The Rest of the Story Hezitorial
MOUNT VERNON, NY — August 2, 2019 — Were one suffering from dementia or worse still unaware of the proposed 1,800 apartments, film studio, and charter school to be located near the Mount Vernon West Metro North Train Station, one would be drooling simply at hearing about the Walison Development LLC project presented before the Mount Vernon Industrial Development Agency (IDA) on Tuesday, July 30th. The Walison Development LLC proposal asserts its initial project is intentioned to initially build 249 apartments. Walison Development promises 60,000 additional apartment over the next 10 years.
Before I was drooling; I came to realize I was now salivating. Uncontrollably. But, hold on a minute! Why the rush? it seems all segments of the project are not in place, yet the proposal, urgently demanded by Walison Development needs signatures on the dotted line post haste. Hmm. One has to wonder, how could this be. Why so? is there an oversight?
We only learned a few hours back that former Mayor Richard Thomas has relinquished the office of mayor at his own volition. Thomas’ Floridian legal counsel stood alongside Thomas when he admitted to the judge that he was guilty to misdemeanors, which the judge recognized, as did Thomas, and even his legal counsel. They all knew that Thomas could not maintain a hold on the office of mayor. What he should have done, but did not, was request that the judge accept his guilty plea yet beseech the court to permit him to return on September 30th to abide by the court decision at which time he would conform to his guilt by relinquishing the office of mayor. By not requesting the allowance of the court, Thomas lost his case because he was legally dismissed and could not hold on to the office of mayor. He cleared out his belongs never to return.
But there is an issue, well not really. Thomas was also the Mount Vernon IDA (MVIDA) Chairman. By having pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, it was logical and legal to expunge decisions previously made under what has been described by people with knowledge was pushed through without transparency, by unsubstantiated statements, and circumstances not fully explained when presented at previous MVIDA meetings.
It seems that the property owner has divulged that Walison Development no longer has a valid contractual agreement to purchase the land intended for development by Walison. Further still, the MVIDA may no longer have the authority to move ahead in any fashion with the proposed project.
But there are problems before anything moves forward. The property owner says the developer no longer has a contract to buy the land. And the Mount Vernon Industrial Development Agency as it is currently constituted may not have the authority to do anything with the project.
Jim Coleman, former Industrial Development Agency of Westchester Executive Director appointed by former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, presently cloaked as Walison Executive Vice President throws some red meat into the equation by suggesting that the “need for housing is at a peak right now.” Upon hearing this lucid concept, I hope you understand that it is in reality not lucid. if it were so compelling one would surmise that Walison would have moved heaven and earth to sign a contract for the land they had intended to develop, But whoa’s me, now they cannot? Attempting to agree to giving Walison an agreement now is pointless and worse, it would likely become a litigious battle that would hold the property intended to be built upon in abeyance for years to come, but when it is resolved, the the “need for housing” will have peaked and waned to the detriment of Mount Vernon. What was Thomas thinking, or was he smiling, then again, it doesn’t matter because the gig is up. He is out and the prospect for Walison beginning to build in Mount Vernon as they proposed will not commence in August of 2019!
But Coleman would not stop. He now advised 600 jobs would be created, and further still, it would engender an infusion of $715 million in economic stimulus to Mount Vernon. Get real. Where is the proof? They don”t even have a contractual agreement to purchase the property they intend to build upon. That being the case, one must wonder on what will they build? Is this a concept that is floating in the vision of deluded minds? Where do they begin? Do they even have the capacity to invest in purchasing the property upon which they had intention to build yet have no capacity to consummate such a deal now. Do they have the financial wherewithal to ascribe their name to an agreement? if they do have the capacity, why did they permit their contractual agreement for the property to expire in April 2019? It seems as though this plan is a vision that has been uncovered as a mirage.
Mayor André Wallace has rightly noted that any conduct by Thomas on or after July 8, 2019, is thereby null and void and any agreement with Walison will gain no further attention from the Wallace Administration because Walison doesn’t even possess a contractual agreement to purchase the land upon which they claimed they would build.
The Journal News quotes Walison CEO Sabah Rajput in an e-mail correspondence: “We are open and prepared to work with everyone to make this historic and transformative project a success and a valuable asset for the city and its residents.” Still no prospect for a solution to the purchase of the said property! This is seemingly getting sillier and sillier as we delve further into this rise of a pipedream.
The Journal News states that “Walison is looking to the IDA for $124 million in bond financing, a sales-tax exemption of $9 million and a waiving of the $2.7 million mortgage tax. It proposes a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, agreement of 15 years. The exact amount of the annual payment has not been determined.”
Mount Vernonites must recognize that the MVIDA’s financial capacity has dwindled from over $4 million to a paltry $100,000. Where is the money?
It seems even the Journal News recognizes Walison has nothing.
What the Journal News has yet to decipher is that the rush to consummate the deal is intended to maintain former County Executive Rob Astorino’s cronies employed on Mount Vernonites taxpayer’s back. On top of that, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo will not finance a project that will employ Republicans who no longer have any sway in Mount Vernon. Westchester County Executive George Latimer will not spend Westchester County taxpayer funds to support a scheme to employe Astorino has-beens either.
That my dear readers is the rest of the story that you need to know to appreciate the underhanded schemes intended to fool those who may be unaware. Breathe a sigh of relief, because you and I will together always know the rest of the story, no matter how complex.
If you know something, please share your concerns in confidence with Hezi Aris, Publisher / Editor-at-Large of the Mount Vernon Tribune (https://MountVernonTribune.com), and Westchester On the Level Radio Host. Direct email to Hezi Aris: eHezi@hush.com .