L to E: Train station leasing “process”—“Welcome to the House of Mirrors”

Saturday, June 7, 2014
by Carla Gambescia, Founder and Owner of Via Vanti

What is past is past, and, whether you believe it is right or wrong, the current Board is confident that the process that is presently underway will be open and fair to all applicants.

~ Town of New Castle Deputy Supervisor Lisa Katz (NewCastleNOW, March 28, 2014)

Some of the fondest memories of my childhood are of summers on the Jersey Shore and evenings spent there on the boardwalk where I was captivated by all the rides and attractions, and especially the House of Mirrors.

The disorienting labyrinth of glass reflections – where up was down and down was up; where fat was thin and thin was fat – never failed to engage and entertain me. But after a while I was always happy to come back out!

So what really happened with the new Town Board, and why? Such questions take me back to the House of Mirrors . . . though not with the nostalgic fondness of my youth.

I am sharing the following information so that interested New Castle residents might understand why I’ve chosen to support the Permissive Referendum initiative regarding the Chappaqua train station lease. If I were to remain silent – which would be the easier course – I would be abetting and implicitly sanctioning conduct which runs counter to my deepest convictions about integrity and fair play. So much that has transpired in recent months points to a breakdown in process and proper governance. New Castle residents and those who wish to do business in (and with) New Castle deserve better.

By way of background, Via Vanti! was awarded the train station lease in April of 2013 but did not receive the Town’s proposed lease document until after the November elections. This unusual delay arose at least in part because of delays in structural remediation to the building’s foundation which was needed before we could prepare the space for restaurant operations. At that point it was the decision of the former Town Supervisor to let the new Board finalize the lease.

The “Bathroom Availability is Paramount” Illusion

The extent of evening bathroom access was one of the items discussed between newly elected Councilman Adam Brodsky and me in the very brief period we were engaged in negotiations this past January – without, I might add, the involvement (and cost) of a Town attorney, or of any legal representation for myself. My position was that I wished to have the bathrooms reserved for guest use during the evening, simply because I didn’t want to compromise the guest experience during dinner hours given the intimate size of the space.

The bigger context for this preference was both my personal desire and the Town’s avowed interest in creating a destination dining amenity that could help revitalize downtown Chappaqua, especially at night. (What I proposed replicates the hours of public bathroom access required by the MTA in my Mount Kisco train station lease.) My position was restated in an email sent to Councilman Brodsky while I was away for business towards the end of the month. Following that, on January 27th, the councilman and I had a cordial phone conversation in which he expressed both his understanding and support of my preference, as well as his intention to express it to the full Board.

I did not hear back from Councilman Brodsky for the next two weeks but assumed that the Board was preoccupied with much-publicized Chappaqua Crossing developments. Only after following up with him on February 11th by email did I receive this reply: “We are going to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for the space to see if we can find a user that can accommodate the open bathroom policy. I apologize for this misunderstanding but the newly elected board feels the bathroom availability is paramount. We also feel that an open process for the space is important so that the residents understand that we have left no stone unturned.”

I was shocked. When I asked Councilman Brodsky (a real estate attorney) how a negotiating position could become a deal-killer without notice, he offered no explanation. When I asked him why I wasn’t advised that full-time bathroom access was a requirement – indeed “paramount” – he offered no explanation. When I asked him whether a simple phone call to me wouldn’t have been easier than to crank up a new RFP process, he offered no answer. When I said I would agree to comply with the Board’s “open bathroom policy,” he said “we are happy to put you in the mix” as long as Via Vanti! was agreeable to “revisiting the rent number.”

In our brief earlier encounters Councilman Brodsky asserted that the monthly rent of $2,500 agreed to by the prior Board was “half” the space’s true market value of $5,000, or $46 per square foot (annualized basis). [NOTE: The winning bid of the new RFP process began at $2,500 a month and was subsequently negotiated up to $3,300 a month: still one-third less than Councilman Brodsky’s claim for fair market value.]

Weeks later, in NewCastleNOW, Supervisor Rob Greenstein persisted in the party line: “As far as Carla Gambescia from Via Vanti, she had reneged on the public’s access to the bathroom.” Never mind that the new Board’s designated negotiator unilaterally ceased negotiations: it was about the bathrooms—and certainly not about the new Board abrogating the prior Board’s agreement.

[NOTE: On Februrary 13th Councilman Brodsky emailed me an RFP dated May 2012 which I had never seen and pre-dated my involvement with the station by six months. It stated the bathrooms should be accessible to the public during the time the building was open, but did not specify any set hours. The councilman said in his email that he had no prior knowledge of it.]

The “There is No Meeting Scheduled” Illusion

Wednesday, February 12th

Councilman Brodsky tells me by email that the Board is scheduling presentations for the train station lease the following month, on Tuesday, March 11th

Wednesday, March 5th

NewCastleNOW asks Supervisor Rob Greenstein various questions including the following regarding the March 11th meeting for the train station lease : “Who are the other candidates? Did the town issue an RFP for the lease of the train station, to which the March 11 candidates have responded?”

Friday, March 7th

Councilman Jason Chapin informs me by email that, “I just learned that the train station presentations are not on the agenda for March 11 and don’t know why we were told otherwise. We will get back to you when we know more.”

Saturday, March 8th

Supervisor Greenstein’s interview responses, appearing in NewCastleNOW, include the following statement: “There is no meeting scheduled to hear proposals for the train station space. We have not issued the RFP yet.”

Sunday, March 9th

Councilwoman Elise Mottel informs me by phone that the March 11th train station meeting is back on the schedule again.

Tuesday, March 11th

I present as originally scheduled on March 11th as do Peter and Erin Chase of bpc (by peter chase).

Tuesday, March 18th

Due to scheduling confusion, Gerry Petraglia of Thornwood Deli and Leslie Lampert of Café of Love and Ladle of Love present to the Board a week later than originally planned.

The “Open and Fair to All Applicants” Illusion

This may have been the grandest illusion of them all.

The Board’s“Process”

The cart went before the horse.

Candidates were invited a month or more in advance to make a presentation of their respective visions for a food service operation in the train station. During that period the Board offered no sense of its own vision, objectives, priorities or decision criteria in the form of an upfront request for proposal (RFP) which, as a standard practice of good management or good governance, would routinely PRECEDE and inform any such presentations.

Councilman Brodsky did offer me three pieces of counsel: 1) I should be prepared to make my case in 15 minutes; 2) I should be prepared to discuss bathroom access (even though a settled matter by that point); and 3) I should not bring any food.

Somehow I sensed that other candidates must have received different guidance. (One, for instance, brought soup for Board members to sample.) But that was impossible to know with any degree of certainty since there were no joint briefings or uniform briefing materials forthcoming from the Board to ensure transparency and an even playing field going in.

The RFP document became accessible online to the public late in the day on Thursday, March 20th leaving barely a week for additional candidates to find out about it, schedule a site visit and prepare a thoughtful written proposal by the Friday, March 28th deadline.

Not surprisingly, no new candidates emerged. With the RFP’s impossibly small window, the Board effectively deprived the Town of any meaningful opportunity to attract additional credible operators as applicants. In the prior month Councilman Brodsky had written to me that “an open process for the space is important so that the residents understand that we have left no stone unturned.” In reality the Board turned over just three stones.

The Board’s Decision

Try this thought experiment:

Proposal A: a boutique farmer’s market plus casual lunch and light diner venue with full bar; initial monthly rent of $3,247; capital improvements (unquantified) to the current Café La Track and ticket booth spaces

Proposal B: “grab and go” items, light eat-in fare (until 8 pm) without table service, and an indoor market with fruit, flowers and shelf-stable products; initial monthly rent of $2,500; no capital improvements

Proposal C: a lunch and dinner destination venue with small plates, the area’s only mozzarella bar, plus wine bar; initial monthly rent of $3,000 with 2.5% annual escalation; additional $620 / month in capital improvements

Imagine you’re a Board member. Which of these best befits the “Crown Jewel” of Chappaqua? Here’s what the New Castle Town Board did after receiving these submissions:

Candidate A was contacted and asked for a translation of its per-square-foot bid into a monthly rent payment. Answer: $3,247. No further contact from the Town.

Candidate C was contacted and asked, “Is that your highest bid?” Answer: “If we are selected, everything is negotiable.” No further contact from the Town.

Candidate B, the ingoing low bidder, was contacted and entered into 7 weeks of lease negotiations (cost to the Town of $9,000+ for April alone with May yet to be billed) yielding a final cash bid of $3,300 per month; a 5-year renewal option was added for a 15 year commitment.

Several questions come to mind:

Why did the Board focus on the low bidder to the exclusion of the other two more robust proposals?

Why did it cost so much and take so long?

Why did the Board decide to grant a 5-year lease extension option – NOT part of the original RFP – given that no investment in capital improvements was being proposed?

“Open”? “Fair to all applicants”?

The Town Board ended up awarding the lease to Candidate B. Even after the negotiated adjustment, that candidate’s bid remained the lowest of the three when the value of capital improvements was factored in.

After learning secondhand of the decision, Candidate A followed up with Council Brodsky and was told by way of explanation that nobody knew who they were. This raises another question: Was being “known” a decision criterion? If so, how “fair” or “open” is that?

Was this the best deal for the Town?  Was this process small business friendly?

The ultimate issue, in Deputy Supervisor Katz’s words, is whether the process they engaged in was “open and fair to all applicants.” Was it?

[NOTE: The names of individual applicants have been omitted above because the capabilities and character of those individuals are NOT at issue here. All three parties have succeeded in a tough business in a tough environment, and by all appearances have done so with character, class and genuine concern for the communities they serve. All were worthy contenders.]

The “You Can’t Fight City Hall” Illusion

We’ve all heard the expression “You can’t fight City [or Town] Hall.” This just might be the most dangerous illusion of them all if it ends up deterring good people from speaking out and holding their elected representatives accountable for bad governance.

Since the Chappaqua train station is a property owned by the Town of New Castle, concerned residents have a powerful tool that allows their voices to be heard. It is called a Permissive Referendum – a legitimate and legal mechanism available for a local community to contest and stop the sale or lease of its Town property . . . THEIR property! [For further explanation see: What is Permissive Referendum and how does it work?, NCNOW.org, 5/30/14.]

Most all of the actions of Town Board members cannot be challenged between elections. This referendum is an exception and is probably the only opportunity New Castle residents will have to send a strong “official” message to their Board before the November 2015 elections.

While the Chappaqua train station may or may not be a high priority for you personally, the principle involved here could not be more crucial: the quality of governance you receive is the quality of governance you demand. What standards of conduct do you expect from your elected Town Board members?

What kind of business climate do you want to foster for entrepreneurs who wish to bring their dreams to (and invest in) downtown Chappaqua?

As a former independent marketing consultant for nearly 20 years I have been a veteran of competition for most of my professional life. I have won and I have lost. Obviously I prefer to win (who doesn’t!), but I can be peaceful with not winning if I feel the process was fair and the decision just.

But again the ultimate issue isn’t one of “winning” or “losing” but rather “openness” and “fairness” on the part of the Town Board. The three newly elected Board members ran and won on a platform of business friendliness, transparency and ethical conduct. Is it too much to hold them accountable for their own avowed principles?


Comments(43):
We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

Something Is rotten in the Town of New Castle.

Different words same song and it hasn’t even been 6 months.

Great article, this clarifies a lot.

By William S on 06/07/2014 at 6:48 am

NOTHING about this process was fair and open. NOTHING about Greenstein, Katz, and Brodsky is transparent. They are frauds and liars of the highest order.
Their handling of the Town Adminstrator , the secret negotions with developers, the exclusion of the other 2 sitting board members and the handling of the train station lease demonstrate their lack of integrity and honesty. This after being promised we would have ” a new approach” and transparency in government.
It is interesting that Brodsky took the lead on this with Carla and told her about the fair value of the lease. Consideri the fact that he/ his family own a still vacant commercial piece of downtown property. It has been empty for years ,a blight in the area it sits. If he knows so much about the value and worth of rents downtown how come he hasn’t found a tenant or buyer for his building? 

By Robert M on 06/07/2014 at 7:34 am

This Town Board is underestimating the intelligence of the residents. The lack of process is the problem in this issue. What will the next one be? It’s only a matter of time until they screw up the next thing on their agenda.

By Long Time Resident on 06/07/2014 at 8:29 am

It seems the board finally did the right thing and opened the bidding up to multiple proposals. When she was supposedly awarded the lease back in April 2013, were there other offers to choose from? She doesn’t say so I presume not. Now she’s upset with our town for trying to be fair? She didn’t win so now she wants to extend the process so we, the commuters and residents, can’t get a good cup,of coffee for many more months. Shame on Carla.

By JR Paul on 06/07/2014 at 8:33 am

Something IS wrong with the TB.  Do something people!  Sign the petition!

By Joanie on 06/07/2014 at 8:34 am

Adam Brodsky brought this stain upon us, he was the point man for the negotiations. 

I thought downtown was supposed to be his thing?

It’s amature hour….bush league.

By Chris Roberta on 06/07/2014 at 8:35 am

This is unbelievable. This answeres many questions.
We r confused no more

Thank you Carla. Well written

EVERYONE. needs to take action.
I urge you all to sign this referendum.

You are right Carla. It’s not about the train station.
It’s a much bigger issue. Our rights !!!

By By randi on 06/07/2014 at 8:55 am

Thank you Carla for sharing the background.  Bring on the referendum. 

By I only wish we could have a referendum for the to on 06/07/2014 at 9:15 am

We are being encouraged to accept Carla’s version of facts.  Has anybody checked to see if
her proposal would be acceptable with restrictions on this historical space? 
Also, why wasn’t a new RFP issued when this started under the old town board?  Listened
to her presentation and had great concerns knowing the serious traffic that flows though this space on a daily basis.
Lets not forget that when the trains come through you feel every one of them.

By JNL on 06/07/2014 at 10:35 am

Has this :ethics board” checked into the impropriety of Brodsky being involved in downtown matters?  Or was it simply a rubber stamp?

By shady on 06/07/2014 at 11:12 am

To JNL - I believe Carla. What other version of facts and from who do you accept them? Team New Castle? Hah! You really gonna believe Katz. beodsky and Greenstein? NOT.
Robert M and Chris Robera makes the perfect point - If Brodsky is the downtown expert and that was his point of running for town board than how can he be so wrong on his own property. He informs Carla of the true value of the train station lease as if he is the authority on competitive real estate prices downtown but his own property has been empty for a decade! If he is such an expert than why hasn’t he been able to rent or sell his/ family property? Or as others have suggested, he and his family are so darn rich that they can afford to sit with empty/ abandoned downtown real estate. Someone that wealthy is probably out of touch with reality. Carla deserves a fair process run by competent and honest people.

By Resident on 06/07/2014 at 11:13 am

Editor- what petition and where may I find it?

Editor’s Note:  There is a link in the article.

By Rayj on 06/07/2014 at 11:23 am

Good information for all to see.  I do not support the actions of the town board.  No one should.  The question is why did they ?  Why did Elise Mottel, also a member of the previous board vote for Lampert ?  Lisa Katz is an embarrassment and follows her leader. 

Chris Roberta is right, amature hour and Adam is the reason, but the others who supported his choice are also culpable.  Jason Chapin, once again acts in the best fiduciary interests of the town and with integrity.  Anyone remember integrity ?

BTW, I just returned from the farmer’s market where I bought 3 small croissants from the
Love table. They were no better than anything else I have bought from Leslie’s takeout.
They are light rolls in the shape of croissants.  If that is what you want, Leslie is your girl.
If you want real croissants, I recommend Susan Lawrence.  I know that that is the last thing that I will buy from Love.

JNL, continue your dishonest spin. THere was nothing in either of the other proposals that compromised the restrictions of the space. No one is buying it, but I know that you will not stop and will stoop to any lows,
because you are lacking integrity.

By anonymous on 06/07/2014 at 11:37 am

There was a prior RFP in 2012. Flying Pig was considering the site for a while but the toen had to do structural work on the floor, etc. It took so long Pig dropped out. Then Via and another entity paticipated in presentations to the board. All of this can be found in prior articles on this site. Via absolutely did participate in an open process already.

By Anonymous on 06/07/2014 at 11:40 am

This Town Board has got some serious problems with how it conducts its business.  Election to the Town Board is not supposed make the town the private fiefdom of the newly elected officials.  How business is conducted is as important as the end results.  There is no justification for the arbitrary exercise of power.  Given all that is coming out about the train station and town appointments, the permissive referendum seems opportune.  If one bidder loses at the train station and complained, you can blame it on “sour grapes”, but when two competing bidders come together to say the process is flawed and go to the trouble of initiating a referendum, it is time for town’s people to sit up and take notice.  There is something horribly wrong with what is happening on the Town Board.  Bring on the referendum.

By Jonathan S. on 06/07/2014 at 12:00 pm

Yup Adam is a problem. A stubborn one too.

By He's Ours! on 06/07/2014 at 12:07 pm

No one has answered what type of damage cooking would do to the interior.  Also, town is much more casual and white tablecloths ,music and a “happening place” are better suited to somewhere people could park.  What about excess garbage?

By JNL on 06/07/2014 at 3:05 pm

When is Lisa Katz going to get a backbone and stand up to her two teammates. She has been an embarrassment.  She ran to stop retail at CC and no sooner do they get into office and Greenstein is secretly negotiating with Summit Greenfield to bring retail to CC. She obviously doesn’t understand right from wrong if she thinks it is appropriate to make decisions without partipation from the full board. She can’t possibly defend the train station lease situation and the way Brodsky and Greenstein handled this. Rather than stand up for a fair and transparent process she partipates in this charade. She must understand that ShapiroGate reflects poorly on her as well. She is part of Team New Castle and with their 3 votes they have majority rule. I guess she thinks that gives them all license to do whatever they want and disregard all promises she made.
Really Lisa- have you no moral compass. Do you think we all forgot your performances at past town board meetings when you yelled and screamed at Susan Carpenter. You castigated her for not listening and hearing resident. you complained about the previous boards lack of transparency and behind closed doors deal making. You were relentless is criticizing the previous town board and you won the election promising ” a new approach”. It’s time you broke ranks with Rob and Adam. Not sure what you see when you look in the mirror but what I see in you now is nothing like the candidate I voted for.

By Just a tool... on 06/07/2014 at 5:07 pm

Have you been to via vanti? The service is awful and the food mediocre. I don’t know about the rest of you but when I am running for a train I want service that’s going to be fast, courteous and friendly. Ladle of Love has always been that and more.  Ask the people in Mt Kisco how often they leave Via Vanti without their coffee because not one person behind the counter can make change and pour a cup of coffee in a reasonable amount of time.

By Untitled on 06/07/2014 at 5:26 pm

Adam didn"t know the specifics and iwas misleading when dealing with Carla, goes solent ,says “sorry for the misunderstanding”, cuts Carla out and then he and Rob lie about what happened. That’s just great. Amateur hour is the best you can say about this. Everyone who cares where this town is headed should send a message to board that they must change. Sign your name.

By LT on 06/07/2014 at 7:28 pm

Am now very clear on the bathrooms - thanks for the clarifications. Apart from the concocted situation to start up a new process (no sign of fairness and honesty in that one) i fail to see how the new process served the Town.  They go for the low bid and spend nearly two months (and beaucoup bucks) just to get it to a point where it didn’t stick out like a sore thumb and for this they concede an extra five years.  Adam cut us all a great deal; glad he takes his fiduciary responsibilities so seriously. All for sending a message—power to the people as they say

By good deal? on 06/07/2014 at 10:29 pm

“Am now very clear on the bathrooms.”

Yes, Carla now admits that she wanted limited access and said so in an email.

By bob on 06/08/2014 at 8:54 am

Why so much bullying and personal bashing of Leslie and Carla. This isn’t about the decision it is about the process. Presentations given before a Request for Proposal. Then there is only a week turn around to give a proposal. How is this doing what is best for the town and transparent?  We need to tell our elected officials we are watching them and they need to be honest with us. Our community is smart and they can’t think we are stupid enough to buy their bull.

By Simmer down on 06/08/2014 at 10:18 am

“If you think we are going in the right direction then stick with the status quo. If you think we need to remove party affiliation from the governance of New Castle, increase transparency, improve communication, better involve the Town’s residents and bring a fresh set of eyes, fresh views, fresh ideas, fresh perspective & a bi-partisan Independent slate then they should vote for me, and my slate.” - Rob Greenstein

I wish our Supervisor was this guy.

By Can the real supervisor please stand up? on 06/08/2014 at 10:59 am

“I believe we need a different attitude towards our downtown business districts, and our merchants.  A downtown should be the heart & soul of a community.  We need our merchants, and they need us.  We need to attract and retain a diverse range of businesses.  We must all work together to make our two hamlets more vibrant.  This will lead to an increased sense of community and increased commercial revenues.  I have worked closely with, and know all of the merchants & landlords. I have demonstrated my willingness to stand up for our small business owners.  I believe I have earned their respect.  I believe they trust me, and know I am in their corner.  I feel confident that I can best work with them to revitalize our downtown business districts.” - Rob Greenstein

or this guy.

By Or this guy on 06/08/2014 at 11:01 am

One more item for the list of Whys:

Why did Ladle get 2 months free rent under the lease? (totals $6,600 the town does not get)

So the rfp specifies a 10 year term and Ladle negotiates a 5 year additional option term plus 2 free months rent (neither the option nor the free months rent were in the rfp).

By Anonymous on 06/08/2014 at 12:50 pm

Bob, who ever you are, get over the bathrooms and stop pounding the table and trying the change the subject - by chance are an attorney?  Focus on the forest and not the leaves on a such a small little tree. There is a major issue with the leadership and most of the members of our Town Board. There is no transparency.  There is disregard for process which is in place for a reason—to insure fairness.  There is no honor, no trust. You obviously spend a lot of time reading NCN.  Are we all on the same planet?

By heretofore anonymous on 06/08/2014 at 1:02 pm

I don’t care who moves into the Train Station, just that the process is handled the right way.  Rob, Adam and Lisa ran on a promise for good government and haven’t lived up to it so far.  No different than those before them but it’s especially disappointing because they ran on “a new approach.”

I have the petition and am happy to stop by or meet anybody who is interested in signing for the permissive referendum.  Call or text me at 914-618-1097.

By Robin Murphy on 06/08/2014 at 2:26 pm

Despite her claims that she is unhappy with the process, I suspect that Ms. Gambescia is really just displeased with the outcome. If she had been awarded the train station lease, she would be putting together the “area’s only mozzarella bar” (a convenience not many residents are clamoring for). Personally, I dislike her instinct to put the “customer experience” over commuter access to the station’s public rest rooms. I’m also not crazy about her odd sense of entitlement - she seems to feel that the space should have been hers for the asking. Finally, I am not a fan of the current Town Board - but isn’t it possible that in making their decision, the Board considered, among other things, the town’s overwhelming lack of enthusiasm for a small plates restaurant in that particular location?

By another resident on 06/08/2014 at 2:42 pm

@another resident Rob,

What the town did and still does have is enthusiasm for another dining destination at the train station.  There is NO ENTHUSIASM for a takeout satellite ladles for commuters !
One that brings the town LESS REVENUE than the other two proposals and for a
TEN YEAR LEASE.  This was a stupid deal.  The town does not want it.  Why would they ?
There is NO WAY that this was the best choice, Rob.  More of your famous BS.

By puleez on 06/08/2014 at 4:22 pm

I understand people may not agree with the decision here, but exactly what nefarious motives do people ascribe to Greenstein, Katz, and Brodsky? Okay the process was not optimal, but that doesn’t mean they were double dealing or getting kickbacks or installing their friends at the station? I just don’t get the outcry here.

Isn’t it possible that Carla didn’t show herself to be a trustworthy negotiator/partner in her dealings with Brodsky? It’s possible, right? Certainly her response has been a little over-the-top. Didn’t she “go public” before the decision was even made to pressure the board? That would most certainly tick me off if I were managing the process. Perhaps she approached the new board as overly deserving and they just weren’t comfortable installing her in the space.

Personally, I was excited about the Chase’s proposal. But perhaps some on the board were not comfortable with a bar and destination experience at the station. Perhaps, just perhaps, the board members made a compromise with each other and went with the safest choice.

The crocodile tears of the new castle democrats are becoming a bit too much to take. Carla and Erin Chase, at this point you are just being used. Hold your heads high and walk away with some dignity intact.

By I get it on 06/08/2014 at 5:43 pm

Feed the buzzwords! “Process” this time. Futile.
Carla lost her sweetheart deal. Now she whines.

By bob on 06/08/2014 at 6:03 pm

Stop your complaining, Carla! You lost - get over it!  Even if there is a referendum why would anyone vote for you now?

By SOUR GRAPES on 06/08/2014 at 7:15 pm

Current town board has tried to do more in the past 6 months then the older town board who just kept trying to push things off. This current town board cares a lot more about this town then the 10 same people who constantly complain about them.
How about we all stop being anonymous and and see what the real underlying issue is.
Easy to criticize and Blame Greenstein

By Marc l on 06/08/2014 at 9:47 pm

Rob is corrupted by power. But it will be his doing.

By Your Future on 06/08/2014 at 10:56 pm

“Carla didn’t show herself to be a trustworthy negotiator/partner in her dealings with Brodsky? It’s possible, right? Certainly her response has been a little over-the-top” —by I get it

I for one would not want to be in a foxhole with Adam Brodsky.  Brodsky clearly set about to kill the deal. Carla didn’t back down and fade into the background. Keep it up Carla. Well written article too.

By now this takes the cake on 06/08/2014 at 11:38 pm

To “bob” -

You mercifully seem to running out of steam with your silly bathroom jihad which was obviously just a pretext for certain board members to reverse the prior board’s decision (best possible gloss: for more money), so now let’s throw “sweetheart deal” up against the wall and see if that will stick.  But if “sweetheart deal” is your REAL concern, why isn’t your righteous indignation directed at the new board’s CURRENT decision?  Lowest ingoing bid ... lowest “negotiated” bid when infrastructure upgrades (a.k.a. capital improvements) are recognized for their value to the town ... least interesting proposal ... least complete and well thought-out proposal (at a whopping two pages) ... five year lease extension option (for what exactly???) ... etc., etc.  Not much I can find (or anyone else has pointed out) to “Love” there.

It matters less to me WHO gets in than HOW they get there. (BTW, Gambescia was involved in a competition the first time around even though she doesn’t say so here.)  And the “how” behind the current board’s decision was well beyond “not optimal” (as characterized by “I get it” who clearly doesn’t).

Yes, process matters; and the decision our new board reached last month serves as Exhibit A.

By TRJ on 06/09/2014 at 12:40 am

Marc L,

It’s admirable that you want to stick up for Greenstein, but his actions are indefensible.  This is not just make up the rules as you go along.  It’s a shame you can’t understand that the “real underlying issue” is Greenstein’s ego which is already causing major problems for all of us.

By wake up on 06/09/2014 at 6:47 am

You can try to cast aspersions on Ms. Gambescia and Via Vanti all you want.  This is just an attempt of the TB to get the focus away from the real issue—a broken RFP and bidding process.  The fact is that Via Vanti has been joined by the Chases in seeking this permissive referendum.  It is hard to deny that the bidding process looks very suspicious.  Ladle bids $2,500 and then miraculously raises its bid by almost a third to $3,300, just barely top the other bids.  It seems like the fix was in.  How much would Ladle have paid in a sealed bid process?  The TB left money on the table to get their way.  This all deserves closer examination.  The referendum is essential.

By Tony L. on 06/09/2014 at 10:24 am

Something stinks!  This does not make sense.

By Townee on 06/09/2014 at 10:52 am

Tired of reading so much about Carla and the Chase’s quest for signatures. Reality check- your proposals may have seemed incredible to you and may work well in another application, but they are not meant here. The train station is a land mark- and while you may be certain your ways are the best- they may not have been the best way for a landmark. The plan that was chosen fit the needs of the town with paying respect to the historical train station. The chosen plan was also sensible enough to understand the concept of grab n go and the conveience that this will be for the commuters. Healthy take out food is hard to find, especially as delicious and fresh as this will be. I personally can’t wait for them to begin breakfast service- tired of the same choice of bagels or bagels.
At the end of the day the town board wanted someone to come in and have a restaurant which would not disrupt the beautiful landmark but could still serve food. They chose who they felt was the best to suit the situation.
The few people who care about the referrendum are not going to pay the tax payers bills. This nonsense is costing the town money and wasting time for all involved. If the town was truly behind Carla and the Chases’s they would not be sending letters out every day begging for signatures. Your story is old and people are turning the page. It is really time to just stop and walk away.

By If it don't fit. You must just quit on 06/09/2014 at 10:06 pm

This is all complicated and sad for those involved who spent a great deal of time and feel they were not treated fairly. However to both a resident of Chappaqua or to one visiting, our town looks like a harem of nail salons that are not busy, in at least one case opened as a vendetta to another and cheapens our downtown feel so all the best to whomever can bring a sense of good taste in this space literally and otherwise.

By less or more on 06/10/2014 at 6:42 am

To “If it don’t fit…” -

There’s so much to respond to in your post but let me focus on just one element: your suggestion that anything beyond a “grab n go” would “disrupt the beautiful landmark” of the Chappaqua train station. 

A little reality check here: what exactly does a “grab n go” do to enhance and honor or even fit with our “beautiful landmark”?

If you don’t believe it’s possible to offer more than just a “grab n go” without “disrupting” a landmark train station I suggest you check out Via Vanti in Mount Kisco’s landmark train station.  It fully complies with landmark requirements but doesn’t just stop there: it brings that landmark space to life with interesting decor, top notch food and great events.

The only thing that “don’t fit” for Chappaqua’s “crown jewel” and for Chappaqua’s creative and accomplished community is a concept with as little originality and imagination as “grab n go”.  Can’t we do better?

By TRJ on 06/10/2014 at 2:52 pm


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