Thursday, February 6, 2014


Welcome to Everything Croton, a collection of all things Croton--our history, our homes, our issues, our businesses, our schools--in short, EVERYTHING CROTON.

The 2/6/14 edition of THE GAZETTE is out.  On page 2, and reprinted below with permission, is an important letter on the former Metro Enviro waste transfer site from Roseanne Schuyler. Please note that the legal documents referred to in the letter have been placed online for you to read at 

Residents should also know that on 1/20/14, I submitted to the village a freedom of information request for these documents. No response was received within the statutory required time-frame of five days--or any response for that matter. The documents are however,  public, and were obtained instead in White Plains.

UPDATED 2/21/14 AFTER NUMEROUS EMAILS, the village finally sent me these documents. Of course we already had them.

To the Editor: 

Did you know that the village was being sued for $25 million? If not, you’re not alone. 

The agenda for the Village Board’s January 21, 2014 meeting (which took place on January 22) included a resolution authorizing the Village Manager to sign a retainer agreement with the law firm of Arnold & Porter “for legal services related to a claim against the village pertaining to 1A Croton Point Avenue.”  The resolution passed unanimously after very little discussion.  In fact, the sum total of the conversation that night was as follows: 

Mayor Wiegman: This is more or less a preventative measure.

Trustee Gallelli: This is in response to an action I believe that Greentree has taken to pursue something…to pursue their opposition to the court decision and in the event that we need representation in that, we would be looking to have our previous representative who was knowledgeable about it be that person.

Mayor Wiegman: Correct.  In other words, the dormant case may become undormant but we don’t know so therefore we’re preparing.  Any further discussion?  

Later in the meeting, a resident asked the board to elaborate on the statement in the resolution that a “claim” had been made against the village.  The board deferred to the village attorney whose answer, while lengthy, provided no information in response to the resident’s question. 

Unfortunately, the answer that apparently no one wanted to provide that evening is that last November (just after election day), the village was served with a petition and complaint by Greentree Realty, LLC, the current owner of 1A Croton Point Avenue, which seeks (among other things) a declaration that Greentree may operate a construction and demolition debris waste transfer station as of right (rather than pursuant to a special permit) at that location, and also demands damages from the village in the amount of 25 million dollars plus interest.  The village has known that this was coming since July 2013, when Greentree was granted the right to serve the complaint in a decision by Judge Francis Nicolai, who presided over much of the village’s prior litigation concerning the site. 

In light of this, the comments made by Mayor Wiegman and Trustee Gallelli at the January 22 meeting are certainly as less than forthcoming.  It is no surprise either that when questioned by a resident, the board was similarly less than forthcoming with any information concerning this matter, which is undoubtedly a significant community concern.  Similarly, at the August 5, 2013 meeting, a local business owner was mocked by a sitting trustee for his comments concerning his belief that an important development concerning 1A Croton Point Avenue was imminent.  At the time, the village administration had known of Judge Nicolai’s decision for approximately two weeks.   

What could possibly excuse, therefore, a trustee who repeatedly interrupted the speaker to demand that he provide information so that the board could “protect the village,” and then sarcastically dismissed his comments by suggesting he did not know what he was talking about?

The Village Board’s secrecy on this subject is cause for multiple concerns: why would the board attempt, over the course of months, to keep this information from the public by refusing to provide answers to questions and affirmatively making statements apparently meant to deceive?  Further, given that the current village administration is led by elected officials who have previously taken positions in favor of collaboration and cooperation with the site’s owners, what does this smoke screen say about their current litigation strategy?  Retaining a legal powerhouse like Arnold & Porter is a step in the right direction, but not if the objective is only to seek a settlement that would once again allow the site to operate as a C&D transfer station, complete with the attendant environmental and health concerns and history of legal violations which were previously documented by local activists, by the federal monitor assigned to oversee the site and by the village in its own legal briefs.  It is also worth noting that a village that welcomes hundreds of trucks packed with dangerous C&D waste rumbling through its streets daily, past the schools, parks and ball fields where our children will be breathing in the fumes and the dust is completely antithetical to the green “village in a park” vision of Croton articulated by the current administration. 

Rather than offering sidestepping and deception, this village administration should deal openly and honestly with village residents about both its position on this lawsuit and about the potential dangers – to our health, to our environment and to the future of Croton -- of a C&D waste transfer facility operating here in the village.  The administration should take heed that in the past, when asked to weigh in on the issue, village residents chose to elect leaders who took positions strongly against permitting such an operation within the village.

Transparency should not be a luxury when the stakes are so high.

Roseann Schuyler

Editor's note: this is not the first time that the village has refused to share public information with...the public. Read more about that and open government issues at the League for Open Government in Croton's FB page

UPDATED 9/15/14

1 comment:

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