Delays & Divisions

Everything you wanted to know about the county and weren’t afraid to ask



Q: When will Fairway be opening in Pelham Manor and what other stores are going to be filling those two shopping centers (the one where Fairway will be and the one across the street where the BJ’s opened)?
—Janine Reif, Larchmont

A: Excellent question. We haven’t been this excited about a grocery store coming to our area since Whole Foods imported its exotic sauces and spices to White Plains a half-decade ago. We will never forget where we were when we realized our baked goods would finally receive the high oleic safflower oil they so deserved. According to Levin Management Corporation, the group handling the Fairway project, the store will impart its gourmet goods on the region in early spring, if not before. But there is already much to see at the Post Road Plaza Shopping Center: Modell’s, Dress Barn, and the Shoe Megashop, the Marshall’s-owned discount footwear outfitter. Indeed, every retailer with a lease has now opened; some space, including a 16,000-square-foot lot on the top floor, is yet to be filled but should be occupied soon. As for the Pelham Manor Shopping Plaza across the street from BJ’s Wholesale Club, well, your guess is as good as ours. The company overseeing the project refused to comment on who would be BJ’s Wholesale Club’s and Michael’s Arts and Crafts Store’s next neighbor. May we suggest another Stew Leonard’s?

Q: Why is Westchester divided so inefficiently? I live on Adams Road in Ossining. I pay taxes to Yorktown, our kids go to the Ossining schools, and we have New Castle water. My neighbors on my very same street pay taxes to New Castle. When the garbage and recycling guys come to pick up from our house, they must pass everyone else’s house on our street and then just pick up from the few houses, which are considered to be Yorktown’s responsibility.  All the other houses get their garbage and recyclables picked up on another day of the week by the town of New Castle. The closest firehouse to our house is in Millwood, but the Millwood firemen or policemen would not come if we had a fire; Yorktown’s firemen and policemen would, though they are farther away. And, I don’t commute into New York City anymore, but when I did, since there is no train station in Yorktown, I had to pay non-resident rates at either the New Castle or the Ossining train station.
—Terri Ochs, Yorktown

A: The muddle of bureaucracy we are stuck in is no accident. It’s there to keep us from rebelling—we wouldn’t know where to take our pitchforks and torches and up and go. The officials, however, will tell you Westchester is a victim of what are known as “special districts,” subsections of residents who get and pay for specific services they, and only they, supposedly need. So if a significant number of people in one neighborhood need daily garbage pickup, then daily garbage pickup they will have (and pay for). And these districts are seemingly impossible to dissolve, and when the population moves, old zones are left in place and new zones are created, even if they overlap each other or bear no relation to municipal boundaries.

To further confuse matters, ever since the State started controlling schools, those in charge keep coming up with different types of districts with different rules dictating from where they can get their students. The problem is made worse by rules that allow certain types of school districts to span multiple towns or even parts of multiple towns, and prohibit certain types of school districts from operating high schools. The state also has various rules for the creation of library districts, villages, villages within towns—and all have the ability to fund municipal services. In other words, it’s a mess.

The good news: the New York Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act, proposed by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and recently signed into law, should make it a lot easier to clean up the governmental clutter throughout the state. At least that’s what those in power say...

Q: Why is construction taking almost three years to complete on a small Italian bistro on Beekman Avenue in Sleepy hollow?
—Joan Ferraro, Sleepy Hollow

A: It’s only been two years, not three, so we’ll re-address this topic 365 days from now, okay? Actually, by the time this goes to print, Finalmente Trattoria and Wine Bar should be open. So, what was the cause for the two-year delay? It wasn’t to age the cheese. You see, two years ago, Daniel Damiano, Sr., purchased the location of, he says, “the small, and not too expensive” bistro-to-be for his son, Dan Jr. The plan was to turn what was a local bar at 31 Beekman Avenue, known as The Dugout, into a quaint neighborhood restaurant. But walls had to be re-studded, floors had to be expanded, liquor licenses had to be acquired, etc. And that, Goodness knows, all costs money. And to make matters more challenging, the economy tanked, and funding for the project disappeared from Sleepy Hollow faster than Ichabod Crane. Thus, Finalmente (which means “finally” in Italian) became an ironic name for the project. But the carbonara should be flowing by the time you read this. So do dine at Finalmente, and, please, let us know how it is. We’ve been waiting to find out for more than two years.

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