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Trustee Kane Should Stick to the Facts

January 26, 2006

Crotonblog: Letters to the Editor, Croton-on-Hudson, New York 10520
Croton-on-Hudson Trustee Charlie Kane was quoted in Thursday’s Journal News to the effect that an $850,000 proposed Capital improvement project to beautify the Croton Train Station Parking Lot, which was ultimately not included in the 2005-06 village budget, would have provided funding for a study of the flooding problem (see: “Flood Waters Swamp Cars Again in Croton Harmon Commuter Parking Lot”) at the lot.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As stated in the proposed Capital Budget in April:

h. Train Station Parking Lot Improvements – Cherbuliez/Munz has designed plans, including lighting, walkways, improvement of traffic flow, new fencing, land landscaping. Work scheduled to be completed in this summer. 2007-2008. The lighting in the lot south of the DPW garage is in poor condition. This project would upgrade the lights in this section of the train station parking lot.”

This project was included in the proposed Capital Budget by the village administration. It would not have addressed the flooding problem which has been around for over a decade,

A sitting village official should not be in the habit of spreading misinformation. Trustee Kane should stick to the facts. It is now incumbent upon him to set the record straight before residents fall prey to his false statements.

Rob DiFrancesco, Chairman, Croton GOP

On January 28, 2006 10:54 AM, Reality Check said:

Time for another Reality Check. It might be well to consider exactly why the current majority on the Village Board abandoned plans to address a variety of issues down at the parking lot — including flooding. The answer is simple. Raw, bare knuckled politics. Let me tell you what I mean.

Messrs. Schmidt, Steinberg & Brennan ran on a platform of cutting spending, limiting tax increases and curtailing borrowing. All noble ideas until reality hits you in the face.

From the moment they took office this gang of three has worked towards one goal and one goal only - the consolidation of their power and ensuring the election of Mr. Steinberg to a full term. Nothing else matters to them.

Thus, we were treated to deferral of major capital work to cut borrowing - work which will be done sooner or later with borrowed money. But mark my words, it will be later, after Mr. Schmidt has been reelected.

We were treated to the farce of the illegal sewer rent (illegal because by its terms it seeks to tax properties with no sewer connection) as a sophomoric tactic to keep “taxes” down, while picking our pockets under a different guise.

And now we know that grant money already in the bank - obtained by the Elliott administration, and which could have bene used in part to address the ongoing flooding problems at the station, was left unspent to avoid ponying up the Villages contribution - in an attempt to keep spending down.

So lets call things what they are. Schmidt, with his henchmen Steinberg & Brennan are acting for their own political good - not for the common good of the Village as a whole. If you read all of the documentation of work already done for the Village by various consultants — which I have and which obviously all of the incumbent majority have not — the conclusion is inescapable that the parking lot was not addressed for political reasons and political reasons alone. To create the illusion that Mr Schmidt & Mr. Steinberg have been as fiscally responsible as they said they would be for the transparent purpose of insuring the election of Mr. Steinberg to a full term.

How do I know this? Its easy. Just look at all the efforts made to put Mr. Steinberg out there in the public eye. Take, for example, the shameless politicizing of collections for Hurricaine Katrina Relief. If the Village was going to undertake such a collection, shouldn’t it have been done in a non-partisan manner? Of course. Yet instead of having the Village Treasurer, or the Village staff, handle the donations we were directed to send them to Jim Steinberg. If that is not trying to create an image for a candidate, I don’t know what is. Then there was the posting by Mr. Steinberg of news about the ME site - on the Republican website no less - as if he was responsible for a favorable event, when it should have first been announced by the Village on the Village web site.

I could go on but you get the idea.

So do not be fooled by Mr. Schmidt’s characterization of a long planned project as being solely for beautification; or by young Mr. DeFranceso’s ill informed rantings; or by the day to day campaign rhetoric designed to boost Mr. Steinberg.

Look at the documentation and you will quickly see that the funds cut from the Village budget could have gone a long way towards addressing these flooding problems had there been a desire to serve the Village as a whole, rather than a political agenda.

And that, my friends, is a Reality Check.

On January 28, 2006 9:18 AM, weewill said:

The outrage of commuters over the on-going flooding at the Croton Harmon RR station has not been heard, The Mayor has authorized another study when what’s needed is a look at the history and action. Stop pandering, promising, clouding, discussing and studying it. The facts are clear.

  1. The parking lot floods.
  2. Cars are ruined.
  3. Feet get wet.
  4. Studies have been done and done and done.
  5. $850,000 was in the budget allocated for parking lot
  6. It was up to the board to decide how to spend the money.
  7. Mayor Schmidt, Trustees Steinberg and Brennan voted not to spend it and removed it from the capital budget
  8. Trustees Kane and Wiegman voted to keep it in the budget.
  9. The majority carried the vote and the money was removed.

All the verbiage just drowns out the facts. The flooding can be controlled. It just takes money.

On January 27, 2006 10:14 PM, TeaDrinker said:

This comment is posted on behalf of Trustee Charlie Kane via email request.

I agree the quote attributed to me might be misleading. But that is not what I said. We have all been misquoted in the press. I will stick by the post (see: “Flooding Solution for Croton Harmon Train Station Parking Lot Mothballed by Schmidt, Brennan and Steinberg”) Leo and I published a few days ago at Crotonblog.com.

In April 2005, the Republican majority cut $350,000 from a major parking lot improvement plan (the “traffic plan”) that also had $500,000 in federal grant money in place. Slashing the project by 40% made it unbuildable. Misleadingly summarized as ‘beautification’ by the mayor and GOP trustees, this project had been on the drawing boards for almost 3 years, pooling ideas from the Village, Metro North, and the County. The major goal was to unsnarl the daily traffic congestion in front of the station.

It featured a special commuter “kiss and ride” zone, specially paved pedestrian crossing zones, bus only lanes, expanded bicycle/moped parking, improved lighting, improved fencing between the lot and railroad, and, yes, improved planting berms for trees, shrubs and flowers. The landscaping would help signal to drivers where entrances, crossing zones, and turn lanes were to be found. True, this plan would not have widened Veterans Way. But it would have made navigating the parking lot more self-evident and more orderly.

In May 2005, the Village Board received the “Croton Harmon Station Area Study”. Initiated by Bob Elliott in 2004, this study (the “redevelopment plan”) had the major goal of exploring redevelopment options the village might examine in the future for the 16 acres we own down at the train station. Prepared by urban planners and a consulting engineer, the study looks at long term demographic trends, housing needs, property values, commercial opportunities, and, importantly, at the geology of the parking lot, with a special focus on the 2.5 acres that is so flood prone.

This study, unlike many government reports, is easy to read, only 40 pages long, and well illustrated. But the village board’s GOP majority only allowed Ann Gallelli a few minutes at a sparsely attended work session to summarize it and then stifled any discussion of the study. Slashing the “traffic plan” meant mothballing the “redevelopment plan” as the commuter parking lot faded quickly on the priority list for the GOP.

The first redevelopment option tackles the flood prone area, due to the village’s long standing concerns. This option would cost a net $273,000 dollars. It is doubtful the GOP board members knew that. Schmidt, Steinberg and Brennan just did not do their homework last year or this month. The GOP majority is only interested in jacking up parking revenue. Is the problem flooding, or public officials blind to long term thinking?

— Charlie Kane

On January 26, 2006 7:18 PM, Gut-C said:

I’m fortunate enough to park in an area not affected by the flooding, thank goodness. I think most people understand how monies can be allocated in ALL budgets - Peter can always be robbed to pay Paul - especially when the money is intended for the same interest. Our board seems to be giving answers to this very serious problem by not really addressing the specific problem. While they pay for more studies to be done (from our tax dollars) cars are being TOTALED everytime it rains! I hope they realize that these are hard times financially for a lot of village residents, and most cannot afford to lose their cars to a problem that should have been rectified when they purchased the property years ago!!

On January 26, 2006 5:09 PM, weewill said:

Ii neglected to share another very important point in my last comment…

It’s a very important piece of information to know that the Croton Harmon Station plan not only addressed the flooding situation and was done by Buckhurst, Fish who consulted on the study. They purposely coordinated their recommendations with the Cherbuliez study and plans so that together they were part of a larger scheme for the area.

These facts ARE neglected by young Mr. DeFranceso and THAT IS absolutely true.

On January 26, 2006 4:16 PM, Just The Facts said:

Partisanship is not needed, Accountability IS.

Its a shame that the current Croton GOP chair has come of political age at this time when our national political scene is bogged down with ridiculous partisanship for the sole sake of being partisan. Its time to stop choosing sides just because of party affiliation and instead hold our elected officials (both national and local) accountable for their actions (and inactions).

The fact of the matter is that the governing majority of this current board has for all practical purposes turned its back on the mess that is the Croton Commuter Parking Lot. We all know and agree that $850,000 was NOT spent on the parking lot.

In fact, it appears that close to nothing was spent on the parking lot despite the fact that the parking lot generates revenues in excess of $1,000,000 per year. If the $850,000 was spent, the village would have still made money on the lot AND we would be one step closer to coming up with a plan.

Instead Mr. DiFrancesco, what exactly has happened over the past year to fix a problem which you admit has been in existence for over a decade (actually longer)?

Mr. DiFrancesco , I hope you are aware that this is a complicated and expensive issue that requires alot of planning and study. But because ZERO was allocated to the parking lot in last year’s capital budget, we are in exactly the same position as we were a year ago — with the exception of the fact that the governing majority already spent last year’s lot revenue on other items.

Mr. DiFrancesco I am three things you are not: (i) a village taxpayer, (ii) a quarterly permit holder and (iii) the recipient of a multi thousand dollar repair bill for a flooded car. If the high school parking lot experienced similar issues, then you may have something to add, however, right now your partisanship is unnecessary, uncalled for and unwarranted.

On January 26, 2006 3:06 PM, weewill said:

Young Rob, and new chair of the local republicans,

Who explains to you what a sitting board can and cannot do? Charlie Kane knows perfectly well what authority a board has to specify and direct the way funds are allocated. Since this is only the very beginning of this year’s election campaigns, it is expected that you, as Chair of your party, will accept the responsbility to check facts before you print charges.

You must understand that the Cherbuliz-Munz report was only a suggested continuance of partially completed parking lot improvements.

The flooding reports and recommendations were covered in detail in a total Parking Lot Improvement Study. It was up to the sitting board to allocate and designate use of the money.

They chose not to do so.

Charlie Kane was most instrumental as a sitting Trustee in authorizing the all important studies. His facts are accurate.

If you asked, I’m sure he’d be happy to give you a tour of the affected area and a tutorial on the technical aspects and hydrological studies.



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