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December 27, 2013

‘Pops, Patriots and Fireworks’

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

The Record-Review is available

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In Bedford in 2013, milestones accomplished, and an end of an era


By ANTHONY R. MANCINI

The town of Bedford faced the end of an era this year, when town supervisor Lee Roberts announced her retirement and subsequently did not run for re-election.

Ms. Roberts served a decade in her position, first taking office in 2003 when former supervisor John Dinin retired. She continued on to win elections in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.

Ms. Roberts, a Republican who lives in Katonah, told The Record-Review in an interview following her retirement announcement that she did not plan to further her career in government.

“I think it’s important to step back,” she said. “My husband Ken has been in retirement for many years waiting for me. I have two new grandchildren and I want to spend time with them. I’ll find my way. It feels like the right thing at the moment.”

Ms. Roberts began her career in politics in 1993, when she was elected to Bedford’s town board. She was deputy supervisor under Mr. Dinin in the late 1990s, and when he took a job as a banking regulator in New York City, she was selected as his successor.

Ms. Roberts pointed to the town’s new $22 million water filtration plant as a major achievement, crediting Bedford’s department heads for their work on the project. The plant, located on Route 35 in Katonah, serves the more than 2,000 properties in Katonah and Bedford Hills that make up the town’s consolidated water district.

The plant, which began operating this year, was proposed after the wells serving the area began failing due to pollution. The town’s consolidated water district now receives water from the Delaware Aqueduct, which is part of New York City’s water infrastructure and stretches into the Catskill Mountains. The process is still in transition, with residents now receiving a mixture of water from the old and new systems, but officials expect that soon all town water will come directly from New York City reservoirs.

As a result of the plant’s opening, the town’s water rate billing structure was changed, raising rates, but also allowing customers to save money if they use less water.

“This is a building to be proud of. We are grateful to everyone from those firms who worked on this project,” said Ms. Roberts at the plant’s formal opening ceremony in October. “Our customers can have confidence that their water is not only delicious to taste but also of the highest quality anywhere.”


Advances in infrastructure

Ms. Roberts said that other notable accomplishments she contributed to include advances in the town’s wastewater and storm water management, Bedford’s 10-year master plan, the 20-year plan for facilities and improvements at the Bedford Hills train station.

She also recognized the work of Bedford 2020, a nonprofit organization that recommends environmental policy to the town with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by the year 2020. Ms. Roberts is a founding member of that organization and serves on its board of directors. This year, Bedford 2020 has taken on a number of initiatives, including an effort to measure the energy efficiency of the town’s buildings, such as the police station and community house.


Single-stream recycling

Bedford 2020’s plan that received the most attention this year was their effort to promote single-stream recycling throughout town. Single-stream recycling is the practice of placing paper, glass, cardboard, metal and other recyclables into one container to later be sorted at a recycling facility. This practice allows garbage haulers condense recyclables using a trash compactor and is thought to increase participation in recycling programs due to its ease.

To increase single-stream recycling, Bedford 2020 along with the town board proposed a plan to form a townwide garbage district that would contract out to a single private hauling company. Officials said the goals of this action were to increase recycling throughout town, decrease carting costs for residents, improve services, generate revenue for the town from recycled materials and have more of an ability to ensure recycling is actually happening in town.

Representatives of the garbage hauling companies that serve Bedford including City Carting and County Waste Management, who together pick up most of Bedford residents’ trash, opposed the plan. They argued that a townwide garbage district would be detrimental to residents and would hurt the garbage haulers’ business. At the time of the proposal, County Waste was already practicing single-stream recycling and City Carting was in the process of building a facility designed to accept single-stream.

The dispute between the haulers and the town ended suddenly when both sides announced an agreement at a public hearing in April, which drew a crowd of more than 100 residents. Instead of forming a garbage district, members of the town board said that instead they would work with the carters to promote recycling and require single-stream in the town code.

“We want to make recycling a priority that can be mutually advantageous, not only to the town and to residents, but to the hauler as well,” Ms. Roberts said at the April hearing. “Single-stream will reduce costs for the town and the carters. The carters, in turn, will help us with consistent information on what is proper recycling and on occasion, when it doesn’t occur, they can assist us with enforcement.”

The haulers also spoke in support of the plan at that hearing.

“We’re very happy that the town now is planning on letting us, the private carters, handle the business of garbage. It is still a competitive nature here in town,” said Anthony Prestamo of County Waste. “We’re just trying to go along with the town’s guidelines and do single-stream, that’s where it’s beginning.”


Retirement of key town figures

Along with Ms. Roberts, town councilman Peter Chryssos is also retiring. Mr. Chryssos is the most tenured member of the town board behind Ms. Roberts, having first been elected to the board in 1997. He serves as deputy supervisor and has been recognized by his colleagues on the town board as an outspoken member who is not afraid to ask tough questions when discussing matters before the board.

Another big retirement in town hit the Bedford Hills Free Library when director Rhoda Gushue announced that she plans on leaving by the end of the year. Ms. Gushue first started working at the library in 1970 and became the director in 1975. During her tenure she saw the establishment of the Westchester Library System, which provides a centralized catalog of media to libraries throughout the county. The system allows libraries to borrow and lend from one another easily.

“Suddenly this library was as big as any other libraries,” she said. “We loan out more books and items then we borrow. It just opened up such a world with everyone.”


Chris Burdick elected

The departure of Ms. Roberts as supervisor leads town councilman Chris Burdick to take the reins in January. Mr. Burdick, a Democrat, beat out his Republican opponent Don Scott during the November election.

Mr. Burdick has served on the town board since 2008. Before he was elected to the town board, he served as the chairman of Bedford’s wetlands control commission and worked on the committee that drafted Bedford’s current master plan.

He also belongs to the Bedford Village Lions Club, the Westmoreland Sanctuary board of directors, the Mount Kisco Concert Association and is the co-chairman of the woodlands commission of St. Matthews’s Episcopal Church, which protects the approximately 40 acres of land surrounding the church. Mr. Burdick said he would step down from his position of senior vice president at Stewart Title Insurance Co. in Manhattan if he were elected.

He celebrated his victory with the Bedford Democratic Committee at Oliver’s in Katonah on election night.

“We can be very proud of the fact that we had a campaign that held the high road,” he said on Nov. 5.

That night, Mr. Scott conceded the election to Mr. Burdick. Mr. Scott was the chairman of the Bedford Republican Committee, serves on the wetlands control commission and is on Katonah Fire Department’s board of commissioners. He is a past president of the Katonah-Lewisboro School District’s board of education.

“It’s been a great campaign and I tip my cap to Chris Burdick and look forward to his work on the town board,” Mr. Scott said at a Republican election party at Lee Roberts’ house. “He is a tough campaigner and won a deserved victory. I’m not going away.”

While the Democrats may have taken the top spot in the town government, Republicans won every major election in town, with the exception of Bedford’s Democratic county legislator Peter Harckham, who was re-elected to Westchester’s 2nd District. Republicans Francis Corcoran, a town councilman, Erik Jacobsen, a town justice, and Boo Fumagalli, the town clerk, were all re-elected. Mary Beth Kass, a founding member of Bedford 2020 backed by Republicans, won election to the town council.


Politics on the forefront

This year’s campaign season saw a scramble for third party endorsements, which led to lawsuits throughout the county. In New York state, different parties may endorse the same candidate. Candidates running for election in New York often seek the endorsement of more than one party to better their chances of winning.

All five Democrats running for town positions this year received an endorsement from Westchester’s Independence Party, who endorsed mostly Democrats across the county during this election season. To force a primary for the Independence Party in Bedford, the Republican candidates collected signatures to allow voters to write in the candidates’ names in a bid for the Independence line. Before election season, Mary Beth Kass submitted paperwork to the county board of elections registering her as an Independence Party member. Being a member of that party would have allowed her name to appear on the Independence Party primary ballot if she collected enough petition signatures, which she did.

However, Democratic town council candidate Meredith Black sued Ms. Kass, arguing that she filed her paperwork to register as an Independence Party member a day late. Ms. Kass lost in court and she was stripped of her party status, nullifying her petition. This resulted in the two town council positions up for re-election being absent from Bedford’s Independence Party primary.

This lawsuit is similar to another that blocked Republican country executive Robert Astorino, who won re-election this year, from being available as a write-in candidate on the Independence Party primary. A court ruling said that a petition that would have allowed Mr. Astorino to be a write-in candidate was filed four hours late. Prominent Independence Party member Richard Rhoades filed the lawsuit and its decision also lead to some supporters of Mr. Astorino being stripped of their Independence Party membership. The party’s leadership has been taking aggressive action against enrolled members who do not conform to the values of the party. In New York state, a political party can take legal action against a nonconforming member to strip them of their status, a relatively rare practice.


Car wash dispute

The town has seen a number of difficult building proposals continue to stagnate this year. One proposal is a plan for a new Splash car wash to be built in Bedford Hills on the corner of Bedford Road and Valerio Court. Before this year, the plan had already ran into problems as neighbors of the site who live at the end of Valerio Court, a tiny, private road, protested having a car wash so close to their homes, saying at public hearings that the noise and traffic the business would generate would be unbearable.

Despite the protests, Bedford’s planning officials eventually approved the car wash early this year and the builders removed the old Carvel ice cream stand that had been on the property since the 1950s.

Work on the site was halted, though, after a Valerio Court resident, Dino DeFeo, sued the town’s planning and zoning boards, Splash and the property’s owners, the Martabano family. This lawsuit resulted in a court ruling that removed a variance that was granted to the site on the grounds that the property owners failed to prove that they needed a car wash there to generate capital gains, one criterion of the variance.

This leaves Splash’s owner, Mark Curtis, without a car wash in Bedford Hills. He used to operate a Splash across the street from the proposed site of the new car wash, but the property’s owner, the Shullman family, has since reclaimed that business. The Shullmans own the car wash chain Russell Speeder’s and have opened one up at Splash’s former location after Splash left.

Mr. Curtis is now suing the Shullmans, claiming in court that they have engaged in unfair business practices by helping finance Mr. DeFeo’s legal aid.


A historic property

Historic home Stepping Stones has continued to slowly creep through Bedford’s approval process this year. The home, located off of Oak Road, is the former home of Bill and Lois Wilson, the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon, respectively. After Ms. Wilson died in 1988, the property was taken over by the Stepping Stones Foundation, a nonprofit that preserves the home and offers scheduled tours and other events on-site. It is a National Historic Landmark.

Before this year, the foundation applied to the town to establish a small parking lot on the property, to prevent parking in the grass. Neighbors who live around the site took the application as an opportunity to complain to the town that the foundation is running an unapproved museum and that the visitors are adding more traffic to the area than the roads were designed to handle.

“I've been there for 24 years. I've seen the quiet house that Ms. Wilson left to what it has morphed into now completely without any permits,” said Diane Briganti, an Oak Road resident who lives across the street from Stepping Stones, at a September public meeting. “I would like to see it severely scaled back. I have probably seen more activity than almost any other neighbor on the street.”

Even though many neighbors are unhappy with how Stepping Stones is affecting their neighborhood, nobody said that they wanted the site shut down and Bedford’s zoning board gave the property a variance the foundation needs to keep it operating as a museum in November, albeit with binding restrictions on the property.

The site still needs to be reviewed by the town board before it is fully legitimized.


Plans in Bedford Village

Two different entities expressed interest in developing on the vacant lot next to the Bedford Playhouse building this year, a site commonly referred to as the last buildable lot in Bedford Village. Ultimately, no formal plans were submitted to the town this year.

The former owner of the site, Phoenix Bedford LLC, pitched a development proposal for the vacant lot in an unorthodox manner in April. Instead of submitting a plan to the town and allowing the public to comment on it, the owner of the property instead held a public hearing at the Bedford town house before formally submitting anything, allowing residents to chime in on what they would want to see on the lot. Phoenix Bedford’s plan was to put up a building with a similar function to the Playhouse next to it, with 25 or less one- or two-bedroom apartments and 13,000 square feet of retail space, with a few affordable housing units.

At the April meeting, some residents welcomed the idea of new retail space in Bedford Village and potential affordable housing units. Others who were opposed to aspects of the plan were concerned with the amount of traffic the proposed building would draw to an already busy area. Some did not want any affordable housing and some thought that the proposed building would be detrimental to the historic character of Bedford Village.

Since the meeting was held, Manhattan-based developer Alchemy Properties purchased the Playhouse and its adjacent vacant lot from Phoenix Bedford. Kenneth S. Horn, the president and founder of Alchemy, said his firm is entertaining the idea of building on the vacant parcel, but that the idea is very preliminary.

“We would seek guidance and more of a collaborative effort from the town,” Mr. Horn said in June. “We’re not the folks who come in with a heavy hammer. That’s just not what we do.”


Seven Springs, finally finds an accord

These three development proposals’ lengthy troubles pale in comparison to the 18 years the Seven Springs estate has been in development hell. Business magnate Donald Trump’s plan to build mansions at the site, located near the Byram Lake Reservoir, received its final approval this year after undergoing a series of transformations. Mr. Trump’s son Eric Trump, who is overseeing the project, said 12 new houses would be built on the property, which is situated between Bedford, New Castle and North Castle. He said eight residences would be put up in Bedford, while two existing mansions on the property would be renovated. The existing buildings include the Meyer mansion, the Georgian-style, 38,000 square foot former home of Agnes and Eugene Meyer, the late publisher of the Washington Post.

There is also a Tudor-style mansion called Nonesuch on the site, formerly the home to the H.J. Heinz family that made its fortune from its iconic ketchup and other foods. Both mansions were built in 1919.

“Here you have arguably two of the most powerful families in the country who lived on this estate. It was their summer home. They spent a tremendous amount of time there,” Eric Trump said in May. “It’s a really incredible piece of property.”

The project has evolved greatly since it’s initial stages when it was first purchased. Donald Trump purchased Seven Springs in 1995 for $7.5 million. For nine years, he pursued developing a world-class, 18-hole golf course, which was met by resistance by residents and leaders in Bedford, North Castle, and New Castle. Critics of the golf course proposal claimed that it would draw too much vehicular traffic, and that pesticides used to maintain the greens could contaminate adjacent Byram Lake, which also serves as Mount Kisco’s primary source for its drinking water.

After pulling the plug on the golf course proposal in 2004, Donald Trump announced plans to develop a number of multimillion-dollar homes at Seven Springs. Eric Trump said one reason his family’s company abandoned pursuing a golf course at Seven Springs was the purchase of the Trump National Golf Club property in Briarcliff Manor.

To allow the project to move forward, its plans were subject to scrutiny over the years by Bedford’s planning and zoning boards and state environmental regulations, to ensure the preservation of the areas steep slopes and the retention of the water quality at Byram Lake. As a condition of construction, developers agreed that no blasting would take place on-site, that no more than 5 acres of land would be disturbed at one time and that there would be no substantial change to the water levels in Byram Lake.

“It’s really kind of an oasis in Westchester: incredibly private, incredibly exclusive. It’s just really an amazing piece of land,” said Eric Trump. “Bedford’s an amazing area and that area’s second to none.”


A milestone for two organizations

Two organizations in town celebrated milestone anniversaries in 2013. The Katonah-Bedford Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps celebrated its 50th anniversary, having been formed in March 1963.

Volunteers from early on in the corps’ existence reflected on how much it has grown in an interview with The Record-Review. Bernie Roberts, who joined the corps in 1970, said the volunteers present in the first year responded to 16 calls, consisting of “four heart attacks, three mutual aids, three transfers, two broken hips, one broken leg, one stroke, one auto accident, one back injury.”

The corps now responds to more than 900 calls a year.

The Mianus River Gorge, is celebrating its 60th year of existence. It was founded in 1953 to protect the Mianus watershed, which contains one of the last bastions of old-growth forest left in the area, the 400-year-old hemlocks that grow along the banks of the Mianus River. Since its inception the nonprofit has bought or secured over 700 acres of land and has protected more land through conservation easements.

The organization honored Ann Rockefeller Roberts in October during its anniversary celebration for her work in securing the Twin Lakes area in Bedford located next to Long Ridge Road. The land is a major component of the watershed and it took the organization 25 to 30 years to acquire the entire property.

“It protects just a spectacular piece of property with beautiful rock outcroppings and another deep gorge. That was a property that was important to her personally and also a critical priority property of ours,” said Tim Evnin, chairman of the gorge’s board of trustees. “Having her help us lead the charge, she was really the galvanizing person, both with her generosity and determination to get it done.”


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