduled to vote the Special Permit, and the financing for the project. If they refuse to approve the 34-story height, the City Center project may be dead in the water.

28 story apartments with 25 foot setbacks along Mamaroneck Avenue to be considered.

The council will also reopen the hearing on zoning changes proposed for the critical Main Street, down Mamaroneck Avenue to Post Road downtown. This hearing will consider amending the permitted height of residential buildings in the White Plains Downtown area to 280 feet, if they are set back 25 feet above the first floor retail.

The third “biggie” is a resumed hearing on residential zoning changes in the outlying residential neighborhoods, which was held over from the August meeting due to concern about what affect the new Floor Area Ratios proposed by the Planning Department would have on existing nonconforming homes. Commissioner of Planning Michael Graessle told WPCNR in August that the Planning Department has been looking at the ramifications of this issue and we expect some clarification of this issue Tuesday evening.

Environmental Protection Initiative Policy, Open Space Acquisition and D’Elia property deal at mercy of the Common Council

The council will be asked to approve a resolution formally establishing the Open Space Acquisition Advisory Committee and establishing a $5 million acquisition funding mechanism tapping pension funds with ample reserves.

As part of the Environmental Protection Initiative parlay, the council will be asked to pass a resolution approving acquisition of the D’Elia property for $1.75 million, and agreeing to bond for the money.

This deal came under fire last week by Councilpersons Robert Greer, Rita Malmud, William King (a member of the Open Space Acquisition Advisory Committee), and Benjamin Boykin II, because the Councilpersons wanted the Mayor to ask the county to defray the expense of the property with an Open Space contribution. Greer and his four fellow councilpersons asked Andy Spano for aid in a letter Wednesday afternoon, despite the Mayor’s assurance to them last Tuesday afternoon that he had a scheduled meeting with Spano to discuss financial aid.

The Mayor made clear to the Capital Projects Board, he intended to seek county, state and federal aid for this acquisition, but in order for the city to meet the New York Trust for Public Land 90-day deadline the Council needed to approve going to contract for the land with Arnold Orlando, the contractor who has agreed to sell the D’Elia property. It remains to be seen whether the Council will approve the resolution to acquire the property, pending possible aid in the future, or turn it down outright.

In other matters, the council is scheduled to set in motion a lowering of the tax delinquency interest charge from 25% to 12%.

They will consider granting Kelly’s Pub and Grill and Thirsty Turtle establishments a Special Permit for an outdoor dining area.

They will hold a public hearing permitting six-story apartments on behalf of former Councilman Bill Brown’s proposed senior housing apartments on South Kensico Avenue.

The complete agenda may be viewed onThe City of White Plains website

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Carmen Leggio, Romantic Sax for 60 years, leads Festival on 22nd at Arts Council

Donovan Guy, impresario for the Westchester Jazz Legends Music Series will present the righteous Carmen Leggio and his Quartet for an evening of romantic jazz standards Saturday night, September 22 at the Westchester Arts Council Building as the keynoter in the 2001 Legends lineup.
The Westchester Arts Council building will turn into an old-fashioned jazz club without the smokey blue haze and drinks September 22, when Carmen Leggio, “The Tenor Man from Tarrytown” eases in for a one-night stand.

Guy reports that Leggio’s career headlined the original Birdland night club in the early 50s. He’s best known for his long association with Yonkers resident, Gene Krupa, and Carmen’s jazz career spans six decades.

“The Tenorman from Tarrytown” played with Maynard Ferguson’s All Stars Big Band. He was lead saxophone with Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, with Benny Goodman’s Sextet, and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra.

The Tenorman with the Big Bell Sound

Leggio has been playing the same unique big bell tenor Gold Medal SML saxophone since 1961. The instrument, made by Strasser, Marigaux & Lemaire, with a bell over 6 inches in diameter, was given him by Jack Loeb, Manhattan importer of SML saxophones in 1961.





CARMEN LEGGIO as he appeared in the 1960s in a vintage advertisement for SML saxophones, from the SML website.

“I don’t know much about horns and mouthpieces,” Leggio (now in his 70s) explained his affection to writer Fred Cicetti, for his antique saxophone which is almost as old as he is. “A friend of mine (Loeb) got me to the right sax and set-up and I just stayed with it because it worked for me. A sax is like a pair of shoes. If you get a pair that is comfortable, you can learn how to do any kind of dance in them.”

The Willie Mays of Tenormen

Leggio can dance. His body language says “saxman.” Fred Cicetti, the jazz writer describes him as slightly stooped over, and his head bent down a bit. Cicetti writing on the SML website, loves his playing style: “Leggio blows tenor the way Willie Mays ran down a flyball. They both let you know from the get-go that you’ll never be able to do it their way.”

Man of a Thousand Songs

Leggio’s name means “music stand” in Italian, though he never uses one, because as Carmen says, “I have thousands of songs memorized. I can hear a song once and know how to play it. In my whole life, I’ve never bought a piece of sheet music.”

Jazz aficionados and couples looking for a moody evening in White Plains and what great tenor is should snap of a pair of the limited ducats for Carmen and his quartet. Only 200 seats will be sold.

The performance is at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue, the Westchester Arts Council Building on Saturday night, September 22. The gig is from 7 to 10 PM. Tickets are $20 in advance,$25 at the door, and may be purchased at the Arts Council Building, 31 Mamaroneck Avenue. Call 328-0671 or 428-4220 for more details.





“The Tenorman from Tarrytown” Today. He’ll be appearing one night only, 7 PM to 10, Septemeber 22 at the Westchester Arts Council first floor rotunda. Tickets are $20 in advance, call328-0671 or 428-4220.

LocalBoy Plays Good

Leggio taught himself to play, first on the clarinet, trying to imitate Artie Shaw playing on the radio. Carmen still plays Artie’s romantic showstoppers: “Stardust,” “Nightmare” and “Begin the Beguine,” but when he does, he plays them on an old King metal clarinet like Artie.

By age 14, the lure of sax overcame him and he switched to tenor sax, and Leggio landed gigs in night clubs in Tarrytown.

His father was not happy: “I quit high school, because I knew I was meant to be a musician,” Leggio told writer Fred Cicetti in a recent interview. “But my father was so angry he didn’t speak to me for years. On his deathbed, he admitted I was right to leave school.” Carmen still lives in Tarrytown where he got his start in jazz, and is still recording.

Recording artist

His last album is “Sax After Midnight for Lovers,” on which he lends is smooth big tenor touch “My Foolish Heart,” “Angel Eyes,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and “When Your Lover Has Gone,” and other favorite standards.

Cicetti describes the album stylings this way: “Leggio provides a lot of breath and vibrato to seduce his listeners. He sounds a bit like Ben Webster, but with even softer edges. The tone he gets throughout the range of his tenor will put anyone in the mood for love.”

In the mood for romantic sax

Mr. Leggio will appear at the Arts Council first floor rotunda with Chris Parker on skins, Doug Abrams at the keyboard, and Lou Stelluti on bass, and their stylings will be given an added dimension by Glenda Davenport joining them as vocalist.

What is Leggio’s big bell sound?

He explains why he has played his big bell SML for 41 years: “I loved it, because of the tone the bigger bell gives you. I also liked that it was heavy. I like a heavy horn because it’s like a heavy car—it holds the road better. I was told that Coleman Hawkins played an SML and that influenced me a little, too.”

Cecetti reports that Carmen accidently ran over his beloved saxophone last year and had to have his repairman, Jay Beers, attempt to repair it: “He did an incredible job,” Carmen reports. “Actually it sounds even better now. I have no idea why. It’s darker and mellower.”

White Plains hipsters can hear that “darker, mellower” sound — what tenor sax is all about September 22.

Save Time and Money, Order Tickets for All Concerts now

Coming up in the series after Carmen’s performance:

October 27, the Jazz Legends presents Fred Smith & The Masters of Swing.
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November 24, it’s the Jimmy Hill Quartet with Alto Sax smoothie, Jimmy Hill performing.
A fourth concert is in the process of being booked. Jazz buffs may order a ticket for all 4 concerts for $75, 3 concerts, $55, 2 concerts,$35. Tickets for the Leggio performance are $20 apiece in advance, $25 at the door.

The Rebel Council Appeals to Spano

Here is the text of the letter Councilpersons Robert Greer, William King, Rita Malmud, Pauline Oliva, and Benjamin Boykin wrote to County Executive Spano Wednesday.
August 28, 2001

Dear County Executive Spano:

The City of White Plains is currently negotiating for the purchase of approximately six acres of open space andits eventual dedication as parkland. the property, commonly known as the D’Elia property, is situated in the Reynal Park/Rocky Dell section of White Plains and abuts The Greenway — dedicated City parkland.

The Trust for Public land has been involved in negotiations with the present owners on the City’s behalf and has arrived at a purchase price of $1.75 million. White Plains is very interested in owning this property as permanent open space and dedicating it as parkland. However, an unaided purchase of this magnitude would strain the City’s ability to buy other desirable parcels of open space for use as parkland.

We know of the County’s interest in open space preservation and wish to respectfully request that the County provide the City with financial assistance in order to make this important acquisition.

Sincerely,

Rita Z. Malmud, Council President

Robert Greer,Councilman

Pauline C. Oliva, Councilman

Benjamin Boykin II, Councilman

William M. King,Councilman

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