The Hezitorial: The Plot that Faltered was the “No Plan Plan” By Hezi Aris

eHezi Archives 38 Comments

EHezi_Hezitorial 1051 Yonkers Avenue.

Words have for too long been eviscerated by the lack of follow through by those who would espouse their promise. The deeds that were required to satisfy the inference of their utterance were not to be. That was the case regarding a parcel of land once operated as a Mobil gasoline station. The property upon which the gasoline station stood is 1051 Yonkers Avenue. The “plot," suggested to be a plan by Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone was first espoused by him approximately five years ago. The “no plan plan” had him request the Yonkers City Council approve his request to wrestle control of the property from the owner by insinuating a declaration of eminent domain

Mayor Amicone’s spin was eloquent in its telling. Mayor Amicone dazzled Yonkersites with his “vision” whereby southeast Yonkers would  rid itself  of a “long abandoned eyesore for a much needed parking lot.” The parking lot would permit the community at large, Tambolino Ristorante’s patrons, found dining diagonally across the street, and even General Podiatrist  Ronald Volino, whose practice abuts the property purposeful development by transformation of his vision. Long known to be a rubber stamp to Mayor Amicone, the Yonkers City Council found merit in Mayor Amicone’s request to take the property for the public good by the statute of eminent domain. The “no plan plan” promised to build 50 parking places on the property. The proposed parking lot was to be operated by the Yonkers Parking Authority.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with these proposals,” remarked then Hyatt Neighborhood Association President Dennis Shepherd. “The area has needed parking for a long time and this is the best possible place to put it, getting rid of this run down lot at the same time.”

On Monday, February 7, 2011, now Yonkers City Councilman Dennis Shepherd, representing the 4th District within which the property is located, called for a Special Committee Meeting for the following day, Tuesday, February 8, 2011, at which he would come to propose that the declaration of eminent domain be lifted from further encumbering the owner, Mr Arora, from developing the property as he saw fit, albeit within city zoning and other parameters.

Councilman Shepherd stipulated the City of Yonkers (CoY) did not possess the financial wherewithal to build the $2 million plus cost of the parking lot proposed; that it further did not have the funds to purchase the property under eminent domain at fair market value; nor could CoY continue to stymie Mr Arora from developing the property.

Dr Volino’s son, Mr Volino, was offended that he was only given 24 hours notice of the Special Committee Meeting called by Councilman Shepherd, as was Larry Wilson,  who  claimed the Yonkers City Council had given the Hyatt Neighborhood Association assurances that would not allow for the property to revert to development by Mr Arora, whom it was claimed the community did not trust. A likely bigoted euphemism for the fact that Mr Arora is of Indian descent and clings to Sikh religious tenets. 

This reporter was taken aback by the tongue thrashing directed by both Volino and Wilson toward Yonkers City Council Minority Leader John Murtagh and Councilman Shepherd. Mr Volino claimed Councilman Shepherd as president of the Hyatt Neighborhood Association had agreed to champion the parking lot and had  now reneged. Mr Volino could be seen seething with such anger toward the two Yonkers City Councilmen that he stormed out of the Yonkers City Council Conference Room.

Mr Wilson, a landscaper and friend of Mayor Amicone, was aghast at the 24 hour advance notice given and claimed it was insufficient. A point, when it concerned other issues he flippantly dismissed as not worthy of his attention. Like what you ask? Like the fact that the Charter Revision Commission asked for notice to be made 24 hours after it had occurred. Now that was illegal. 24 hour advance notice falls into the permitted time frame. Mr Wilson claimed the action of the Special Committee Meeting was like having the Yonkers City Council pull the rug from right under the communities’ feet. 

The Special Committee Meeting’s purpose was to rescind eminent domain status by placing the issue before the Yonkers City Council that night by  reverting the status of the property to be devoid of the threat of eminent domain.

Minority Leader Murtagh pointed out that by not including the funds to purchase the property at fair market value under eminent domain in the Capital Improvement Plain (CIP) over the last three years, and with respect of the precarious financial circumstances  challenging CoY, it was prudent to rid the property of the threat of eminent domain.

Yonkers City Councilwoman Joan Gronowski was suspicious of the need to quickly have this five year old project require action that night. She wanted a directive from Yonkers City Hall, that is, for Mayor Amicone himself to rescind the eminent domain statute from the property by written request of the Yonkers City Council. Acid-tongued bloggers advise that by the following day or two, Mayor Amicone did in fact issue a sentence or two statement  asking the Yonkers City Council to retract the eminent domain status from the property.

Councilwoman Gronowski further wanted to know what other small parcels of property had language that would cause them to languish under the cloud of eminent domain language and if such status, once declared, continued in perpetuity. Yonkers Corporation Counsel Mark Blanchard, quick to respond, pulled a rabbit from his derriere and claimed he did not know but directed the Yonkers City Council to foil for such concerns.

Eminent domain status does not exonerate or relieve the land owner from paying their taxes. Mr Arora was up to date in making payment on his taxes with regard to this property. Five years worth of paying taxes and absolutely no control over his investment. Priceless.

When Mr Volino was still attending the meeting he insinuated Mr Arora’s lawyer was Jim Castro-Blanco. Mr Castro-Blanco asserted he did not represent Mr Arora but was a friend. Acid-tongued bloggers have learned that it is Mrs Castro-Blanco who represents Mr Arora with regard to the 1051 Yonkers Avenue property now. At one time Andrew Balint represented Mr Arora's interest in this regard.

Ms Gronowski’s question was the most pertinent and  pithy, that is, what has changed over the past five years?

The answer not heard at the Special Committee Meeting is nothing changed.

Mayor Amicone had no plan for the property to which he strong-armed a submissive Yonkers City Council to agree to adopt eminent domain status on a property for which the “Friends and Family network” could exact blood from an outsider who they relegated to be less worthy than they despite the equal opportunity America affords everyone to invest and build and develop property for which they have purchased and for which taxes are paid. CoY never had any money set aside to develop this property as described in Mayor Amicone’s “vision.” There was no plan to grow or receive funding to develop this property by CoY. Further, no money was every allocated in any of the CIP budgets for five years; of which two years were squandered by City Hall by their not knowing what to do, and also by their not acknowledging the property for development consideration over the last three years.

Did Mr Arora put his foot down? Did he point out that he could and/or would sue for financial remedy and personal anguish over his property at their hand?

Yonkersites will not likely be afforded an answer. 

In juxtaposition to the plight suffered by Mr Arora, Mr Cipriani who now operates a larger facility  than his father originally bought for him was afforded a sweet deal so that the original King Fence property could be used to build a ramp onto the Ridge Hill Property and a larger property would permit King Fence to expand. All facilitated by the “Friend and Family Network"  working out of Yonkers City Hall. Acid-tongued bloggers have been advised that the present King Fence property is allegedly planned to be purchased by CoY for the purpose of building the Yonkers Firehouse stipulated to serve the Ridge Hill community’s retail and commercial properties. This is to be accomplished at costs for the property to allegedly exceed well over $1 million. 

Perhaps Yonkersites will wonder from whose derriere the funds will be excreted? 

Will the taxpayer squawk? Perhaps it will be easier to buy a felafel sandwich in Tahrir Square before we will know.

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eHeziThe Hezitorial: The Plot that Faltered was the “No Plan Plan” By Hezi Aris

Comments 38

  1. Mr. Shepherd has been MIA/AWOL since he took office. His sec’y is a mental incompetent who has her job because she worked for the Shepherd campaign-another example of the rotten political patronage system within Yonkers. Mr. Shepherd is just a front man for the mayor.

  2. let the city councilmembers who voted for this resolution in the first place figure out how to extricate themselves. mcdow and gronowski didn’t vote for it when passed several years ago due to the potential for eminent domain. at the meeting to discuss this issue last week, gronowski slammed the city for its liberal use of the ED language in ALL of its property acquisition legislation – noting that they didn’t seem to put it into play when the Milio properties were in the picture. She noted they were going to swap the properties – our school 6 and Longfellow properties – for his properties which were needed for roadway expansion along Ashburton Ave. She noted that this was a true case for ED, if ever there were one, but the city didn’t put that cloud over Milio’s head like they did for this gas station owner. she also faulted the city for failing to impose sanctions upon this owner for failing to clean upo his act, so to speak, with respect to a blighted property. But it is still no reason to have threatened condemnnation. If a blighted building were all it took, his house would be the first to go.

  3. Thank you “Big Mistake”
    You just confirmed what we all knew. Tubiolo will be supporting Mike Spano for Mayor. ” i will be helping mike spano become mayor of this city. working along side the likes of dahli and some other people really made me realize that i was on the wrong side. as justin goes so do his “young troops” see ya”
    At least we know from someone on the inside that when Justin gives lip service to Martinelli, he is just hedging his bets and sending resources to Mike Spano.
    Tatalia is a pimp. It was Barzini all along.

  4. pretty funny that some on this site keep talking about tubialo and spano as well as the young troops and mclaughlin all being together. i worked for mike romandelli only because justin asked me to. that was against mike spano. but guess what i think justin made a mistake and i will be helping mike spano become mayor of this city. working along side the likes of dahli and some other people really made me realize that i was on the wrong side. as justin goes so do his “young troops” see ya

  5. Dr Volino complained that by adding a convenience store in addition to the 24 hr service station-the opening & closing of car doors would keep the poor doctor awake at nite-the fact of the matter was that before it closed it was opened 24/7 and there has been a gas station at 1051 Yonkers Ave from at least 1950 and possibly before and where the Wachovia bank is located was a Sunoco gas station in the early 50’s and 60’s. In the 50’s and 60’s where Walgreens is located used to be about 4-5 commercial store one of which was a lunchonette where I used to get a egg cream and apple turnover.

  6. I bet any amount that Yonkers Resident is Larry or Volino! This is a Yonkers Special that self imploded. Great. And anon above is right, it’s a commercial street, with that horrible Walgreens across the road and the other gas station. Now who owns that other gas station and are they afraid of a little competition?
    Either way I do hope this owner sues the City and it’s the Mayor and those who voted for eminent domain that should be held personally liable. But it’s the taxpayer picking up the tab.
    Yonkers is a disgraceful place run by idiots and they are kept there by the idiots that vote them in.

  7. Let me get this straight. You people want to blame an owner of a property for letting it get run down yet still pay taxes, AFTER the city has put them in a position were they are not allowed to do anything with it? Receive approximately 10 cents for every dollar the property is worth ( If it was worth a Million the city might offer them One hundred thousand, Condemnation pricing and then claim it is “fair market value”) If they want more they have to hire a lawyer and go to court. They can Not sell can Not build can Not rent it. The same as the whole downtown!! Blame the clown blame the city council! No national chain will sign a lease if the area has even been threatened by condemnation Amiclown has destroyed this city!!!!!

  8. Didnt he want to open a convenience store within the gas station? Most gas stations have them, where you can buy milk, etc. What’s so terrible about that. There are two diners within walking distance open 24 hrs, big deal. It’s on a commercial street.

  9. The only one who caused the property to become run down was the owner himself. He originally wanted to build a giant 24 hour convenience store which would have been terrible for the neighborhood. Amicone committed himself to developing it into a parking lot and failed to follow through on it.
    He should not have started the process without a plan to see it through. Amicone, Shepherd, and Murtagh bungled this issue and once again the community gets screwed.
    Everyone should stop playing the violin for this owner. He ran his operation on McLean Avenue illegally and ran this property into the ground. He has shown no concern for the neighborhood.

  10. Same BS complaints from the very ones who caused the property to have “litter and weeds all over it for years.” If this guy had been allowed to build it wouldn’t have looked like this. The same crowd blocked his attempts to develop it after he purchased it and then conned the city in to taking it. At least the owner paid taxes. What tdo they expect him to do? Turn it in to a park?
    Please get real. Other big owners connected to City Hall got money to build. This poor guy paid taxes and waited while the city turned the screws>
    Good for him. The little guy finally wins one over the connected paisanos.

  11. Well complain to the city, Boo hoo hoo!. Let’s see how many “violations” on the property. The City has forced this “blight”. If it was Cappelli, Ratner, Collins etc. they trip over themselves to help them. If it’s a little business owner, your either on the “friends and family” list or your not.
    I hope this owner sues the City for seizing his property and not allowing him to develop it. The community in this area deserve this as they thought they could do the deal, behind closed doors. Shepherd is laughable, then again he took over from Lame, who did nothing for that area either. It always looks like shit when one drives through it.

  12. The community does not trust the owner of this property because he operated his business on McLean Avenue illegally for years and has not cared for his property on Yonkers Avenue which has had litter and weeds all over it for years. It is such a farce how this whole situation has been handled by the City and the Council.

  13. Some interesting points about this story:
    Where do they get off spending $2 million dollars on a parking lot when they don’t have a dime for anything else?
    We don’t need another fire house, and if were building one we need to tear down the one on saw mill river road. We don’t need one single more fire fighter. Not one.
    All of these people deserve each other for the whores that they are. Such a joke

  14. Amicone, Shepherd, and Murtagh failed the community on this issue. Shepherd’s claim to fame was that he was Hyatt Association President. He and Murtagh have abandoned and turned against the Hyatt Association to support an owner that has no regard for the community.

  15. The Tubiolo crowd? Tubiolos, Volinos, Wilson, several Spanos, McLaughlin,and the little boy troop. Also, anyone he can convince that he will be “loyal” which is something he can never be to anyone except the blessed St. Nick.

  16. Hez,
    Good piece as usual, but the $2 million for the fire house land acquisition was deleted by the City Council from the current Capital Improvement budget. But maybe it will be included in next year’s CIP budget ???
    Arch Stanton

  17. Volino is still pissed that Shepherd kicked his ass 2 years ago. Justin Tubiolo and his merry band are also behind this latest attack on Shepherd and Murtagh. The Tubiolo crowd (all Spano folks) want Martinelli so they can hedge their bets in case little Mikey doesn’t pan out.

  18. Amazing
    they’ve been doing the same thing all over the city for the last decade. the downtown plan is the same no plan.
    one solution would be to declare eminent domain on city hall as a benefit for the public good.

  19. Ron Volino is not a dentist, he’s a podiatrist. Does his son still work in City Hall, Corp Counsel Office? The property owner should sue the city for all the money he’s lost during this fiasco.

  20. These clowns have had the downtown condemned for ten years now with no end in sight. Nobody can build, sell, rent or improve there property’s. The clown and his cronies should all be in jail. Were are the FED’s?????? They seem to look with closed eyes!! Joan please help. Sorry to see you go, Good luck on all of your future endeavors. The world need more people like you.

  21. H.L. Mencken said it best. “People get the government they deserve and they deserve it good and hard.” How could the people of the 4th dist. send this fool Sheperd to represent them? The man is a buffoon.

  22. 1. She uses her maiden name.
    2. They live together with their children
    3. He does not practice law outside the County Attorney’s office.
    4. Check your facts before you make baseless accusations.
    5. Try asking who would profit from the parking lot being built for a cost that would raise yonkers taxes by 1%.
    Answer – the same greeedy @**holes who wanted it in the first place and couldn’t buy it for themselver.
    THey really put their “foot” in it.

  23. for the heck of it just googled “yonkers lawyer edith…” and came up with the name Edith Coughlin. Probably uses her maiden name.

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