A Wrong Move for Westchester County

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Minority Caucus maintains purchase of flawed Ardsley building to store voting machines is a mistake

Minority Leader George Oros (R/Cortlandt) and Legislators Gordon A. Burrows (R/Yonkers) and Jim Maisano (R/New Rochelle) criticized the Spano administration and the majority of their colleagues on the Board of Legislators for pushing through the purchase of a dilapidated building in Ardsley to store voting machines and to house the Department of Public Safety. Oros, Burrows, and Maisano argue the building is too expensive. They also point out the seller is politically connected.

Oros, who was joined by Burrows, and Maisano in opposing the long-debated plan, maintained the administration never presented the board with viable options and had its mind made up long ago about the controversial 85,000-square-foot building at 450 Saw Mill River Road.

“This building is a proverbial white elephant that has been sitting there for three years with no buyers, yet we’re willing to pay more than three times what it’s worth,” Oros remarked. “For months this administration came up with every excuse why this building was the only option and in the end backed into reasons. It’s about time we level with the people of Westchester County.”

While acknowledging the county was mandated under the federal Help America to Vote Act (HAVA) to find a location for approximately 1,600 electronic voting machines, Oros, Burrows and Maisano maintained a county-owned facility at 375 Executive Boulevard in Elmsford had ample space to accommodate the voting machines.

“375 is like my basement, filled with stuff the county doesn’t need,” Oros said. “The fix was in with 450 from the beginning and county officials wonder why people no longer trust those in government.”

“What are we doing in this county? We don’t seem to be listening,” Burrows said. “I believe the purchase of 450 for the county is the wrong location, wrong price and wrong time. From the beginning my instincts said this was wrong. It just doesn’t make financial sense.”

Oros, Burrows and Maisano also charged the $6 million purchase (including closing fees) and $7 million estimated renovation costs violates the county’s $10 million bond cap that requires a public referendum, or at the very least violates the underlying intent of the law.

“Nobody would pay this much for that building other than the county. Nobody,” Maisano said.

In addition, Oros maintained having many of the functions of the Department of Public Safety relocate to Ardsley went against the board’s previous decision that most county emergency services should be situated on the Grasslands campus in Valhalla.