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

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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.


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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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.

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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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.

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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.

Photo by WPCNR

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

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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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Amy Paulin’s Albany: The Governor’s Education Budget: $1B LESS.

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The Albany Journal, Filed by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, 3/1/02, 1:00 AM EST: The governor recently unveiled his 2002-03 state budget proposal which, once again, cuts education aid. His new school aid plan gives New York’s schools $1 billion less to educate our kids than under the law in effect just two short years ago.

The governor’s proposal doesn’t take into account the realities of inflation, increasing costs of education, and growing enrollments.

Sample Cuts

School aid for the New Rochelle School District – one of the hardest hit under the governor’s plan – will be cut by almost $2.8 million. Smaller school districts in our community will also suffer – the Pelham School District will lose over $845,000 and Eastchester will receive over $750,000 less than two years ago. These state aid decreases could force property taxpayers to make up the difference.

Building Aid Formula Tinkering

Last year, the Assembly fought and won the battle to maintain the building aid formula. However, the governor has once again proposed changing the building-aid ratio – resulting in substantial cuts in funding for much-needed construction projects.

Stretches Reimbursements for Renovations

In addition, he proposes reimbursement for renovations be stretched out over 15, 20 or 30 years – forcing school districts to ask voters to approve bond acts instead. Construction projects are necessary to helping schools accommodate growing enrollments and upgrade aging facilities. Providing our children anything less than a modern, safe learning environment just isn’t acceptable.

No additional operating aid.

The governor also lumps funding for special education and BOCES together with several other funding categories and freezes aid at last year’s level, providing no additional basic operating aid to schools in New York State. Without this funding, schools will struggle to provide vital learning opportunities to our neediest children.

LADDER plan funding shortfall

Since 1998, the Assembly’s successful LADDER plan has helped schools reduce class sizes, improve teacher training, establish universal pre-kindergarten, provide full-day kindergarten programs, and modernize computer technology. Each year the Assembly looks to meet the high academic standards that have become the benchmark of New York’s school system through effective programs like LADDER.

Unfortunately, the governor’s plan fails to fully fund LADDER.

Class-Size Aid hurts cities

The governor’s budget proposal cuts the Class-Size Reduction Program – relied on by small city districts. For example, the New Rochelle School District is losing at least $50,000 in the Class-Size Reduction Program and Mount Vernon is losing at least $90,000 under the governor’s plan.


There is nothing more important to our children’s future than a quality education. As your Assembly representative, I am working to make sure our children have the resources they need for a high-quality education.

I will work in the Assembly to undo the damage caused by the governor’s proposed budget cuts. As we struggle to do more with less, we can’t afford to jeopardize the education we provide our children.

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Harmony on the Sea, Boarding at Rochambeau Pier, Sails March 8.

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White Plains Variety by John F. Bailey, Filed 2/28/02, 5 PM EST:The Fort Hill Players are rehearsing nightly for three and four hours at a clip, “putting the Ritz” on the debut of their second original musical revue, Harmony on the Sea: An Original Musical with Songs You Know, premiering March 8.
The extravaganza sets sail next Friday at Rochambeau School Auditorium at 8 PM for a three week run.The stage of the Rochambeau Auditorium will be transformed into a giant stern of the SS Harmony complete with ship’s funnel and promenade deck.

ORIGINAL DANCE, DIALOGUE SHOWCASE YOUR FAVORITE HITS OF ALL TIME: Director Joan Charischak (standing by piano), puts Fort Hill Dancers through their synchronized routine (choreographed by Sergei Nabatov) to “Heat wave,” one of thirty songs, integrated seamlessly into an original romantic comedy script about couples meeting on a cruise that launches Friday night, March 8. Tickets at $14, $12 for Seniors and Students, $6 for children under 12 are available by telephone, 421-0008 for pick-up at the theatre door for Friday performances on March 8, 15, and 22nd at 8 PM and Saturday performances on March 9, 16, and 23rd at 2 PM and 8 PM.

Photo by WPCNR

WPCNR interviewed Joan Charischak, who is directing her second production of this type for Fort Hill. Harmony builds on the hit format she directed in 2001, Musical Memories which she and the Fort Hill Players introduced and staged last year. MM proved very popular with the public. Memories was the first Fort Hills original musical prototype, blending the audience pleaser of a musical review of hit music standards of the past into a new libretto, which this reviewer really enjoyed.

DIRECTOR CHARISCHAK COACHES THE CAST: After a nonstop four-hour rehearsal Tuesday evening, Director Joan Charischak makes points to the players about the pulling together of the elements of the new musical romantic comedy replete with new jokes!
Photo by WPCNR

“It went over beautifully, it was a lot of fun, we had a fabulous turnout (cast).We had a sizable cast, as we do this year.” Ms. Charischak reported to CNR Tuesday evening, relaxing finally into one of the wide, nostalgic wood Rochambeau Auditorium seats.

She was eager to talk about the show, though losing her voice from four hours of instructing, blocking, critiquing, coaching, cajoling and stroking the talent through a standard four-hour nonstop rehearsal.

Lessons of Creating Original Theatre

Charischak noted lessons learned from Musical Memories,“We have about thirty people in the cast, and we wrote that musical (Musical Memories)as well. This year’s musical (Harmony on the Sea)has a lot more plot line to it. We certainly learned (from Musical Memories) to start earlier in the year. We learned we wanted to have more of a plot line than we did last year, though the plotline was quite successful. This one is much more developed. We had sort of fun writing a comedy as well. We also trimmed down the number of songs.”

Seven Months in Making.

Ms. C. described the creative process to us. She said the Fort Hill Players had been working on Harmony since last summer:

“We started with concept, you know, what did we want to do. We had about six or seven scenarios. We met with about eight or nine people,” as she related the show’s genesis. “From that we decided which scenario we liked the best. What we wanted to do with it. So we developed this, it’s sort of a ‘Love Boat’ theme.”

The original book for Harmony was developed by Anita Abrams, Jim Brownold, (who did “quite a bit of the writing, he’s quite good at that,” Charischak said), Ms. Charischak, Denise Dunn, Anthony Fabrizio, Robert Kahn, Dana Searcy, Mark Snyder, and Robyn Washington. Ms. Charischak said the libretto was developed before the songs, all standards, were weaved into the script.

BIG FINISH NOW: Director Charischak coaches a songstress to deliver the message at the close of a big number. Harmony will feature an in-house 3-piece orchestra through the run of the show, rendering 32 memorable standards including, But Not For Me, ‘S Wonderful, Whatever Lola Wants, Anything You Can Do, On a Wonderful Day Like Today, Day by Day, Girl From Ipanema many with a tropical theme.
Photo by WPCNR

Jennifer Ware, Musical Director, assisted the writers in picking the songs. Anita Abrams, Ms. Charischak, Anthony Fabrizio, Robert Kahn, Dana Searcy, Mark Snyder, who also is the show’s indefatigable piano man, and Robyn Washington selected the favorites theatergoers will be hearing next Friday evening.

Storyline—A little Cole Porter and a little ABC

Harmony on the Sea depicts in typical Cole Porter style (Anything Goes) the voyage of the SS Harmony on a voyage from New York to Rio de Janeiro. The audience meets a variety of passengers whose stories of romance, old loves and new, unfold, “love boat style” from song to song. Ms. Charischak reports the script is more detailed and intricate than Musical Memories complete with original jokes.

Cast Notes

“It’s a non-lead show, a collaboration really. There are four storylines that actually go through the show,” Charischak said. “So we have eight people who mostly have dialogue, and there is a single person who is only an actor, who plays a stowaway.”

On the Fort Hill Players website,, the publicity for the show, handled by Robert Kahn, invites theatre goers to “meet the inseparable lovebirds, the long-married couple about to separate!” The advance notices promise an “amusing cruise filled with discovery, conflict and resolution.” The site also provides the complete cast.

Musicals, Dramas Equally Attractive to Actors.

Charischak said thirty-two actors and actresses, including high school students appear in Harmony. “A large portion” hails from White Plains, she said and the cast includes talent from all over Westchester County, representing Yonkers, Mahopac, Peekskill, Harrison, Briarcliff Manor, and New Rochelle. They have been rehearsing since January 1, three times a week, about three hours a night.

We asked if there was more interest in performing in musicals, rather than dramas, and Charischak said, no: “Actually, I think it’s pretty well mixed. When we did the auditions for Rumors, (produced last fall), we had 72 people come to the audition. So that was a wonderful turnout. We had an absolutely wonderful turnout for this show, too. We had 50 people audition for this show.”


Interviewed nine days before the show we asked the Director what process of production the show was in. She did not hesitate: “It’s going quite well actually. We’ve got a ways to go, but it will come together. It’s a good cast. They’re very dedicated.”

The hardest thing to get right?

“Getting all the separate pieces together,” Charischak said. “You’ve got a choreographer (Sergei Nabatov) rehearsing dancers. You have a Musical Director (Jennifer Ware) rehearsing singers. A stage director directing people entering and exiting and pulling that all together is the tough part. We started doing that two weeks ago (February 12.)”

INDEFATIGABLE PIANO MAN MARK SNYDER THROWS A MUSICAL CUE: Mr. Snyder is the swinging septuagenarian piano man who never takes a break, will direct a four-man pit orchestra consisting of himself on the ivories, bassist and two percussion sidemen, laying down the familiar musical “beds” for the classics from Getz to Porter that you’ll see and hear in Harmony on the Sea. Costumes are by Terry Hanson; Producer is Kathleen Haverlak, Robyn Washington handles Props, and Mike Lynch is the Sound Technician.

Photo by WPCNR

We asked what performers or acts were more difficult to direct, dancers or singers:

“They’re both tough. Dancers want to perform as well as singers want to sing. So it’s tough on both parts.”

Turning Rochambeau into the SS Harmony

On opening night, the Rochambeau Theatre will be transformed into a cruise ship, according to Ms. Charischak: “Anthony Fabrizio is doing the set, and he is creating a forced perspective of the stern of the boat. We have a huge smokestack in the center. It’s going to be very nice. We’re using some lighting changes, and some appropriate dimming and mood-setting.”

Tickets May be Ordered by Telephone or Website or Mail.

Tickets to Harmony on the Sea: An Original Musical with Songs You Know may be ordered through the Fort Hill Players website, (, or by telephoning 421-0008, reserving for pick-up at the door. Show times are Fridays, March 8, 15 and 22nd with the curtain going up at 8 PM; Saturdays March 9, 16 and 23rd with two performances at 2 PM and 8 PM.

Tickets are $14 for Regular Admission, $12 for Seniors and students, $6 for Children under 12. There is a Dinner Theater Combination Ticket at $42. Performances are presented at the Rochambeau School Auditorium, 228 Fisher Avenue White Plains.

Sixty Four Years of Productions

The Fort Hill Players, she reminded us is celebrating its sixty-fourth year: “We are the longest running community theatre in Westchester County.”

Charischak herself developed her directorial skills she says from her stage experience in college and working in non-equity summer stock productions. She also has directed Junior High School productions for ten years.

A Showcase for Talent

Typical of the persons who perform in Fort Hill Players is Patti Rome, of Silver Lake, who creates the role of Janet Krauss in Harmony.

Ms. Rome sings You Don’t Bring Me Flowers in the show. Ms. Rome can also be heard and seen in the ensemble numbers, ‘S Wonderful, But Not for Me, and the opening number, What do we do, We Sail.

Patti reports she learned to sing by taking adult education classes some eight years ago at SUNY Purchase. She also took drama classes there, too, to fulfill her love affair with the theater.

She told WPCNR the role she landed in Harmony fits in with her ambition to create a cabaret act, which she hopes to develop in the next year. She enjoys singing torch songs, and the Harmony vehicle gives her the opportunity to do just that.

“I’m just one of these people who love the theatre but have not turned professional yet,” Ms. Rome says.

She is not alone. As Ms. Charischak puts it,

“People like to do musical revues. People like to get out there and sing. We’ve given a lot of people who are of all various levels of talent the opportunity to sing. And they love that.”

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Education House Herald Telegram, Filed by Michelle Schoenfeld, 2/28/02, 11:00 AM EST: Three White Plains High School students will be awarded scholarships through the Westchester County Women’s Hall of Fame at a luncheon on May 21st at the Rye Town Hilton.
The Bayer Diagnostics Science/Engineering Award of $3,000 goes to
Lucia Bonilla, who will study Engineering at Princeton University next year. Ms. Bonilla is fifth in her
graduating class and is a member of the National Honor Society. She has served as a Peer Mediator at the High School, as a volunteer at the St. Bartholomew Church Soup Kitchen and at White Plains Hospital, among other activities.

Michelle Loayza will receive the Verizon Woman in Telecommunications Award of $2,000 and plans to study Journalism at Columbia University next fall. Third in her class, she is a member of the National Honor Society, the New York State Science Honor Society, the Symphony Orchestra and the Varsity Field Hockey Team. She also volunteers at White Plains Hospital.

The third award winner is Melissa Saint Fleur, who will receive the MasterCard International Global Business Leadership Award of $3,000 and plans to study International Business in college. On the Honor Roll since ninth grade, she volunteers at the YMCA and at Post Road School, White Plains, her elementary school. She also is active in Youth in Government, Future Business Leaders of
America and the Orchestra.

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Mount Vernon Ends White Plains Hoops Hopes, 60-52

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WPCNR Press Box, Filed 2/27/02, 11:30 PM EST: The Mount Vernon Knights continued their mastery over White Plains High Wednesday afternoon, ending the Tigers Section 1, Class A Playoff run, 60-52 at the County Center.

White Plains trailed most of the game, closing to within 3 points in the fourth quarter, but a late steal put the game away for the Knights.

The Tigers finish the season with an 18-5 record.

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New Guide Lists Notable Gardens and Special Events

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Westchester County Clarion Statesman, Filed 2/27/02, 3 PM EST by Westchester Office of Tourism:The Westchester County Office of Tourism is offering the new Gardens, The Westchester Way, a four-color, foldout brochure that lists and describes various gardens
throughout Westchester County, New York in the heart of the Hudson River Valley.
Whether interested in visiting gardens to learn about the
growth patterns of a certain species, or enjoy leisurely
strolls through perennials, this brochure offers information to
help plan your visits.

“This new brochure includes gardens that are superlative in terms of size, design, or purpose. We’ve listed butterfly-friendly gardens, gardens that contain rare species of cultivated plants, gardens that do not use any chemicals, even a non-traditional ‘sculpture’ garden,” said Margo Jones, Director of the Westchester County Office of Tourism. “Anyone in search of exceptional gardens should consider visiting Westchester County.”

Fourteen notable public and private gardens that are open for individual and group tours are listed, including those at Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate in Sleepy Hollow and the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah.

THE ROSE GARDEN AT KYKUIT, one of the many private estate gardens described in Gardens: The Westchester Way brochure.
Photo Provided by Westchester County Office of Tourism

Each description includes points of interest, its history, the species of
trees, plants and flowers.

Additional information includes: months, days, and hours of operation;
admission fees (if any); and the types of tours that are available (guided
or self-guided, group or individual). Directions to each place utilizing
public transportation (trains, buses, and taxis) is also listed. Funds from the D.O.T. Smart Commute program made the printing of this brochure possible.

The brochure provides a county map showing the location of each major garden. A calendar of special events has been included, listing annual garden-related events that take place the same month every year, such as the Azalea Festival at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Somers, Rose Day at the Lyndhurst estate in Tarrytown, and the annual Opening Day of Wildflower Island at Teatown Reservation in Ossining. The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program dates are also listed.

Free copies of the “Gardens, The Westchester Way” brochure are available, from the Westchester County Office of Tourism at 222 Mamaroneck Avenue, Suite 100, White Plains, NY 10605. Phone: (800) 833-9282 or (914) 995-8500; or e-mail:

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