Author Archives: news

LETTER

Letter: Re-elect Richard Mecca

 

 

To the Editor,

I write to urge fellow residents of Rye to re-elect Richard Mecca to the city council. I have been honored to serve with Richard on the city council over the past two years. Richard has brought a refreshing dose of down-to-earth common sense to our deliberations. Time after time when the council has addressed important issues such as the hiring of a new city manager, our decision to protect Rye’s interests over proposed changes to Rye Playland, enacting groundbreaking rock chipping legislation, or amending our charter to give the council needed oversight over hiring a police commissioner, Richard has been an integral part of the council’s action.

As a longtime resident of Rye, Richard brings a unique perspective to the council that is enormously valuable. His well-reasoned positions are influenced by Rye’s impressive history and his experiences. The Rye community and the council need precisely the skills, demeanor and integrity that Richard has brought to his public service. Richard’s focus has been on what is best for Rye without regard to partisan politics. Given this philosophy, it is not surprising that in last year’s council election, Richard was supported and endorsed by both the Democratic and Republican parties.

The bottom line is that Richard Mecca has been an outstanding city councilman. As I leave the council at the end of this year, I know that our city is better off with Richard continuing to work for the rest of us.

 

Richard Slack,

Rye City Councilman

LETTER

letter: Get senior citizens involved and heard

 

 

To the Editor,

To be the best community it can be, Rye needs the presence and wisdom of senior citizens. In turn, seniors need elected representatives who care about the issues of affordability, accessibility and appropriate city services.

At one of the City Council candidates’ debate the tickets’ contrasting approaches to these issues were on display. In response to a question from the audience, we emphasized the importance of seniors in our community. Ensuring a senior-friendly community is a matter of respect for the residents who have shaped our city. It is even important for Rye children who need to be interacting with seniors so they can learn and appreciate the city’s history.

Rye currently has no senior center, contrary to the assertion of a candidate running on the other ticket. What Rye seniors actually have is access to a single room in the Damiano Recreation Center from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays from September to June. In the summer, the seniors’ meetings are displaced by Rye Rec’s camp program, and the seniors have been searching for a summer meeting space. That the city has not been more helpful is beyond our comprehension.

Another issue that came up during the debate is that Rye Golf Club only allows seniors one day a week for pool use, when there is a clear demand for more than one day. Furthermore, the golf club does not mention senior pool access anywhere on its website. To us, unpublicized weekly pool access seems better than nothing, but less than Rye seniors deserve.

We do not have all the answers to the concerns of Rye seniors, but we know that where there’s a will, there’s a way. We have that will. We will find a way.

 

Emily Hurd

Danielle Tagger-Epstein

Jeff Taylor,

Democratic Candidates for Rye City Council

 
LETTER

Letter: Watson should replace Parker

 

To the Editor,

The role of county legislator can be one of the more obscure and ineffective positions in local government, especially if you are content with just filling space and feeling important.

But as a county legislator, you can actually make a difference, mainly if you are willing to work hard and take stands that serve to actually benefit the folks who live in your district.

Unfortunately, the current county legislator representing our district, Catherine Parker, has been mostly the former, and not much of the latter. This is remarkable, because as a former City of Rye council member, Parker should know full well the importance of standing up for Rye.

For example, in regards to Rye Playland, the county administration took the position that it could build a monstrous new development in the Rye Playland parking lot without seeking Rye’s approval. However, the Rye City Council took the position that the county needed to submit the proposal to be reviewed by Rye’s local land use boards, just like any other property owner in Rye. Sadly, Parker refused to support Rye’s position, and instead agreed with the county administration’s position. Luckily, Rye was able to successfully stand up for itself without her help.

As another example, Rye has asked the county administration’s help to control the deer over-population problem, but the county has denied Rye access to county land and the county’s deer culling program. Unfortunately, rather than pressing the county administration to assist Rye, Parker has joined the county in blaming Rye and telling the city that we’re on our own.

I believe that Susan Watson, who is running for county legislator, will do a better job of standing up for Rye, and I respectfully request that Rye voters elect her to replace Parker.

 

Joe Sack,

Mayor of Rye 

LETTER

letter: I endorse Judge Lust for town justice

 

 

To the Editor,

Election Day is right around the corner. I am writing to express my support and endorsement
of Judge Marc Lust, who has served our community as town justice for the past 16 years.

I have known Judge Lust for nearly 30 years, ever since he and his family moved to Harrison. In that time, he has devoted himself to the wellbeing of Harrison, participating in many
community activities, including years as a coach in our recreational youth program. He is
intelligent, a person of the highest integrity and someone I am proud to call my friend.

Over the years, Judge Lust has become known for his strong sense of fairness and for
the professional way he runs his court, treating everyone with dignity and respect. He is also former president of the Westchester County Magistrates Association.

With the leadership of Judge Lust, our town court has earned an outstanding reputation
for dispersing fair justice. In fact, the Harrison police know who to turn to when they need to get their job done. Whether needed to issue a search warrant or to get out of bed to conduct an arraignment, Judge Lust is the person the Harrison police turn to for assistance. He has always been there for our law enforcement people and now it is our turn to be there for Judge Lust.

In recent weeks, some negative comments have circulated regarding Judge Lust, based
on allegations, and it is important to remember that sometimes, things aren’t always how they appear. Let’s not lose sight of what Judge Lust has done for our community over the past
16 years. The goal of any election is to elect the most qualified candidates, and that makes our choice
on Election Day an easy one.

Please join me in voting for Judge Lust on Nov. 3 so he can continue to serve our community.

 

Martin Rogowsky,

Former Westchester County legislator

LETTER

Letter: Sheila Marcotte goes above and beyond

 

 

To the Editor,

It is refreshing to see an elected legislator working so hard for each of us. Sheila Marcotte’s work ethic is inspiring. I am not just referring to her county budget work, resulting in no tax levy increases—five years in a row—or her efforts to deliver true bipartisan reform to the Westchester County Board of Legislators, but also the time she puts in for our seniors, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Historical Society and the youth of her district. She is truly remarkable. I don’t know how she gets it all done but I sure am glad she is my county legislator.

As my neighbors, I ask that you please think of her and all she does for us on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. She’s earned your vote.

 

Bill Chilson,
Tuckahoe

LETTER

Letter: Support The Community Fund

 

To the Editor,
The Community Fund plays an essential role within the Village of Tuckahoe. The Community Fund generously funds the Tuckahoe Trolley which is utilized by the Eastchester Community Action Program, ECAP, and along with the Tuckahoe police,
collaborates with youth programs. It is used in the Irish parade and the Memorial Day Parade. It is a means of transportation for historic tours of the community, senior functions within the village, school trips and environmental field trips.
The trolley allows people from Tuckahoe and the surrounding communities of Bronxville and Eastchester to shop locally, making it easier for residents to shop right in their own backyard which brings needed funds into the local economy. The Tuckahoe Trolley mostly serves the senior population in need of transportation. Seniors are thrilled with this means of transportation to Stop & Shop, C-Town and Lord & Taylor. It’s an easy, accessible, free ride to go grocery and holiday shopping. It also serves our youth by allowing a free mode of transportation to those children who need to get to the library or recreational activities at Lake Isle.
A contribution to The Community Fund is a worthwhile use of your dollar. The Community Fund helps ensure that our residents continue to live in a safe and desirable community. Every dollar raised by the Community Fund stays in the Town of Eastchester and the villages of Bronxville and Tuckahoe.
Please visit thecommunityfund.org for information on the agencies and programs and please support The Community Fund.

Steve Ecklond,
Mayor of Tuckahoe

A $26 million school bond was approved by voters on Oct. 20, which will allow the Eastchester school district to move forward with a full-scale renovation of the high school campus.
Rendering courtesy Mary Ellen Byrne

$26M EHS bond approved

A $26 million school bond was approved by voters on Oct. 20, which will allow the Eastchester school district to move forward with a full-scale renovation of the high school campus. Rendering courtesy Mary Ellen Byrne

A $26 million school bond was approved by voters on Oct. 20, which will allow the Eastchester school district to move forward with a full-scale renovation of the high school campus.
Rendering courtesy Mary Ellen Byrne

By Suzy Berkowitz
The Eastchester school district’s proposed $26 million expansion bond for the White Plains Road high school campus was approved during a public referendum held on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

The bond passed by a margin of 1,243 to 598 of registered voters within the Eastchester school district, according to district officials.

The expansion and renovation project aims to combat the high school’s spatial and academic limitations and accommodate its increasing enrollment and is anticipated to be completed by September 2018, according to the school district.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Walter Moran said in a released statement, “The passage of the bond referendum will benefit the students of Eastchester High School for generations. Once again, this community has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to excellence in education.”

The expansion will include the addition of 12 general education classrooms and nine science labs; reverting a previously classroom-converted gymnasium into a gym; and updating the school auditorium with improved seating, lighting, stage flooring and sound, according to Eastchester High School Principal Dr. Jeffrey Capuano.

Capuano previously told the Review that the high school is at a “critical and exciting” point with its increased enrollment—the school’s graduating class has grown from 144 to 230 students since he took over as principal.

The cost of the bond is expanded to breakdown as follows: $18 million for additional classrooms, $3.2 million for renovating high-priority infrastructure, $2.6 million for renovating and expanding cafeteria space, $1.4 million for improving physical education amenities and $970,000 for renovating the auditorium.

Eastchester High School will receive a $26 million facelift. The money will be spent on additional classrooms, renovations to the cafeteria space, and upgrades to the auditorium and physical education amenities. File photo

Eastchester High School will receive a $26 million facelift. The money will be spent on additional classrooms, renovations to the cafeteria space, and upgrades to the auditorium and physical education amenities. File photo

The bond will be borrowed over 20 years with a projected interest rate of 3 percent, the financial impacts of which are not expected to be felt until the 2018-2019 school year.

Moran said he is deeply grateful and appreciative of those who turned out to support the expansion bond.

“What’s most important is that the students of our district can look forward to a magnificent high school facility—one they can be rightly proud of—one that will be a true flagship for this district,” the superintendent said. “It truly takes
a community.”

CONTACT: suzy@hometwn.com

 
Grainger-F

Former Mayor Grainger passes away

Former Rye mayors, Edmund Grainger, center, and Steve Otis, left, with current Mayor Joe Sack at the 50th anniversary of Rye City Hall ceremony in December 2014. Grainger passed away on Oct. 18 at his home in Rye. Photo/Lester Millman

Former Rye mayors, Edmund Grainger, center, and Steve Otis, left, with current Mayor Joe Sack at the 50th anniversary of Rye City Hall ceremony in December 2014. Grainger passed away on Oct. 18 at his home in Rye. Photo/Lester Millman

Edmund Grainger, 92, passed away peacefully on Oct. 18 at his home in Rye. He had a distinguished career in law, government, philanthropy and community service.

Grainger was managing partner of his law firm in New York City. He served as chairman of Village Bank from 1980 to 1989. He was president of several charitable foundations. Grainger’s’ government service included special assistant to the attorney general of the United States, Tax Division from 1953 to 1955.

He was passionate about providing service to his community, Rye, and served as city judge and council member. He was elected mayor, serving from 1966 to 1973. As mayor, he teamed up with his counterpart in Oyster Bay, Long Island to successfully defeat Robert Moses’ plan to build a bridge between the two communities. That battle remains etched in the minds of many in Rye and that victory will likely live on forever.

“Mayor Grainger will go down in history as one of Rye’s greatest for stopping Moses and Rockefeller from building the Oyster Bay bridge down the throat of Rye,” Mayor Joe Sack said.

Grainger also proved influential to his successors.

New York State Assemblyman Steve Otis, who served three terms as mayor of Rye, said Grainger saved the town in defeating the Moses bridge proposal.

“Ed Grainger was very helpful to me when I served as mayor,” said Otis, who faced his own Long Island Sound proposal decades after Grainger. “When a new group sought to build a highway tunnel from Long Island, Ed met with me and shared the strategies he used to fight the similar bridge proposal decades earlier. Ed was a gentleman who cared deeply about Rye and served our community in countless ways.”

But for Grainger, there was also life after serving as mayor. He was chairman of campaigns for the Rye YMCA capital fund, Rye Performing Arts Center fund and the Rye Historical Society Knapp House fund. He was a trustee of The Osborn Retirement Community and an original founder of the Rye Babe Ruth League and Rye
Little League.

Grainger was a member of the American Bar Association, Association of the Bar of the City of New York and Westchester Bar Association. He was a past governor and president of the Apawamis Club and past governor and chairman of the Westchester Country Club. He was a member of the American, Westchester and Eastern seniors golf associations.

Grainger received a B.S. from Georgetown University in 1943, a J.D. from Yale University Law School in 1945 and an L.L.M. in taxation from New York University in 1954.

At his home in Rye, Grainger and his loving wife Ginie celebrated 67 years of marriage in June. Grainger was the devoted father to Terry, Jeff, Janet Byrne and Kathy Hobbins, with 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Ed is also survived by his sister, Patsy Dyer of Lake Bluff, Ill.

A visitation service was held at the Graham Funeral Home in Rye on Tuesday, Oct. 20.  A memorial funeral service was held at the Church of the Resurrection in Rye on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

A recent court ruling found that County Executive Rob Astorino and Westchester County did not engage in housing discrimination. However, the court upheld HUD’s decision to withhold federal funding from the county due to the discrepancies over implementation of the affordable housing settlement. File photo

Court: HUD can withhold funds from county

A recent court ruling found that County Executive Rob Astorino and Westchester County did not engage in housing discrimination. However, the court upheld HUD’s decision to withhold federal funding from the county due to the discrepancies over implementation of the affordable housing settlement. File photo

A recent court ruling found that County Executive Rob Astorino and Westchester County did not engage in housing discrimination. However, the court upheld HUD’s decision to withhold federal funding from the county due to the discrepancies over implementation of the affordable housing settlement. File photo

By Sibylla Chipaziwa
A Sept. 25 appellate court ruling found that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s decision to withhold funds from Westchester County did not violate federal law.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in the Second District also found that HUD is therefore allowed to reallocate 2013 funds to other jurisdictions and withhold the remaining funds from 2011, approximately $750,000. The court also said that the 2014 funds—approximately $5 million in Community Block Development Grants—must be delayed from being reallocated by HUD until the county exhausts its right to seek additional legal review of the matter.

But the court’s ruling also made it clear that the county neither violated the Fair Housing Act, nor engaged in housing discrimination. And that ruling provided an opportunity for the Republican administration of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to claim victory in his ongoing battle with HUD.

Regarding the court’s ruling, Ned McCormack, communications director for the county executive, said that “it takes away any legitimacy from HUD’s claims that [the county’s] zoning is exclusionary.”

Circuit court judges Jose A. Cabranes, Reena Raggi and Richard C. Wesley said in their ruling, “We merely conclude that HUD’s decision—in the context of providing federal funds—to require the county to redo its zoning analysis and to develop strategies to overcome impediments to fair housing did not violate federal law” and added that “there has been no finding, at any point, that Westchester actually engaged in housing discrimination.”

Whether the county is guilty of discrimination is a separate, pending lawsuit, according to Holly M. Leicht, HUD’s regional administrator.

Leicht added that contrary to Astorino’s victory comments, the appeals court “in fact determined that…HUD has the authority to require prospective grantees to analyze their local zoning laws for discriminatory impact, and to reject those analyses when they are inadequate,” adding that HUD gave detailed reasons for its rejections and gave the county “multiple opportunities to make changes and resubmissions, but the county refused to do so.”

This issue over affordable housing in Westchester dates back to 2009, when former County Executive Andy Spano, a Democrat, reached a settlement with the federal government to provide 750 units of affordable housing in 31 Westchester communities within a seven-year timeframe under the threat of lawsuit.

Other requirements of the agreement included completing an analysis of impediments, AI—a review of factors affecting affordable housing development, such as a municipality’s zoning codes—and passing legislation that bans housing discrimination based on a person’s source of income, such as Social Security or Section 8.

The AI issue has led to a stalemate between the Astorino administration and HUD. To date, the county has submitted eight analyses of impediments, none of which have been accepted and approved by HUD. Ultimately, this led HUD to withhold federal funding and as a result, the matter ended up in the courts.

In July 2015, Westchester County appealed a district court decision to deny its motion for a preliminary injunction—a request that prevents a party from pursuing a particular course of action until a final decision is made—against HUD for withholding of federal funds. The county’s complaints were dismissed when the district court granted HUD’s summary judgment motion, deciding the case without a trial.

As a result, Westchester is no longing seeking additional funds from HUD for fiscal years 2015 through 2017. However, according to the decision, the county still has to meet the obligations of the 2009 settlement, including submitting an AI that HUD finds acceptable. Because of these circumstances, the court left open the question of how HUD would enforce the 2009 affordable housing agreement against the county and how the county could “end further supervision over its housing policies.”

McCormack told the Review that the next step is the county continuing to comply with the benchmarks in the 2009 settlement to build the 750 affordable housing units.

When asked if the quota would be reached in time—the end of 2016—he said, “We have plans to get there, and we’ve met all the benchmarks so far and our plan is to continue to meet them.”

According to McCormack, as of Sept. 30, 2015, out of the 750 affordable units to be built, 489 have financing and 442 have building permits.

In a statement, Westchester’s Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz, a Yorktown Democrat, said, “It is good to know that the Appeals Court recognizes that [the county’s] communities are not discriminatory.”

Kaplowitz added that the real issue was whether HUD had a right to withhold funds but also said that none of the eight AIs the county provided to HUD were acceptable.

“I urge the county executive and HUD to keep the dialogue open so that we can eventually satisfy this requirement of the 2009 settlement,” the legislator said.

CONTACT: sibylla@hometwn.com

 
Sarah Hanlon as Julie Laverne and Eric Briarley as Steve Baker are two actors in “Show Boat,” having two runs at Westchester Broadway Theatre.
Photos/John Vecchiolla

‘Show Boat’: A Review

 

Sarah Hanlon as Julie Laverne and Eric Briarley as Steve Baker are two actors in “Show Boat,” having two runs at Westchester Broadway Theatre. Photos/John Vecchiolla

Sarah Hanlon as Julie Laverne and Eric Briarley as Steve Baker are two actors in “Show Boat,” having two runs at Westchester Broadway Theatre.
Photos/John Vecchiolla

By Michelle Jacoby
Edna Ferber, an American novelist, short story writer and playwright, penned a novel about life on the Mississippi in 1926. Little did she know, it would later be created for the stage and taken on as a new serious, musical show completely different than the typical vaudeville shows from the 1920s.

“Show Boat,” now playing at the Westchester Broadway Theatre, is fully packed with nostalgia, humor, racial prejudices and life on the Mississippi.

Jerome Kern, composer, and Oscar Hammerstein II, convinced Ferber to be open about putting her novel to music and auditioned their material for producer Florenz Ziegfeld. Ziegfeld agreed to produce the show and it opened at The Ziegfeld Theatre in 1927. The show had great success with a year and a half long run for a total of 572 performances.

This timeless show presents some of the most beautiful and emotionally-charged songs that represented the hard times along the Mississippi River. The story follows the lives of a troupe of riverboat performers aboard the Cotton Blossom. The actors strongly portray the characters during 1890, a time when racial and social changes were shaping the country.

A full cast is needed to keep this story going, specifically the four powerful couples who bring Mississippi to life. Jamie Ross as Captain Andy, the patriarch, and Karen Murphy as Parthy, the overprotective, yet loving mother. His positive approach to life and her hunger for control keeps the audience laughing. Bonnie Fraser as Magnolia, the delightful, soft-spoken, mild-mannered woman married to Ravenal, played deceitfully charming by John Preator, are another couple. “Only Make Believe” and “You Are Love” are two of the beautiful songs this couple sings together.

Fast-talking partners in crime as well as fun to watch are Amanda Pulcini as Ellie May Chipley and Daniel Scott Walton as Frank.

Michael James Leslie as Joe, center, and ensemble perform “Ol’ Man River” in WBT’s production of “Show Boat.”

Michael James Leslie as Joe, center, and ensemble perform “Ol’ Man River” in WBT’s production of “Show Boat.”

Michael James Leslie as Joe stops the show twice, with “Ol’ Man River” and in a comical tone, “Ah Still Suits Me” with beautiful, strong actor Inga Ballard as Queenie. These two actors steal the scenes in a subtle way. Their annoyances with each other only make their love grow stronger.

Julie played by Sarah Hanlon holds on dearly to a secret past and begins to unravel with “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man.”

Other passengers and Show Boaters are played by Malcolm Armwood, Eric Briarley, Erin Chupinsky, Michael Dauer, Jonathan Freeland, Alla Hodge, Justin R.G. Holcomb, Celeste Hudson, Paul-Jordan Jansen, Leisa Mather, Zoie Morris, Gabriella Perez, Kristyn Pope and Adam Richardson, Roger Preston Smith and Karen Webb.

Come aboard the Cotton Blossom and join this tremendous cast as they sail down the Mississippi River. It’s worth the trip.

Richard Stafford is director/choreographer; musical direction by Ryan Edward Wise; set and costume design by Michael Bottari and Ron Case; lighting design by Andrew Gmoser; and associate producer is Lisa Tiso.

This Bob Stutler and Bob Funking production of “Show Boat” is playing now at the Westchester Broadway Theatre through Nov. 29 and will return for a second run from Dec. 30 through Jan. 31, 2016. For more information call 592-2222 or visit their website at
broadwaytheatre.com.