Vol. 15/Number 11
March 15, 2013
2 • The TOWN REPORT • March 15, 2013
March 15, 2013 • The TOWN REPORT • 3
Vote looms in Tuckahoe, no debates to be held By ASHLEY HELMS STAFF REPORTER email@example.com
The candidates for the 2013 Village of Tuckahoe election will not be participating in a public debate due to the unavailability of a local chapter of the League of Women Voters or a suitable replacement. Issues of priority that the village is facing include crafting a comprehensive budget and working to improve and maintain sustainability, though there have been few forums for the candidates outside of mailers to get their messages out. Traditionally, a debate was held at Village Hall approximately a week and a half prior to election day, which will be on March 19 this year. A moderator would be provided by the League of Women Voters, and would reside in a community outside of Tuckahoe. The moderator would ask the candidates to answer a few questions regarding their stance on issues that the village is facing, then residents would have a chance to ask their own questions. Trustee Stephen Quigley, a Democrat who is not up for election this year, said that the league use to set up the debate for the village so they wouldn’t have to
get involved due to the possibility of a conflict of interest. “We haven’t had a debate in a while because elections in previous years have been uncontested,” Quigley said, The issue has been that the local League of Women Voters has closed down since the last debate was held. The Westchester County league informed candidates that they wouldn’t be holding a debate either. “It’s unfortunate in some ways because a debate is a good way to show the candidate’s views and it would’ve been on television, too,” Quigley said. Even without a debate, candidates said they are doing their best to get their messages out. Andrew Watiker, 25, a Democrat who is running for a seat on the Board of Trustees, said that taxes, the budget and communication are the biggest issues facing Tuckahoe. Residents have told Watiker that they are at risk of being priced out of Tuckahoe because property values and taxes are consistently going up. He said that he would like to see communication to residents be improved by creating a more userfriendly website as well. “I’d especially like to see communication to
people living in condominiums like myself be improved,” Watiker said. “People will know what the trustees are doing and the trustees will know what people are doing.” Current deputy mayor and Republican nominee Thomas Giordano said that there will be more initiatives toward sustainability in the village moving forward. But any initiatives, he said, must be balanced with necessity. “I think it’s easy from an esoteric point of view that people want to conserve natural resources,” Giordano said. “The issue will be when it becomes necessary for the residents.” The biggest challenge facing Tuckahoe is economics, Giordano said, and that it’s important to be fiscally vigilant throughout the year. He said that consolidating services, including possibly moving the Tuckahoe Court to Eastchester, are being considered as ways to keep costs down. “We’d give up a little autonomy, but we’ve gotten to the point where people can’t afford to live here so we have to make these hard decisions,” Giordano said. The 2013 village election will be held on March 19, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Charity for the heart On Saturday Feb. 2, 2013, at Beckwith Pointe in New Rochelle, a record number of guests supported a charity that saves the lives of children. Gift of Life brings children with damaged hearts who could not expect to live to the U.S. This charity arranges for the children to undergo cardiac surgery at the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, which is part of the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, or at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. Doctors provide these children a simple surgery to save their lives, hence the Gift of Life. Chairman of the board, Georgene Mongarella, was the Mistress of Ceremony at the event, called Carneval. Chairman Georgene The Gift of Life, is a life-saving charity Mongarella with honoree, Robbie Donno, founder of the dedicated to repairing the lives of children worldwide. It provides surgery to children Gift of Life program, at the fundraiser. Contributed photo who would not reach adulthood with their impaired hearts. Actually, Gift of Life has saved 15,000 children since its inception in 1975. Consisting of Rotarians worldwide, it brought three girls to the U.S. from Kosovo and Nigeria in 2012, saved them with this cardiac procedure, and returned them to their countries. The board, under past president of White Plains Rotary Georgene Mongarella of Scarsdale, arranged for the arrival of these three girls, and picked them up at the airport. A Rotarian family hosts them, along with their mothers, until the surgeon was ready to perform the cardiac procedure. Overall, the fundraiser produced a record amount of money for its cause and the dancing went on to the wee hours. (Submitted)
4 • The TOWN REPORT • March 15, 2013
Town celebrates ninth annual St. Patrick’s Day parade
A band of bagpipers performs as it marches in the ninth annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Eastchester on March 10. Photos/Ashley Helms
Children riding in a horse-drawn carriage down White Plains Road during the ninth annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Eastchester on March 10. The children and carriage driver were decked out in green.
By ASHLEY HELMS STAFF REPORTER firstname.lastname@example.org
resident of Eastchester since he arrived from Tipperary, Ireland in 1985. Flannery owns a hardware store in the Bronx and acts as an assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 353 in Eastchester. Travers moved to Eastchester from Limerick, Ireland in 1995 and is in charge of maintaining the membership of the Eastchester Irish American Social Club, which organizes the parade. McCluskey was born in Dublin, Ireland and moved to Eastchester in 1978. She has also been involved with event coordination and maintaining the social club’s membership since 1998. “It’s nice to be recognized by people of your own culture in a foreign country,” McCluskey said when the grand marshal and honorees were named. The parade festivities began with a mass at the Immaculate Conception Church in Tuckahoe, followed by the parade procession down White Plains Road toward Lake Isle County Club, where the parade concluded. Flannery painted a green line down the center of White Plains Road for this year’s theme, “follow the green line to number nine.” Stephen Huvane, publicity co-chair of the
During one of the warmest days of the 2013 winter season, cars and buses that usually travel White Plains Road were replaced by pipe bands and residents dressed in festive
shades of green. The ninth annual Eastchester St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicked off on March 10, and the drew hundreds of residents from the surrounding areas. This year’s grand marshal was Dave Flannery, with Jean McCluskey and Breda Travers as honorees. Flannery has been a
social club, said the parade went off on time and the weather was cooperative. “March is tricky, but it was a great turnout,” Huvane said. “It’s a big draw and we get a lot of support from the community and people.” Huvane said that this year, he noticed residents watching from places that are usually empty, including Eastchester High School and the area just outside of Lake Isle, which suggest a larger turnout this year than in the past. Bagpipe bands were a huge hit, but Huvane said that the social club tried to hire a variety of entertainment for the parade including dancers and brass bands. The bands said they love working with the social club because the group is well organized and the event is highly attended. “Some of the pipers that have been with us since the beginning can’t believe next year will be our 10th year,” Huvane said. “What’s interesting is that there’s as much energy for parade No. 9 as there was for No. 1.” Carlos Delarosa, 48, attended the parade with his two young children. He said he enjoyed the parade and that his children had PARADE continued on page 5
A group of girls performs an Irish dance during the ninth annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Eastchester on March 10.
March 15, 2013 • The TOWN REPORT • 5
A Welsh Corgi with her owners at the ninth annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Eastchester on March 10. Many residents brought their dogs to White Plains Road to partake in the festivities. PARADE continued from page 4
many friends from school in the parade. “This is our first time coming to the parade, but we’ve lived here for three years after we moved from Chicago,” Delarosa said. Erin Gannon, 35, attended the parade with her toddler. She said this is her third time attending the parade because her family lives within walking distance of Lake Isle Country Club. Gannon said she had ample room to watch the parade and let her daughter play. “The bagpipes were my favorite part,” Gannon said. “I grew up listening to them because my family is Irish.”
Musicians from Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx perform and march during the Eastchester St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 10.
6 • The TOWN REPORT • March 15, 2013
Tuckahoe Election Preview VOTE FOR TWO
Candidate Profile: Thomas Giordano
Candidate profile: Greg Luisi
Age: 43 Political Party: Republican Party endorsements: Republican, Independent and Conservative Education and political background: BA from Fordham College in 1991, JD from Fordham Law School in 1994. Former Zoning Board of Appeals member.
Current Tuckahoe Deputy Mayor Thomas Giordano, a Republican, is up for re-election on March 19. Giordano has been on the village board since 2011. File photo
1.How much do you think the village should be focused on staying below the state imposed tax levy cap? How do you balance maintaining service with keeping tax increases down for property owners? The 2 percent cap is an arbitrary number that doesn’t reflect reality or pension increases. I think it really is a goal to say that you worked to try to keep your budget down and doesn’t have much other meaning. What’s meaningful is to be able to, in the face of a declining tax base from property values, be able to find creative solutions for achieving efficiencies that don’t compromise essential services.
Age: 59 years old. Political party: Republican Party endorsements: Republican, Conservative and Independent Education and political background: Current Village trustee since 2011. Attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice from 1971-1974. 1. How much do you think the village should be focused on staying below the state imposed tax levy cap? How do you balance maintaining service with keeping tax increases down for property owners? The village should stay very focused on staying below the 2 percent tax cap to ensure that residents are not “taxed” out of Tuckahoe. The village should study very closely the recCurrent Village Trustee Greg Luisi, ommendations of the newly formed Citizens Budget Advisory a Republican, was nominated by Committee. Consolidation of certain services with the Town of the Republican Party. Luisi has Eastchester must be seriously considered. Essential services been on the village Board will still be maintained at significant cost savings to the Village. of Trustees since 2011. File Photo
2. In light of a few major construction developments breaking ground in the village this year, what kind of an effect do you think these projects will have on Tuckahoe? It’s tough for me to predict. I’m underwhelmed by how it will increase our tax base because it could be very little compared to the impact on the community. I’m concerned with the scale of these developments. It’s yet to be seen what kind of effect it will have on the quality of life for
2. In light of a few major construction developments breaking ground in the village this year, what kind of an effect do you think these projects will have on Tuckahoe? Based on studies presented to the Planning Board, vehicular traffic will obviously increase without adverse effect to the village. The village department heads are on record as saying that essential services will not be impacted. Progress always brings change, but with attention paid
GIORDANO continued on page 19
LUISI continued on page 19
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March 15, 2013 • The TOWN REPORT • 7
Tuckahoe Election Preview VOTE ON MARCH 19
Candidate profile: Seth Schultz
Candidate Profile: Andrew Watiker
Name: Seth Schultz Age: 35 Political party: Democrat Party endorsements: Democratic Party Education and political background: Degree from SUNY Binghamton in environmental science and geology. Director of research at C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. 1. How much do you think the village should be focused on staying below the state imposed tax levy cap? How do you balance maintaining service with keeping tax increases down for property owners? I’m interested in making sure the right decisions on the budget are made and understanding how it’s done. What I’m interested in doing is taking a hard look at costs versus what we can Seth Schultz, 35, was nominated give back to the taxpayers. Would you want to be able to go to by village Democrats to run for the library on Sunday or have a new police cruiser? That’s how a seat on the village Board of you have to phrase things in a certain way for residents because Trustees. Schultz has lived in people sometimes get so caught up in the rhetoric. the village for 10 years and is the current director of research at C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.
2. In light of a few major construction developments breaking ground in the village this year, what kind of an effect do you think these projects will have on Tuckahoe? I have a very big background in urban development over 15 years; this is something I care and know a lot about. The scale of some of these projects changes the landscape of the village, that’s why there has been so much concern. If you engage the community and you’re transparent, SCHULTZ continued on page 19
Name: Andrew Watiker Age: 25 Political Party: Democrat Party endorsements: Democratic and Non-Partisan parties Educational and political background: Graduated from Oberlin College in 2010. Has worked extensively for the Obama campaign and for Congressman Jim Haines of Connecticut 1. How much do you think the village should be focused on staying below the state imposed tax levy cap? How do you balance maintaining service with keeping tax increases down for property owners? I think we should do everything we can to stay below the 2 percent tax levy cap. When I’ve met with voters they say that Newcomer Andrew Watiker, taxes are too high and they’re getting taxed out of the village. 25, has been nominated by The 2 percent rate shouldn’t be a benchmark, but rather we village Democrats to run for a spot on the Tuckahoe Board should stay below that if possible. It’s also important to look of Trustees. Watiker graduated at the budget line by line to save money on everything we can, from Oberlin College and including when we buy capital equipment and considering how works for Interactive much new staff we need to hire. Data in White Plains.
2. In light of a few major construction developments breaking ground in the village this year, what kind of an effect do you think these projects will have on Tuckahoe? The most important effect is that the projects will expand our tax base and spread the tax burden WATIKER continued on page 19
8 • The TOWN REPORT • March 15, 2013
Marking the end of an era LUNGARIELLO AT LARGE Mark Lungariello
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 newspapers including the one you are currently reading. The Home Town offices are in a factory-like brick building 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 email@example.com
With Honors Erin Hackett of Bronxville, has been placed on the Gettyburg College dean’s list for outstanding academic achievement in the fall 2012 semester.
March 15, 2013 • The TOWN REPORT • 9
Residents clash over proposed plastic bag ban By ASHLEY HELMS STAFF REPORTER firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuckahoe residents and business owners clashed over a proposed bill that would ban single-use plastic bags in the village. Some felt that the bill is essential to preserving the local environment, while others argued that it’s an undue burden on shop owners. The bill was proposed last month by Village Trustee Stephen Quigley, a Democrat, and is similar to legislation already introduced in Mamaroneck, Rye City and Westport, Conn. The law is intended to replace plastic bags with reusable cloth bags as opposed to paper bags that still may have a negative effect on the environment. Americans use approximately 1 billion non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags per year and only about 12 percent of them are recycled across the country, according to the Clean Air Council. Quigley said that phasing out plastic bags is a good idea that needs a little force behind it in the form of a law. Shop owners would have six months to dispose of existing bag inventory and switch to other resources if the law takes effect. There will not be a fine for firsttime offenders, but a second violation will be set at a maximum of $100, a third could be as much as $250 and a fourth
and all following violations could reach $500. Monica Barach, 50, who serves on the Village of Mamaroneck Committee for the Environment, said that a plastic bag ban in Mamaroneck will take effect on April 1 and that it was well received by residents without any complaints. “It was unanimously supported by the village board and by the Chamber of Commerce,” Barach said. Similar to Tuckahoe, Barach said that consumers will no longer be offered a plastic bag and noted that the legislation should not be a push to use paper bags because they both can have negative effects on our air and water supply. She said it’s a big step to not only enact this type of policy in a community, but for shoppers to change their habits as well. “In Westchester, plastic bags are typically incinerated and toxins are put into the air,” Barach said. “The plastic bag is a sign of the wasteful society that we live in.” Deborah Scannell, 53, who owns Cafe 72 in Tuckahoe, said she is opposed to the plastic bag ban. Business owners are already bogged down with expenses that go up constantly, Scannell said, and the legislation is just another burden. She suggested making customers pay 10 cents to 25 cents per plastic bag if they want to use them. “To buy 500 paper bags costs
$20, but to buy 500 plastic bags it costs only $9,” Scannell said. “It may not sound like much, but it adds up for the realtor.” Scannell said she has both plastic and paper bags at her business and thinks that requiring residents to pay for their plastic bags would help the community understand the negative impact that they can have on the environment more than putting that responsibility solely on the business. “A lot of people forget to bring reusable bags if they’re out picking up dinner or going to the small shops around here,” Scannell said. “You’re not always going grocery shopping so people would have to run home to get their reusable bag.” Plastic bags are not picked up for recycling in the village, but paper bags are and communities have known about the issues with plastic bags for decades. Quigley said he called around to neighboring towns and did research on places in California that enacted similar bans and said that the more he read, the more he found that people adjusted well and it had a positive effect on the environment. “It’s become ubiquitous; you see plastic bags everywhere,” Quigley said. Public hearings regarding the proposed plastic bag ban will continue for the next few Village Board of Trustee meetings. The next meeting will on April 8.
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 www.NY-PetRescue.org.
10 • The TOWN REPORT • March 15, 2013
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 Suzanne.” While it would seem the details of that particular movie have eluded all modern day resources both paper and electronic, the Mamaroneck Playhouse
Although the once grand auditorium inside has been divided into four smaller ones, much of the detail in the Mamaroneck Playhouse’s lobby remains unchanged since it opened in 1925. Photo/Rebecca Chirevas
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, a day at the Mamaroneck Playhouse would cost 25 cents. That’s what former trustee and lifetime village mainstay Sid Albert used to pay when he went to the movies with his friends.
“I thought it was an absolutely phenomenal thing with its gold paintings and a great big, huge screen,” Albert, now 76, said. “I remember seeing things like ‘Quo Vadis’ and ‘BenHur.’ As a little kid, when you go and you see those kinds of movies in a big theater like that you’re very impressed with it.” By the time Albert was spending his childhood days enrapt in images of chariot races and Nero’s Rome, the Playhouse was almost MOVIE continued on page 18
March 15, 2013 • The TOWN REPORT • 11
The Armory By ALEXANDRA BOGDANOVIC
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 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 ARMORY continued on page 14
The giant anchor in front of the armory provides the only visible clue about the building’s original purpose. Photo/Alexandra Bogdanovic
12 • The TOWN REPORT • March 15, 2013
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. Photo/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.
March 15, 2013 • The TOWN REPORT • 13
The Bath House By RACHEL McCAIN
The temperature outside Public Bath House No. 3 is mild for a Friday afternoon in February. Inside, it is remarkably humid. The air feels like Florida in August. Sunlight shines through the frosted windows of the building’s reception area, adding to the mugginess of the 103-year-old landmark in southern Yonkers. There are three staff members and a handful of devoted elderly swimmers who are in the midst of an aquatics class in the pool, which was once a plunge bath. Yonkers has been the home to many firsts: Alxander Smith and Son’s was the world’s largest carpet factory, Otis Elevator Company was the first elevator factory in the world and Yonkers was also home to the first year-round municipal bath house. According to the Report on Public Baths and Public Comfort stations by the Mayors Committee of New York City 1895, Yonkers became first city in the United States to “establish a municipal bath, supplied with hot and cold water and opened all the year round,” in 1896. Before the opening of bath housA scale that was used to weigh the soap powder to wash es, residents of the area used wash the towels patrons were given at Public Bath House No. basins and the Hudson River to 3. The scale sits in the basement of the bath house, along bathe. However, due to increasing with many other items from the early 1900s. pollution of the river, people went Photo/Rachel McCain elsewhere. From the time the bath houses were established until 1948, patrons the first of which opened in 1896. Most of the were charged five cents for the use of a towel structures are no longer in existence. and soap; bathers were allotted 20 minutes to Public Bath House No. 1, demolished in use the facilities. 1962 to make way for a housing project, was Despite the changes that have taken place located at 55 Jefferson St. According to an arthroughout Yonkers over the past century, ticle in the Herald Statesman, the bath house Public Bath House No. 3 is still used as a had a “solidly imposing façade of a miniature bath house. Monday through Friday, from 7 13th century castle, complete with parapets.” a.m. until 9 a.m., one can use the facilities for Bath House No. 4–better known as the $1. According to a 1962 Herald Statesman Linden Street Pool–was located at 134 Linden article, during the early 1960s–when co-ed St. It sat vacant for 20 years until 2011 when swimming was still considered taboo–the the building was demolished; the parcel of bath house was “frequented by more than 200 land where it once stood is now vacant. persons weekly.” The cost to use the facility Public Bath House No. 2, which was locatduring that time only 10 cents and included ed at 27 Vineyard Ave. in the shadows of the soap and a towel. former site of the Mulford Gardens housing According to Michael Meola, the labor project, still has its original structure and was supervisor for the City of Yonkers Parks converted into the Mount Hebron Apostolic Department, the crowds have certainly Church in the 1960s. Although newly built changed over the years. affordable housing has replaced the sprawling “We used to see an older woman who came apartment complex, the former bath house every day,” Meola said. “In recent years, looks exactly as it did when it was originally we haven’t had too many come.” Meola has constructed with the exception of the church’s worked for the city’s Parks Department since marquee and a slab of painted wood covering 1990. a bay window on the first floor. One other difPublic Bath House No. 3 opened to the pub- ference; the wooden pews inside the church lic in 1910. It is one of four built in Yonkers, now sit in the footprints of the tubs.
According to the City of Yonkers Communications Director Christina Gilmartin, the demographics of the neighborhoods in which the bath houses were located have also changed since their construction. “These neighborhoods were and continue to be low income, densely populated areas with a predominance of recent immigrants,” she said. “In the early 1900s, the immigrant population was predominantly Eastern Europeans from Poland, Russia and Ukraine. In recent decades, the area has become predominantly recent Hispanic immigrants, African-Americans and a diversity of other cultures.” Public Bath House No. 3 is not built in the same manner as the multi-family houses and apartment buildings that it is adjacent to. It is majestic. The two-story building, located at 48 Yonkers Ave., is built in Second Renaissance Revival style and is brick-trimmed with Moravian tiles. Ornate, hand-carved copper, now green from decades of oxidation, wraps around the trim of the roof, which consists of terra cotta shingles that appear to have a slight bend. Inside, the building shows signs of aging. There are two entrances on the first floor, each etched above two stone archways resting on white pillars reading “men” and “women,” showing where each gender should have entered. On the left side of the first floor–the men’s side of the bath house–there are powder blue stalls made of “solid granite,” according to Meola, and gun metal gray lockers. On the woman’s side of the bath house, which is noticeably smaller than the men’s side, there are pastel pink stalls and gun metal gray lockers. Several private baths, or tubs, were once located on each side of the first floor, and used mostly by the elderly. The frosted windows that are high above the lockers on both sides of the building do not open. In the middle of the first floor, past the building’s reception area between the men and women’s stalls, sits the mosaic plunge pool–rebuilt in 1930 by ar-
chitect William Katz–which ranges in depth from 4.5 feet to 6.5 feet. According to an article in The Yonkers Statesman from 1910, the architect behind the bath house design was George Starin Cowles; the general contractor was P.J. Flannery. Foundational work for the building, which cost $40,884 to build, began in 1901. Minus the architect’s fees and other incurred costs, the bath house’s contract price was $33,997. The second floor of the bath house is abandoned. Outside, the windows have ornate, round archways. Inside, a balcony previously used as a spectator gallery–complete with bleachers–overlooks the pool, wrapping around the perimeter of the room. Save for a mural depicting an underwater scene, not much has been altered in the upper portions of the building since the days of the balcony’s use. A deserted apartment, once home to the building janitor until the 1970s, occupies rooms on the second floor above the first floor reception area. Due to the rooms’ deteriorated conditions, access is not permitted. “No admittance” signs adorn the doors to two sets of abandoned staircases that lead to the second floor balcony and apartment. In the basement of the bath house, there are still many undated relics. Beer cans from the 1960s have been found in the basement of Public Bath House No. 3, according to Meola. Graffiti dating back to the 1920s has been seen on some of the stall doors after they were stripped for repainting. Behind a wall, a dark tunnel wraps around the perimeter of the pool. Two large wooden baskets, which once held towels for patrons, sit underneath a table. Original, oversized windows of the building, which are now blocked by the underbelly of the above-ground sidewalk, are still intact. From the outside, a textured metal opening peeks out of the ground, from the basement. Inside, a doorway has been half-bricked, allowing only a glimmer of sunlight into the BATH HOUSE continued on page 17
14 • The TOWN REPORT • March 15, 2013
The Sanctuary By CHRISTIAN FALCONE
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 yearround 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 Hurricane Sandy dealt the sanctuary a debilitating blow; it has been closed indefinitely since the October 2012 storm. There were 35 trees toppled, and 50-foot tidal surges, which washed Playland Beach onto the roadway leading to the sanctuary. The hope is federal money will cover most of the restorations. The woman for whom the sanctuary was named was an environmental champion in Rye and throughout Westchester County. Edith Read passed away in 2006 at the age of 102. Rye’s Historical Society recently ran an exhibit on her life entitled Edith Read: Remembering Rye’s Environmental Champion. Former Rye Mayor John Carey, who appointed Read to the Rye City Council in 1974, said, “she was willing to answer her community’s call on more than just environmental issues.” But Read’s crowning achievements were related to the environment and in
the 1970s, she helped the county transform barren land that was largely a dumping ground into an open space nature preserve. Today, the 179 acres she saved bear her name. What sets the sanctuary apart from much of the Westchester County parks system is it’s one of a limited number of places that have public access to the natural shoreline. Environmental enthusiasts believe it is essential that places such as natural parks continue to thrive, affording opportunities to see native flora, wetlands habitats and bird migration. “Most shorelines are privately owned, or 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 main- This boulder, located at the site of the sanctuary, was dedicated to the late Edith Read, a noted environmental tain and operate the sanctuary champion for Westchester County and former Rye City councilwoman. Photo/Christian Falcone is minimal. ARMORY continued from page 11 “I worry about people valuing it,” swirls through the air as a representative from into a community center or performing arts cenReidenberg said. “A park has to be valued. the city’s Department of Development escorts a ter. The city rejected the latter proposal last fall, If it’s valued, people will pay the taxes to visitor through the building. There’s peeling paint prompting the veterans to march on City Hall. run a place like Read Sanctuary. We’re tryA tentative agreement with the Westchesterand crumbling drywall in room after room. The ing to get the word out that we exist.” based Good Profit group to transform the armory art that once graced the walls is gone. The sanctuary may soon face a test yet “It makes me sad and angry,” McLeer said. “This into an indoor food market and restaurants fell again as Playland undergoes a process is our history. It is all we have left. Everything we through when Good Profit failed to submit a that will likely reshape the famous amusehave has been destroyed. It is not so nice for the “letter of agreement” to the city by the end of ment park. Nature enthusiasts will keep February. guys who put their lives on the line.” a watchful eye over how that plays out, In light of those developments, the veterans To a man, the veterans that still love the buildparticularly any impact it may have on the ing blame past and present city officials for its will likely resubmit their proposal for a performsanctuary. decline. They were adamantly opposed to its po- ing arts center, Tocci said. In the meantime, the Edith Read “We had an engineer go through the buildtential destruction–an idea that surfaced when the group continues to try to win more fans. city first entertained Echo Bay waterfront redevel- ing and the report we got back indicates the Reidenberg‑whose favorite time to visit opment plans in 2008–and formed a committee to building is in remarkably good shape in spite of the property is Mothers Day‑said people the neglect and abuse,” Tocci said. “The buildsave the building. who discover the park by chance are In recent years, the Save Our Armory ing can be rehabilitated and we are going to usually delighted, since it offers someCommittee has pitched plans to turn the building pursue it.” thing for everyone. “It depends what season you love.”
March 15, 2013 • The TOWN REPORT • 15
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-yearold 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 in Westchester. Cardella said he had a much
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
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.”
16 • The TOWN REPORT • March 15, 2013
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March 15, 2013 • The TOWN REPORT • 17
The Gym By MIKE SMITH
On the quiet corner of Potter and Portman avenues in New Rochelle, a square, redbricked 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 on increased significance to his charges. After splitting from the Main Street Gym in Larchmont, an organization that has housed O’Leary’s fighters for the past three years, the pugilists of the newly minted Champs Boxing Club are, in effect, boxing gypsies; nomads forced to seek out gyms willing to accommodate them each day so they can devote a few hours to their craft. “We’ve been everywhere,” said O’Leary. “All over Westchester, the Bronx. I just let the kids know in the morning where we’re going to be, and I make sure that everyone has a ride; everyone has some way to get where we’re going.” In some ways, the process has been something of an adventure for O’Leary and his fighters, though the inclusiveness and generosity O’Leary engenders is commonplace in the world of boxing. In their two months of having to seek a spot in other gyms, O’Leary’s crew hasn’t had to pay a dime for valuable ring time. Meryle Solomon, one of O’Leary’s coaches, said that the process has actually been an eyeopener, an experience that has helped her to become better at her job. “When you go to different places, you can kind of see what different people are doing,” she said. “You see what works, and what doesn’t work, so that’s pretty helpful.” On this day, I am lucky enough to be included in O’Leary’s text chain and find myself at the Willis Avenue Boxing Club on 141th Street in the Bronx. Resting above a church and up three flights of stairs that smell faintly of sawdust, the gym is already alive as O’Leary shepherds his crew over to the red ring that anchors the space. The gym’s regulars hardly
seem to notice the outsiders, who seem–if one didn’t know any better‑to blend right into their temporary surroundings. O’Leary’s retinue is a small one today,only six boxers and a coach have made the trip down to the Bronx, but the group arrives with a purpose. Chris Castiglia, a New Rochelle police officer and O’Leary charge, is preparing for an upcoming Golden Gloves bout. With his scheduled sparring partner a no-show, the rest of the Champs team must pick up the slack so Castiglia can get some much-needed work in before his fight. Castiglia, who fights at heavyweight, found himself in the ring with two of O’Leary’s top female fighters, team captain Michele Herzl, a pugnacious Mamaroneck scrapper, and Krystal Graham-Dixon, a 197+-pound division titlist at last year’s Golden Gloves who may possess quicker hands and sharper ring instincts than anyone Castiglia will see in his upcoming fight. Although the two women keep Castiglia working, peppering the New Rochelle police officer with shots, he admitted that the somewhat unpredictable nature of the training schedule has impacted his ability to establish a routine, something that is so important for boxers. “It hasn’t been easy,” said Castiglia, who went on to win a unanimous decision in his March 5 bout. “Not knowing where you’re going to be each day. It can be exhausting, especially after working a full day. But you just have to do what you can.” The situation becomes trickier for O’Leary’s growing stable of professional fighters. With their careers hanging in the balance, O’Leary and his team have done their best to keep their charges in shape while their new boxing home at 44 Potter Street is built. Kevin Crowley, who manages one of 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
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, 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. Photo/Mike Smith
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.”
BATH HOUSE continued from page 13
room. Once an entranceway, the door is now close to five feet below street level. Rusted metal scales that once weighed soap powder used to wash towels sit in a corner, past two brick archways that are also original to the building’s structure. Beyond the arches are boilers used to control water temperature in the pool and in the showers. Next to the newer water heaters is a massive cast iron boiler that appears to be close to 10 feet tall and about eight feet wide. The boiler, which is no longer in use, was manufactured by the H.B. Smith Company–a cast iron boiler manufacturing company founded in the mid-1850s, as per the company’s website. The face of the boiler reads that it was patented in 1911; according to Meola, it stopped working about 20 years ago. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, bath houses were typically placed in the centers of cities, usually in the midst of overcrowded neighborhoods. According to the book “Landmarks Lost and Found: An Introduction
to the Architecture and History of Yonkers” by Michael Rebic, in 18 industrial cities surveyed by the American Medical Association in 1887, five-sixths of the population did not have any facilities for bathing. However, in 1895, the New York Bath House Act was passed in the state requiring the construction of free bath houses in municipalities having 50,000 or more inhabitants. At the time, the legislation only applied to the cities of New York, Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, Troy and Utica. Public Bath House No. 3 is currently operated by the City of Yonkers Department of Parks and Recreation facility. Since 1985, the bath house has been on the National Registry of Historic Places, alongside Public Bath House Nos. 2 and 4. It holds weekly aquatic classes for children and seniors who are residents of Yonkers and also has a free swim for the general public on Tuesday afternoons. It will be continuously used as a city pool and a bath house for the foreseeable future.
18 • The TOWN REPORT • March 15, 2013
Sports 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.
In 2012, the Mamaroneck Tigers took the Class A crown. This year, they have their eyes set on states. Photo/Bobby Begun
MOVIE continued from page 10
exclusively a movie theater. Though there was an occasional rock and roll show there, gone were the days of regular visits from vaudeville entertainers, which were rumored to have included acts like Burns and Allen and Johnny Carsonthen a magician-working under assumed names to maintain their New York City contracts. By 1980, the Playhouse had moved into corporate hands and was in the midst of a renovation or, as Pritts and Albert more likely to see it, a vivisection. “They ruined it,” Pritts said. The Mamaroneck Playhouse became a United Artists theater with four small screens instead of one grand one, two floors instead of a balcony. Many of the adornments that made the theater as much an attraction as the movies it hosted were donated to the Mamaroneck Historical Society. As the 1980s drew to a close, a new generation of Mamaroneck’s children populated the Playhouse, but some of these were employees. John Theanthong was a Larchmont resident when, at the age of 16, he took a job at what I noticed he always referred to as “the Playhouse 4.” The altered interior didn’t leave Theanthong feeling his experience working at the theater alongside his brother and two best friends was any less special. It was just a different kind of special. “It’s an awesome job when you’re 16 years old,” Theanthong, who is now 39, said. “You got to see all the movies you wanted, all your friends thought you were the bomb.” Cleaning the theaters meant using a leaf blower to blast debris out a back door. One summer, Theanthong and his fellow employees founded a
good-natured fight club behind the screens after hours. Still, the Playhouse’s history was not lost on Theanthong during his time there. “Behind the theater you can actually see ropes and pulleys; the way it would actually be for a Broadway stage,” he said. “Behind the scenes there were a ton of [old dressing] rooms. It’s spooky, it’s scary, but it’s also a virtual treasure trove. We found old posters there.” Theanthong no longer lives in Westchester; 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
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. 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.
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.
March 15, 2013 • The TOWN REPORT • 19 SCHULTZ continued from page 7
WATIKER continued from page 7
everyone is happier and the project will go forward much faster. Another huge aspect is what happens during the project because they must be managed effectively.
out. Any project or related utilities project must be done in a way where inconvenience to residents is minimal. It’s important to listen to residents about their concerns and address them as quickly as possible.
3. Local communities often state that unfunded mandates and public labor contracts make up a large portion of the budget. Excluding reform on the state level, what would you do as a trustee to rein in the cost of labor? I actually think it’s pretty effective right now. I think there’s a lot of efficiency already in place. A Citizens Budget Advisory Committee’s analysis yielded that a lot of our village employees are at the end of their career, so they’re getting paid at the high end of the payment range. But the reason those people are getting paid a lot is because they have a lot of experience and with new people there could be a service issue because they have to learn and be trained. 4. If elected, what is the first legislation you would propose and why? The budget, though that’s not really a legislation. The first thing I’d do is take a hard look at the budget and see if we can do what everyone is asking and figure out how to reprioritize our expenditures. Something I’m not happy about is engagement and the clarity to which government interacts with the village residents; primarily when it comes to technology and the village website.
3. Local communities often state that unfunded mandates and public labor contracts make up a large portion of the budget. Excluding reform on the state level, what would you do as a trustee to rein in the cost of labor? When it comes to labor, it’s important to look for ways to make the village more accessible while keeping payroll under control. I’d like to look to other communities to see what they did when unfunded mandates were handed down. I work as an analyst and work with a lot of data, so I think it’s important to see what communities did correctly and what they might have done that could be avoided. 4. If elected, what is the first legislation you would propose and why? I think I would focus on improving the village website and communication to residents from officials. I’d like to see the website work in two ways: residents would be able to communicate to officials and they would be able to talk back to residents. I would also encourage other trustees to go out into the community and meet with people as much as possible.
5. What is one thing about yourself that you think most voters would be surprised to learn? I’m member of the Polar Bear Club. I jumped into the Arctic Ocean, above the Arctic Circle.
5. What is one thing about yourself that you think most voters would be surprised to learn? I’ve been a small town historian in Oberlin, Ohio and we can honor history in Tuckahoe going forward.
-Reporting by ASHLEY HELMS
-Reporting by ASHLEY HELMS
GIORDANO continued from page 6
LUISI continued from page 6
our residents, but I’m hopeful that it will be beneficial to our commercial establishments without creating traffic.
to detail, Tuckahoe will benefit greatly from these new developments.
3. Local communities often state that unfunded mandates and public labor contracts make up a large portion of the budget. Excluding reform on the state level, what will you do as a trustee to rein in the cost of labor? Your options are limited; one is to cut back on labor and reduce service that you’re providing. The second thing, which is the branch we’d rather take, is finding ways to share services that may lead to efficiencies. 4. If re elected, what is the first legislation you would propose and why? I have spent a lot of time with villagers over the past few months and there have been next to no complaints on the quality of life here. My first task would be to enact the best budget we can adopt for our community.
3. Local communities often state that unfunded mandates and public labor contracts make up a large portion of the budget. Excluding reform on the state level, what would you do as a trustee to rein in the cost of labor? The village already has taken steps by ensuring new hires for our DPW to have multiple job skills relative to maintaining our streets, lighting and trees, thereby eliminating the need to hire outside contractors. 4. If elected, what is the first legislation you would propose and why? I would like to propose that village elections are held at the same time as the November elections so that more residents would be involved in the electoral process in the village. The village would also realize a cost savings by combining elections with the state and federal government.
5. What is one thing about yourself that you think most voters would be surprised to learn? I love to play basketball, but I’m not that good at it.
5. What is one thing about yourself that you think most voters would be surprised to learn? I saw “Titanic” four times in the movies.
-Reporting by Ashley Helms
-Reporting by ASHLEY HELMS
Spring building and convenient parking BRONXVILLE TODAY Mayor Mary Marvin
After our unseasonably mild weekend, my thoughts have turned to spring and some of the issues that are particular to this time of year. The following information is a refresher of procedures and facts germane to such activities. Spring starts folks thinking of improvements to their homes, and many projects require a building permit from the village. The terms of a village permit allow work to be done from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., weekdays only. If the project is one for which a permit is not required, painting for example, work can be done on weekends. However, even work acceptable to do on weekends must respect the village’s noise ordinance and not create an undue disturbance. Villagers can call the police department with any noise concerns. If you anticipate any work on your home, start by calling the Building Department at (914) 337-7338. The staff can guide you as to whether permits or variances are required. Undertaking work without permits results in double fees, both on the cost of the permit itself and the estimate of the value of the project. Many residents are running into this problem when they go to place their home on the market and find projects have no valid Certificate of Occupancy so the home cannot be transferred. Even seemingly small projects, such as electrical or plumbing work, need permits. The overriding concern is safety, both for one’s own home and nearby neighbors. After a permit request is filed, work cannot commence until the permit request is reviewed and signed off by the Building Department. All fences, even replacements, sheds and emergency generators require a permit regardless of the height or size. If you need additional new recycling bins, they can be purchased by mailing a check or cash, or stopping by village hall with the $10 fee. We do not keep a large quantity of bins on hand at village hall, so we deliver them to your home after purchase. We still have many street lights out, some since Hurricane Sandy, unfortunately. The outages are the result of significant damage to the electrical feed, and we are diligently pressing Con Edison to address the situation.
Spring also brings greater turnover of residents in village houses and apartments. Residents of some of our townhomes and apartment complexes often rent parking spaces on a first come, first serve basis. However, when one sells or purchases a unit, the parking space is not part of the deed of transfer. This confusion has led to many frustrated new purchasers. However, there is a solution. If you plan on purchasing in the village, you can put your name on the waiting list in anticipation of purchase. Conversely, if you plan on selling in the not too distant future, you may put your name on the waiting list as well to save a spot for your anticipated purchaser. As an interesting factoid, there are 1,678 parcels of property that make-up the geographic boundaries of the village. Of that number, 1,595 are classified as taxable and are responsible for the tax levy‑18.07% which goes to operating the village and 81.93% to our school. The nice weather also contributes to an increase in door-to-door solicitations. Individuals selling goods cannot do so legally without first receiving a permit from the village. Do not hesitate to call the police department if the salesperson cannot produce their permit. Upon investigation, the police have found that some of the charities that were purported to benefit from our purchases were non-existent. The First Amendment does protect all those “selling” an idea or cause so groups such as the Jehovah Witnesses or Greenpeace do not need permission to ring your bell. To limit this kind of visit, a small “No Solicitation” sign near the front door has proven effective. Residents and visitors to the village who may want to enjoy a spring meal or matinee now have many options for extended time parking: An entire row in the Garden Avenue lot is a mixture of two and three hour meters, the Cedar Street lot and Cedar Street itself has two hour parking as does Kraft Avenue on the train station side, Kensington Road near the Blue Moon Restaurant and Paxton Avenue and Parkway Road on the west side. For even longer stays, the first 34 meters inside the Kraft lot, closest to the People’s Bank, accommodate three-hour parking, and at the far end of the Kraft lot, near St. Joseph’s Church, there are many underutilized, unrestricted parking spaces that allow for 12-hour stays. Just a short walk allows you to enjoy long visits in the village without the concern of expiring meters.
20 • The TOWN REPORT • March 15, 2013