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Sandy Slams Juniper Hill (Originally Posted October 2012)

Hurricane Sandy slammed into Juniper Hill October 29th, blowing up transformers, knocking down trees and utility polls, and plunging the Hill into darkness for over a week.  Residents turned into refugees as below freezing temperatures forced them to stay with friends and relatives for shelter and warmth.  Downed trees, poles and hot wires blocked Juniper Hill from West of Shiloh Gospel Chapel past Southwood Place as the National Guard turned motorists away from the danger zone.  Long lines formed at the few gas stations that still had electricity and fuel.
Here we are two weeks later beginning the big clean-up.  We are grateful to be unharmed and to have our power, telephone, and cable back, but are daunted by the task ahead.  Juniper Hill still looks like a battle zone with the wreckage of poles and  trees littering the roadside, jerry-rigged lines slung low off listing utility poles, and the hulks of burnt-out transformers waiting curbside for someone (Con Ed? The Town?) to retrieve them.
Juniper Hill President Sue Mirialakis sent the following message to Town Supervisor Paul Feiner on November 10th:
Our hearts go out to those who still don’t have     power.  We on Juniper Hill had 9 days and some of us nearly 11 days without power.  We are very grateful that our power has been restored and to my knowledge no one was injured.  Thank you to you and all the wonderful Town of Greenburgh people who worked like demons to help all of us back to normalcy.  We want to understand how we ensure the continued blessing of power does not end due to “temporary fixes” necessitated by the emergency.
In some instances, particularly on Juniper Hill Road where a utility pole sheared off and several trees went down, the damage was quite severe.  Although power was eventually restored, the pole currently hosting the cables is leaning over the road and going around the first curve of Juniper Hill between Walnut andSaratoga is a scary proposition with branches from downed trees hanging over the road on one side and cables that just hang loosely from the aforementioned pole which is obviously doing double duty on the other side- that pretty much covers the whole roadway.
There was another pole to which a 2×4 was nailed to extend it for cabling at the corner of Midway Rd. and Allen Place.  I’m sure there are many more of these all over Juniper Hill, the Town and throughout the whole tristate region.  What is the plan to correct these temporary solutions?
Are we to assume this temporary fix will be seen to as soon as everyone in town has power again?  Will this mean the road will again be shut in order to replace the sheared pole and to straighten the leaning one?  We should probably be told when this will be done as I’d imagine the power will have to be shut down to do this work.  I would also hope the work will be coordinated with the appropriate Town of Greenburgh departments and other utilities. Please let us know what to expect and when – if you can get the info from your contacts at Con Ed.  Otherwise, how should we proceed to make sure this situation doesn’t slip through the numerous cracks in Con Ed’s system?
Paul wrote back that “once power is restored we’ll have the time to focus on the cleanup and other issues.”  He is forming a citizens committee to lobby the Public Service Commission to force changes in Con Ed’s response to outages.  The first meeting, open to anyone who experienced a power outage, will be Monday, November 19th at 7 PM at Greenburgh Town Hall. If you would like to join the committee, e-mail Paul at[email protected].
Sandy was not a once-in-a-lifetime event.  Global warming is upon us, increasing the likelihood of Sandy-like storms.  We need to upgrade our infrastructure and improve our disaster response planning if we are going to prevent similar nightmares from occurring in the future.
In line with this, Sue also sent Paul a detailed list of suggestions including:
1) Requiring gas stations to have emergency generators.
2) Ensuring trees are maintained properly along roadways, and requiring property  owners to care for their trees.
3) Changing laws which hold property owners harmless if their tree falls on a neighbor’s property. Current responsibility for clean-up and repair lies with the victim.
4) Requiring multifamily dwellings and developments to have disaster management plans, including a system for checking on residents to make sure they are safe and have basic necessities.
5) Organizing local civic groups into a Civil Defense network to assist in disasters.
6) Requiring utilities to upgrade disaster recovery plans.
7) Improving communication/liaison between utilities and State, County, and Town resources to reduce hours wasted as crews wait for other recovery teams to get to a scene and clear the worksite of debris, live wires, etc. before they can begin work.
8) Improved transparency in how Con Ed prioritizes repairs so that everyone has a clear understanding of how and why restoration is affected.
Con Ed’s communication system clearly needs substantial improvement. Many of us heard nothing from ConEd for the week to week-and-a-half prior to restoration, only to receive multiple phone calls days after power had already been restored informing us that power would be restored shortly.
If you lost Cablevision service during the storm, you can request a refund for down time by calling Optimum at 777-9000 or going online at: https://signin.optimum.net/signin?referer=http://www.optimum.net%2Fcredit.  
 
FEMA has opened a Disaster Recovery Center in the Westchester County Center building. The center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Little Theater on the County Center’s third floor for as long as its needed. FEMA will handle applications for damages that include Hurricane Sandy and Wednesday’s nor’easter, treating it as one storm. Representatives from the Small Business Administration and a number of social service agencies will also be on hand.  For more information, call 1-800-621-FEMA.
 
Representatives of the New York State Department of Financial Services will be available in Yonkers from 9:00 AM -5:00 PM on Monday, November 11 in their Mobile Command Center, which will be located at the Yonkers Library, 1 Larkin Plaza, Yonkers. 

Department representatives can help contact your insurer if you’ve been unable to do so, and answer questions about your insurance coverage.  The Department’s also has a storm hotline: (800) 339-1759, and insurance information is also available on the Department’s website, www.dfs.ny.gov 

Indian Point Meeting (Originally Posted April 2011)

A meeting was held at Greenburgh Town Hall on Monday, April 11 2011 on the status of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Peekskill, NY.  Town Supervisor Paul Feiner spoke about his frustration regarding current evacuation plans stating “I am concerned that as a police commissioner of the Town of Greenburgh I would have no idea what to do if there were ever an evacuation. We’ve never been told.”  He was joined by former assemblyman Richard Brodsky, members of the Peace March for Nuclear Safety (organized by the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order) and activists from Clearwater, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Riverkeeper, the Westchester Citizen’s Awareness Network, and the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, and a seismologist from Columbia University.

A roster of experts convened to present the facts about Indian Point and why Governor Cuomo has called for non-renewal of the plant’s license to operate.  Indian Point is due for relicensing in 2013 and 2015. Unfortunately, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sole jurisdiction over relicensing — and it has never failed to relicense a nuclear plant.

The facts are chilling in light of the disaster at Fukushima. The aging Indian Point reactors are over 35 years old and need major maintenance to address:

1) Corroded water pipes carrying water to and from the reactor and spent fuel pools. There is radioactive ground water under the plant that leaches into the Hudson River. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission agrees with Entergy that replacement of the leaking pipes is too expensive.

2) Insufficiently insulated electrical cables that may fail to support AC power needed to cool the reactor and spent rods in the event of a fire. Back-up Generators –- if they work — that are only intended to provide 4 hours of power. Indian Point claims it’s too expensive to replace the cables. Inadequate regard for safety was highlighted after a large transformer blew up. A second similar transformer wasn’t replaced until it also blew up.

3) Inadequate storage for spent fuel rods in buildings we know will not contain emergencies such as fire, explosion etc., and which lack back up cooling systems. Spent fuel has a half-life of thousands of years.

4) The impossibility of evacuating fifty-square miles of population. Imagine evacuating 20 million people on our roads! Laughable security from terrorist attack. A small plane recently got within 1,000 feet of the reactor without a challenge.

5) Indian Point sits at the juncture of the Ramapo and Peekskill-Stamford earthquake faults. Entergy says Indian Point can withstand a magnitude 6.1 quake. The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University says there have been several magnitude 5 quakes in New York State (including a 5.6 quake in 1929) and that a magnitude 7 quake is within the realm of possibility.

6) Two large high-pressure natural gas lines run through Indian Point adding to the risk of explosion and fire at the plant.

7) Indian Point’s cooling system is a one-time use system that draws 2.5 billion gallons of water from the Hudson daily, warms it in the reactor, and then releases the warmed water back into the Hudson where is harms the aquatic ecology. Approximately one billion fish, fish eggs, and fish larvae are killed by Indian Point in any given year. That’s not counting any effect from the water containing radioactive tritium that has leaked into the groundwater and the river. Rockland County is currently considering plans to draw drinking water from an area less than two miles downstream from Indian Point.

Our newest Westchester County Board of Legislators representative Mary Jane Shimsky (she replaced Tom Abinanti in a recent special election) is co-sponsoring a bill to the NY State Legislature to insist on a 50 mile evacuation zone (currently a 10 mile zone) along with Alfreda Williams and others on the Environmental Legislation Committee.


Juniper Hill Traffic Study Completed

The Greenburgh Police Department put a speed sensor down on Juniper Hill the week of July 27th to assess traffic volume and speed. The sensor was placed just east of the curve after Saratoga Road.  During that time some 6,869 vehicles traveled on Juniper Hill, an average of 981 vehicles per day.  The average speed of the vehicles was 27 miles per hour.  98.3% of the drivers traveled at or below the speed limit, and only 0.6% of the drivers exceeded 40 miles an hour. Traffic Enforcement Officers were sent to Juniper Hill during the study to enforce the speed limit during the peak times the counter had recorded higher speeds but they didn’t detect any speeders.

Of course even one driver traveling above the speed limit puts our residents at risk, especially pedestrians given the lack of sidewalks and shoulders and the presence of blind curves on Juniper Hill. There were six speeders per day on Juniper Hill that week, but the Police Department seems to have concluded that speeding is not enough of a problem to warrant deploying additional resources on Juniper Hill.  Sergeant Thomas Fultin, Commanding Officer of the Traffic and Safety Unit, commented that “perception plays a large part in situations such as this. With the tight curves, narrow streets and hills, it could appear that vehicles are moving faster than they are, which we find throughout the town.”

The results of the report were presented at the November 17th Civic Association Meeting.  Many association members expressed continuing concerns about traffic problems on Juniper Hill, and a committee was formed to present continuing concerns and recommendations to Police Chief DeCarlo.


Dr. Hooker is Grand Marshal

Dr. Olivia Hooker of Juniper Hill served as Grand Marshal for two parades this summer!  She served as Grand Marshal for the White Plains Juneteenth Heritage Parade this past June 12th, and again as Grand Marshal for the Unity in the Community Parade in Greenburgh on August 21st.  Dr. Hooker was the first African-American woman to serve in the US Coast Guard.  She also served as Director of Psychology at the Kennedy Child Study Center, was an Associate Professor of Psychology at Fordham University, and worked as a psychologist at the Fred Keller School in Yonkers until 2002.  She is a survivor of the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 in which hundreds of African-Americans were killed and a thousand African-American homes and businesses were burned, and has been active in efforts to get restitution for survivors of that atrocity.


Town to Begin Road Work 

Greenvale Circle and Juniper Hill Road will both be undergoing significant work in the near future, according to Richard Fon, the Town’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Works. Fon toured the neighborhood’s roads with members of the Civic Association on June 26th.

The work on Greenvale Circle will be most extensive. Temporary resurfacing will be done sometime soon, but at a point later in the year most of the road will need to be torn up to replace the aging, leaky water main below its surface. Replacing the main is a project that will take some time. In addition, once the main is replaced the ground will have to settle for a year before a permanent and complete repaving can be done. Greenvale Circle residents can look forward to a lengthy, messy project, but once it is completed they can look forward to a road (and water main) that will last them thirty years.

Juniper Road will undergo a less dramatic transformation. Fons says that their will be improvements made to the curbing from Russell Street to the top of the hill. This should make the road safer for pedestrians. In addition, Fons said they will do what they can to make the intersection of Walnut and Juniper Hill safer. Right now visibility to oncoming traffic is poor at the intersection due to the angle of the intersection and overgrown shrubbery. The town inspector has since issued a code enforcement notice to the property owner at that intersection instructing the owner to trim the shrubbery.

Heavy equipment traffic on these roads should be somewhat lighter now that the commercial parking lot at the foot of Russell Street is ceasing operations. The settlement with the Town calls for the parking lot to be vacated no later than July 27th.


Illegal Parking Lot Vacated

The illegal parking lot on Russell Street has finally been vacated in time for the July 27th deadline established by  agreement with the town attorney (see the copy of the agreement on the Civic Association Files page).  The property is now up for sale.  The closing of the parking lot should ease traffic congestion and road wear-and-tear, cut down on noise, and eliminate a neighborhood eyesore.  Thanks for everyone in the community whose persistent efforts were able to eliminate this problem.


Juniper Hill 2012 BBQ a Success! (Originally Published August, 2012)

The Juniper Hill Civic Association BBQ was held  Saturday August 4th on Saratoga Road.  Over forty Juniper Hill residents turned out despite the 90 degree heat for an afternoon of music, food, and fun.  This BBQ also had special events for the children including face painting, magic, and balloon animals.  Visit our photo gallery page for a slide show of the event.
Special thanks go to Steve, Sheryl, and Andrea Baptiste and to the Jamiesons for their gracious hospitality, and to Richard Omess for providing the sound system and serving as DJ.  Thanks to Alfonso Leonce, Millie Stewart, Sue Mirialakis, Illayne Parker, and Arthur Chisolm for planning, set up, purchasing supplies, and cleaning up afterwards. Thanks to Steve Baptiste and Seth Segall for serving as cooks.  And thanks to everyone who brought salads, deserts, tables and chairs. Lastly, thanks to the Town Council for allowing us to close off the street, and to Paul Feiner for dropping by and listening to neighborhood concerns.

Gloria Mitchell Obituary

(From the Journal News, July 19, 2012)
Gloria Mitchell, age 73, passed away peacefully after a courageous battle with cancer. She is predeceased by her parents Mary and Charles Gant and her brother Charles and two sisters Marilyn and Elizabeth. 
Gloria is survived by her husband of 49 years, Napoleon Mitchell Jr. (“Mitch”), son Guy, grandson Giles, bothers Sam and Richard Gant. Gloria was close to her Uncle Oscar and several nieces, nephews, cousins, sister in-laws, daughter in law, other relatives and scores of friends. 
On May 11, 1939 Gloria Gant the eldest of six siblings, was born in Newark, New Jersey. At a young age she and her family moved to East Harlem in New York City. She graduated from Central Commercial High School, where she met her future sister-in-law, Joan Mitchell. In the preceding several years she was employed at State Insurance Fund. In 1963 she married Mitch and shortly thereafter bore a son, Guy. While raising Guy she was employed as an Executive Secretary at P.S. 136 in Harlem, New York. 
When she moved to Greenburgh, New York in 1977, she attended Westchester Community College while she continued her employment at P.S. 136 until her retirement in 1996. Gloria was a mentor for 20 years at the Lee Jackson School and as she was a member of the Senior Exercise Class at the Theodore Young Community Center for 25 years. Gloria joined the Chatterton Hill Church 30 years ago where she was an active member and a deacon. 
Gloria was truly a caring and genuine person who put others first. She will be remembered for her beauty, style and above all her grace.
Wake/visitation Saturday, July 21, 2012 10:00-11:30AM, followed by Memorial Service at 11:30AM, all at Chatterton Hill Church, 85 Chatterton Ave., White Plains, NY 10606. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the church at the above address in her name.

In Memoriam:

Robert Morgan 1937-2010

Former Juniper Hill Civic Association President Robert Morgan of Midway Road passed away on October 18, 2010.  Born in White Plains, he graduated from White Plains High School in 1956.  He served in the U.S. Air Force and worked for IBM (30 years) and for Nationwide Communications (15 years).  He was active in the Boy Scouts of America serving as both a Cub Scout and Scout Master, and also served as a coach for the Dad’s Club Little League.  In addtition to being president of the Juniper Hill Civic Association he was recording secretary for the African American Men of Westchester, Inc. and chairman of the advisory board of the Theodore D. Young Community Center.  Bob was a member of the Union Baptist Church for over 50 years.  He is survived by Mary, his wife of forty-seven years, and his three sons, Geoffrey, Corey, and Kevin.
The entire community will miss him greatly.