Yesterday was a long day for Paul Feiner. After his usual workday, the Greenburgh Town Supervisor went to the by-invite-only ribbon cutting for the at 5 p.m. (Patch photos soon!), then it was onto the standing-room-only . with every politician and media crew around, finally he had to drive his daughter for her birthday to the midnight opening of The Hunger Games.
But this story isn't about Feiner, though Alice Goldberg, President of the Board of Managers of the , certainly thinks he deserves credit for how far her complex has come in one two-hour meeting. “He is phenomenal,” she said. “He has been a wonderful support person for us.”
Feiner, who has a tendency to make himself extremely accessible, has been on the phone with Goldberg several times a day. He praised her in turn for being a “good organizer.”
It took a big organizing effort – writing letters to politicians, the media, and bridge officials; residents making phone calls – to get everyone in the room there last night, and there were many.
“Standing room only,” said resident Roger Ardanowski, who's been to many populated Board meetings but “never like this.”
There were in the Quay Clubhouse, to name a few: representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, NYS Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, County Legislator Alfreda Williams, Village officials, over a half-dozen bigwigs from the State DOT and Thruway Authority including bridge Project Manager Michael Anderson, and “probably someone from every unit in the complex,” Ardanowski said.
Though the DOT folks had wanted to make a presentation, it was important to Goldberg that this time “they listened and we spoke." There would be arranged a “different kind of meeting” on another occasion with the state transportion departments, but this time the residents needed to be heard.
Residents in the closest shadow of the bridge walked away feeling very confidant that the meeting made a difference and something good would come. “I feel very good about it,” Goldberg said. “Not only did [the politicians] show up but they were all very supportive.”
First Goldberg opened the meeting with the Board's six initial mitigation requests:
That there would an official ongoing procedure in place to address all issues that arise in the construction of bridge.
That there be some kind of homeowner's compensation “to make them whole” either in the form of partial payment accounting for loss of property value or some kind of buy-out agreement available to those who want to move.
That the pool and clubhouse moved be moved further away from its current site down a slope and closest to the construction.
Replacement of windows and insulation on west and south ends of the complex.
Construction of noise barriers on these same sides closest to the work.
Finally, that significant noise generating activities be curtailed except between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., and in the event of evening work that advance notification be made.
All the many politicians making comments to follow were in agreement that these were fair points. The transportation officials in turn made it clear that they had learned much here and were ready and willing to work together.
“Everyone was open to continuing the dialogue as opposed to doing it a courtroom,” said Ardanowski. “We're not looking to sue. With all the politicans involved now, hopefully we'll avoid that. It's up to them.”
Feiner said the next step is another meeting, much more intimate, with just a handful of folks, including himself, at the Governor's Office on April 4. Before that, he wants to poll the units to see just how many people would want a buy-out so he has a “better sense when we're negotiating.”
“This meeting was really positive,” Feiner said. “Everyone's being really smart about it.”
Goldberg agreed it was all very civil which made it very effective. “We're not shouting, not crazy," she said. "We know the bridge will happen but it will really have a big impact on where we live and we want to be heard.”
“May the odds be in your favor,” goes the tagline of that blockbuster film.