Wednesday, May 29th

Mayor Carolyn Stevens gave an update to the Neighborhood Association Presidents on Monday night 1/25 and in addition to her insights shared a tin of her homemade shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate. The cookies made it worth the trip to Village Hall on a rainy night and we hope she shares her recipe with

Speaking of rain, the Village is due to receive $1.5 million in county funds this week to be used to clean up and repair the watercourse that extends from George Field Park down the Post Road to Brewster Road and Harwood Court. Now Scarsdale will need to match the grant by raising another $1.5 million through a bond sale. Once the funds are secured we can solicit bids and proceed with the work. The sooner the better …take a look at the flooding in the high school parking lot from Monday’s rain.

In other Village news, the Mayor will appoint a new advisory board to examine our historic preservation law. The current statute has not been effective in preserving village homes and neighborhood character. The advisory board, to be headed by Lucas J. Meyer, will listen to ideas from the community, examine preservation laws from neighboring towns and formulate a new policy that will strike a balance between owner’s rights and preserving Scarsdale’s unique character. A first step in the process will be an assessment of the neighborhoods of Scarsdale to be done in coordination with the Town and Village Civic Club’s Neighborhood Character Committee.

The reconstruction and expansion of the Popham Road Bridge is moving slowly with the real work to begin in March. Most of the work will be done at night as construction cannot be done about the train tracks during the day and 2-3 lanes for traffic should be open at all times. The entire project should take 20 months and the Mayor will schedule a meeting in February with Village residents who will be affected by the project. A new Chinese Restaurant called Rich Restaurant has opened on the Popham Road Bridge –but please don’t stop your car on the bridge to run in for food pick-up as you’ll snarl traffic.

Budgeting sessions for next year’s Village Budget are due to begin shortly. The Village has taken a hit on revenues as interest income has declined from $1.4 million to just $130,000. The Village will have to pay 55% more into the state pension fund for union workers and the reduction in our assessed value will also impact our revenues. There’s more bad news for Mamaroneck Strip residents who can expect another large tax increase.

What can be done about the large concrete wall on Weaver Street? The Mayor hopes that when the wall is faced with stone and landscaping is done, trees will make the retention basin at Heathcote Manor more attractive. And residents who have concerns about development at the Five Corners are encouraged to attend the Village Land Use Committee meeting on February 1 at 6:55 in the third floor meeting room at Village Hall. Developer Frederick S. Fish will be on hand to review his plans for development at 2-4 Weaver Street and to field questions from the community.

Frederick S. Fish, owner of the Bistro Citron building (a.k.a. the Heathcote Tavern) at 2-4 Weaver Street has been in negotiations with the Village on the terms for developing the site for commercial use and residential units for several years. In order to facilitate the development Fish has asked the Village to sell him the adjacent parking lot. The agreement he hammered out with the Village Board last year called for a building no larger than 27,000 square feet, protection of the tavern building from demolition for fifteen years, age restricted housing and a limitation on curb cuts on Weaver Street.

At the time, the Heathcote Five Corners Coalition, a group of 190 families who are monitoring development at the Five Corners along Weaver Street urged the Trustees not to sell the parking lot to Fish as they feared that new development of the property would bring additional congestion to an already crowded intersection. They called for an environmental impact study and a traffic study before the sale of the land and approval of the site plans for development. At the time, several Village Trustees warned that if they voted against the sale of the parking lot, Fish might withdraw his agreement and the Village could be faced with a far less favorable plan in the future. At a June 23, 2009 meeting the trustees voted to send the land sale proposal back to the Village Land Use Committee for further study and Fish responded by withdrawing his plans

Now, after Bistro Citron has closed and Fish is sitting on an even more unprofitable property, his lawyers have come back with a revised agreement for the Village with terms that some residents may find even more distasteful than the original. The letter, from Fish’s lawyer’s, Zarin and Steinmetz urges the Village Board to take action on the land sale of the parking lot and outlines some revised terms for the development of the building:

-The residential units would not be “age restricted” which means that the units could be occupied by families adding more children to our school system. Why? The letter states that Fish will not be able to get financing for the project if it calls for age restricted housing as “ their lending institution will simply not agree to limit the market of these units any more than necessary in this economic climate.”

-The design team has prepared several alternatives, however in their main alternative plan, the building would be larger than the June agreement. The new wording limits the size of the structure to 27,000 square feet of residential floor space, not including areas for parking, hallways, common rooms, elevators and the like.

-Rather than limit the building to 14 units, two additional units could be built in the space now occupied by the restaurant.

-Limitations on the use of the tavern building have been eliminated, opening the door for more residential units, or businesses that could bring additional traffic to the area. Though the current lease of village land to the tavern owner requires that a restaurant be maintained, the new agreement does not call for the operation of a restaurant.

- Only the façade of the tavern building would have to be maintained. The interior could be altered or gutted and there are no use restrictions for the building.

-While the previous agreement required the developer to get the County’s permission to allow access from the parking lot to the Heathcote Bypass to alleviate traffic to the Five Corners, the current one does not. The letter states, “Due to the recent traffic analysis establishing a reduction in traffic levels at the Five Corners, and the estimated costs of pursuing a connection over the Subject Property, the Contract of Sale shall not be contingent upon F.S. Fish pursuing an agreement with Westchester County for access from the Subject Property to the Heathcote Bypass."

The letter then states that if the Village does not agree to these new terms by Monday February 22, 2010, Fish will pursue other “as-of-right” options. Without the Village parking lot they contend they could demolish the tavern building and replace it with 12,000 square feet of ground level commercial space and 12 residential units, as they believe there is ample space to build a parking structure to meet zoning requirements. Furthermore, Fish has discussed “an affordable housing option with Westchester County” for the site.

The Village Land Use Committee will hold a meeting on Monday February 1 at 6:55 pm in the third floor meeting room of Village Hall to consider the new proposal. Trustee Sharon Lindsay has invited Fish and his representatives to attend the meeting to present their proposal and field questions and comments from the Village Board and the public. All concerned members of the community are invited to attend.

The Greenburgh Police have arrested a homeless man and charged him with the robbery of a woman on Tarryhill Way in the Fairview section of Greenburgh on Sunday night January 10th.  The 59-year-old female victim was approached by a tall black man wearing a dark ski mask. He shoved her and grabbed her purse. Police arrested Ricardo Laing, age 21 on Manhattan Avenue near Grand Street and charged him with robbery in the third degree, a class D felony.

Laing has nine prior arrests and two misdemeanor convictions.  He is currently on bail from Westchester County Court for Criminal Possession of a Weapon and Criminal Possession of a Stolen Firearm.  

Employee Stirs up a Fuss At Panera: Derek Riviera, a disgruntled employee did some damage to the Panera Bread Factory on Central Avenue on the afternoon of 1/18 when he came by to pick up his paycheck. Riviera was bad-mouthing the manager to another store employee when the manager asked him to “make this his last day in the store.” This incited Riviera, age 21, to yell, scream and break dishes and containers. The manager asked him to leave the store and Riviera threatened to “come back and get him.”

Rogaine?: A woman took four containers of men’s Rogaine from the CVS store on North Central Avenue on 1/12 and left the store without paying. The woman is described as 5’2”, 175 pounds, wearing a white jacket, a pink hat, blue jeans and white sneakers. She was carrying a white bag bearing a pink heart. She fled north on Central Avenue on foot and police noted that the crime matches a similar theft at the CVS on Knollwood Road on 12/10.

Larceny: Best Buy on Central Avenue was also the subject of thievery. A witness at the store was in the bathroom and heard someone opening packages in another stall. The empty packages were then placed in the garbage. The witness took the empty boxes and alerted security who stopped the offender and examined his bag as he was leaving the store. The culprit fled but police picked him up on Central Avenue where he was identified as Gilbert Trotman, age 45 of New York, N.Y. He stole over $500 in merchandise.

Car Theft: A 2008 gray Toyota Highlander was stolen from a Highland Road home during the night of January 14th. A black plastic bag was found on the lamppost in the driveway.

Fraud: A man with fraudulent identification attempted to withdraw $3,800 from the Chase Bank at 660 South Central Avenue on Saturday morning 1/16. He presented a New Jersey driver’s license and a Visa card, both bearing the name Steven Lerit, along with a signed withdrawal slip. The teller noticed that the driver’s license number did not match the number on file and furthermore that the license bore a phony hologram. She picked up the phone to summon the fraud department when the suspect left the bank and headed up Central Avenue. Police were not able to find the man and the bank froze the accounts of Steven Lerit in response to the incident.

Former Comptroller of the Town of Greenburgh, Michael Kolesar -- the Town's fourth comptroller in five years -- claims the Town Board violated his First Amendment rights when it fired him last year after he told a meeting of the Edgemont Community Council that the Town was lacking in internal financial controls.

Kolesar, who is also a former trustee in the Village of Ardsley, made the charge in a two-count complaint filed this week in federal court against Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, members of the Town Council and the Town of Greenburgh itself.  The complaint seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. 

The complaint alleges that during his tenure as town comptroller, Kolesar learned that the Town had failed to report taxable income for town employees to the IRS for a number of years as they had not included allowances for uniforms and withholding for medical insurance in employee W2 forms. In February, 2009 Kolesar said he recommended contacting the IRS to report the incorrect preparation of employee W2 forms.  However, according to the complaint, the Town attorney, Timothy Lewis, told Kolesar that if he mentioned the false W-2 forms to anyone, including the IRS and the Town's bond counsel, he would be fired.

Kolesar did keep it quiet until early March, 2009, when he was invited to speak at a meeting of the Edgemont Community Council (ECC).  Kolesar said he was encouraged by Feiner to attend and "speak his mind." At the meeting, Kolesar expressed concern about a lack of “oversight and control over the revenue streams of certain departments in the Town and the lack of internal financial controls necessary to protect against waste, fraud, inefficiency, and to ensure accounting accuracy.”

Kolesar’s statements were picked up by the press and on March 20th Paul Feiner ordered Kolesar to provide written support to justify what he had said to the ECC.  Kolesar said he complied and was then asked to attend an executive session of the Town Board on March 24, 2009. Among other things, the suit alleges that in discussing the Town’s irregular financial practices months before with Town Councilman Kevin Morgan,  Morgan told him, “You have enough C4 in this office to blow this place sky high.” (C4 is a plastic explosive often used by terrorists.)

The suit says that at the March 24 meeting, Feiner asked Kolesar to resign, and when he refused, Feiner fired him. In the suit, which was filed on January 12, Kolesar seeks damages for economic losses, public humiliation, embarrassment, shame, anxiety, emotional upset and impairment of his professional career.

The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Stephen Robinson. Robinson is the judge considering another lawsuit against Feiner and Town of Greenburgh that was filed by Fortress Bible Church..  It seeks more than $4.5 million in damages from the Town stemming from Feiner's allegedly having violated federal law in getting the Town to deny the church permission to construct a sanctuary off Dobbs Ferry Road near the Sprain Parkway. A ruling in that case is expected very soon.

Leave a Comment

Share on Myspace