Architectural “advisors” lobbied council to discard Cappelli designs

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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

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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

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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.

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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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

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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

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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.
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

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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.


Rita Z. Malmud, Council President

Robert Greer,Councilman

Pauline C. Oliva, Councilman

Benjamin Boykin II, Councilman

William M. King,Councilman

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Rebel Councilpersons Snub Mayor in Appeals to Spano for D’Elia Aid

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A letter from five Common Councilpersons requesting open space aid from County Executive Andy Spano was faxed to a Journal News Reporter Wednesday without notifying the Mayor and a sixth Councilman before it was apparently leaked to the reporter..
The Mayor’s office was shocked Wednesday when, according to Executive Officer George Gretsas, Journal News City Hall Beat Reporter, Susan Elan, contacted him asking him for City Hall comment on a letter she had received sent Spano by five Councilman.

Ms. Elan, Gretsas said, told him she had received a letter, faxed her by Robert Greer, signed by five Common Council members including Greer, asking County Executive Andy Spano’s office for aid in funding the $1.775 million purchase of the long-sought D’Elia property off the Greenway approved by the Capitol Projects Board Tuesday.

The Council takes over.

Gretsas told WPCNR he had no idea what she was talking about, and he asked her to fax the letter over to him so he could comment on it. She faxed it to him at 2:45 PM.

According to Gretsas it was the first time the Mayor’s office was aware of the maverick Council initiative.

County spokesperson Donna Greene told WPCNR: “It (the letter) came up here in a letter form (I think hand delivered) addressed to the county executive, signed by the 5 council members at about 2 PM. (Precise time not known.)”

She said she did not think the County Executive had examined the letter immediately upon its arrival.This raises the possibility that the reporter may have known about the request before Mr. Spano did.

Letter does not “cc:” Delfino

A copy of the letter obtained by WPCNR has five Councilmen signing the letter which is written on Robert Greer’s City Council stationary. The five are: Robert Greer, Rita Malmud, Benjamin Boykin II, William King and Pauline Oliva. The letter formally calls for the County Executive to step in and supply county aid for the D’Elia property, in effect, (since the Mayor was not carbon copied or informed to Gretsas’ knowlege), behind the Mayor’s back. It also raises the question whether all five councilmembers met privately which is forbidden by the City Charter, to sign the letter.

Friday, Paul Wood, spokesman for the Mayor’s office said, Mayor Delfino had indeed met with County Executive Spano on Wednesday but they had not discussed any open space aid package.

If Spano knew of the letter, it could be assumed he might have mentioned it to Mayor Delfino. This raises the question of whether the reporter knew of the five councilpersons’ request before the County Executive.

The council still has to vote officially to authorize the $1.775 million expenditure on the D’Elia property. It is on the agenda for approval for the September 4 Common Council meeting, along with the Council resolution to establish the Open Space Acquisition Advisory Committee and adapt as city policy the Mayor’s Environmental Protection Initiative.

Can Council Acquire Land working within the Trust for Public Land model?

WPCNR learned from a key city environmental officialwho spoke on condition he not be identified, that the Wednesday letter is the first time since the Open Space Acquisition Advisory Committee was formed last spring), that the Council has raised the question of going to the county for aid to fund the $5 million acquisition fund. They have not done so, even when the Council has voted to approve a Home Rule Request to Albany to release pension fund money to fund partially the $5 million earmarked to spend on open space properties.

Susan Habel at the Tuesday CapitalProjects Board recommendation hearing said the Mayor engaged the New York Trust for Public Land to negotiate for the D’Elia property because it had long been suggested strongly by Open Space advocates that the city use the Trust services.

Now, in the first negotiation the Trust has conducted for the city, successfully, the Council may, in its concern for city expenditures,may be showing it is unable to work within the parameters of the way The Trust for Public Land works: agreeing to a negotiated deal within a tight time frame.

If the council does not have the stomach for a $1.75 million bonding, can they abide with a multi-million dollar purchase down the road?

Council knew Tuesday county, state and federal sources would be explored

The Mayor’s Executive Officer was puzzled by the council need to appeal to the County Executive for aid.

What troubled Gretsas most was that Robert Greer had been explicitly assured by Mayor Delfino at the Tuesday afternoon Capitol Projects Board meeting when the $1.775MM expenditure for the D’Elia piece was agreed upon by all council members in attendance, that aid would be sought from the county, state and federal levels.

WPCNR, covering that meeting, heard Delfino tellGreer explicitly he had a meeting with Spano “in about 10 days” to discuss the possibility of direct county aid.

Gretsas expressed disappointment with the letter the council five wrote to Spano, because, he said, the Mayor said Tuesday that if the city depended on the county to approve some aid, the 90 day contractual period the New York Trust for Public Land has to close the deal with the D’Elia owners might be missed.

City will bond for a year, seek aid which could reduce bonding need

Gretsas said Greer’s fears were unfounded. He pointed out the city financial interest was protected in case aid could be secured. He said in cases like these when federal aid might be anticipated, the city executes a short-term bond in anticipation of future aid.

He said the city was going to bond for the 1.775 million purchase price for just one year:
“This one-year bond gives the city time to apply for grants, seek aid from the county and the federal level, yet by bonding now, the city secures the D’Elia property during this brief window because the New YorkTrust for Public Land only has 90 days in which to close the deal. If we receive aid within one year, we can rebond for a lesser amount, but we lock in the deal, now.” (See WPCNR earlier story).

Ryan to the Rescue

Coincidently, aid could be forthcoming. County Legislator William Ryan, (of District 5), was reported in the Journal News as saying he would introduce a bill in the County Legislature to acquire $500,000 in county aid towards the D’Elia purchase, at the County Board meeting September 10.

Interestingly, this move has Ryan supporting two different positions toward “woodsy” open space within White Plains.

Ryan currently supports a $1.9 million county purchase of wooded, Silver Lake-adjacent land in Woodcrest Heights in White Plains to build low cost affordable housing for lower and middle income persons, an ongoing Andy Spano initiative, while only asking for $500,000 to preserve the D’Elia property.

The $1.9 million funding has not been moved to the Legislative Budget committee yet, its next step.

Corcoran to the neighborhoods: Reynal Parkers for it: Greenway not used much now.

Candyce Canelstein Corcoran, an outspoken advocate for open space, Ryan’s rival for the Legislative post in District 5, reported on her walking tours of the Reynal Park area Thursday and Friday. She and her companion Republican candidates for Common Council, Larry Delgado and Robert Amodio have found the neighborhood eager for the D’Elia purchase.

Corcoran made the walking tour, to get a sense whether the neighborhoods were against the purchase if it were open to county residents. Talking with over thirty persons door-to-door, Corcoran reports:

“They feel it is important for the city to acquire the land.They are not concerned who pays for it, and believe even if the county contributes, that it will not see increased use because no one uses it now. They would prefer it to be owned by the city of White Plains for city use only, but at this point they do not seem to care whether it is a combination of city and county money that acquires it. There were 2 residents who expressed resistance to the county helping pay for the property because of the ramifications of it.”

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Another Day, Another Groundbreaking for Mayor: Stop N Shop coming Sept/2002

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“If we work together, anything is possible” Mayor Joseph Delfino said as he presided over opening demolition ceremonies for the New Super Stop N Shop Wednesday at the Westchester Avenue “gateway to the city.”

“MR. REVITALIZATION” RIDES AGAIN: Mayor Joseph Delfino presides over his fourth groundbreaking in a year, the beginning of Stop N Shop construction on Westchester Avenue saying “If we work together, anything is possible.”PHOTO BY WPCNR NEWS

The future of the White Plains Eastern Gateway took an historic step towards gentrification Wednesday. The Stop N Shop Supermarket Company held a Demolition & Groundbreaking Ceremony signaling start of construction of their new supermarket on the site of the old Bank of New York building and Post Road Bowl alley on Westchester Avenue.

The ceremony marked the end of a two decade quest for a supermarket for White Plains that ended with the Stop N Shop and Bianco & Pep’e deal, brokered and encouraged by Mayor Delfino’s diplomacy which made the Wednesday ceremony possible.

Opening in September 2002

When an orange Hitachi 400 Excavator with Hydraulic Pulverizer, lurking over the old Bank of New York branch office like a monster from Jurassic Park, snapped down on the top of a bank wall and started chewing it up at about 11:10 AM, the new 60,000 square foot supermarket was launched. According to David Greene, spokesman for Stop N Shop, the new superstore is scheduled to open in 9 to 12 months, between late spring to September 2002.

Andrew Hennessy, Principal of Berg Hennessy Olson, Washingtonville, N.Y., project architects, told WPCNR the new facility would go up quickly because “construction of supermarkets today can be done in half the time of construction that was executed twenty years ago because of better materials, equipment, technology and building methods.” Hennessy said he expected the new store to open at the latest in September 2002, depending on the weather, or as early as next summer.

Supermarket will not be held up by garage construction

It is not necessary, Hennessy said, for Bianco & Pep’e to complete the garage for the supermarket and Westchester One before the Stop N Shop can open. That is because, Hennessy reports, the new supermarket will use the parking on the ground level of the parking garage. Hennessy said the new garage Bianco & Pep’e is building is prefabricated and should go up in an efficient manner.

“WHITE PLAINS EMERGES FROM SHADOWS: Mayor Delfino and Stop N Shop’s Tim Mahoney unveil the sign announcing new supermarket construction. Mahoney promised Stop N Shop would be a contributing and volunteering member of the community.PHOTO BY WPCNR NEWS

As the Bank of New York was feeling the bite of the Hitachi, Bianco & Pep’e was pouring footings and foundations for the new Department of Public Works garage on 3 Brockway Place. When that structure is completed, the DPW will move its operations from 111 South Kensico to that location.

The White Plains Youth Bureau currently housed in 111 South Kensico expects to move its headquarters to Eastview School in mid-October or mid-November, according to Frank Williams, Youth Bureau Director. Williams said the refurbishing of Eastview for the new bureau was “proceeding very well.”

Frank Miceli, owner of FMC Demolition of New Rochelle said the demolition of the bank building would take approximately one day. The plan is to move from Westchester Avenue inward towards the Post Bowl building. Crews will take down the Post Bowl bowling alley building next in sequence.

Mr. Revitalization hosts fourth groundbreaking in a year.

According to the WPCNR scorecard, this was the fourth groundbreaking of the year for the relentless Delfino Administration: On his watch, the Mayor has begun a new apartment complex off Main Street opposite Eastview section, (Canfield Park), the Cappelli City Center Project, and now Wednesday the culmination of the intricate Stop N Shop/Bianco & Pep’e project. Work is continuing apace at the site of the Bank Street Commons project at the former “Hole in the Ground” for a twin tower residential and hotel complex.

David Greene, host of the ceremonies for the some 75 guests underneath a white tent in the former bank parking lot, began by saluting Joseph Nicoletti, Commissioner of the Department of Pubic Works, for his “spearheading” of the project and “a good level of leadership,” in the creation of the two garages and supermarket plan.

Pep’e family patriarch honored for compromise

Greene singled out the founding patriarch of the Pep’e family, Sal Pep’e, builder of Westchester One, who was in the audience. He commended the legendary builder of Westchester One, now in his 90s, for having “rose to the occasion” and worked out a compromise with Stop N Shop at the urging of Mayor Delfino to make the project possible.

Bianco & Pep’e had originally proposed a Shoprite supermarket project in conjunction with a new DPW garage which was supported by the Mayor, but the Common Council opted for the Stop N Shop design instead last spring. At the urging of members of the Common Council, the Mayor used his long association with the Pep’es to bring them together with Stop N Shop and hammer out the present compromise plan. Greene said the project “represented economic development, new jobs, new (sales) taxes for the City of White Plains.”

Greene introduced Timothy M. Mahoney, Senior Real Estate Manager, of The Stop N Shop Supermarket Company, who said the purpose of the ceremony was “to clear away the old and make way for the new and make way for the reinvestment in this community. Now it’s time for the building to come to life.” Referring to baseball’s Rogers Hornsby who said “the secret to baseball is getting a good ball to hit,” Mahoney said, “We have a great ball to hit.”

The Mayor completes a personal goal urged by the Common Counci:get us a supermarket.

Mahoney introduced Mayor Delfino to do the honors: The Mayor said he remembered that the last time the city built a supermarket was in 1965 when the old Finast was built. He said it was hard for people outside of White Plains to understand that the city does not have a major supermarket within its city limits, pointing out that most residents have to shop outside the city.

“Now we’ve taken the right steps. We’ve cut a lot of ribbons and with each ribbon we cut, Cappelli City Center, the Hole in the Ground, the Barker Avenue site, and now this , development by development we are moving the city to the future.”

The Mayor thanked Sal Pep’e, whom he said he had known for almost 40 years: “Just like Sal, with me handshakes mean everything. We did get together with Stop N Shop and a wonderful merger to make this day happen…Anything can be done if you work together. If you don’t work together, nothing will ever be done. And, now today, it is going to get done.”

The usual events take on a sense of history in the making

Mr. Delfino and Mr. Mahoney proceeded to the unveiling of the sign announcing the new supermarket, posing for a very brief photo-op.

The big Hitachi Excavator took its star turn with Anthony Mariano at the controls. The big machine ate the Bank of New York Building for lunch.

“GODZILLA DEVOURS BANK: The Jaws of Progress of the Hitachi Excavator with Anthony Mariano of FMC Demolition at the controls feed on the Bank of New York on Westchester Avenue starting demolition, paving way for the new super 60,000 square foot Stop N Shop, due to open in by September 2002 “PHOTO BY WPCNR NEWS

Looking like a mechanical tyrannosaurus rex, with menacing jaws, swing bolts looking like eyes, on the end of powerful orange neck, the crane’s “Jaws of Progress” exerted pressures of 160,000 pounds per square inch. The machine fed, bit, chomped and tore at the old building relentlessly, poking and ripping out beams, snapping and gnawing on the old branch roof, exposing a gaping hole with violent authority, tossing 50 foot beams in the air like matchsticks.

A “White Plains Moment” occurred when a blue bowling ball fell from the roof of the bank, plunging to the parking lot. Laughter sprang from the awestruck crowd, and media speculation emerged as to whether the ball was a souvenir of some long ago bowler’s frustration.

With each bite of the dinosaur, White Plains had taken another step to becoming the White Plains of the twenty-first century out of the past.