WestHab Housing Project a Fraud upon Fulton Park Community By Hezi Aris
WestHab, Inc. has shepherded a “workforce housing” project proposed for 22 Tarrytown Road that is a fraud perpetrated on a community kept in the dark by their omission of facts and with the complicity of the Greenburgh Town Board. WestHab, Inc. had petitioned the Town Board to accept its application for a “workforce housing” project has advocated its premeditated fraud upon the community of Fulton Park by coverup. WestHab, Inc. has stipulated that in order to develop the “workforce housing” project, which has now been redefined to also include an “affordable housing” component, the development must receive rezoning authorization in order for the project to be developed as proposed. At no time have WestHab, Inc., or its legal counsel, ever mentioned that as part of the 43 proposed units consisting of “workforce housing” and “affordable housing” units, 7 units will be targeted to homeless families and/or homeless persons.”
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Fulton Park residents have welcomed development conforming to zoning parameters memorialized by the Greenburgh Town Board. Fulton Park residents were promised that by accepting a men’s homeless shelter for a ten year period the facility would thereafter be closed. Instead, the homeless shelter was closed 4 years later. Fulton Park residents were further promised that a homeless population would not be housed in their community again. Documents contrary to that fact have now come to light. Why have they not been made public? Why has every request for an explanation of whom WestHab, Inc. intended to serve in their development proposal excluded mention of the homeless population?
The public has been defrauded by not being fully advised of WestHab Inc.’s intentions and defrauded by not abiding by the promise by the Greenburgh Town Board not to again build residences for the homeless population. The process moved along tenets that seemingly complied with the approval process except for the fact that the proposal was deficient in divulging all the facts and intentions of the developer. The Greenburgh Town Board, throughout the process has never divulged the homeless population that WestHab, Inc. planned to accommodate in the proposed residence. When did the Greenburgh Town Board know all the facts? Why have the public been kept in the dark? Will the Greenburgh Town Board ever make the facts public?
In a letter dated May 1, 2008, Westchester County Executive Andy Spano wrote, “Westchester has no intention of putting a homeless shelter or anything else on the spot. The property is privately owned…. We closed that shelter in 2006. What happens next is up to Mr. Feiner and your Town Board.”
The Greenburgh Town Council will conclude the 30 day public comment period in compliance with the New York State Environmental Quality Review Regulations (SEQR) on November 2, 2008.
The Greenburgh Town Board cannot be trusted to divulge the facts and intentions of WestHab, Inc. Further, there seems to be no remedy to this travesty. The Fulton Park residents will be told to suck it up.
Shame on Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, the Greenburgh Town Board, WestHab, Inc., and their legal counsel for dismissing the public, forcing a new imprint upon a community that should not be approved, and for authorizing an application which has not been totally factual and true to its full intentions. The entire process has been a fraud. The fact that there is no avenue for remedy to this travesty reveals the audacious and outrageous manipulation of a process full of loopholes.
Letter to the Editor:
To the Editor:
A front page article objected to WESTHAB's proposal to build workforce housing in Greenburgh. I am disappointed in your column. Westchester and Greenburgh need affordable housing. The proposed housing at 22 Tarrytown Road is located across the street from Verizon and Staples office buildings and next to a deli. The building that is proposed to be demolished was used as a homeless shelter for many years. The shelter was run by WESTHAB with few problems. Before that the building was a sleazy hotel -with prostitution and drug problems. Placing workforce housing at this location (in a commercial section of the Fulton Park neighborhood) is a big improvement over what was there for many decades. Workforce housing is needed -especially if it is located within walking distance of the White Plains train station, City of White Plains, bus stops.
Since the proposal by WESTHAB was made the Town Board has held many hearings and public meetings. We have listened. The original proposal called for 42 dwelling units. It's now 28. The original proposal called for a six story building. It's now three stories. The building has been reduced from its original proposal of 34,465 square feet to 21,573 square feet. There have been at least three major modifications since the proposal was made to build housing at the site.
I am disappointed that some of the residents of Fulton Park have had a change of heart regarding this application. Shortly after WESTHAB proposed the workforce housing plan I arranged meetings between WESTHAB and the president of the neighborhood association. The president of the association indicated that she was in support of the application. She even spoke at a Town Board meeting praising WESTHAB's responsiveness to the community during the years they ran a homeless shelter at this same site. In fact, the Fulton Park neighborhood residents were model neighbors--participating in advisory board meetings with WESTHAB, developing friendships with the homeless individuals who were housed at the shelter. When WESTHAB closed down the shelter the Town Board honored both WESTHAB and the neighborhood leadership. I don't recall any criticism of the the facility WESTHAB had run. In fact, I remember the leaders of the Fulton Park civic association praising WESTHAB.
Please give workforce housing a chance. We need to provide quality affordable housing to our residents.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor
Editors Response and Note: Supervisor Feiner’s response to my article of last week is a well articulated attempt to deflect the reader from the gist of my premise by pushing the readers emotional buttons while not responding to the zoning issue long expressed by critics of this project. Fulton Park is not served by building housing for the homeless population who were hidden from the public eye by folding them under the category of housing for veterans. WestHab’s lack of candor and their attempt to transform the present zoning to the detriment of the community is an outrage dismissive of community sentiment and consensus that was poorly articulated by a so-called neighborhood association spokesperson who expressed her personal sentiment before calling the community to a community meeting.
With all due respect, I beseech you, Mr. Feiner and the Greenburgh Town Board to abide by the tenets you espouse which are to serve the community with respect for their doing their part in the past and with respect to their right of say and sway over what is presently a ramrod approach by WestHab to overwhelm the community who have lost patience fending off the crime, prostitution, and drug activities that the past homeless WestHab run facility imposed on Fulton Park. I am personally astounded that you were not aware of what occurred at the King’s Inn over their fourteen years of existence – loitering, crime, prostitution, drugs.
Fulton Park is giving you a chance, that is, to do right by them.