For A Better Peekskill Elect Team Catalina

Our Three Point Plan for Peekskill

It’s a discussion that began among friends some time ago. It started with the basic premise that regardless of political, ethnic or sexual persuasion, we all basically want the same for ourselves, our families and our city.

1. To live productive lives.
2. To be able to provide the best quality of life for ourselves and our loved ones.
3. To be safe on the streets of our city.
4. To have the kind of local government that provides sound, intelligent and meaningful leadership.
5. To feel an interconnectedness to that government.
6. To participate and feel vested in a local, robust economy.
7. To be in a position to help those who may need help.
8. To maintain a vibrant, diverse environment that reflects the best of Peekskill’s unique culture.
9. To be economically attractive to outside investment without sacrificing the soul of our city.
10. To live in a place that is a source of pride, the kind of place people want to move to and call home.
11. To walk through a downtown that is rich with shops, restaurants, cafes and other places to enjoy on any given day.

We turned these 11 points above into questions and then engaged in conversations and debates, ultimately reaching consensus. We realized that a real and viable plan was needed in order to fulfill Peekskill’s true potential to become just such a place.

We will publish this product of collaborative thinking between friends, residents, and my running mates. It is a plan designed to help take Peekskill down a positive road, one where many possibilities exist. No worthwhile journey takes place without vision, effort, determination and an unstoppable desire to succeed. A synopsis of our plan will be put on our website and displayed in our headquarters for all to inspect, comment on and, we hope, discuss. We have no pride of ownership. An insightful contribution can be made by any citizen, its viability discussed, and, subsequently, as appropriate, be incorporated. In general, the three parts of our plan include but are not limited to:

1. Economic Gardening Initiative.
2. Quality of Life.
3. Preserving the Culture and Adding to the Vitality of our City.

Our plan will address these three issues in all of their complexities with the goal of real and meaningful change designed to produce results.

Frank Catalina.
Candidate, for Mayor of Peekskill.

To read more about Team Catalina and its plan for Peekskill click here - http://www.catalinaformayor.com.

 

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The Use of Eminent Domain Would Pose Litigation Risk to City

In 2007, Mayor Foster told the Journal News that she wanted to “forbid the City from acquiring land by eminent domain.”  Five years later, the Mayor has had a change of heart, as she and the Council are now considering invoking eminent domain to secure a site for a new central firehouse.

Taxpayers must ask, is the use of eminent domain necessary or even desirable?

The “Fire Station Location Study” says that the proposed location is merely “good,” not ideal, and not even “central,” as the proposed firehouse is misnamed.  The implication is that there are other “good” locations where the City would not have to exercise eminent domain to acquire the land necessary for firehouse consolidation.

Moreover, the decision whether to renovate existing houses, or to consolidate and build new, rests entirely on a report whose assumptions have not been fully vetted.  For example, has the public been given a satisfactory answer regarding the study’s assumptions that the soft costs and contingency budget for renovation far exceeds those for new construction?

When a consulting firm proposes that the City spend more than $15.68 million on a project – an amount equal to nearly half of the City’s annual budget – it behooves the Council to get a second opinion, or at the very least, to critically examine all the firm’s assumptions, explicit and implicit.

Even if we assume that building a firehouse in the middle of the business district on one of the City’s most heavily travelled roads is the ideal location, which I do not believe it is, this still begs the question as to what “just compensation” the owners of seized property are owed under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that the standard for “just compensation”  is: “What has the owner lost? not, What has the taker gained?”

Given the unprecedented soft real estate market in the Tri-State area, where prices have declined by as much as 22.5% since 2005, it would seem the owner of 1141 Main Street would have a strong incentive to sue the City, should it attempt to force him to take a capital loss on his building.   The public record shows that he paid $485,000 for his property near the height of the market on September 9, 2005. And the City required him to put in new windows to conform to the City’s historic district code.  (Ironically, the City recently repealed the historic code with respect to his house, so the firehouse could be located on his land.)

It would seem a question of first impression whether a City could, through eminent domain, force a property owner to realize an unrecoverable capital loss on his property.

Litigation risk also exists with respect to the owners of the Crossroads Plaza.  They claim they have a competing valuation for their land and buildings far in excess of what the City wants to pay.  At best, this creates a triable issue of fact regarding what “just compensation” is for these owners, something only a jury can decide.

In short, should the City invoke eminent domain, it will in all likelihood subject taxpayers to substantial litigation risk.  The firehouse project could be tied up in the courts well beyond the current Mayor’s term.

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Peekskill Council Usurps City Manager Role and is Found Guilty of Mismanagement

Peekskill Council Usurps City Manager Role and is Found Guilty of Mismanagement

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Don’t Believe the Foster Spin, See the Video for Yourself

Click here to view the video:  Don’t Believe the Foster Spin, See the Video for Yourself

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Washington calls for immediate release of withheld report

“Don’t hide behind the FOIL process…”

“Peekskill taxpayers have a right to see the total contents of the report immediately”

Press Conference

Comments of Tony Washington

Candidate for Peekskill Mayor

November 4, 2011

My running mates and I are here today at this barren site on Lower South Street to bring to the public’s attention some disturbing news concerning the real cost of cleaning contaminated land that the Administration of Mary Foster purchased from the Ginsberg Development Corp (GDC).  This land was originally to be part of a lower South Street Redevelopment plan that the Administration of Mayor John Testa had worked on with a great deal of public input.

As you have heard debated many times over the past few years, had the plan moved forward as conceived by the Testa Administration, today, there very well may have been a Target and other retail establishments on the very parcels over my shoulder.  However, upon taking office in 2008, the Foster Administration immediately shelved the plan they inherited and nothing……not the hundreds of thousands in sales tax receipts……not the hundreds of new jobs that would have been created……nothing at all has happened on lower South St……nothing, has happened except for the City deciding to become land speculators with the taxpayer’s money.

Just over my shoulder, there are 3 parcels of contaminated land that run contiguous with one another that are now owned by the taxpayers of Peekskill courtesy of the Foster Administration.  Rather than work with developers who would keep title to the parcels, the Foster Administration recklessly gambled $9.8 MILLION of Peekskill taxpayer money to purchase the land they had no valid reason to buy…land that for years had been used for activity that made it ripe for contaminants. In fact, when Karta operated their business on just some of this property, they were cited with 4,500 DEC violations in just 3 years.

We can agree to disagree with the Foster Administration on the wisdom of not moving forward with the Testa Plan.  However, it is inexcusable for public officials to use taxpayer dollars as if it were play money and make irresponsible decisions without giving a single thought to what the consequences of those decisions may be.

We have seen a copy of the Preliminary Remedial Cost Analysis that was conducted for the City well AFTER the Purchase had been completed…the two parcels that are the subject of the report are commonly referred to as the “Upper Karta Property” and the “L&L Property.”  By sheer coincidence I’m sure, the report is dated October 25th, one day AFTER the last City Council Meeting before the Election.  How convenient!

The TECTONIC company, an environmental engineering firm, concluded in their study that the cost of remediation was not $2 Million as some of us had been led to believe …no, this detailed analysis determined that the initial cost of remediation for just these two parcels will be over $4.1 MILLION!!  It’s very clear now why the Foster Administration didn’t want the public to see the report before the election.  But the story doesn’t end here.  The report goes on to say that the possibility of, “groundwater contamination is yet to be addressed” and recommends a number of additional tests on the two sites which will cost an additional $70,000 or more to complete.  Once all tests are completed, the sad truth is that the property will cost more to clean it than the taxpayers originally paid for it!!  This transaction is akin to the City taking a walk near a cliff with a blindfold on…one would think they’d be smart enough to remove the blindfold before taking the first step.

At the last City Council meeting the Mayor pooh-poohed questions about when the long awaited environmental study would be available.  Now we know why a straight forward answer was not forthcoming and how this Administration is not interested in being upfront and honest with their constituents. They are withholding the report from public view until after the election. Peekskill taxpayers have a right to see the total contents of the report immediately since they are now on the hook for the cost of the purchase AND the environmental remediation.

The sad story here is that the Foster Administration has now put the taxpayers of Peekskill in harm’s way.  Besides the two properties that this report addresses, they have paid another $6.0 MILLION for the third parcel.  The Mayor claims that any environmental remediation costs will be deducted from that purchase price.  That is not the case here with the parcels bought from GDC.  Even if the costs of the 3rd parcel are reduced from the sale price, Peekskill is now in the chain of ownership of contaminated property due to the Foster Administration and that could end up coming back to haunt us in the future, well after the final sale has been completed.

So, here is the scorecard…The Foster Administration paid just under $10.0 Million for 3 pieces of highly contaminated property.  We now know, well after the property has been closed on, that the taxpayers are on the hook for more than $4.2 Million in environmental remediation costs on 2 of those parcels that will not be reduced from the sale price that has already been paid out.  And, the Administration is hiding the report that details the problems that the City is now responsible for.

These are numbers that should frighten even the staunchest supporters of the Foster Administration. When all of this is totaled up, what the Foster Administration has done with this recklessly irresponsible purchase is to put the Peekskill taxpayers in line to absorb a fiscal, if not environmental, disaster. The fact that City Hall has been mum on a report they had been quizzed about just 11 days ago, adds to the outrage. We call on the Mayor to not hide behind the FOIL procedures which will take weeks to run its course…release the Tectonic report now for all to see.

The reports can be obtained from City Hall or Tectonic…Tectonics’ phone # is (800) 829-6531.

For Information or questions,

Contact: Tony Washington

(646) 334-4352

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Foster Overpays for Contaminated Land and Sticks Taxpayers with $4.3 Million Bill

Foster Overpays for Contaminated Land and Sticks Taxpayers with $4.3 million bill

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Tony’s Team 20-point Plan for Peekskill’s Progress

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City Finances on Brink of Disaster

 

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Peekskill City Council’s Clapping Ban Makes National News

Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster was taken to task today on Fox News for banning clapping at Council meetings and attempting to squash all dissent toward her policies, which include wasteful spending, squandering the City’s fund balance, speculating in real estate, and general intolerance to anyone who expresses a view contrary to her own.

“Everyone claps, even presidents,” reporter Douglas Kennedy noted. “But residents have been clapping loudly and proudly at City Council meetings, many times in opposition to City Mayor Mary Foster.”

“She’s attempting to be very heavy handed toward political dissent,” said one local resident.

“I do not think that this law could be upheld,” a constitutional law scholar noted.  “It smacks in the face of unconstitutionality.”

Foster refused to defend her attempt to squash political dissent.

You can watch the video here: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/11/03/taking-liberties-clap-off/  and here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMwgL_n4Np8:

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Common Council Challenged on State of City’s Finances

Click here to watch video footage of the GOP Candidates challenging the Common Council on the state of the City’s finances.

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