Paul Feiner is the Greenburgh Town Supervisor.
I looked at the archives of my reports and my files and was pleasantly surprised at the many happenings that occurred during the year.
Since last December, I have personally read or written 41,194 emails (sent to or from my town email account, according to my computer). Many of the email correspondence pertained to the hurricane and storms we had earlier this year, and the power outages. I received a lot of emails from residents about leaf collection and flooding. I send out frequent updates about job opportunities to the unemployed. I personally read every email sent to me and try to respond quickly to every question, complaint or suggestion.
Here are some of the highlights of 2011:
Town complies with tax cap: The town approved a budget that complies with the new tax cap approved by the New York State Legislature and signed into law by the Governor. A Citizen's Budget Oversight Commission, consisting of about 25 dedicated volunteers, worked day, night and weekends all year long, helping the town identify ways to save money.
Flooding and removing debris from river: Greenburgh and the village of Elmsford's public works departments cleared debris from the Saw Mill River to reduce flooding problems in the future. United States Senator Chuck Schumer came to Greenburgh and endorsed our initiative to clear debris from the river. Our hazardous mitigation plan was approved by FEMA and the state, enabling the town to become eligible for flood mitigation efforts (elevating homes, buyouts, drainage enhancements). We hired a consultant to help us apply for grants. Other communities are following our lead and are also clearing debris from both the Saw Mill River and Bronx River.
Crews clearing up debris after hurricane and storm: After Hurricane Irene, our town cleared significant debris from our roads. Six thousand people were out of power. The Theodore D. Young Community Center's first floor and gym flooded. In 2011, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand helped the town secure over $1 million dollars in FEMA reimbursement for the 2010 storm money we had hoped to receive but hadn't. We hope to get reimbursed for the 2011 storms. Our CERT volunteers volunteered their time during the storm and opened up emergency shelters for neighbors who needed a warm place to stay overnight.
Arts being funded privately: The Lanza Foundation will be donating private dollars to pay for many town programs. The entire arts and culture budget in 2012 will be paid for by the Lanza Foundation. In the past, the arts program was paid for by taxpayer dollars.
Equal rights: Greenburgh was one of the first localities in New York State to comply with the new state law providing same-sex couples with the right to marry. Marriage ceremonies were held at Town Hall on the first day, which was a Sunday.
The 9/11 wall restored: We restored the 9/11 Memorial Wall on Central Avenue. One-thousand seven-hundred and eleven tiles painted by individual artists from around the county are located on the wall. An artifact from the World Trade Center will soon be placed on the wall. The tiles that had been placed at the wall after 9/11 had fallen. The wall restoration was paid for by private donations.
WestHelp: Westchester ended the contract with WestHelp, the homeless shelter that provided transitional services to 108 families, in September. WestHelp was built by Andrew Cuomo in the 1980s. The town had received $1.2 million a year from the contract as we are the landlord. We are currently negotiating a lease with Ferncliff (an organization that provides housing and educational services to the developmentally disabled). It is anticipated that the town could receive close to $1 million dollars a year in revenue if the lease with Ferncliff falls into place. However, we probably won't receive the rent dollars until 2013.
New business: During the past year, we've attracted some new businesses to town. Among them: Blinds to Go, Bio Med, Acorda Therapeutics and new bio tech companies, Shoprite (Stop & Shop is under construction), Captain Lawrence, 5th Avenue Chocolatiere, a new green energy store on Central Avenue near the A&P, the Yoga Station, Cari Blue Cafe, Bosphorus Restaurant on East Hartsdale Avenue, Weight Watchers at Crossroads Shopping Center and much more. H-Mart will be replacing Pathmark on Central Avenue, and is expected to open in February.
New Rentals: Avalon II on Taxter Road is building over 400 new apartments. They have already started renting their apartments.
Energy conservation: We have a new website, www.renewgreenburgh.org, a one-stop resource for energy conservation tips and incentives to reduce home and business energy expenses. Country Club Ridge in Hartsdale is saving $200,000 a year in energy consumption.
Veterans: Over 60 veterans of World War II have been interviewed for our Living History project by Alan Hochberg (Steve Wittenberg has helped produce the shows). Their stories will be remembered for generations to come. The Greenburgh Library is archiving the Living History videos. We sponsored our second annual veteran's appreciation barbeque this summer.
Fisher Lane Bridge: We reopened the Fisher Lane Bridge, which connects commuters to the North White Plains train station. The bridge was closed for many months and had to be replaced.
New farmers market: After the A&P closed on Tarrytown Road, we set up a new farmers market at the location. The A&P building remains vacant.
Proposed new rezone could create 1,000 temporary jobs: The owners of the Landmark at Eastview want to rezone their property for a hotel, stores and retail. One-hundred acres of vacant land. The proposed development, if approved, would create $2 million in taxes, 1,000 new construction jobs and 250 permanent jobs. We are reviewing the application.
Sharing services: The town assessor assesses properties in the six villages. The villages also have their own assessment unit. A number of the villages in Greenburgh decided to eliminate the duplication and to have the town assume the responsibility for this service.
License plate readers: We secured from the district attorney's office a license plate reader to help us reduce the possibility of burglaries from taking place. The readers are placed on major roads and provide the police with license plate numbers of cars driving on the road. The town board is supportive of a funding request for additional license plate readers that can be placed around town.
New elected officials: In 2011, Greenburgh voters elected two new judges (Delores Brathwaite and Walter Rivera), a new town councilman (S. Ken Jones), and a new receiver of taxes (Anne Povella). Michael Smith will represent part of Greenburgh as a county legislator. Kevin Morgan was reelected to the town board, Judith Beville as town clerk and Arlene Gordon-Oliver as town judge. Thank you for reelecting me as your supervisor.
Federal lawsuit dismissed: A federal lawsuit by a former department head who lost his job was dismissed, shortly after a series of depositions.
Lois Bronz Children's Center won't close: The Lois Bronz Children's Center won't close. Early in the year, there was a good possibility that the center would be forced to close. I participated in a campaign to keep this center open. It is one of the first child care centers in the county geared to low-income families.
Student interns and Berkeley College: Student interns from Berkeley College have helped the town collect back tickets and have helped the court increase revenue. Other student interns work in other departments. This initiative is being run out of the Citizens Budget Oversight Commission. The students are paid for by a federal grant and provide the town with 20 hours of free service a week.
Frank's Nursery: The town acquired Frank's Nursery and we plan to generate revenue from the property. After we issued a request for proposals for plans for the property from the business community, we expressed interest in leasing the property to a sports facility (an indoor sports/dome).
Student News Network: During the first six months of the year, a new initiative was started: SNN (Student News Network). Students learned about journalism and produced their own show. Alan Brody, a resident of Edgemont, organized the initiative.
Tappan Zee Bridge: President Obama and state officials announced that they will be expediting the construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge. I have proposed that the old bridge be saved and used as a suburban version of the New York City high line or walkway across the Hudson in Poughkeepsie. I also suggested that wind turbines and solar panels be placed on the bridge, an initiative previously proposed for bridges by New York City Mayor Bloomberg.
Valhalla loses lawsuit against town: A Supreme Court decision denied the Valhalla School District's request for funding from WestHelp. The judge ruled that the school district owes the town $1.8 million. This decision is being appealed by the school district.
Popham Road Bridge progress report: The Popham Road Bridge, which links Edgemont to Scarsdale, has been under construction for the year. We have been working with Scarsdale officials, trying to minimize overnight noise and construction-related problems.
Dobbs Ferry Road and West Hartsdale Avenue traffic improvements and sidewalk completed: The sidewalk, drainage and road improvements finally were completed this year.
Gelsprain: Construction started on a new housing development off of Ardsley Road. Twenty-four new homes to be built.
Mulching's love 'em and leave 'em: The town is working with the Greenburgh Nature Center and Irvington environmentalists, trying to encourage people to mulch their leaves. This would save the town significant dollars. It is anticipated that in 2012, the town will change our leaf collection policy and require bagging of leaves.
Greenburgh Nature Center: We approved the construction of a Pre-K playground at the Nature Center (using developer escrow funds, not taxpayer dollars). We're supportive of an initiative of the nature center to build a high-tech trail for disabled adults.
Plastic caps on jars and bottles now accepted for recycling .
New York School for the Deaf won't close: At the beginning of the year, there were reports that the state would not fund the New York School for the Deaf, and the school, located in Greenburgh, would close. I helped the school with their lobbying efforts and the school has been saved.
Job club: Over three years ago, I started a job club. Almost every day, I send job leads to residents who are out of work. I estimate that I have helped over 80 people find employment during the past few years. I have also set up a site: www.linkedin.com (Greenburgh jobs group) with job postings.
Helping victims of the Japanese earthquake: After the Japanese earthquake, the town clerk, Judith Beville, organized a fundraiser to help the victims of the earthquake.
A special thank you to the members of the town board for their help during the year: Diana Juettner, Kevin Morgan, Francis Sheehan and Sonja Brown. Councilwoman Brown will be ending her tenure as councilwoman on December 31st. Good luck and good health to you! Thanks to the department heads, our employees, our volunteers, members of the boards and commissions who help make Greenburgh a great place to live in and work.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.