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Vol. 13/Number 11

March 15, 2013

2 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • March 15, 2013

March 15, 2013 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • 3

School budget proposes 28 staffing cuts By CHRISTIAN FALCONE ASSOCIATE EDITOR

In order to comply with a state-mandated tax levy cap, Rye schools administrators said they were forced to propose the most widespread staffing cut in Rye school history. As of this month, approximately 28 positions would be eliminated under the proposed 20132014 budget. “Certainly nothing like this has happened in the district in the last 20 years,” said Board of Education President Laura Slack, adding that she wasn’t sure if the city school district had ever undertaken cuts of such magnitude. The hope is that the cuts won’t lead to 28 less employees, as administrators—particularly new School Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez—were able to identify cost savings by locating opportunities for program efficiencies and administrative restructuring. The administration was expected to detail the exact number of positions in jeopardy on March 19. Retirement incentives will be offered in hopes that some of the cuts could be made through attrition. The goal of the administration in formulating a tentative budget was to find cuts that remain separate from educational programs. Slack said the cuts wont affect students’ day-to-day lives within the school system. On Feb. 12, Alvarez presented his 2013-2014 budget proposal outlining a preliminary plan to reduce an undetermined amount of staffing in an effort to save $2.3 million. The administration has responded with a plan to synchronize the three elementary schools’ schedules as well as the high school and middle school schedules. In the elementary schools, which are projected to see a decrease in total enrollment of 21 students, administrators have proposed $650,000 in savings, and the elimination of six positions. This is being accomplished by cutting two class sections. Three teaching aides, three special education staffers and two night custodians would also be eliminated. Superintendent Alvarez identified $457,000 in savings at the middle school by cutting three

staffing positions due to an expected drop off in enrollment totaling 34 students. He is also calling for the realignment of class periods to allow for the number of teaching assignments to be increased to five per day. The proposed school budget calls for $75.5 million in total spending—a $2 million increase over the current year’s budget. The tax levy increase is projected at 3.04 percent. Alvarez’s proposal does not call for impacts to programming or curriculum changes. Salaries in the 2013-2014 budget are projected to increase by $2 million to $42 million, making district staffing cuts necessary to offset the growth while maintaining tax cap compliance. Slack said the tax cap, in its second year of implementation, provides for a different budget process. “We are a small community and a small school district,” she said. “The cuts that will be made are going to be very different for the community as a whole. We care how faculty and staff are and how their lives are being affected.” Katy Keohane Glassberg, the school board’s vice president, said the district is left with no choice but to cut. She pointed to the growth of mandated pension and health care costs that continue to rise at a rate far outstripping the allowable increase under the tax cap. At the high school, five staff positions will be reduced as part of a plan that will save $439,000; two teaching assistant positions from the tutoring center and an employee from the high school clerk’s office will also be eliminated. The superintendent also plans to reduce several elective offerings based on low course enrollments. Cost savings were also found on the administrative side, the district’s grades six through twelve program and in special education, and the district’s academic intervention support program. The sports program will also face cuts to its modified program. The 2013-2014 budget only allows for funding for one modified team per sport; traditionally the district funds two teams per sport. A phone call to Assistant Superintendent of Business Kathleen Ryan was not returned as of press time.

Rye TV inquiry launched, questioned By CHRISTIAN FALCONE ASSOCIATE EDITOR

With the recent release of secret audio recordings seeming to corroborate claims of a coverup within Rye TV, the City Council chose to conduct interviews with the accused parties. Now some critics, including one city councilman, are questioning the legitimacy of the investigation. The City Council sat down with City Manager Scott Pickup and Nicole Levitsky, a Rye TV station manager, for a response to claims made against them over a year ago related to concealment of meeting footage, manipulating audio levels, availability of staff and lying to the public and elected officials. The separate interviews took place behind closed doors during a City Council executive session on March 6. It was the first time that either city employee was asked to respond to the allegations— brought forward by Andrew Dapolite, a former Rye TV employee—since coming to light in February 2012. The explanations given by Pickup and Levitsky remain confidential, and the city’s elected officials refuse to divulge any information about the discussions. Councilwoman Catherine Parker, a Dem– ocrat, believes the issue is finally being addressed, and she said, in her view, the investi-

gation remains ongoing. However, Councilman Joe Sack, a Republican, didn’t believe what took place was a full investigation, calling it a farce and a second attempt at sweeping what he believes to be credible allegations under the rug. He criticized some of his colleagues for what he called softball questions during the interviews. “This time, with the pretense that a real investigation took place, the council is only making matters worse by continuing with a such a charade,” the councilman said. Sack and Parker had called for an investigation since Dapolite’s allegations first surfaced last year, but they were outnumbered by a GOP majority led by Mayor Douglas French, a rival of Sack’s. The majority instead chose to refer the matter to the Ethics Board, a body with no binding investigative authority. The Ethics Board halted its review without offering any conclusion or findings on the matter. The Rye TV controversy had mostly fallen out of the public consciousness until Councilman Richard Filippi, a Republican, publicly accused Dapolite of manipulating footage and shaking down the city for money. Dapolite said he decided to release the audio footage last month in an attempt to correct the record. RYE TV, continued on page 15

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PBA takes to the street over contract stalemate By CHRISTIAN FALCONE ASSOCIATE EDITOR

The year 2013 marks the fifth year the city’s police union has been without a new contract. The union and city are currently in arbitration awaiting a binding ruling. In the meantime, members of Rye’s largest labor union voiced their displeasure during an informational protest on Elm Place last weekend. On March 9, union leaders orchestrated the peaceful protest as a way to communicate to the public its difficulties in reaching an agreeable contract resolution with city officials. Union president Franco Compagnone said this was the first time in nearly 20 years that the police union took its displeasure to the streets. “Twenty years ago it was successful,” said Compagnone about the need to reach out to residents. “The average person doesn’t know what is going on.” The last contract between the city and PBA was nearly 10 years ago. That deal, which went into effect in 2004, expired at the end of 2008, leaving the police union to work under an expired contract ever since. That contract called for annual salary increases of roughly 3 percent with employees contributing 25 percent to their health care. After meeting on a dozen occasions since

late 2008, and three rounds of unsuccessful mediation, the two sides find themselves in a state-run arbitration hearing. The parties wait for an arbitrator’s binding ruling, which will provide contract terms for 2009 and 2010. In the meantime, the city and police must soon return to the bargaining table to begin negotiations on a contract for 2011 and beyond. Compagnone said the union is looking for a salary increase of 2.5 percent with the understanding that the slow recovery from the economic crisis still remains an issue for Rye budget writers. City officials say they have proposed wage increases in the range of 2 percent per year accomMembers of the Rye Police union greeted residents on Elm Place with informational literature on March 9 as part of a planned protest. The union has gone more than four years without a new contract. Photo/Leon Sculti

panied by increased employee contributions to health insurance and a more flexible step plan for new hires. The city is also looking for a less than fully retroactive pay agreement or the dozen officers who don’t contribute to their healthcare to begin doing so. Mayor Douglas French, a Republican, said the city, like all local governments, must find a way to manage increased retirement and health care costs, along with higher salaries, while working within a state-mandated 2 percent tax levy cap. The mayor pointed to the 36 percent increase in health care costs the city has absorbed since 2008, due to officers salaries being capped at 4 percent of gross salary. “We seek contracts not just for the police, but for all city employees that value their contributions and respect the need to limit the tax burden on Rye residents,” the mayor said. French points to deals struck recently with other city unions. The city’s administrative pay group, its upper tier department heads, and non-union employees received salary increases in the range of 2 percent dating back to 2009. The group had no salary increase in 2010. The most recent settlements with the city’s Department of Public Works covered 2010 and 2011, with a wage freeze for the first six months of the contract. The remaining life of the contract included 2 percent annual increases. The city’s clerical unit has a wage freeze in the first 30 months of its contract, with a 2 percent increase in the final six months. This agreement also increased the cap on the employees’ health insurance contribution to 5

percent of base pay. But the police union—unlike smaller city unions—has the power and ability to hire lawyers and gather statistics and information on what fair pay for police officers is, Compagnone said. “We said we would take 2.5 percent,” he said adding the city is offering wage freezes not increases. One of the major sticking points is contributions to health insurance. Compagnone said the city wants to raise the cap on contributions from 4 percent to 5 percent. The city also wants to usher in a new insurance carrier, Aetna; one the union president was told doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. “I can’t risk going to another policy knowing that members—potentially because of pre-existing conditions—won’t be covered,” he said. Union leaders also cite cuts to funding for training, the decrease in manpower and too much money being spent on the city’s labor attorney, Vincent Toomey, to handle labor negotiations. “They’ve spent $300,000 on their labor attorney where there is no agreement,” Compagnone said. The current patrol strength of the department stands at 34 officers. A new officer was recently hired, which will add to the number once she graduates from the police academy. However, that number is still decidedly down from a peak of 41 in the early 2000s. Compagnone said ideally he would like to see the city hire four more officers and cut back on what he called excessive overtime costs in recent years.

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Board of Education set for some reshuffling By CHRISTIAN FALCONE ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Kendal Egan, one of the long tenured members of the Board of Education will step down this year, though the board’s current vice president Katy Keohane Glassberg does plan to run again. Egan, 45, said it’s time to shift gears back into her career, her family and other opportunities on the advocacy front. “Six years is a good continuation of time and that followed many years of board committee work and two years as a PTO president,” said Egan, a two-term trustee. “There were a lot of successes.” First elected to the school board in 2007, Egan has been part of many of the district’s defining issues of the last two decades. These include resolving the controversial teacher contract after three years of divisiveness within the community, settling the outstanding Osborn Home litigation, being there for the construction of the long-awaited Milton School gymnasium, and more recent efforts such as the transition to a new school superintendent and high school principal. “Every problem, every issue was resolved,” the trustee said. “I think really it is the best volunteer job I ever had. You can see the impact even in our own children.”

Katy Keohane Glassberg

During the search for a new superintendent, she remembered jotting down “fit” on her notepad during Dr. Frank Alvarez’s interview. Alvarez was tapped last summer to replace Dr. Edward Shine. Egan, who still has two children in the school district, credits Alvarez with coming into a district faced with challenges from the onset, such as having to deal with expiring union contracts this summer and the need to cut significant

Kendall Egan

staffing to even outside influences. “Between Superstorm Sandy and Sandy Hook, there has not been a normal month yet in this school district,” she said. An issue that has become quite relevant in Rye, Egan felt that the Board of Education has become much more civilized in its public discourse in recent years, as the board underwent changes to its makeup. “There is a lot more collegiality,” she said.

Egan is in her second year as president of the Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association. And professionally, she is an associate publisher of a gluten-free living magazine. She doesn’t plan to ride off into the sunset, instead she said wants to stay involved on the public education advocacy front, adding that every interest group seems to have lobbyists except children. But today’s defining issue is one that Egan will now leave to her colleagues: The tax cap and growing state-mandated costs. The explosion of unfunded state mandated pension, retirement and health care costs— over which school districts and municipal governments have no say—has handcuffed the district’s ability to manage a budget while running a quality educational program. But Egan said even with those “really interesting legislative juggernauts” being thrown at the district, it has been able to increase its curricular offering, yet maintain prudent tax increases. She called the tax cap one of the most punitive things Albany has ever done to public education. “Our only method to dealing with a tax cap is take a good long look at everything and figure when you are going to cut programs,” she said. “It’s not a way to bolster public education, and TRUSTEES, continued on page 8

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Questions about the Rye Golf Club probe A RYE OLDTIMER 200 WILLIAM ST., PORT CHESTER, N.Y. 10573 • Tel: (914) 653-1000 Fax: (914) 653-5000 NEWS TIPS Unfortunately, our reporters cannot be everywhere. If you see news in the making or have an idea for a news story, call us. Community reporters and correspondence are listed at left.

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CONTRIBUTORS: Alexandra Bogdanovic, John Carey, Chris Gramuglia, Ashley Helms, Daniel Offner

Judge John Carey

The City Council’s Summary Report dated Feb. 27, 2013, while drafted by outsiders, has been presented to the public as coming from the council, which should therefore be prepared to answer questions about it, such as:

1) Why did Scott Yandrasevich not give a statement? The report says on page 3: “Mr. Yandrasevich, through counsel, indicated that he declined to participate in an interview.” Did you simply leave it up to him whether to cooperate? Had he been subpoenaed to give evidence? If so, he would have had to testify unless he swore under oath that truthful answers to questions asked would tend to incriminate him. If that is what happened, the public should be told. If that is not what happened, then what did happen? Did you just decide that his testimony was not important in view of all the other evidence available? Since none of the legal invoices mention the expense of a court reporter, there must not be any verbatim transcripts, only hand-written summaries, which would not be of much use at trial. 2) The legal bills show occasional contact with the District Attorney’s office. What level person made contact, and by what means? Public prosecutors need to be approached in an appropriate fashion, not casually, in order to persuade them to bring their limited resources to bear on a particular matter. The Brune & Richard invoice of Feb. 25 refers to “Rye District Attorney’s office,” suggesting DA contact at only a low level.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Rye Sound Shore Review c/o HomeTown Media Group, 200 William St., Port Chester, N.Y. 10573

3) Why has no contact been made with the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York? The local U.S. Attorney’s office is only a stone’s throw from the county courthouse where the DA is located. Each and every instance of deception by mail, phone, or email could have created federal jurisdiction under the U.S. Mail and Wire Fraud statutes.

The Rye Sound Shore Review (USPS 438660) is published weekly for an annual subscription of $30 by Home Town Media Group, 200 William St., Port Chester, N.Y. 10573. Periodicals postage paid at Port Chester, New York. Postmaster: send address changes to the Rye Sound Shore Review, 200 William St., Port Chester, N.Y. 10573.

4) Why were Vincent Toomey and Michael Tremonte engaged separately to draft charges and specifications against Scott Yandrasevich under Section 75 of the Civil Service Law? 5) Why did Brune & Richard have nine staff members assigned to the case and logging hours worked, as shown by the invoice dated Dec. 12, 2012. In that same invoice, why was it necessary, with all that personnel on the case, to hire “litigation support vendors” for $3,531? 6) How was it possible in that same invoice to incur subpoena fees of $482.80, and, three days later, an additional $3,531 of subpoena fees; what court issued the subpoenas? What was the fee per subpoena? Are there receipted bills to support the charges shown, like the Jan. 8 invoice’s five separate charges for subpoena fees? 7) Were the subpoenas issued under CPLR 1311-a? If so, does the council intend to proceed to forfeiture actions under CPLR 1311? How much insurance coverage does the city have against employee dishonesty? 8) While hiring law firms where you happen to know someone is one approach, was any thought given to seeking competitive bids, especially when one of the complaints about Yandrasevich is that he failed to get competitive bids for staffing services? 9) Was any effort made to reach agreement with any of the firms you hired, to set fixed prices for particular pieces of work, the way you might do in hiring a plumber or a teenager to shovel snow? 10) Can you not be more precise than just saying that, “over a six-year period, he used RM Staffing and its affiliated Studio Y to steal many hundreds of thousands of dollars from the City of Rye?” 11) Who is monitoring legal expenses for the benefit of Rye’s taxpayers? The bills referred to above, and any others, whether or not connected with the Golf Club problem, should be subjected to careful scrutiny by independent volunteer legal expense monitors. Monitors should have in-depth experience as corporate in-house general counsel, or as corporate executives responsible for controlling a company’s legal expense. Monitors should sit down with representatives of billing firms and go over their performance. Where called for, the amount of bills should be re-negotiated, together with the agreement under which the firm acted. In this case, no one on the City Council or staff seems to have the independence and experience to adequately monitor the accumulated legal bills. It is imperative that Rye refrain from hiring a firm at a certain hourly rate, and then turn the firm loose with no control over how many hours it can bill. That is an archaic system no longer tolerated by clients determined to protect themselves from run-away expenses, and responsible public officials must be aware that they can be held personally accountable for unjustified expenditure of public funds. Reach John Carey at

March 15, 2013 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • 7

L etters Manager should give golf club comment To the Editor, When we approach the voting booth during elections from year to year, we all vote on the ones that we trust. Our votes derive from various opinions that we ourselves form. We form these opinions based on our personal knowledge of the individual, their experience, their beliefs, their passion, their energy, and from all this we build our trust in this individual and cast our votes. I would personally like to apologize to all of you who trusted in me as I lobbied for change with the French ticket in 2009. I asked you to believe in me as I did them and cast your votes for the French ticket. I am extremely embarrassed by what has transpired from Jan. 1, 2010, to today’s date. I wholeheartedly believed this was the correct decision for Rye. I was wrong, and for that I now bow my head in embarrassment with the deepest of apologies. As so many of us do, I bleed Rye. We are many and we are strong. We will rise from these ashes and become a stronger Rye. This can only be done as we band together. We all must stand up, stand up now for Rye, for our children and for the future of Rye. We must put a stop to the extremely poor management from our top officials, the ones in whom we put our trust: The mayor, select council members, our police commissioner, our corporation counsel, and, without doubt, our city manager. This behavior, their behavior must end here and now. In the very least, no matter what role he played, and how he played that role, in the Rye Golf Club scam, our city manager must address Rye. He must make a public announcement and apology, and he must do it now. Whatever the consequences and level of guilt, Scott Pickup must act. “We work from an assumption of trust—that people that are here are honest and hardworking and have the best interests of the City of Rye at heart,” Scott Pickup said. “When somebody violates that shakes the core of the organization; it shakes us personally.” We? Yes we, we the Rye residents had our trust violated. It was not the core of the organization that was shaken, it was we, the Rye residents, our children, our future; that is what has been violated and shaken. Enough is enough. We all need to let our voices be heard, speak from your hearts, speak now. We are Rye and we are not some kind of organization. We are civilization. We are Rye. Jim Amico, Rye

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Marking the end of an era On a remote litter-filled block in Port Chester that is half residential and half industrial sits the headquarters of Home Town Media Group, the publisher of five community newsLUNGARIELLO papers including the one you are currently reading. AT LARGE The Home Town offices are in a factory-like brick building Mark Lungariello shared with numerous other tenants. Eight out of every 10 people who are buzzed into the front entrance are looking for a different office, employees say, despite various signs posted in the front over the years warning visitors the Home Town entrance is solely for Home Town. One of those signs had a picture of Mr. T on it, saying “I pity the fool.” The building reached legendary status in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when it was miraculously the only building in a six-block radius with power. That meant the company didn’t have to cease printing due to the storm. This bizarre fortress is seeing some change this month. Mark Lungariello, who has been editor-in-chief at the company since the week following the November 2009 elections, has announced he will be stepping down April 1, which happens to be one of his favorite days of the year. But the departure is no joke for Lungariello, who aside from guiding the editorial and graphics staff is also a brilliant columnist, a tough Words With Friends opponent and is viewed as one of the most handsome men in Westchester County. He took it upon himself to write this notice as one of his last columns at the company and did so in the third person, about which he feels quite icky, but still felt it was less bizarre than writing in the second person. Writing his own departure article should come as no surprise to those who know Lungariello: He threw himself his own 30th birthday party, at which his rock band, For the Hutch, performed. He figured fewer people would turn down the invitation to see the band if they felt guilty about his birthday. He also laughs at his own jokes, as insurance against a lack of laughter from others. Lungariello is today 33 and considers himself slightly balder, but no less an able dancer than he was when he took the job as editor. His successor will be Christian Falcone, who is Home Town’s senior reporter and associate editor of its Rye newspaper. Lungariello has been trying to convince Falcone to accept a terrible acrylic painting, which hangs on the editor’s office wall and which is the only painting Lungariello ever finished. It says “POW” in comic book letters and one person who viewed it called it a fitting first and last painting. Lungariello became editor after several years as a reporter covering Eastchester, Tuckahoe and Harrison for Home Town. Unlike his credit card debt, Lungariello took reporting the local

news quite seriously and tackled a number of high-profile stories. He was considered the go-to political reporter by his former editor, Lynda Wissing. Lungariello believed his interest in local politics came from his love of slapstick comedy and the Marx Brothers. When he became editor in 2009, after covering both local and countywide elections, Lungariello focused on the Home Town papers being the primary source in each community for local government and political coverage. In the Home Town offices, it was known as a five-day-a-week casual Friday, according to Paige Rentz, the Mamaroneck reporter who worked with Lungariello as editor until April 2011. “I felt OK wearing jeans and Converse to the office when my boss would be wearing a Ramones T-shirt under a button down shirt with combat boots,” Rentz said. Jason Chirevas, the current deputy editor of the company, was less impressed with Lungariello’s impeccable fashion sense - particularly his T-shirt choices. “I felt there was a rotation,” Chirevas said. “Like, I’ve seen the Indiana Jones shirt. I could have used a little more variety and less predictability.” On a serious note, Rentz said she believed that, over the last few years, Home Town was able to find its voice at a time when there were many local voices competing with one another and print journalism was going through a rough stretch. On a less serious note, Rentz, who is a now reporter for the Anniston Star in Alabama, said she remembers how, whenever she spoke using her hands and extended an upward palm within Lungariello’s reach, he had to “give her five.” It’s a bizarre tick that he cannot help and sometimes; when he is interviewing someone and they do it, it takes all of his considerable power to resist slapping his subject five when his or her hand is close to him. Chirevas notes that Lungariello is constantly playing with and twirling his hair, which he does so frequently that members of the ad department mimic him doing it as they walk by his open office door. There are other strange things Lungariello used to do, according to Dan Gabel, who served as assistant editor from 2009 until 2011. “He was obsessed with the neighborhood where the office is,” Gabel said. “He would document the arbitrary objects that would be on the sidewalk, be it a television set or a shoe.” Lungariello, who was a cigarette smoker, used to stand in front of the building and snap photos of some of the more ridiculous litter, such as an empty box of salmon, and post the pictures to a litter blog he created. He struggled to quit cigarettes for two years beginning in 2011, which was the same time he decided to enroll in graduate school (he plans to graduate in May). Rachel McCain, who served as deputy editor from 2011 until January of this year, said she wished Lungariello had kept smoking. “When he stopped smoking, he became very irritable,” she said, “More so.” Aside from his duties as editor, he continued his column, called “Lungariello at Large,” which first began in 2008, prior to his being named editor. He tried to be sarcastic and humorous about it with mixed results. Once, a Mamaroneck couple ended their subscription over the column, then said “We won’t miss you either!” But Lungariello, who sometimes has difficulty with his written transitions, will miss Home Town, its communities and all of the readers and people he’s interacted with over the last three years. He often obsesses over how to close out his columns. For his goodbye column, he didn’t want to get sappy but he lost sleep over whether to end it with “I always took your news seriously” or “This has been fun fun fun.” In the end, he chose neither. Peace. Reach Mark Lungariello at

TRUSTEES, continued from page 5

it won’t solve the tax issue.” Glassberg, who took over as vice president of the board this year, is left to face that conundrum. She will look to secure a second term in office in May. She was first elected on to the board in 2010. “I found it very gratifying, and I think there are a lot of challenges facing public education in New York,” Glassberg, 45, said. “And I think experience is going to matter as we navigate those locally here in Rye.” Immersed in her third school budget cycle, the board vice president said the work is becoming harder as the constraints become greater. She said the administration and the board have worked increasingly hard to put together budgets that prioritize education and maintain excellent programs, but also respond to the community’s financial concerns. “We have to meet all these mandates and keep providing excellent education for kids as the priority,” she said. “That is a lot to balance.” Glassberg, a former attorney, sits on the Board of Education’s policy and facilities committees,

currently chairing both groups and cites her experience as important during such crucial times for the state’s public education system. She pointed to the positive learning experience when the district looked to secure a bond to build a science wing on the high school campus. It was a process that led to some give and take, but eventually both sides agreed that the need was real. It turned out to be an important process to let residents see the high school’s antiquated science facilities, she said. “I think once people were aware of the needs, I think there was a real belief in the need to do the addition,” the vice president said. “It’s incredibly important to be engaged with our community.” Glassberg, who has children in the middle school and high school, said she cares deeply about public education and considers herself an analytical person. “I do think my experience would be beneficial as we continue to navigate these challenges,” she said. “That is the skill set that I bring.” School board trustees are elected to threeyear terms. This year’s election takes place on May 21.

March 15, 2013 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • 9

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The Movie Theater By JASON CHIREVAS

Gloria Pritts was 8 years old in 1933 when she saw “King Kong” at the Mamaroneck Playhouse. “It was a big thing. That was the movie to see at the time. Up there on the Empire State Building. That was a good movie.” Pritts, now the Village of Mamaroneck’s historian, said. The movie didn’t scare her; even then, she said, she knew a movie was just a movie, but surely the film’s epic scale and fantastic spectacle would have thrilled, perhaps even galvanized, audiences in 1933. If it did, Pritts said, you never would have known it. “What makes you think they made noise? They didn’t. Nothing,” she said. In those days, Pritts said, audience decorum was governed by the stricter manners of the time and, perhaps, the respect one was used to showing a live theater performance. Still, the wonder of the movies was not lost on Pritts. She recalled the details and majesty of the Playhouse in its youth. The big, domed ceiling, the box seats for live performances, the tapestries above the stage depicting a clash of medieval armies and, of

course, the balcony, from which Pritts remembers marveling at something that, some 50 years later, caught my eye in the movie theaters of my childhood. “You would sit in the balcony and see the projected light go down to the screen,” she said. The first two movies I ever saw in a theater were “101 Dalmatians” and “Star Wars,” both in 1977, though I’m not sure in which order I saw them. I do remember we saw “Star Wars” at Movieland on Central Park Avenue in Yonkers. For “101 Dalmatians,” it was a small, old theater called, I believe, The Kimball, which was set into a hill along Yonkers Avenue. Neither of those theaters still exist today, but the Mamaroneck Playhouse has been right where it is now on Mamaroneck Avenue since 1925. I saw “Django Unchained” there two weeks ago. In the beginning, the Playhouse was a venue for live stage shows as well as film, which at that time was still in its infancy as commercial entertainment. On Dec. 6, 1925, the Playhouse presented its first film, which was something called “Wild, Wild

Charity devotes itself to cardiac disease worldwide. It proOn Saturday Febvides surgery to chilruary 2, 2013, at dren who would not Beckwith Pointe in reach adulthood with New Rochelle, a retheir impaired hearts. cord number of guests Actually, Gift of Life supported a charity has saved 15,000 chilthat saves the lives of dren since its inception children. Gift of Life in 1975. Consisting of brings children with Rotarians worldwide, damaged hearts who it brought three girls to could not expect to the U.S. from Kosovo live to the U.S. This and Nigeria in 2012, charity arranges for saved them with this the children to uncardiac procedure, and dergo cardiac surgery returned them to their at the Maria Fareri countries. The board, Children’s Hospital, under past president which is part of the of White Plains Rotary Westchester Medical Georgene Mongarella Center in Valhalla, or of Scarsdale, arranged at Montefiore Hospital for the arrival of these in the Bronx. Doctors Georgene Mongarella with three girls, and picked provide these chil- Chairman honoree, Robbie Donno, founder of the Gift of them up at the airport. dren a simple surgery Life program, at the fundraiser. A Rotarian family to save their lives, Contributed photo hosts them, along with hence the Gift of Life. Chairman of the board, Georgene Mongarella, their mothers, until the surgeon was ready to was the Mistress of Ceremony at the event, perform the cardiac procedure. Overall, the fundraiser produced a record called Carneval. The Gift of Life, is a life-saving charity amount of money for its cause and the dancdedicated to repairing the lives of children ing went on to the wee hours. (Submitted)

Suzanne.” While it would seem the details of that particular movie have eluded all modern day resources both paper and electronic, the Mamaroneck Playhouse would soon play host to some of the greatest movies ever committed to celluloid. For 15 cents each, Pritts and her family would see a featured film, a B movie, a cartoon and a newsreel, which was significant because it was the only way people could actually see the news in the days before television. But, times change. Eventually, Although the once grand auditorium inside has been divided into four a day at the smaller ones, much of the detail in the Mamaroneck Playhouse’s lobby Mamaroneck Play- remains unchanged since it opened in 1925. Photo/Rebecca Chirevas the movies it hosted were donated to the house would cost 25 cents. That’s what former trustee and lifetime Mamaroneck Historical Society. As the 1980s drew to a close, a new genvillage mainstay Sid Albert used to pay when eration of Mamaroneck’s children popuhe went to the movies with his friends. “I thought it was an absolutely phenome- lated the Playhouse, but some of these were nal thing with its gold paintings and a great employees. John Theanthong was a Larchmont resibig huge screen,” Albert, now 76, said. “I remember seeing things like ‘Quo Vadis’ dent when, at the age of 16, he took a job at and ‘Ben-Hur.’ As a little kid, when you go what I noticed he always referred to as “the and you see those kinds of movies in a big Playhouse 4.” The altered interior didn’t theater like that you’re very impressed with leave Theanthong feeling his experience working at the theater alongside his brother it.” By the time Albert was spending his and two best friends was any less special. It childhood days enrapt in images of chariot was just a different kind of special. “It’s an awesome job when you’re 16 races and Nero’s Rome, the Playhouse was almost exclusively a movie theater. Though years old,” Theanthong, who is now 39, there was an occasional rock and roll show said. “You got to see all the movies you there, gone were the days of regular visits wanted, all your friends thought you were from vaudeville entertainers, which were the bomb.” Cleaning the theaters meant using a leaf rumored to have included acts like Burns and Allen and Johnny Carson-then a ma- blower to blast debris out a back door. gician-working under assumed names to One summer, Theanthong and his fellow employees founded a good-natured fight maintain their New York City contracts. By 1980, the Playhouse had moved into club behind the screens after hours. Still, corporate hands and was in the midst of the Playhouse’s history was not lost on a renovation or, as Pritts and Albert more Theanthong during his time there. “Behind the theater you can actually see likely to see it, a vivisection. ropes and pulleys; the way it would actually be “They ruined it,” Pritts said. The Mamaroneck Playhouse became a for a Broadway stage,” he said. “Behind the United Artists theater with four small screens scenes there were a ton of [old dressing] rooms. instead of one grand one, two floors instead It’s spooky, it’s scary, but it’s also a virtual treaof a balcony. Many of the adornments that MOVIE, continued on page 13 made the theater as much an attraction as

March 15, 2013 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • 11

The Castle

Reid Hall at Manhattanville College in Purchase has a rich history spanning more than a century. The castle, as it exists today, is widely seen as an emblem of the school. Photos/Daniel Offner By DANIEL OFFNER

Reid Hall at Manhattanville College in Purchase is modeled after the historic estates left standing by European royalty in the medieval era. It has never been home to a king or queen or a duke or duchess, but it is was deemed a national landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The castle, which is built in the Norman Gothic style, earned the designation due to its rich history, architectural influences, landscape and many secrets. Reid Castle serves as an office for many Manhattanville employees, such as Gary McLoughlin, 60, an employee with the college’s Office of Disability Services. “For me, it provides a sense of place deeply rooted in tradition,” McLoughlin said. The castle was constructed as an estate for Pony Express tycoon Benjamin Holladay in 1864. It was originally known as Ophir Farm and served as a home for the tycoon. Unfortunately for Holladay, by 1873 he had lost most of his wealth, which led him to put the mansion up for public sale. More than a decade later, the estate became the first residence in Westchester County to be equipped with both telephone and electric wiring. However, one month before the estate’s new owner, Whitelaw Reid, and his wife, Elizabeth, planned to move in, a short circuit started a fire that engulfed the house, leaving only the granite foundation remaining. According to Manhattanville College Archivist Lauren Ziarko, Reid envisioned rebuilding the castle to a much more grandiose level, incorporating both French and English inspired decor.

At the front of Reid Hall, two rooms to the right of the main entrance were imported directly from the Château de Billlennes in Poissy, France, which was being demolished at the time. After serving as the Ambassador to England, Reid sought to expand the corridor in a Tudor style similar to the court of St. James. Anderson Jones, a professor from Mount Vernon and member of the college’s Board of Trustees, said that he had always felt a sense of peace and uniqueness similar to the Chateau de Versailles in France. “It’s such a great artifact,” said Jones, 65. “The motif of a castle itself creates this traditional kind of a feeling.” Reid hired famed landscaper Frederick Law Olmstead, who is most recognized for his work in New York City’s Central Park. Olmstead brought in several different trees and plants, some of which had been invasive species to the Purchase region. After Whitelaw Reid died, his children inherited the property, which they auctioned off. In 1952, Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart decided to relocate its main campus from the New York City’s Morningside Heights to Purchase. Manhattanville was founded by the Order of the Sacred Heart as a religious institution for women. Elizabeth McCormick, 90, a former Manhattanville College president and graduate from the class of 1944, took the reins as the college made the transition from an all-girls institution to a co-ed campus. “It’s so easy to say what’s different,”

McCormick said in an October interview. “But what hasn’t changed are the spirit and the values, which have remained just what they were when the college was founded.” Manhattanville today has more than 1,700 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students from all over the world. ***** Reid Castle has garnered much attention among celebrities over the last century and has even been featured in a few motion pictures. The castle has played host to Amelia Earhart, Robert F. Kennedy, Horace Greeley, and even The King of Siam stayed at the castle in 1931 before undergoing eye surgery. Today, it can also be rented out for weddings, bar mitzvahs and other private affairs and social gatherings. For the students attending Manhattanville College, who are used to seeing the historic landmark day in and day out, the castle comes with its own lore and urban legends outside of the official history. The most notorious of the Reid Castle tall tales stems from an eerie portrait in the West Hall of three young girls, who some believe perished in the fire which burned the Ophir estate in 1888. “It’s not true,” said Manhattanville Archivist Lauren Ziarko. “Nobody had been injured in the fire.” According to Ziarko, the painting in the West Hall corridor had been donated from an alumnus of the college and, in fact, has no ties to the school. “I’ve heard a few [ghost stories] but they’re kind of ridiculous,” said Manhattanville

Sophomore Nick Faulkner, 19. “Like someone died on the stairs in a fire.” Each fall, the castle also plays host to several haunted tours, which take students through the inner workings of the castle. More notably, the chapel constructed across from Reid Castle has widely been regarded as the scariest spot on the campus. Located within the adjacent Holladay Stone Chapel, several of the deceased members of the Order of the Sacred Heart have been moved from their initial burial place to the catacombs in Purchase. Ghost sightings and hauntings have been a much more frequent occurrence in the chapel, students and employees say. Apart from the folklore tied to the castle, there are several hidden secrets special to Reid Castle. Apart from a hidden study in the West Hall, students who have felt especially daring said they have found secret passages in the castle basement. Joseph Menchaca, a sophomore student, said he had ventured through the castle a few times in the past. “It’s an interesting building to explore,” said Menchaca, 20. “There are so many rooms to work your way through.” According to Menchaca, he had even climbed the ladder to the castle tower and found a little kitchen within the basement. “It’s one of those thing you just got to see for yourself.” While the view from the very top of the castle’s turret has been a rare sight for those privileged to see it, the entrance is kept locked and can only be accessed with a special key.

12 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • March 15, 2013


At a quick glance from street level, there is nothing remarkable about the stout brick building perched atop a hill near McDonald’s on East Main Street in New Rochelle. Yet for those who are so inclined, a large set of steps built into the steep slope invites a closer look. The structure’s thick, unmarked, arched doors and barred windows greet visitors who complete the climb. To the right, a mammoth white, black and red anchor resting on concrete blocks provides the only clue to the building’s original purpose and its historical significance. It is the New Rochelle Armory. Then… A newspaper account from the 1930s details the dedication of the $650,000 naval militia armory, which was hailed as “the most modern and best equipped in the entire state.” According to a Standard-Star article, more than 1,000 people turned out for the ceremony, where Lt. Governor Herbert H. Lehman laid the cornerstone of the building using a special trowel presented to him for the occasion. “No one hates militarism more than I do,

or is more opposed to formal armed aggression,” Lehman said during his keynote address. “But there is a vast difference between armed, swashbuckling aggression and preparedness. It is absolutely imperative that we maintain an adequate defense as a safeguard.” To that end, the 30,000-square foot armory, located steps away from Long Island Sound, initially served as headquarters for the 31st Fleet Division Naval Militia. Over the years, the massive building, equipped with a drill deck, radio room and rifle range, also housed a New York State Naval Reserve Center, Company D of the Marine Corps Reserve and the Coast Guard Reserves. Jim Murphy, a Navy veteran, recalled visiting the armory ARMORY, continued on page 18

The giant anchor in front of the armory provides the only visible clue about the building’s original purpose. Photo/Alexandra Bogdanovic

March 15, 2013 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • 13 MOVIE, continued from page 10

sure trove. We found old posters there.” Theanthong no longer lives in Westches– ter; his days at the Mamaroneck Playhouse long behind him. He lives a much faster-paced life in New York City now and, like Pritts and Albert before him, laments the current state of things when going to the movies. I asked him, given that, what the value of a place like his beloved Playhouse 4 can still be. “There’s a towny feel to it,” he said. “It’s a place that you can walk to. You have your slice of pizza, you enjoy the day at Harbor Island, and then you come in for a movie and you go next door for dinner afterwards. You can’t beat that experience.” The Mamaroneck Playhouse, now a Clearview branded theater, can still be a surreal experience for a movie nerd visiting it for the first time. There’s a long, gently sloping hallway that leads from the front door to the main lobby. To pass through those doors is to leave the noise and aggression of our current world behind and move, descending just a bit, away from the street and back through time. You’ll pass the old box office window along the way. Of course there’s neon and credit card readers at the concession stand now, but, if you look past them, as John Theanthong did more than 20 years ago, you can still see Dec. 6, 1925. It’s in the wood accents all over the lobby, on the brick staircase up to what used to be the balcony and in the boarded-up viewing boxes along the walls of the upper levels. Perhaps remarkably, elements of the theater that have always been there have withstood the passage of time better than some of the more recent additions. Some of the ceiling tiles on the upper level are water stained, and the boards covering up the box seats are more worn than the brick and stonework around them. Even if the Playhouse never returns to the single screen experience of its youth, its current custodians might do well to safeguard the unique atmosphere the theater still provides for future generations of moviegoers, whose memories of such experiences can last a lifetime. I asked Gloria Pritts about the Mamaroneck Playhouse movies she remembered best. I mentioned “Casablanca,” my favorite film. She said she didn’t see what the big deal was at the time, but she may have been too young to appreciate it when she saw it. I didn’t have to prompt Pritts at all to remember seeing Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” at the Playhouse. She now owns it on DVD. “I must think to show that to the little ones,” she said. The “little ones” are Pritts’ great grandchildren. They’re all coming to her house for Palm Sunday, and now they’re going to experience something that first thrilled their 15-year-old great grandmother in a big, beautiful theater in 1940. Movie magic.

14 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • March 15, 2013

The Music Store By ASHLEY HELMS

Driving down White Plains Road in Eastchester, you might miss the 54-year-old store on the corner of Mill Road, but many are already familiar with the location. A sign that once displayed “Eastchester Music Center” in large, illuminated letters is now on display inside the store and has been replaced by a smaller, less eye-catching display on the street. Inside, people are practicing their instruments. A woman calls on Eastchester Music Center’s owner Mike Cardella because she needs to rent an instrument for her 15-year-old daughter’s performance at Carnegie Hall in the coming weeks. Toward the back of the store, a small section of the wall is decorated with autographed, black-and-white photos of talent from what some may call “back in the day.” Walter Murphy, who rose to fame through a disco hit, played keyboard and briefly taught at the the center before he crafted his cover of a famous classical work. “He wrote The Fifth of Beethoven as a rock tune,” Cardella said. In an age where virtually all media can be accessed with a few taps of a fingertip, Eastchester Music stands as a relic to the old days where a music store was more than just a store. Aspiring musicians used to hang out here, some who’d go on to superstardom and fulfilling their dreams in front of stadiums full of fans, some who’d end up cutting their long hair and going to work in a suit. Stores like Eastchester Music were busy little places where rock’n’roll invited you in for a jam session. But now, these years later, Cardella said he plans to sell the music center when he finds the right person to take over. He cites the increased expense of doing business as well as the long commute from his home near the Poconos. The buyer of the store, Cardella said, must be equal parts musician, technician, and businessman. Although many potential candidates have passed through the store, there has yet to be an offer during the five years it’s been on the market. “Stores like this are on the cusp,” Cardella said. “You always hear on the radio that mom and pops are going out of business.” Eastchester Music started off as Moody’s, a music store in the same location owned by a woman whose husband had another store in New York City. Cardella said he heard the store was up for sale from a saxophone player with whom he performed during a party in 1959. Cardella purchased the store for around $5,000 and eventually moved it to the space the Studio B Dance Studio occupies today. “When I bought the store, there was nothing in it,” Cardella said. “It was very empty.” During its time in that space, the Eastchester Music Center was the biggest music shop

Eastchester Music Center on White Plains Road hosts a variety of guitars, drums, accessories and amps. In addition to its inventory, musicians can also take lessons or buy and sell instruments. Photo/Ashley Helms

in Westchester. Cardella said he had a much larger inventory of guitars, drums, amps and accessories than he does today. In the basement was a new recording studio with soundproofing equipment and an instrument repair shop. During the late 1960s, Cardella said he came to work to find the equipment in the basement floating in about three feet of water. The basement had flooded during a heavy overnight rainfall. “There was a little stream underneath the store, and the water came in through there,” Cardella said. “I had to move out.” Eastchester Music moved up the block to the space now occupied by Mickey Spillane’s, where it remained for roughly 40 years. During that time, the store attracted many young musicians who would go on to make their mark on the industry. Steve Talarico, better known as Aersomith front man Steve Tyler, took lessons at the store as an adolescent. Cardella described the young Tyler as funny and rambunctious. “His dad was a music teacher and would come in here to buy,” Cardella said. “We taught Steve the drums before he switched to guitar.” The 1960s and 1970s ushered in the biggest boom of business for Eastchester Music, especially during the first Woodstock music

festival in 1969. Cardella said people came from all across New York and the tri-state area before heading upstate to Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel for the event. Cardella said that he was running the store with his brother Sal at the time and business was non-stop. “We had one of those old cash registers, and it got so packed with cash that we couldn’t open and close it, so we had to take some of the money out and stash it,” Cardella said. Then, came the chain stores. Although the store stays afloat with lessons and sales, Cardella said he knew Eastchester Music would face challenges when Sam Ash moved to White Plains in the late 1980s. Luckily, Cardella said, people in the area were already very familiar with his business and it survived the competition. “Sam Ash sells everything at 40 percent off,” Cardella said. “People are tight with money now and things are up in the air.” About 15 years ago, a restaurant bought the building Eastchester Music inhabited and Cardella moved the store to its current location at 417 White Plains Road. The store no longer has a recording studio like it did in the 1960s and has taken a hit in inventory, but on the bright side, the current location does not suffer from flooding problems. Richard Ricci, 56, of White Plains, has been

in and out of Eastchester Music for the last 30 years trading drums and used equipment. Ricci jams with the store’s guitar teacher Mike Delio, who Ricci said got him interested in playing music again. Ricci played the drums in a punk band called “Not Them Again” for two years, but didn’t release any albums with the group. “Playing in a band can be hard because it’s tough dealing with everyone’s inadequacies,” Ricci said. “Music is all about reading each other and not just putting out a product.” Kids who come to the store for lessons today still model themselves after old rock and roll and jazz musicians, Cardella said, but they aren’t very interested in classical or blues anymore. In the early days of rock and roll, there was more musical diversity than there is today, Cardella said. “Kids like the Jersey Boys, a lot of the old ones are coming back,” Cardella said. “Today more than ever you find some really talented people around here.” Cardella is creating a website for the store to help him market it to a potential buyer more easily. Cardella said that since he has been in business for so long, he feels like he has grown up with the town and seen whole generations of residents go by. “All the guys I’d rent to, now they’re renting for their kids,” Cardella said. “It was a fun business; it’s the end of an era.”

March 15, 2013 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • 15


Nestled in the southeastern corner of the City of Rye lays a 179-acre sanctuary considered by residents here to be one of nature’s hidden treasures. The Edith Read Sanctuary, named after a late Rye resident and elected official, is home to a nature park and wildlife sanctuary unlike any in Westchester County. Although there is always local concern about commercial development, the Edith Read Sancuary has remained nearly untouched for decades, situated behind Rye Playland along the shoreline of the Long Island Sound. Along a migratory flyway, it is home to a great diversity of marine life, plants and animals. In winter months, the 85-acre adjoining lake, a mixture of salt and fresh water, is home to more than 5,000 ducks. The Audubon Society of New York has recognized the county owned sanctuary as an important area due to its significant habitats and flyway. There are three miles of trails through forest and field along the half-mile of public shoreline. “I think there is something for everyone,” said Dr. Joy Reidenberg, president of the nonprofit Friends of Edith Read Sanctuary. Whether it’s summer beachcombing, gazing at the fall foliage or tracking animal footprints through a winter snowstorm, the sanctuary is a year-round destination for nature lovers and those who want to take a timeout from everyday life. The park never closes, unless it is forced to by Mother Nature. Such was the case when

RYE TV, continued from page 3

After the recordings were released, four members of the City Council sat down to hear the tapes; Sack, Parker and Republican councilwomen Laura Brett and Julie Killian. The lengthy recordings, provided by local blogger and critic of the current city administration Leon Sculti, consist of three separate conversations between Dapolite and the two senior city officials. On those tapes, Levitsky said Pickup didn’t want the meeting taped, but she was available to tape it, and did so even after he told her not to tape it. Councilwoman Brett said, “When I was told Andrew Dapolite had tapes that reflected on whether or not city officials did their duty, I felt it was my responsibility to listen.” However, Mayor French and Republican Councilman Peter Jovanovich, a 2009 running mate of the mayor’s, have expressed no interest in listening to the tapes’ content. Jovanovich has publicly referred to the recordings as “municipal porn.” But Jovanovich, according to sources, held several conversations with Levitsky in the days

mental issues.” Hurricane Sandy dealt the sanctuBut Read’s crowning achieveary a debilitating blow; it has ments were related to the envibeen closed indefinitely since the ronment and in the 1970s, she October 2012 storm. There were helped the county transform 35 trees toppled, and 50-foot barren land that was largely tidal surges, which washed a dumping ground into an Playland Beach onto the open space nature preroadway leading to the serve. sanctuary. The hope Today, the 179 acres is federal money will she saved bear her cover most of the resname. torations. What sets the The woman for sanctuary apart whom the sanctuary from much of was named was the Westchester an environmental County parks champion in Rye system is it’s and throughout one of a limWe s t c h e s t e r ited number of County. Edith places that have Read passed away public access in 2006 at the to the natuage of 102. Rye’s ral shoreline. Historical Society Environmental recently ran an exenthusiasts behibit on her life en- This boulder, located at the site of the sanctuary, was titled Edith Read: dedicated to the late Edith Read, a noted environmental lieve it is essential that places R e m e m b e r i n g champion for Westchester County and former Rye City such as natural Rye’s Environ- councilwoman. Photo/Christian Falcone parks continue mental Champion. Former Rye Mayor John Carey, who ap- to thrive, affording opportunities to see native pointed Read to the Rye City Council in flora, wetlands habitats and bird migration. “Most shorelines are privately owned, or 1974, said, “she was willing to answer her community’s call on more than just environ- publicly owned and artificially altered, or

disturbed in some fashion,” said Reidenberg, whose home abuts the Edith Read property. “This is one of a few places were you can put a kayak in the water or go fishing.” Much of the work of the nonprofit group ranges from invasive plant species and the deforestation of deer to organizing programs and fundraisers. The group also works to protect the land so that it’s not sold to a developer with visions of waterfront condos. At a time when every government is looking to cut back, Westchester County officials have examined the possibility of cutting the sanctuary’s funding, though the cost to maintain and operate the sanctuary is minimal. “I worry about people valuing it,” Reidenberg said. “A park has to be valued. If it’s valued, people will pay the taxes to run a place like Read Sanctuary. We’re trying to get the word out that we exist.” The sanctuary may soon face a test yet again as Playland undergoes a process that will likely reshape the famous amusement park. Nature enthusiasts will keep a watchful eye over how that plays out, particularly any impact it may have on the sanctuary. In the meantime, the Edith Read group continues to try to win more fans. Reidenberg-whose favorite time to visit the property is Mothers Day-said people who discover the park by chance are usually delighted, since it offers something for everyone. “It depends what season you love.”

following the release of the allegations. When the mayor was asked this week if he would be willing to listen to the audio recordings, French would not comment, stating that he thinks employee matters should be confidential. The mayor did say that he felt the matter, and any investigation, was over with. “I will say, the matter was assessed one year ago when the allegations were made, then during a lawsuit filed by Andrew [Dapolite], which was settled with no monetary award, then by the Board of Ethics, and then again most recently by the council. After four cycles of review, the matter is closed,” French said. Since the tapes have been revealed, they have apparently garnered some negativity from city staffers and officials questioning why Dapolite chose to secretly record his superiors. Councilman Jovanovich said certain city employees believe they are being targeted and feel the City Council is not standing up for them. Councilman Sack admitted that the practice of secretly recording conversations does make one feel uneasy, but, from the perspective of conducting an investigation, the evidence is invaluable in determining the veracity of the allegations.

finger at the Republican administration. In 2010, Mayor French appointed Pickup as city manager after he said during his 2009 mayoral campaign he would solidify the position for the long-term. The city manager has become a strong ally of the mayor’s ever since French took office. Councilwoman Brett, who initially voted in favor of the Ethics Board referral, now has joined the list of those who feel the case wasn’t properly handled last year. “I wish we had done what we are doing now a year ago,” Brett said about the City Council’s own informal investigation. But Councilman Sack felt the meetings were just more of the same. “Frankly, I don’t think that having off the record discussions behind closed doors is going to settle the issue for anyone,” he said. “To have an investigation, we don’t have to hire Brune & Richard [referencing the firm that investigated Rye Golf Club].” The councilman said he believes he has done all that he can, but added that the public can now at least listen to the tapes and decide for itself what really happened. A phone call to Councilwoman Killian was not returned as of press time.

The scandal at Rye TV centers on a contentious Jan. 25, 2012, fire department workshop with the City Council that dealt with restructuring the chain of command so volunteer firefighters report to the city manager. City Manager Pickup told members of the City Council and public that the meeting hadn’t been taped. However, the meeting had in fact been videotaped by Levitsky, then kept out of public view for 13 days. Dapolite said the existence of the tape was specifically kept away from Sack. In a February 2012 letter to the City Council, Dapolite blew the whistle stating he had been pushed to lie about the existence of the recording. He implicated the two senior city officials of orchestrating a coverup. At the January 2012 meeting in question, the city manager told the City Council that the meeting wasn’t taped because city staff didn’t have the ability to videotape it. The city has faced ongoing criticism for its refusal to handle the matter itself when first raised more than a year ago. Councilwoman Parker said that has led to a lack of trust from the public toward elected and appointed officials. The controversy has also led some to point the

16 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • March 15, 2013

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March 15, 2013 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • 17


On the quiet corner of Potter and Portman avenues in New Rochelle, a square, red-bricked building houses the offices of the Marenco Lawn Sprinkler Company. One of the larger lawn care companies in the area, the building is a reflection of success; large screen televisions, Hummers parked out front. But on the second floor, there resides an unused space that could–in time–become as much a symbol as growth as the sprinkler company that owns the building. Though the room might not look like much now-a fresh coat of off-white paint on the walls suggests the high-ceilinged space is even emptier than it is-it won’t be that way for long. On April 1, boxing trainer Ryan O’Leary will officially open the doors to Champs Boxing Club, which will serve as a much needed home for the fight instructor’s stable of boxers. To be part of Ryan O’Leary’s team means to start each day out with a text message. Sometimes, the communiqués are simple enough; some words of encouragement, a motivational quote or a quick reminder of which members of the team have upcoming bouts. But over the last few months, O’Leary’s texts have taken Champs Boxing Club founder Ryan O’Leary, right, celebrates Chris Castiglia’s March 5 Golden Gloves win with Castiglia and Willie Soto. For the past two months, on increased significance to O’Leary and his boxers have been forced to move from gym to gym in order to train for fights, but will once again have a space to call their own after April 1. his charges. After splitting Photo/Mike Smith from the Main Street Gym in Larchmont, an organization that has housed valuable ring time. O’Leary’s retinue is a small one today,only Rochelle police officer with shots, he admitO’Leary’s fighters for the past three years, the Meryle Solomon, one of O’Leary’s coach- six boxers and a coach have made the trip down ted that the somewhat unpredictable nature of pugilists of the newly minted Champs Boxing es, said that the process has actually been an to the Bronx, but the group arrives with a pur- the training schedule has impacted his ability Club are, in effect, boxing gypsies; nomads eye-opener, an experience that has helped her pose. Chris Castiglia, a New Rochelle police to establish a routine, something that is so forced to seek out gyms willing to accommo- to become better at her job. officer and O’Leary charge, is preparing for important for boxers. date them each day so they can devote a few “When you go to different places, you can an upcoming Golden Gloves bout. With his “It hasn’t been easy,” said Castiglia, who hours to their craft. kind of see what different people are doing,” scheduled sparring partner a no-show, the rest went on to win a unanimous decision in his “We’ve been everywhere,” said O’Leary. she said. “You see what works, and what of the Champs team must pick up the slack so March 5 bout. “Not knowing where you’re “All over Westchester, the Bronx. I just let the doesn’t work, so that’s pretty helpful.” Castiglia can get some much-needed work in going to be each day. It can be exhausting, kids know in the morning where we’re goOn this day, I am lucky enough to be in- before his fight. especially after working a full day. But you ing to be, and I make sure that everyone has cluded in O’Leary’s text chain and find Castiglia, who fights at heavyweight, found just have to do what you can.” a ride; everyone has some way to get where myself at the Willis Avenue Boxing Club on himself in the ring with two of O’Leary’s top The situation becomes trickier for O’Leary’s we’re going.” 141th Street in the Bronx. Resting above a female fighters, team captain Michele Herzl, growing stable of professional fighters. With In some ways, the process has been some- church and up three flights of stairs that smell a pugnacious Mamaroneck scrapper, and their careers hanging in the balance, O’Leary thing of an adventure for O’Leary and his faintly of sawdust, the gym is already alive as Krystal Graham-Dixon, a 197+-pound divi- and his team have done their best to keep their fighters, though the inclusiveness and gen- O’Leary shepherds his crew over to the red sion titlist at last year’s Golden Gloves who charges in shape while their new boxing home erosity O’Leary engenders is commonplace ring that anchors the space. The gym’s regu- may possess quicker hands and sharper ring at 44 Potter Street is built. in the world of boxing. In their two months lars hardly seem to notice the outsiders, who instincts than anyone Castiglia will see in his Kevin Crowley, who manages one of of having to seek a spot in other gyms, seem–if one didn’t know any better-to blend upcoming fight. Although the two women O’Leary’s crew hasn’t had to pay a dime for right into their temporary surroundings. keep Castiglia working, peppering the New GYM, continued on page 18

18 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • March 15, 2013 ARMORY, continued from page 12

when one of his best friends was in the naval reserves. “The armory was his place for reserve duty, and I was in and out of there all the time,” Murphy said. “It was a classically beautiful building.” Eugene McLeer, another Navy veteran, said countless people who served in the military– including hundreds who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country–were “processed in and out” of the service at the armory. In a 2006 article in The Sound View News, World War II veteran Gene Longhi recalled how 60 men enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, Company D, “mustered into Federal Service” in May 1940. The group “proudly marched to the railroad station to leave the city for World War II, as thousands were drawn to the streets to express their concern for the fate of the military and our country,” Longhi said. The citizens that turned out to support the military that day were encouraged to use the armory prior to World War II, Longhi added. “The Drill Hall was used by civilian groups such as the Civil Air Patrol, the Sea Cadets and the New Rochelle and Blessed Sacrament high school basketball teams,” Longhi told The Sound View News. “The rifle range was used by New Rochelle High School and Mamaroneck High School, the American Legion New Rochelle Post # 8 and the Boy Scouts of America Explorers [sponsored by the New Rochelle Police Association, Inc.].” McLeer, a retired New Rochelle police officer, said the cops taught the explorers about the safe use of firearms and used the rifle range for shooting competitions. The best marksmen got trophies, McLeer recalled. The New Rochelle Police Department also held meetings, dances and parties at the armory, where the gymnasium could easily accommodate 600 people, according to McLeer. “You could probably drive a tank through there,” he said. Back in those days, the armory was also the starting and ending point for Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades. Former Assemblyman Ron Tocci remembered how, as a little boy, he would put thin paper through the spokes on his bicycle tires and ride along the parade route with his friends. “We didn’t appreciate the solemnity of the occasion,” Tocci said. Tocci also said that he was in the state legislature when the armory was deemed to be “surplus property” 16 years ago. At that time, the state sold it to the City of New Rochelle for $1, based on certain conditions reflected in the transfer agreement. “This grant is made and accepted upon the condition that said premises shall be improved

and maintained for park, recreation, street and highway purposes, including incidental, necessary municipal business included therewith,” the transfer agreement stated. “In the event that said premises are not improved and maintained for park, recreation, street and highway purposes, including incidental, necessary business in conjunction therewith, the title hereby conveyed shall revert to The People of the State of New York and the Attorney General may institute an action in the Supreme Court for a judgment declaring a revesting of such title in the State.” Local veterans say the building was in fine shape when the city got it back in 1997. Tocci concurs. “It was in perfect working order,” he said. And now… That is no longer the case. Today the building is no longer in use. Graffiti scars an exterior wall facing the sound. There is a gaping hole in the Drill Hall roof, and the floor is littered with crumbled debris. A faded, tattered American flag limply hangs inside, visible through large windows. Footsteps echo in empty hallways and dust swirls through the air as a representative from the city’s Department of Development escorts a visitor through the building. There’s peeling paint and crumbling drywall in room after room. The art that once graced the walls is gone. “It makes me sad and angry,” McLeer said. “This is our history. It is all we have left. Everything we have has been destroyed. It is not so nice for the guys who put their lives on the line.” To a man, the veterans that still love the building blame past and present city officials for its decline. They were adamantly opposed to its potential destruction–an idea that surfaced when the city first entertained Echo Bay waterfront redevelopment plans in 2008–and formed a committee to save the building. In recent years, the Save Our Armory Committee has pitched plans to turn the building into a community center or performing arts center. The city rejected the latter proposal last fall, prompting the veterans to march on City Hall. A tentative agreement with the Westchesterbased Good Profit group to transform the armory into an indoor food market and restaurants fell through when Good Profit failed to submit a “letter of agreement” to the city by the end of February. In light of those developments, the veterans will likely resubmit their proposal for a performing arts center, Tocci said. “We had an engineer go through the building and the report we got back indicates the building is in remarkably good shape in spite of the neglect and abuse,” Tocci said. “The building can be rehabilitated and we are going to pursue it.”

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GYM, continued from page 17

O’Leary’s brightest stars, Port Chester’s PeeWee Cruz (2-0), said that given Cruz’s status as an up-and-comer, returning to a natural routine at a familiar gym will be important for the Port Chester fighter moving forward. “I was a bit concerned,” said Crowley with a smile. “But Pee-Wee handled [the nomadic gym situation] well, and we didn’t really see any effects in his second fight. But he’s going to continue to step up against better fighters, so we didn’t know, in his third or fourth fight, if this was going hurt him.” But the lack of a home base of operations, and the routine that comes with it, is problematic for O’Leary on another level. Several of O’Leary’s fighters, including Cruz, came into the program as “at-risk” youths. For them, explained O’Leary, boxing may be a way to stay off the streets, but the personal bonds these youths form with their teammates and coaches are even more important because they can serve as the basis for a surrogate familial structure. If those bonds crack, he said, the results could be catastrophic. “We knew when we left Main Street we had to have a place to go,” he said. “If I said ‘we’re not going to practice for two months until we have a place,’ we were going to lose those kids, and I couldn’t do that to them.” And much like an actual family, O’Leary’s

boxers all joined the quest to find a new space and chipped in to make it ready for use. O’Leary said Crowley was the one who initially found 44 Potter Avenue, but many of his boxers pounded the pavement looking for ways to get the gym off the ground. One of his youngest boxers, Hunter Lyon, a 15-year old student at Rye Neck High School, enlisted the help of his parents in procuring a boxing ring for the club. “The first couple of times they saw me working out, taking me to practices and stuff, they saw what a positive impact this had on me,” said Lyon. “They saw how good it was for my teammates, so they just decided that they wanted to help.” There is still work to be done before the gym opens on April 1. The hardwood floor will be replaced with a synthetic rubber surface, the egg-white walls will soon be covered with mirrors, fight photos, and news clippings from the club’s triumphs, and O’Leary and his crew will be tasked with moving all the equipment in and building the ring before the space is ready to start building legacies. But when all of that is done, he said, Champs Boxing won’t just have a gym, it will have a home. “It’s not a huge space, but it will have everything we need,” said O’Leary. “I’ve never had complete, free reign in a gym before, so this is exciting. I hope that this is something, when I retire at 85, that I can hand over to the next, younger trainer to keep this alive.”


Iggy is a sweet boy-about six months old and around 35 pounds. When he and his sister Ina were found, they were skin and bones. Now having enjoyed 4 square meals a day, they have really blossomed into beautiful pups. Iggy is a typical happy puppy that would love to find his forever home. His sister recently found hers, now it’s Iggy’s turn. Iggy is neutered, vaccinated, dewormed, heartworm tested and micro-chipped. The adoption donation for Iggy is $250. To learn more, please contact Larchmont Pet Rescue at 914-834-6955 or on the web at


March 15, 2013 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • 19

Following a winter which saw Harrison come a few points away from a title at the county meet, Harrison has some of its top runners back for the spring season and will look to best Pearl River, who took the crown last season.

Bronxville Track Bronxville’s girls have long been known for their dominance in distance events, but they have one star that shines a little bit brighter in junior Mary Cain. Cain is coming off an impressive winter, which saw her break the national high school records in the mile, two-mile, and 3000m runs. Look for more of the same as Cain continues her dominance this spring.

Teams to watch this spring Mamaroneck Boys Lacrosse In 2012, the Mamaroneck lacrosse team put together its best year of all time, dominating the regular season without its best player and winning a Section I title. This year, the Tigers return most of the squad that won that title, including Pete Conley, who may be one of the best players in all of Section I, as well as Thomas Brill, who emerged as a top-flight goalie last season. Both Brill and Conley will be playing Division I lacrosse in college, but there are six other Tigers in the starting lineup with plans to play at the college level, making Mamaroneck one of the deepest teams around. Rye Baseball It’s hard to say exactly what the Garnets will be this year, but the team–which finished with a .500 record last year–could be poised for some big things as the young squad continues to mature. The Garnets return 10 players this year, many of whom were just freshman and sophomores playing significant roles last season. Although the squad has lost some talented seniors, including Jake Meyerson and Willis Robbins, the Garnets could catch some people sleeping this year, as youngsters like Ryan Popp, who hit .280 as a freshman, continue to get stronger. Harrison Track Each year, it seems that the Huskies prove to be one of the toughest Class B teams around.

In 2012, the Mamaroneck Tigers took the Class A crown. This year, they have their eyes set on states. Photo/Bobby Begun


Running with purpose Helping to celebrate the 10th anniversary of North America’s most popular women’s half-marathon, Weschester Humane Society friends and volunteers hope to raise $15,000 in sponsorship money to benefit the shelter’s adoptable dogs and cats. April 14 marks the tenth anniversary of the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half-Marathon held annually in New York City’s Central Park. Female friends and volunteers of the Westchester Humane Society will be running in full force at the race, which is staged by the famed New York Road Runners club and is now the largest such event in the United States. Participants from the Westchester Humane Society will be running for a great cause: To raise funds that will benefit the many dogs and cats available for adoption at the newly revitalized, no-kill shelter. A cadre of 33 runners, from new volunteers to board members, will be available for sponsorship by anyone interested in supporting the nonprofit shelter. Sponsors can contribute whatever they choose, and no amount is too small. Those contributing $100 or more will receive a special dog charm handmade by WHS volunteer and professional jewelry designer Sylvie Fremont. The women’s half-marathon is 13 miles long, and takes its participants on two loops around Manhattan’s famous Central Park. The event, which receives widespread coverage in local and mainstream media, is one of many that Westchester Humane Society is counting on for the funding necessary to continue its important mission. To sponsor a Westchester Humane Society runner in the More Magazine/ Fitness Magazine Women’s Half-Marathon, go to www.westchesterhumanesociety. org/marathon.html. For more information about the Westchester Humane Society and its participation, contact Irma Jansen at or (917) 375-1289. (Submitted)

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Dedication, hard work and determination are all key components of being a track star. Senior runner Matt Sherman possesses all of those qualities. Sherman was one of the leaders on a competitive squad this past winter. The varsity team finished strong at the class B championships with Sherman serving as an integral part in the team’s success. Matt joined the track team his sophomore year and shattered all of his personal records this year. He cut several seconds off of his 400m time and tested his endurance during the the Yale Invitational, which is an extremely selective meet. Sherman said it was great to make a contribution to the team. “[Matt] is a great kid who never stops working hard and puts his best out there every day,” said teammate Joey Viger. “[He is] just an amazing teammate and leader.” Although Sherman might not be running for the track team in college, he had an amazing time throughout his three years and will miss track greatly.


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20 • THE RYE SOUND SHORE REVIEW • March 15, 2013

Rye Sound Shore Review, 3-15-2013