According to a report released last week, real estate sales in Rockland, Orange, Putnam, and Westchester Counties have increased since last year. The report, done by the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, states that in Rockland and Westchester Counties sales of residential homes have increased 11% in both, 12% in Putnam, and 30% in Orange County. Though there is an increase in sales in each county, the prices of homes have remained about the same. In Rockland County the cost of a single-family home increased .3%, Westchester rose 1.4%, and 1.6% in Putnam. Overall sales in the lower Hudson Valley have increased 15% since 2014, with Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors reporting $3,699 residential sales.
On Thursday the organization Riverkeeper released a statement raising concerns that construction on the new Tappan Zee Bridge may be causing numerous deaths of Atlantic and Shortnose Sturgeon. President of the group Paul Gallay stated that when construction began it was promised that the surrounding environment would not be harmed, but many of the endangered species of fish have been found cut in half or in pieces, showing signs that they were struck by propellers from boats traveling on the river from Westchester to Manhattan and in the area of construction. Riverkeeper is calling for a federal investigation into the many dead fish that have recently been found on the shoreline. They issued a petition with the National Marine Fisheries Services to begin looking into the deaths. According to Bryan Conybeare, an official in Governor Cuomo’s office working with the bridge project, there are only 36 vessels with propellers on the construction site and the deaths are so far unrelated to work. Currently the construction company is using “bubble curtains”, or pockets of air, to limit the impact of pile driving to underwater life, and Riverkeeper is requesting that more preventative actions be taken, such as increasing the amount used and adding cages to propellers to help prevent deaths in the fish population.
At a meeting on Tuesday night the East Ramapo School Board voted to hire new legal representation, meaning their law firm for the past six years, Minerva and D’Agostino, will no longer hold the position. Members of the board voted 6-0 with two abstentions and one absentee, to hire Harris Beach a New York City based attorney. Many residents are considering this move as a step in the right direction for the district. Two years ago the board promised parents that they would part ways with Minerva and D’Agostino when an attorney with the firm verbally assaulted an East Ramapo mother after a board meeting and was caught on video doing so. The district has been spending about $1,000 a day for the firm’s services, double what the previous lawyers were earning before the Long Island was hired in 2009. Board President Yehuda Weissmandl stated that Harris Beach represents more than 130 districts in New York and East Ramapo is pleased with their experience with state education officials. Albert D’Agostino responded to the new hiring by stating that his firm chose to stop representing the district when board members compromised with Senator David Carlucci on his proposed bill that would have allowed a state monitor to report the board’s actions to the State Comptroller’s office and Education Department. According to D’Agostino, at the same time the firm had been working to fight the original bill that would have allowed the monitor to use veto power, and the school board did not inform him of the attempt to compromise.
An energy company has settled a court case with its customers, in which they were accused of luring people in with a low rate only to raise them immensely with the next bills. According to the New York Attorney General’s Office, HIKO Energy, a Monsey based company was part of an investigation into several utility service companies in an attempt to return millions of dollars to customers who were allegedly scammed. HIKO will be playing $1.25 million to 25,000 customers who were caught in the scam between June 1 2011 and October 1 2014. Customers wishing to file for restitution must do so before August 15 of this year by going online at go.bbb.org/ny-hiko.
According to County officials the developers of Patrick Farms where 496 housing units are set to be built, have not paid school, county, town, or village taxes on the property since 2013. Officials stated that Scenic Development LLC and Scenic DEvelopment SM LLC, Monsey based construction companies, are developing five of the six parcels of land, two of which owe $607,788 in taxes. One of these parcels houses the Rockland Sheriff’s Department stables for the horse unit and Sheriff Falco stated that he is negotiating with another location to move them to but thinks the county should attempt to take ownership of the current stables. County Executive Ed Day stated “The only reason why this scam came to light was because my administration dug deep to find it and issued an Executive Order ensuring that any contract, including this one, will escrow any owed monies to taxpayers. The Sheriff was repeatedly urged to stop doing business with these developers and find another location.” The county has sent letters to 800 property owners in Ramapo threatening foreclosure if taxes are not paid by the end of the year. Last year development of the property was halted because the U.S. Army Corps uncovered wetlands on the land, leading the state to hold back on approving the permits.
East Ramapo School Board President Yehuda Weissmandl spoke on Wednesday, urging both sides in the controversial East Ramapo oversight issue, to compromise with eachother. The board official stated that though the East Ramapo bill that would have appointed a monitor who could veto decisions failed to pass the Senate, he believed that Senator David Carlucci’s most recent bill was a good compromise and expressed his disappointment that it was not voted on. Earlier this week Senator Carlucci wrote a letter to the State Education Department asking for more involvement with the district. He is not the first state official to speak out following the failed bills, New York Regents Chancellor Meryll Tisch stated that she believes Superintendent of East Ramapo Schools Joel Klein needs to resign or be removed from the position as a first step to recovery. On Wednesday Weissmandl stated that it is time for both sides to sit and have a discussion for the betterment of the district. The district also announced that they will be increasing high school classes from 25 to 18 students, paying teachers who agree $12 more a day, per student, per period.
According to police a Spring Valley woman was arrested after allegedly leaving her son tied to a bush outside of an apartment building where she was babysitting. Police stated that around 9:00 AM Tuesday morning 22-year old Mery Quinde-Castro was working for a family at Blueberry Hill Condominiums in Spring Valley when she left her son unattended and tied to a bush outside using a leash tied to a backpack. The woman claimed that she was only gone for a minute though witnesses reported to police that it was over a half-hour, and officials stated that the child could not be seen or heard from the apartment. Quinde-Castro was charged with a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child, after neighbors called the police when they spotted the boy alone. Police believed that the mother was having trouble finding child care for her son, who family described as energetic and often needing to be on a leash for his safety. She was released on $2,500 bail after arraignment.
Police arrested an Orangeburg man on Saturday for stealing copper pipes. According to Orangetown Police 47-year old William Teitz was spotted walking out of a building on the campus of the Rockland Psychiatric Center carrying copper pipes that he had allegedly broke in and cut them from the walls. Teitz was arrested on a felony charge of third-degree burglary, as well as misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief, possession of burglar tools, possession of stolen property, and conspiracy. He was arraigned and is being held at Rockland County Jail on $10,000 bail.
According to a report by the Journal News the village of Spring Valley is under the threat of shutting down, while officials debate over insurance problems. Mayor Demeza Delhomme told the newspaper that the trustees hired an insurance firm, Bauer-Crowley even though he was in favor of continuing with the village’s usual broker Leonard Binder. The mayor stated that Dennis Lynch, an attorney representing the trustees, has a connection with Bauer-Crowley and that’s the reason why they chose to hire the firm, though Lynch informed the news source that the board was offered a deal to sign on with the firm, lowering the $108,000 binder’s fee to $20,000 and he has no connection with the company outside of the village. Delhomme is now threatening to shut down the village. The board voted last week to review the $2.2 million in insurance coverage and that could be invalidated on Wednesday at 12:00 AM if a shutdown occurs and the mayor has claimed that he will bring the issue to court if it’s not resolved.
On Sunday Morning residents rallied outside of East Ramapo School District Superintendent Joel Klein’s home in New City, where they asked the school official to resign his position. The crowd held handmade signs and chanted “Klein must Resign” to express their frustration of what many believe are bad decisions made by the Orthodox Jewish controlled school board. Many parents have stated that public school students are being ignored when it comes to funding for transportation and programs such as art and music, because the board favors private schools. Last week the State Legislature failed to pass the East Ramapo oversight bill that would have allowed a monitor to veto the boards choices and required the district to follow an improvement plan. The Assembly passed the bill, but the Republican leaders in the senate stated that wary of the legislation because it would set a precedent for other New York districts to take power away from elected board members. Senator David Carlucci, one of the sponsors of the original bill wrote a new bill that took away veto power of the monitor and and gave the comptrollers office more authority while also lowering the time frame from five years to two. The majority of residents and state officials including Assembly members Ellen Jaffee and Kenneth Zebrowski were disappointed in the new bill, and fought for a revised version of the original, which the senate decided to forgo voting on. On Thursday the Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch stated that Klein should resign from his position as Superintendent. And on Sunday parents and students of the district expressed their agreement of those statements, urging Klein to resign.