State Rejects Ferncliff Manor Proposal

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Ferncliff Manor, based in Yonkers, was looking at Westchester County properties, including Greenburgh, for its new facility.
Ferncliff Manor, based in Yonkers, was looking at Westchester County properties, including Greenburgh, for its new facility. Photo Credit: The Daily Voice File Photo

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The state rejected a proposal Friday by Ferncliff Manor, an organization that provides services to the mentally disabled, Supervisor Paul Feiner announced via Twiiter.

Ferncliff Manor had proposed developing the WestHELP property in Greenburgh.

In the past, Feiner said he didn't want to wait any longer to lease the site, and Yonkers-based Ferncliff, which is looking for a facility to provide schooling and housing for children with developmental disabilities, is the town's best option because it promised $500,000 to the town every year.

County legislators expressed opposition toward Ferncliff's using the six-acre site, which sits at the Knollwood Gate entrance to Westchester Community College, because it would not provide affordable housing to the public — as promised for that particular site.
Ferncliff planned to knock down the existing buildings, which are 20 years old and which Mount Vernon planning consultant Richard Hyman, who oversaw a similar housing project in Mount Vernon that is still in use today, said would be a waste of a good building.

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Comments (3)

Still no useful rewrite.
Let's have those concerned acknowledge that this is the outcome they wished for. That having a State Agency make the problem go away and Feiner and friends can get back to business of making a silk purse into a sow's ear.

This problem is and never was about what the State will or will not fund.

It was, from the beginning, a Landlord (County) and Tenant (Greenburgh) manufactured dispute over an existing, executed and binding Lease that certain parties (Mayfair-Knollwood elitists Ned McCormack and Michael Smith), having no legal standing to intervene, saw as the opportunity to enlist an always willing lapdog (Feiner in exchange for their support) to carry their message to the County -- we don't want poor people in our neighborhood. A coded message that the NAACP understood to be more targeted. Feiner, Town Supervisor represents Greenburgh, the Tenant in the Lease, did everything he could to muddy the waters and move the issue off point (the Lease conditions) and onto the affordable housing vs. aid developmentally disabled children housed in a for-profit vehicle, Ferncliff "Manor" for the Retarded (yes, that's what they named themselves) Inc.
The Lease clearly states that the property is to be used for affordable housing.
The Lease clearly states that Greenburgh is responsible to maintain these units in rentable condition.
To neither of these terms was Feiner willing to abide.
And thus the year long battle in the media with Ferncliff seeking exoneration for its own failure to find any other location in Westchester that would be suitable for their needs. Needs, which really came down to finding a landlord willing to accept their promise to pay rent despite their financial inability to pay this rent. In these circumstances they could name any rent amount knowing that they could not pay whatever amount they stated -- a fact known to Feiner. The confirmation of this fact is today's headline.

But this merely gives Feiner and Mayfair-Knollwood their face-saving way out.
It saves them the problem of a smart and tougher County Board of Legislators determined to do their job which includes protecting County residents:

1) preventing the willful and wanton destruction of a valuable asset paid for by taxpayers: 108 housing units having a market value upwards of $15,000,000 to make way for Ferncliff's construction plan (this also without funding).

2) putting an end to Greenburgh willfully violating and therefore in default of an existing Lease with written and agreed to lawful conditions: a Lease which gave Greenburgh $12,000,000 in a 10 year period ending September 30, 2011 and, a Lease which cost Greenburgh but $10 in rent to the County in the same period (talk about gratitude).

3) a year long disagreement which cost Greenburgh taxpayers at least $500,000 in lost revenue over an 18 month period while Feiner purposefully allowed the 108 units to remain vacant during which time he performed his juggling act in full view of an appreciative media spotlight and allowed the unmaintained premises to deteriorate further to make a better case for their demolition

4) and now when time has run out and the County Board has signaled that they would be ready to terminate the Lease for cause and thus remove all opportunities for Greenburgh to receive revenue from any use of the property. ONLY NOW, is Feiner acting eager to do what was always available to him (and required of him) from 2011 onwards -- to do not just the right thing but what he is obligated to do and is only now agreeing to because he knows the County will pull the rug out from under him and then who has he left to pass the buck? new boy on the block, Ken Jones, Greenburgh Town Councilman?

Finally, given that the proof that $500,000 rent is someone's dream (as was a similarly fictional earlier representation of $980,000 in rent -- this higher amount offered solely to defuse the knowledge that Feiner allowed the annual $1,200,000 rent payment to the Town to evaporate because he took no action to renew the WESTHelp lease even though asked three years before its expiration.

Yes Paul Feiner is anything but that sincere schlub he pretends to be. He is, in fact, a hired gun who works for anyone who can help HIM, not the Town; be it Mayfair-Knollwood civic association, GameOn 365 or a handful of local law firms.

Astute readers may be curious as the process whereby Feiner attaches himself to the cause de jour: be it a bike lane on a bridge, the disease of the week, atrocities in Darfur, a moratorium on the death penalty, his biggest public relations coup -- banning exotic animal exhibitors from using town parkland, shutting down Indian Point...all issues tugging at the heart strings but all issues except the save the animals (actually not to save but not allowing them to be displayed) and save the planet (two demo only solar panels displayed atop Town Hall to promote 30% energy savings but none deployed for that purpose on Town buildings) that the Town of Greenburgh (Feiner's only power base) has any control over. Which leads me to continually inquire why has Feiner taken no position on...gun control. The answer is obvious: some voters are for it and some voters are against it and he fears alienating anyone Thus Feiner, even when running unopposed, has no position. So when he mumbles at Town Board get togethers "off the top of my head" that is the true Feiner speaking; he lacks both heart and soul and, the shame gene or anything below. If only those "action steps" he refers to would lead him to a one-way road headed out of Town.

Hal Samis

Still drinking the Feiner Kool Aid? Stop endorsing Feiner’s illegal actions and either be a reporter or a lapdog!

I am so flabbergasted by the number of inaccuracies in this briefest of articles that I shall wait a newer version: one which displays a working knowledge of what's been going on over the last year.

Hint: Ferncliff's promise of $500,000 was meaningless from the start: they have no money to pay rent and on this basis could have promised $1,00,000 or $300,000 and would still be unable to commit to either amount.

The problem was never about the amount of rent; rather that it would be illegal to substitute any use not called for in the Lease and that the Town of Greenburgh's own obligation under the Lease was to maintain the property in rentable condition whichit did not.

Everything else is distraction authored by Town Supervisor Feiner. Let's hope the Voice can get a better handle on the news than what appears here.

Hal Samis