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AVAILABLE NOW –THE FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 23 SHOW
JOHN BAILEY, The Old CitizeNetReporter
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WHAT YOU SHOULD LISTEN FOR IN THE MONDAY PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
THE BIG LIE TREND
TRUMP TODAY AND HILLARY AND FRIENDS UPDATE
THE NEW YORK TERRORIST ATTACKS
THE NEW OWNERS OF THE GALLERIA
THE CLINTONS SECOND HOME
VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE IN WHITE PLAINS TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27.
THE UPCOMING PUBLIC MEETING ON WHAT THE TRANSIT STUDY GROUP HAS FOUND OUT WHAT YOU WANT.
SEE IT INSTANTLY
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WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. From Michelle Schoenfeld, Clerk to the Board of Education. September24, 2016:
The White Plains Board of Education plans to vote on the appointment of Dr. Howard W. Smith as Acting Superintendent of Schools at a Special Board of Education meeting on Monday evening, September 26th, 7:30 P.M., at Education House, 5 Homeside Lane.
Dr. Smith’s term is expected to begin on October 1, 2016 and continue through this school year. He will replace Timothy P. Connors who stepped in for Superintendent Paul Fried who has been on a medical leave since June 1 of this year.
Dr. Smith has had a distinguished career in public school administration and retired in 2013 from the Superintendent position in the Union Free School District of the Tarrytowns after 12 years of service.
Since then he has held interim superintendent and consultant positions. He also has been on the Adjunct Faculty at Bank Street College, Fordham University and St. Lawrence University. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Marietta College, Dr. Smith has two Masters Degrees and a Ph.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Board President Rosemarie Eller said, “We are confident that Dr. Smith is an excellent choice for the students, staff and community. He will bring us the experienced leadership needed to provide stability and to move the district forward.”
WPCNR STAGE DOOR. Theatrical Review by John F. Bailey. September 24, 2016:
Hand me down my tuxedo, I’m coming back for more of Westchester Broadway Theatre’s SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, the revival of the Broadway film and musical of the 1970s, that in splendid one-surprise-after-another numbers with flawless production of the unique disco beat and hits of the Bee Gee era starts with one of the best overtures to start a New York City musical ever: the surge and swish and honk-honk of NY cabs, the wail of police sirens as you join Tony Manero ( the ridiculously handsome Jacob Tischler ) and his pals in Bay Ridge Brooklyn USA – 1977—Scott Muni is on the radio, Son of Sam is in the news, and the underthrob beat of the heart of “Stayin’ Alive” energizes the theatre. Nothing builds excitement more instantly than the real sounds of New Yawk.
Tony and the gang, teens of the old Bay Ridge, five buddies who talk Brooklyn, use the Italian slang of those times, posture—in the shadow of the Verrazano Bridge— (How do you fit the Verrazano Bridge on stage, go see Michael Bottari’s and Ronald Case’s Swiss Knife-versatile set and Andrew Gmoser’s city lights and disco dazzle) and Mr. Tischler, whip slender with a pompadour just sweeps away any doubts from memories of John Travolta’s role in the movie—
He stands out and fits in with the cast and he drives home the message of Stayin’ Alive in a deadend neighborhood of deadend jobs. Cut to Tony’s Family home, and he accepts the conflict of his fighting parents, who are so proud of Tony’s brother Frank who is a priest, and want Tony to be more like him.
So then Tony gets ready to go out, strips down to his underwear puts on a paisley shirt, pants combs his hair – I saw myself in Tischler’s perfect young man’s obsession with hair and body. Now, he’s ready to head to the 2001 Odyssey Disco with the boys who build the disco beat with Boogie Shoes in front of a vintage New York Street front.
The dazzle of the 2001 Odyssey club wows the audience. The styles: bellbottoms, high heeled dancing shoes, the afro, the stylin’ – this was the last dancing era in America. The sequenced lights, the way the lights of Manhattan shimmer behind the Verrazano Bridge. Anybody for a drive to Brooklyn?
Coming down with Saturday Night Fever is like seeing a Dancing With the Stars marathon. If you like that show you’ll love the choreography and dancing moves in this show to The Hustle, the animated frug-updated, and the high flying lifting and throwing around of the supple, acrobatic dancing ladies and appreciative guys in every number who have this tough job.
Tony loves to dance and it is his escape. At the dance club, love walks in the shape of the cool, sophisticated Manhattan young woman, Stephanie Mangano ( the heart-melter Alexandra Matteo, debuting in “SNF” at Westchester Broadway Theatre). She is an unbeatable romantic 1-2-3 early KO of cute beauty. If her sophistication, poise, and innocence doesn’t get you, than the looks and the heart will. Stephanie is at the club with one of those older men from Manhattan. You know those older men.
Tony, as he watches The Steph, is annoyed at the puppy dog adulation of neighborhood pal, Annette (Gianna Yanelli) cramping his style. Ms. Yanelli carries this comic, but slightly sad persona so well we’ll all recognize her. The girl who likes you, but you do not like her.
Tony is drawn to the Manhattan sophisticated young lady – and Tischler plays this well– not liking the sophisticated Stephanie and her airs, but there is that j’ne sais quoi that we men all recognize – she’s the one. She just leaves you paralyzed. You can’t fight it, not being with her makes you miserable. That’s the way this stormy romance begins.
All the while the young people are doing a hustle to Fifth of Beethoven and then the much-missed WBT frequent performer Michelle Dawson is introduced by the house dj, the campy Wolfman Jack character DJ in the wild plaid fur jacket, Pat McRoberts .
Ms. Dawson in the spotlight, brings down the house with a searing, move-your-feet-sway-your-body-thrust-your-hips-shake-your-booty Disco Inferno (Burn Baby Burn). Ms. Dawson is every bit the Disco Diva – (the Lolita Holloways, the Donna Summerses)—returns to light up the house with her caressing contralto doing Night Fever and You Should be Dancin at the end of the first act. (Man, they should let the audience dance in the aisles at this show…please!)
Tony continues to have trouble at home lamenting about being at The Top of Your Game and getting nothing for it. He’s getting no play with his charms on the ice queen, Stephanie either.
He convinces the cool Stephanie to have coffee and in this awkward scene, Fischler flings himself awkwardly, criticizes her preoccupation with famous people and cushy office job, only to be rebuffed by Stephanie, as she walks out and his pride is hung out to dry. In a song most have been through before in relationships of their own Ms. Matteo and Mr. Fischler duet 100 Reasons (not to see each other again). Ladies out there will know that feeling, won’t you? Guys, too. Ahh, the wistfulness, the what-might-have-beens, why-can’t-I-get-this-loser-out-of-my-mind feelings are tied up perfectly in a blue ribbon by this great romantic lead pair.
Jive Talkin where the harsh realities of the working world are highlighted by Tony and the boys, and Ms.Yannelli, the spurned Annette, wails on the Verazano Bridge, If Can’t Have You (I don’t want Nobody). Her soprano just rakes the knife through your soul expressing her pain with more emotion poured into it that makes the audience feel the hurt that never heals, ever.
How Deep Is Your Love? Is how Pauline (Audrey Tesserow) and Bobby (Chris Collins-Pisano) pledge their love at the White Castle. Never have I heard BeeGees songs so good than they do in this show.
Second Act turns on the fortunes of the couples. Tony loses his job. He convinces Stephanie to be his dancing partner in a dancing contest. Pauline and Bobby face a pregnancy problem. The gang has to defend their turf. And the Verrazano Bridge takes a fateful role. Tony finds that Stephanie is not what she professed to be and realizing her mistake she admits What Kind of Fool (she was). Ms. Matteo puts feelings in song precisely right. Do they make up? Does Tony move on? Clue: They’re dancing at the end.
This is not a show for young children because of some dark twists of the plot, and language, but the songs and dancing are fabulous.
Catch the Fever. Call the box office at 914-592-2222 or go to the WBT website at www.BroadwayTheatre.com.
Tell them CitizeNetReporter sent you!
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BRAD BRAMMER AND KAREN MANNION
OF KELLER WILLIAMS WHITE PLAINS
THE HOT SUMMER REALITY MARKET — HOW HOT WAS IT REALLY? THE NUMBERS, THE PRICES UP DOWN–MIDDLIN’?
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HOW TO SELL IN THE FALL; HOW TO BUY IN THE FALL
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HOW TO FIGURE OUT WHERE TO LIVE AND STAY IN WHITE PLAINS WITHOUT SACRIFICING YOUR LIFESTYLE
WHO IS DRIVING THE MARKET?
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THE FINANCING CLIMATE
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VERIZON FIOS COUNTYWIDE CHANNEL 45
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WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS From the New York State Education Department. September 22, 2016:
The State Education Department released new draft New York State P-12 English Language Arts and Mathematics Learning Standards for public comment, Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced Wednesday. Two committees comprised of more than 130 educators and parents recommended changing 60 percent of the ELA and 55 percent of the math standards. SED is accepting public comments on the draft standards through Nov. 4.
“Learning standards form the very framework of our educational system, so it’s critical that we get this right for all of our students,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “As we work to support teachers in implementing these new learning standards, we will place a particular emphasis on educating English language learners, students with disabilities and other special populations.”
“Dedicated teachers, parents and educators from across the state put in countless hours to develop these new draft standards,” Commissioner Elia said. “I thank our review committee members for taking the time to propose meaningful changes to improve the state’s learning standards. Teachers will be able to use these standards as a basis for developing their curricula and lesson plans to meet the needs of students in their classrooms. These changes reflect what I have heard from parents, teachers and administrators over the past year in my travels across the state. Now, we want to hear from educators and parents so we can develop the best learning standards to prepare New York’s children for their futures.”
Recommendations are Result of Year-Long Process with Teachers, Parents and Experts
The new draft standards build upon Commissioner Elia’s past year of traveling more than 35,000 miles across New York state, engaging with parents, teachers and the public about the state’s learning standards and assessments. In addition, the new draft standards meet the 2015 legislative requirement that the standards be reassessed with stakeholder input. SED participated in the Governor’s Task Force to review the state’s learning standards, which made a series ofrecommendations(link is external) in December 2015. Many of the Task Force’s recommendations are reflected in the recommended changes.
Teachers and parents have been involved in every step of the revision process and their input drove the recommended changes to the learning standards. In fall 2015, SED conducted a survey (AIMHighNY) of teachers, parents and other stakeholders about the current standards. More than 10,500 people responded to the survey and provided over 750,000 pieces of feedback.
In April 2016, SED convened ELA and Math Learning Standards Review committees, which are comprised of more than 130 teachers, administrators, parents, higher education representatives and other key stakeholders from across the state. Committee members participated in a weeklong, in-person summit in Albany and numerous conference calls to help develop recommended changes to the standards. In addition, SED formed Standards Review Leadership Teams which included representatives from the New York State United Teachers, BOCES, the New York City Department of Education and SED.
Collaborative Process Results in Substantive Recommended Changes
The review committees recommended substantive changes to the standards based on the AIMHighNY survey, the recommendations the Governor’s Common Core Task Force Report(link is external) and their own expertise. In addition, the committees engaged with a child development expert to get input on developing age-appropriate standards.
The review committees discussed all of the ELA and mathematics standards and, overall, recommended changes to 60 percent of the ELA standards and 55 percent of the math standards. As they considered changes, the committees focused on ensuring that the standards continue to be rigorous and challenge New York’s students to do more.
English language learner and special education teachers were integral to the process of proposing changes to the standards. In addition, SED has engaged an independent expert to review the new learning standards and provide guidance on how to appropriately implement the standards for ELL and students with disabilities.
Recommended Changes to ELA Standards
Five subcommittee groups (Prekindergarten-Grade 2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12 and Literacy 6-12), all of which included parents and educators, discussed the current ELA standards to determine whether each standard meets the criteria for what a student should know and be able to do at a grade level (or grade-band) in English language arts and literacy. Committees also had an opportunity to recommend new areas to strengthen the standards.
Recommended changes include to:
- Streamline Reading for Information and Reading for Literature Standards by merging them together, identifying the unique skills related to literature and informational text, and ensuring a healthy balance of both types of reading across all grades;
- Refocus on Prekindergarten-Grade 2 Standards with some grade-specific changes and additions to the ELA Standards, including a strong emphasis on the whole child and the importance of play as an instructional strategy. This includes the need for additional guidance for P-2 on how the standards are implemented in the classroom, including sample instructional strategies and activities, definitions and clear connections to teaching English language learners and students with disabilities;
- Create a New York State Early Learning Task Force to discuss concerns around the P-2 grades, including standards, program decisions, social emotional needs and how the content areas/domains work together in the early grades. This task force will be formed in the coming weeks;
- Re-organize Writing Standards so they are easier for educators to use for curriculum and instruction. In addition to regrouping the standards, grade-specific changes are recommended across the grades to clarify language and ensure writing expectations are clear;
- Use a Variety of Texts to balance literary and informational reading with clear guidance for teachers and to ensure students read both full-length texts and shorter pieces, as well as to encourage reading for pleasure; and
- Provide Guidance on Text Complexity for all standards in the introduction to underscore its importance.
To provide educator support in the new learning standards, the committees recommended the following:
- Develop New York State Resources and Guidance for the Standards: A set of learning standards cannot be properly utilized without the necessary guidance. The committees recommend developing a set of resources for standards, curriculum and professional development. These resources would include strategies and supports for students with disabilities and English language learners, as well as instructional strategies that could serve as examples in the classroom;
- Include a Preface and Grade-Level Introductions for the new set of English Language Arts Standards that explains the importance of the standards and their intended role in a school instructional plan. The preface and introduction would outline a belief statement that includes references to best teaching practices and learning strategies that aim to foster a love of learning for all students;
- Develop Clear Communications for Parents about the standards, with an explanation about the connections among standards, curriculum and assessments; and
- Create a Glossary of Terms that contains words or important terms used within the standards.
Recommended Changes to Mathematics Standards
Seven grade band/course subcommittees (PreK-Grade 2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry and Plus Standards) comprised of New York State P-12 classroom teachers, special education teachers, English language learner teachers, parents, curriculum specialists, school administrators and college professors discussed and made recommendations for possible revisions or additions to the standards.
Recommended changes include to:
- Clarify the Standards so that educators, students and parents clearly understand the expectation, without limiting instructional flexibility. For example, recommended modifications would help better define the progression of skills and the transition of some of the 18 shared standards between Algebra I and Algebra II;
- Strengthen Coherency of the Standards to allow for a stronger connection of learning within and across grade levels. For example, one additional standard at the Kindergarten level would help solidify pattern recognition and creation from Pre-K to Grade 2. In addition, standards regarding time and money would be added and current standards would be changed to smooth the transition of building these skills at the PreK-grade 3 level;
- Improve focus of major content and skills for each grade-level and course while providing more time for students to develop deep levels of understanding. For example, to remove the parabola/directrix/focus standard out of Algebra II and place it in the plus standards with the study of conics;
- Maintain the Rigor of the Standards by balancing the need for conceptual understanding, procedural skill and application. For example, clearly identify the fluency standards at the high school level; and
- Create a Glossary of Verbs associated with the mathematics standards. This glossary contains a list of verbs that appear throughout the revised standards recommendations.
Submitting Public Comments
The new draft learning standards for ELA and mathematics are available on SED’sAIMHighNY website for public review and comment. To review the new draft standards for ELA, visit: http://www.nysed.gov/draft-standards-english-language-arts. To review and comment on the ELA standards, please download the grade level you would like to comment on and then complete the survey questions.
To review the new draft standards for mathematics, visit:http://www.nysed.gov/draft-standards-mathematics. To comment on mathematics, please download the Mathematics Standards Glossary as well as the grade level you would like to comment on and then complete the survey questions. The surveys include questions about the draft standards as well as a comment box for each section.
Comments may be submitted individually or as a group. SED will work with BOCES to encourage schools to host regional forums to provide comments on the recommendations.
This fall, SED will carefully review the public comments and make final revisions to the ELA and Mathematics Learning Standards. The final revisions will be presented to the Board of Regents for its consideration in early 2017.
Audio and video of Commissioner Elia discussing the new draft learning standards is available:
- Audio: http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/media-qa-ela-and-math-standards-changes.mp3
- Video: http://www.nysed.gov/video/media-qa-ela-and-math-standards-changes
In addition, video of teachers on the committee discussing the process of developing the standards is available here: http://www.nysed.gov/video/new-york-state-learning-standards-review
WPCNR WHITE PLAINS LAW JOURNAL. By John F. Bailey September 21, 2016:
A spokesperson for the French American School of New York confirmed to WPCNR Tuesday that Judge Joan Lefkowitz of New York Supreme Court signed the Stipulation of Settlement (reached by the school with the City of White Plains September 5 when the Common Council voted 4-3 to accept the settlement).
The signed the Stipulation of Settlement September 12.
The settlement requires the city to review a revised site plan and Special Permit for a new complex of school buildings to be erected on the former Ridgeway Country Club with the entrance being shifted to Hathaway Lane.
WPCNR reckons (pending city and FASNY confirmation), that according to the settlement, the city has 14 days from September 12 to advise FASNY of any additional documents, reports, requests the city wants FASNY to include in the new revised site plan.
The 14 days, excluding holidays WPCNR assumes, would mean the city has until September 30 to determine what it needs from the school. Until I get confirmation, September 30 is just an estimate.
Rosh Hashanah takes place Monday October 3 and 4 for the Jewish Faith, and the Columbus Day holiday takes out October 10, and Yom Kippur is observed October 12. Should the Judge take those holidays under consideration, the city may have until October 17 to get the documents in.
After the city determines the documents (earliest September 30, latest, perhaps October 17 or 24), the French American School of New York has 7 weeks to prepare and submit the new revised site plan and Special Permit Application.
This 7-week time frame would, excluding holidays, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving, run submission of the plan into either December 2 (if the deadline for the city to submit the document requirements is indeed, September 30) or if the City is given until October 24) either just before Christmas or the first week in January when FASNY would submit the revised site plan to the city for review.
WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. From EdChoice, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. September 20, 2016 (Edited):
EdChoice, formerly the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, today released the results from a comprehensive, phone-only survey of nearly 350 state lawmakers from across the United States.
One key finding from the report is an apparent disconnect between legislators and the American public about the direction of K–12 education in America.
According to the survey, only 43 percent of legislators think K–12 education is heading in the wrong direction in their home states, but in a separate national general population survey conducted by EdChoice and Braun Research, 60 percent of the American public thinks education is heading in the wrong direction.
The results of the survey can be broken down into two main categories:
WHAT SOURCES OF INFORMATION LEGISLATORS TRUST
When it comes to setting an agenda, developing legislative priorities and actual voting, a lawmaker’s direct experience is paramount.
The vast majority of legislators (85 percent) say that directly communicating with constituents is of high importance to inform decision-making.
That response is followed by “professional experience” (77 percent) and “personal experience” (76 percent).
More than one-third of legislators (36 percent) say caucus leadership is highly important.
Just more than a quarter (26 percent) indicate the same for information provided by interest groups.
On the other end of the spectrum, only 19 percent of respondents point to “hot issues” in the news as very important, and only 13 percent say the same about public opinion surveys/polls.
These factors are similar when it comes to actual voting. Once again the highest rated factor for influencing voting is direct communication with constituents (82 percent). Both personal experience (79 percent) and professional experience (76 percent) also appear to be key influences on legislators’ votes.u
State legislators have a high degree of trust in personal networks and constituent communications compared with relatively less trust in lobbyists, polls and news media.
On a scale from 0 to 10, we asked legislators how trustworthy they deem specific sources when it comes to making decisions about K–12 education, and we found they are most likely to say personal contacts and networks are highly trustworthy—82 percent gave a rating of 8, 9 or 10. Nearly two out of three legislators highly value communications from district residents, such as emails, phone calls and snail mail. Six out of 10 respondents say they could rely on legislative staff. About half assign high ratings of trust to public meetings.
However, none of the following sources garner high trust ratings (aggregated 8, 9 or 10 ratings) from more than one-fifth of the study sample: interest groups (21 percent), lobbyists (16 percent), public opinion surveys/polls (12 percent) and the news media (5 percent).
WHAT LEGISLATORS THINK ABOUT SCHOOL CHOICE
State legislators are more likely to support educational choice options than they are to oppose them.
State legislators are twice as likely to say they favored education savings accounts (ESAs), compared with opposing the concept (61 percent favor vs. 30 percent oppose). Notably, the proportion of “don’t know” or “no answer” responses to our baseline question about ESAs shrunk by 21 points (29 percent to 8 percent) when legislators are given a definition of how ESAs work, and support of the program type remains high.
When it comes to other types of school choice, a majority of state legislators (52 percent) say they support school vouchers, and state legislators in the study sample are three times likelier to support charter schools than to oppose them.
We also see some divergence between what legislators think versus what Americans think about school vouchers and charter schools. Legislators are less likely to favor school voucher policies than the general public (52 percent vs. 61 percent, respectively). On the other hand, legislators are more likely to favor charter schools than the general public (67 percent vs. 52 percent, respectively).
In Surveying State Legislators, EdChoice Vice President of Research and author Paul DiPerna wanted to better understand what state legislators think about a number of education topics, how they feel about their profession, sources of information they trust and how often they consider different sources of influence when making legislative decisions. This is believed to be the first systematic phone-only survey of this population in more than 15 years.
“Surveying State Legislators provides a roadmap for understanding not just what legislators think about educational choice, but also how they make policy and legislative decisions,” DiPerna said. “We were able to have substantive interviews with them about how they feel about their jobs and the sources of information the most trust.”
EdChoice President and CEO Robert Enlow said the results of this survey will help supporters of educational choice share their stories more effectively with legislators in their state who have the ability to enact school choice programs.
“Everyone says personal relationships matter when it comes to persuading policymakers to empower parents,” Enlow said. “Now we’ve got the results to prove it, and we know the secret to continuing our success means helping those directly affected by school choice — parents and students — connect with legislators in a meaningful way.”
EdChoice is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing full and unencumbered educational choice as the best pathway to successful lives and a stronger society. EdChoice believes that families, not bureaucrats, are best equipped to make K-12 schooling decisions for their children.
The organization works at the state level to educate diverse audiences, train advocates and engage policymakers on the benefits of high-quality school choice programs. EdChoice is the intellectual legacy of Milton and Rose D. Friedman, who founded the organization in 1996 as the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.
WPCNR DOWNTOWN WHITE PLAINS TOWN. By Michael Kraver, Moderator, submitted in response to a WPCNR request. September 19, 2016:
(Editor’s Note: Last Wednesday, at Church Street Schoo, September 15, the White Plains League of Women Voters and The White Plains Rotary Club sponsored a moderated discussion on the present state and future of the White Plains Downtown. WPCNR requested an overview of the discussion. Michael Kraver, one of the moderators contributed this wrap-up. The complete program may be viewed on the League of Women Voters website at www.LWVWP.org )
I served as the moderator during the first part of the evening. Denise D’Ambrosio, moderated the second part (Q&A).
The evening began with an introduction, citing some statistics and showing some pictures of downtown WP, to set a factual context for the panelists’ presentations. Without getting too much into the details, the overview showed that WP’s population has been consistently growing at a faster rater than its neighboring communities for at least 10 years (culminating in recently being identified as the fastest-growing city in New York State by Business Insider). Yet, when we look at sales tax revenues, we see that WP has been essentially flat over the last 4 years, while Westchester County overall, and other nearby municipalities, have shown increases over the same time period.
The panelists then spoke. Geraldine Tortorella spoke first, with a legal overview of how municipalities control the way land is used. She spoke about comprehensive plans and zoning codes. She also about the process by which zoning can be changed, encouraging those in attendance to participate in the public discussion when zoning changes are being considered, as the best way for them to influence the character of their community. David Schiff was the next speaker. He discussed historical changes in downtown White Plains dating back decades, and spoke of some challenges downtown areas across the country are wrestling with in the modern era. Kevin Nunn was the final speaker. He gave an overview of the BID’s activities, and presented some current data. Our office vacancy rate is significantly higher than it had been before the recession, but reasons for optimism include a number of tenants who will be moving in soon, and investments being made in the downtown.
During the Q&A session, a few general themes emerged. Speakers expressed frustration about (i) the lack of a recent update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan, (ii) a parking policy that, in the opinion of a few who asked questions, seems to discourage people from going downtown, and (iii) a perceived lack of cleanliness, up to the City’s historical standards. There were also questions about how to ensure that reasonably priced housing is available downtown, and about how to make the downtown area more enticing for people to spend significant time. From my perspective, the central theme that kept arising during the discussion was the importance of citizen participation in discussions about policy that impacts our downtown, from possible zoning changes to parking rates.
That is an overview of a two-hour discussion, and I’ve certainly left out some interesting details. I understand that the night was recorded, but do not personally know when the recording will be available. Madeline, Stephen, and Denise might be able to supplement my summary, or even offer a different perspective than I about what was most notable.)
I served as the moderator during the first part of the evening. Denise D’Ambrosio moderated the second part (Q&A).
The evening began with an introduction, citing some statistics and showing some pictures of downtown WP, to set a factual context for the panelists’ presentations.
Without getting too much into the details, the overview showed that WP’s population has been consistently growing at a faster rater than its neighboring communities for at least 10 years (culminating in recently being identified as the fastest-growing city in New York State by Business Insider).
Yet, when we look at sales tax revenues, we see that WP has been essentially flat over the last 4 years, while Westchester County overall, and other nearby municipalities, have shown increases over the same time period.
The panelists then spoke. Geraldine Tortorella spoke first, with a legal overview of how municipalities control the way land is used. She spoke about comprehensive plans and zoning codes. She also about the process by which zoning can be changed, encouraging those in attendance to participate in the public discussion when zoning changes are being considered, as the best way for them to influence the character of their community.
David Schiff was the next speaker. He discussed historical changes in downtown White Plains dating back decades, and spoke of some challenges downtown areas across the country are wrestling with in the modern era.
Kevin Nunn (Executive Director of the White Plains BID) was the final speaker. He gave an overview of the BID’s activities, and presented some current data. Our office vacancy rate is significantly higher than it had been before the recession, but reasons for optimism include a number of tenants who will be moving in soon, and investments being made in the downtown.
During the Q&A session, a few general themes emerged.
Speakers expressed frustration about (i) the lack of a recent update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan, (ii) a parking policy that, in the opinion of a few who asked questions, seems to discourage people from going downtown, and (iii) a perceived lack of cleanliness, up to the City’s historical standards.
There were also questions about how to ensure that reasonably priced housing is available downtown, and about how to make the downtown area more enticing for people to spend significant time.
From my perspective, the central theme that kept arising during the discussion was the importance of citizen participation in discussions about policy that impacts our downtown, from possible zoning changes to parking rates.That is an overview of a two-hour discussion, and I’ve certainly left out some interesting details.