No matter the administration, it is we, Yonkersites, who have permitted ourselves to be toyed with by words devoid of meaning. The very words spoken by the masters we elected to serve us, who we belatedly recognized were effective in their expression, but were in reality deflective of the meaning of the words used and the sentiment expressed. They were expressions meant to placate our sensibilities, to calm our nerves, exhaust our passion for deductive and righteous concerns.
You have all heard the “words”. Some words will give rise to anger in some, defeat among others. We are a divided city despite how desperately we yearn to cleave onto one another with ever growing intensity. While the familiarity among our city folk has been nurtured over centuries, we lust for leadership that will collectively extricate us from the wounds we suffered over those many centuries and economic and financial displacements and transitions.
These very words will exact a derisive condescending attack from those who believe differently. They do not comprehend why they adhere to one facet of an issue or another, best referred to as the political divide. They have subconsciously decided to be part of one “clan” or “power base” over another; always in the hope of salvation of one sort or another. They cling to false gods who profess leadership by claiming to strive toward those goals, yet they do not have a plan by which all societies have proven is the only mechanism for change. They hope for money, but for themselves, begrudging all others in dividing the American pie of opportunity.
The Moses they seek has yet to arrive. Then again, he/she may be amongst us. If so, he/she has not stood up to reveal the road upon which Yonkersites hope to travel upon toward achieving their inalienable rights. We have yet to hear from them over what they have done or intend to do that would infuse the lofty words that lack the gravitas expected of them by their very expression. Too often no expression is now given, and when it is, it is not a consummate perspective, deficient as it is of the historical perspective, and also devoid of responsibility by anyone. Furthermore, expression of purpose and venue is for too few; it is selective a selective process. Who will gain and who will be denied. The People are the first to be dismissed.
All who have watched the flight of the Jews from Egypt who upon reaching the Red Sea, revealing no exit into the Promised Land will remember the Hollywood movie in which the famous actor Charlton Heston, the lead protagonist, Moses, is asked by Joshua to stand at the highest point along the water’s edge to give The People “hope” of escaping the Egyptian chariots when the waters were parted to ease their destiny from slavery and subjugation to freedom. And so it is recorded that Moses did just that. Juxtaposed to wisdom gleaned from that very old Book, accepted by many of the greatest religions in the world for its integrity and expression and revealing of human behavior and response, is instead juxtaposed by standards exacted in Yonkers. Alas, governance in Yonkers has failed to win accolades among its peers, in fact, if anything, Yonkers is too often dismissed, ridiculed, and diminished by those we expect to have our interest at heart. Even so they do not come to our defense,
Then again, if we do not care for one another, permitting irrational divisions to become greater and deeper among us, why should we expect an outsider to care more about us than we care about ourselves? No matter the catalyst that brought us to this point, there is remedy to many concerns. Each in their own time; each within the confines of budgetary constraints. Yet none of our concerns for the viability of the City of Yonkers, were that to indeed be the concern of the majority of Yonkersites, including those elected to govern the City of Gracious Living, could be accomplished.
It will require planning based on the premise of delivering what is best for the City of Yonkers, as opposed to the interests of one interest group, or family and friends network. I hear the grumbling already… this guy must be delusional; perhaps so, but may I suggest only a wee bit!
While there are few who will walk the path as have Mother Theresa, or Pope John Paul II, among others highly admired and respected, in our world, that of the City of Yonkers, we can do better, striving for greater excellence from each of us. Let’s look at some of the concerns to which we obliquely refer.
The Target development at Austin Avenue, for example, has itself been quietly shepherded from its very conception to its present, for all intent and purposes, a done deal. The project is indicative of the deceit of five Yonkers City Council Districts at the hands of the 6th District. Complicit with this camouflaged economic development project is the lack of open and transparent attention on the project. instead of being transparent, it is hidden from the rest of the city as if to suggest that the 6th Council District is autonomous in its conduct.
For many years, a leader, let’s call him a demi-god, has shepherded the project forward with suggestions that because Westchester County is the owner of some of the land needed to complete the project, as envisioned and lobbied by Target, the project could not proceed. Locals repeat they have been assured that as long as Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is County Executive, the parcel under Westchester County control would not be ceded into the larger acreage required. Yet the words seem hollow. That is because the project has moved along stealthily with words of reassurance and the asking of community members to trust in a process that would protect them. The protection of property values of homes that abut the Westchester County acreage is slated to become one with the larger landmass across the street. A wall to separate the homeowner’s properties would be built high enough to introduce shade where there was once sunlight. Property values would plummet.
Then there is the old con game of having one set of traffic experts defining the eventual impact traffic patterns would exacerbate or not. None of these experts gird their telling with provable and scientific studies. Their only intent is to seemingly defend their number crunching schemes so as adhere to the agenda set for them by their “masters” as the necessary outcome for their clients, thereby defending their $150,000 to $250,000 consultation fees.
The greatest fear is the reduction of the homeowner’s real estate valuations, the impact of traffic patterns, and its resultant pollution, among other concerns.
Target wants a one-story property with parking adjacent to the store itself. That design would cause a need for the property owned by Westchester County to be used as a parking lot to support the retail store across the street, embellished with the onerous dividing wall that would abut the homeowners’ properties. In all these years, being on one side of the equation or another, not another thought had been given to the manner by which this project should move forward. Mind you, the march forward has been and continues to remain the antithesis of what is good for the local community while mindful of the community at large.
How could this be a viable project and still be inclusive of the local community and still satisfy Target, the developer / investor, Yonkersites, and the City of Yonkers?
Let’s start with Target. Let them build the sq. footage they desire on the Austin Avenue property. On top of the main floor, build parking space to accommodate as many vehicles as they deem appropriate, perhaps a second, third, even fourth floor for parking. This concept would mitigate the use of the Westchester owned property which may be considered for private homes to be developed on them, expunging a need for a dividing wall, and saving the property values central to many concerns… that basic of all ingredients, money.
The parking spaces that would be built over the ground floor retail level would keep the Target clientele on the property, would not cause the need for a traffic light and the likely loss of life in crossing the straightaway, known to be often used as a speedway. This concept may cost Target more that the cheaper way to go. I say, this way or the highway. Target can afford to spend a little more and to be a “good neighbor” rather than one that discards those found to be in their way. It is after all, though City Hall is quick to forget, that Target has chosen Yonkers for its location. City Hall had best also create a rational, contractual agreement that serves the City of Yonkers rather that giving the store away. This should be part of the public record, not hidden from the public eye as have so many others failed, and as has been noted, even corrupt operations.
The reason we are where we are today on this issue, as among others similar to this or those that are defined differently is simply stated, or the undoing by Yonkersites. Yonkersites do not demand governance inclusive of their interests as voters, taxpayers, and residents. If not for Yonkersites, what is the point of government?
Is this the only solution? Likely not. It is however leaning toward a better result for all interested parties.
When will the experts be found that inculcate the needs of the citizenry over those in elected office? Those false gods do nothing but retreat from their sworn responsibilities to serve the public interest. Betraying the very people who voted for them and believing in their word.
How do we make corrections? Speak up. Media can’t do it alone. If you have something to say, please say it.
A wise sage and scholar by the name of Hillel the Elder said, “”If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?”
A similar issue to this had been the quiet challenge against the City of New York by Yonkers City Council’s 4th District in challenging a homeless shelter to be built only a block from the Yonkers / Bronx city lines that is believed will create hardship on a vibrant community along McLean Avenue. The 4th District lost that one. Abetting and directing the political silence was the Hyatt Neighborhood Association who directed this calamity onto a city unaware of its likely outcome or hardship on the City of Yonkers in additional police costs. Not a word from the community when it began, during, or after. Silence is the ingredient to our own subterfuge. We fail in challenging such assaults by permitting self-interest to eclipse, that which serves the City of Yonkers best. Yonkersites fail by their very silence.
Time’s a wastin’. What do you think? What do you want? How will it serve your community, as well as the community at large? Will people most concerned about this outcome attend this Wednesday’s Planninb Board meting, June 11, 2014, @ 5:30 p.m.?
There are other such grave concerns similar to these. We’ll be visiting them in the coming weeks. Direct email to the editor: WHYTeditor@gmail.com with your ideas.