WPCNR Common Council Chronicle-Examiner. By John F. Bailey. June 20, 2002. 12:00 PM E.D.T.: The Common Council was shaken up Wednesday night by the White Plains Housing Authority request to put their proposal to build a new headquarters on Fisher Court adjacent to the Bethel Baptist Church to a vote, without considering an alternative site.
The matter of bringing overnight parking to Old Mamaroneck Road was put aside pending a study by a Mayor’s Committee of three councilpersons on hours, technology, and logistics.
Susan Habel delivered yet another weighty set of New York Presbyterian Hospital documents responding to Common Council questions.
PROPOSED SITE OF SOCCER FIELD: The South end of the Saxon Woods Pool Parking Lot is the location for a soccer field Westchester County proposes to build and pay for, and turn over to White Plains to run.
Photo by WPCNR
WORLD CUP LAUNCHING GROUND: The proposed site of the new joint Westchester County/White Plains soccer field venture that awaits Council approval of the Inter Municipal Agreement as soon as it is received from Westchester County. The road is the Southbound entrance to the Hutchison River Parkway.
Photo by WPCNR
Commissioner of Recreation and Parks, Arne Abramowitz announced a new agreement with Westchester County to build a synthetic surface soccer field in Saxon Woods Park.
Housing Authority Shocker.
Anthony Tascione, Executive Director of the Housing Authority, appeared to request the Council to proceed with reviewing the Authority’s proposal to build a new headquarters on Fisher Court. Tascione said it was the site that the Authority could afford, and that recent opposition to the headquarters by residents of Winbrook and the pastor of Bethel Baptist Church was a reversal of previous written support for the project from the Bethel Baptist Church on church stationary, signed by the Secretary of the Church.
He said the authority had reviewed 23 locations and the Fisher Court location made the most sense. He alluded to the fact that the Authority had received positive acceptance of the location up until the eleventh hour, when opposition suddenly surfaced.
Hockley is Hot.
Councilman Glen Hockley was aghast that the Housing Authority was refusing to look at other locations for the projects, in consideration that housing authority executives had told him that they would look at other sites, after a tour of the area with him. He was quite upset about it, shaking his head, reddening, in obvious irritation with Mr. Tascione for not having been at the June Common Council meeting public hearing on the project, “after listening to the public, listening to the ministers, hearing the opposition, the waste of our tax dollars, that they should sit back and look at other opportunities (to build or rent elsewhere).”
Councilperson Rita Malmud, pursing her lips said, “I’m kind of surprised.”
The Mayor said Larry Sallee, Chairman of the Housing Authority had personally contacted him, and asked to have the headquarters matter on the July Common Council agenda.
Tascione politely responded, “The Housing Authority will be in attendance (in July), and they will be able to respond. With all due respect, we met with the residents over the years. I have letters published supporting the location. The authority has done what it can. There’s always some level of opposition to any project. There’s never going to be a consensus.”
Hockley, growing red with irritation, said. “That’s a bit insensitive.”
Benjamin Boykin, Council President, added, “We’ve seen letters of endorsement refuting the project.”
Tascione said he had a letter from the Secretary to the Minister of Bethel Baptist Church, and the previous minister in support of the location. “We take these letters in good faith,” he said. Reverend Daly Barnes of Bethel Baptist Church was not available for comment, nor was Mr. Tascione this morning to see who signed what letter and when. But, given Mr. Barnes impassioned complaints about the project at the public hearing, the church has changed its mind.
Overnight parking not as simple as it seems.
Councilman William King’s crusade to bring overnight parking to specific areas of White Plains in a pilot program, met another round of opposition from Parking Authority Director, Albert Moroni, Commissioner of Public Works Joseph Nicoletti, and Mayor Delfino, when a slightly amended measure was submitted by Mr. King.
Mr. Moroni noted the complexity of deciding how to meter the spaces on the targeted area, on Old Mamaroneck Road between Shapham Place and Mamaroneck Road. He gave the Council the choice of individual meters or a central electronic metering facility. At this point, the selling of onstreet overnight parking permits has been discarded as unwieldy, and the thinking of Mr. Moroni at this point is for a time-sensitive metered system.
Mr. King contacted WPCNR to tells us that overnight street parking permits is not dead, however it requires a home rule request to be approved by the state legislature to execute it.
Free Parking During Day Would be Eliminated.
Mr. King acquiesced to Mr. Moroni’s suggestion that to be fair, free parking during daylight hours, 9 AM to 6 PM on the apartments section of Old Mamaroneck Road approximately in front of Surrey-Strathmore apartments from Bryant Avenue on down to Mamaroneck Avenue, would be eliminated. Mr. King contacted us to point that there already is paid parking during the day from Strathmore Place down to Mamaroneck Avenue.
Nicoletti Quietly Worries About Snow Removal.
Commissioner Joseph Nicoletti said the overnight parking on that street would definitely hamper snow removal. He pointed out that parking on both sides of the street would prevent ploughs from getting through, and that freezing after a snowfall, when the street could not be ploughed properly could create a dangerous condition. He recommended the overnight parking be suspended during the winter months.
Council Enters Bizarre World of Parking Management.
Mayor Delfino, who lives in an apartment building, said the Council was playing with fire, because if overnight parking was granted in one area, then Battle Hill or Fisher Hill with similar needs would want it too. He said those streets in those neighborhoods are so narrow it would make it very difficult for fire trucks and snow plow vehicles to get through.
Delfino asked Mr. King, who wants overnight parking?
King said “People want it here. I’m getting it mostly from young mothers who have young children who don’t want to walk a long distance to their cars (in assigned spaces).”
Delfino drew on his long knowledge of White Plains, saying in the 1970s there was a one-way issue in the North end of town and it became what he called a “Hatfield-McCoy” issue, saying other areas of town would want overnight parking, too and “it would change the face of White Plains.”
King said several times that New York City gets along with overnight parking.
When the council began to grapple with actual hours of parking, when parking would not be allowed on one side of the street or the other, and got into disagreements as to when there would be no parking allowed in order that the street be cleaned, the Mayor rose up in his seat and said it was up to the council, “whatever it is, work it out.”
Mayor says “Boyfriends and girlfriends are parking overnight,”
The Mayor bemused by the council predicament, voiced his opinion that the only persons who now park overnight and get tickets are boyfriends and girlfriends parking overnight as guests of residents in the apartments.
Robert Greer, grinning, said, “Well, we can’t allow that.”
Mr. Moroni said 104 spaces could be created on the stretch of Old Mamaroneck Road, between Shapham Place and Mamaroneck Avenue, with either single space electronic meters or a central location electronic space system, similar to city garages. He said parking would be 25 cents for two hours between 6PM and 6 AM, with parking not allowed from 6 AM to 9 AM, and regular day rates taking affect at 9 AM of 25 cents for 40 minutes.
The Mayor pointed out those persons who do not move their cars at 6 AM would receive tickets. He said that, “I’m not taking those calls (from those ticket recipients).” Mr. King contacted us to point out the Mayor said this assuming that there would be street cleaning one day a week between 6 AM and 9 AM. Later in the meeting, Mr. King suggested street-cleaning be scheduled for later in the morning.
With this, the Mayor said he was going to form a subcommittee of three councilpersons to discuss the overnight parking implementation, because “this has severe implications for the future of the city.”
Abramowitz Announces County/City Soccer Field Construction
Arne Abramowitz appeared to announce to the Council that Westchester County is willing to pay for and construct a synthetic turf soccer field with lights on the Saxon Woods Park property adjacent to the Saxon Woods Pool Parking Lot, nestled up alongside the entrance ramp to the Hutchinson River Parkway.
Abramowitz said the City of White Plains would have full control over the management of the field, deciding on what teams use the field. He said White Plains recreation teams would be allowed to use it. County residents would have to be allowed to use it, but White Plains would have sole discretion. He noted that if a team had three persons from outside the city, they were a county team. He also said there would be no “pick-up” soccer games allowed. Use of the field would be by permit to teams only. White Plains would set the field-use fees and keep the revenues, with the city signing a 5 year lease with 5-year option for renewal.
All that is needed is for the Council to vote acceptance of an Inter Municipal Agreement between the city and the county. Corporation Counsel Edward Dunphy said the actual copy of the IMA has not been received from the county yet. Each member of the council agreed enthusiastically this was a “win-win” for the city, as Mayor Delfino put it.
Abramowitz said the agreement came about when the county asked cities to recommend sites for soccer fields about 18 months ago. Abramowitz said White Plains recommended Saxon Woods. The county has selected Tibbetts Park in Yonkers, a site in Port Chester and one in New Rochelle, and the Saxon Woods site.
As soon as the city approves the IMA, Abramowitz said, the county would send out Requests for Proposals, and were hoping to have it built by spring 2002.
Oh, Just a Few More Documents.
Susan Habel gave the Common Council some more “beach reading” this weekend, a document supplied by the hospital answering Councilpersons’ questions on the Final Environmental Impact Statement. Habel said the rest of the document would be delivered today and Friday. Tonight the Common Council resumes the Gerard Talks, session four, discussing their FEIS concerns in the Mayor’s Conference Chamber at 5:30 PM.
Habel said the document which was inch-and-a-half thick delivered information on 1.)The types of research now being undertaken by affiliates of the hospital. 2.) Ancillary Use. 3.) Biosafety Level Three activities. 4.)Information on the Safety Officer overseeing research. 5.) Information from Commissioner Nicoletti. 6.) Number of trees endangered. 7.) Student programs 8.) Research Policy Guidelines and Control.
Nicoletti Announces Beginning of Post Road Improvements
The long-awaited improvements to the West Post Road medians and sidewalks will begin shortly, according to Joseph Nicoletti, who announced that Westchester County is forwarding $1.1 million to the city to pay for the work. This is money the county has long owed to the city, for the sanitary sewer work the city performed at its own expense ($400,000), the only city besides one to do so, to comply with state standards, Nicoletti said.
Work will begin by demolishing the medians first, and he expected work to be completed by late September. Residents can expect 56 trees to be planted on medians and on sidewalks, and 30 sidewalk street lights installed.
The council voted 7-0 to pass the ordinance authorizing the agreement. Mr. Nicoletti also announced a $750,000 project to reconstruct a water line in the Northwest section of the city.