Westchester 2012 Year in Review: September
Movin’ on Up
New Rochelle grad Tom Koehler is in the big leagues now, promoted from the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs to the Miami Marlins. The 26-year-old right-handed pitcher was named Double-A Southern League Pitcher of the Year in 2010.
A Yonkers Legend Passes
Jesse Buzzutto, a retired computer programmer from Yonkers, dies of natural causes at age 70. Perhaps it was his short stature (just 5 feet tall) and Irish heritage that led people to comment that Buzzutto looked a bit like a leprechaun. Rather than taking offense, he worked it, dressing in green garb and a hat decorated with shamrocks and leprechauns. According to a 2010 New York Times article, when children asked if he was for real, the Yonkers Leprechaun, as Buzzutto was affectionately known, would tell them he was “the realest leprechaun they would ever meet.” No arguing with that. People who visited his Facebook page (more than 11,680 fans at last count) reminisced about his beautiful gardens and elaborate displays on Halloween, Christmas, and, of course, Saint Pat’s Day.
An Icon Reborn
The storied Capitol Theatre in Port Chester is re-launched with Bob Dylan performing to a sold-out crowd of 1,835 fans at its inaugural concert. Welcome back!
The old naval armory in New Rochelle wasn’t on our radar, either, until superstar San Francisco Chef Jeremiah Tower proposed turning the derelict facility into an Eataly-esque food-hall project with a farmers’ market, aquaponic greenhouse, food hall, and lots of restaurants. The City Council approves the concept; we can hardly wait.
We’re No. 1 (in Biotech)
Our sister publication, 914INC., wrote about the Westchester biotech boom back in 2011, and now one of the featured firms is garnering national publicity. Science magazine names Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the best employer worldwide in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors. The Tarrytown company, which employs 1,850 people, has annual revenues of $446 million. One of its recently approved drugs, Eylea, is used to treat macular degeneration, a loss of vision.
Treasures from philanthropist Brooke Astor’s Park Avenue apartment and her 65-acre Briarcliff Manor estate, Holly Hill, fetch nearly $19 million in a Sotheby’s auction, double the projected sales prices. Continuing her history of philanthropy years after her death in 2007, the estate’s proceeds are going to All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Briarcliff Manor, Trinity Church in Ossining, and Historic Hudson Valley.
We’re No. 1 (in Taxes)
Say it loud, say it proud: We’re the very first county in the entire country to edge up over $10,000 in median property taxes. The 2011 Census Bureau reports that Westchester’s median property-tax bill rose from $8,890 in 2008 to $10,000 in 2011. As the state tax cap was not in effect in those years, we can always hope that we get bumped from the top next year.
It’s Yonkers’ time to shine, don’t you think? Television and movie producers are taking notice of what the city has to offer, scene-wise (check out CBS’s The Good Wife, CW Network’s Gossip Girl, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, and FX’s White Collar—and lots more exposure is on the way). Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano envisions his town as a future Hollywood on the Hudson and has launched a new Office of Film & Photography to make the city more “film friendly” by offering incentives and cutting or eliminating permit fees. And it’s off to an auspicious start. At press time, a new movie staring Colin Farrell, Warner Brothers’ Winter’s Tale, has begun shooting at Yonkers Stage.
We’re No.1 (in Science)
The science program at Ossining High School has always been impressive: Four students were semifinalists in Intel’s Science Talent Search this year (eight in 2011—the most in the country); the engineering club won a New York City robotics competition in March; and two alumni were honored at the White House last December, among 94 rising stars in the science world. Now Intel Foundation, wowed by the school’s student work, names the school’s science program the best in the nation.
Bonistall Murder, Take Two
White Plains resident and University of Delaware sophomore Lindsey Bonistall was raped and murdered on May 1, 2005. Her neighbor, James Cooke, was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to death. Then, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled that Cooke’s rights were violated when his lawyers, without his consent, argued he was guilty but mentally ill. DNA found on Bonistall’s body made the odds one in 676 quintillion that someone else did it; and anyone paying one iota of attention to the proceedings could see the guy was unstable. But the wheels of justice grind on, and, on September 17, Cooke is found guilty and is sentenced to death for a second time.
Feds Approve Tappan Zee Plan
Cost: $5 billion. Next steps are to award a contract to design and build the three-mile span.