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Open Letter To The Greenburgh Town Council By Mechelle Brown

Especially The Black Councilmembers Ken Jones and Gina Jackson

Dear Greenburgh Town Board

This letter is to you all, but more specifically speaking to Councilman Ken Jones and Councilwoman Gina Jackson. WHY, would you VOTE AGAINST A SET ASIDE OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING that boarders on an established old Black neighborhood south of Downing Drive, Old Road, and Dobbs Ferry Rd? The Developer had provided a proposal for Townhomes with an Affordable component and you along with the other Town Board Members voted against it and now YOU two along with the other four Town Board members are considering,113 Single Family Homes, with an average bedroom size of 4, at a cost of $1.2Million with NO set aside, NO affordable or low-income component to be built.  

IT TAKES 3 VOTES FROM THIS TOWN BOARD TO CHANGE OR CREATE ANYTHING IN GREENBURGH AND HERE WE HAVE TWO, people, yes people, we have 2 Black people on this Town Board, shocking isn’t it?! Because if you didn’t know, you surely wouldn’t know.

I speak to you two Black Councilmembers! Do you realize your still supporting redlining and gentrification of our Black Communities? Do you realize that you have the power to change the systemically racist system, that you are working in? Black people voted you in to be the voice and creator of opportunity in Greenburgh and you don’t advocate for our people, you don’t even go to them and let them know this is happening to them.  You’ve bought into what the White establishment says, meaning your white Town Board colleagues, if the people wanna know they gotta come to Town Board Meetings, but what happened to the same vigor you both used to get the Black vote? Why not use that same vigor to inform our people, so they can make decisions about what this Town Board is doing to them? YOU know that many have no idea what’s happening to them or what they may be able to do about it!

In my opinion you both need to step down! You are not qualified, you are not advocating for the Black people in Greenburgh, you’re not creating opportunities for the Black people in Greenburgh and you are not a voice for the Black people in Greenburgh! What you both are NOT…  IS PART OF THE BLACK MOVEMENT, but instead GATEKEEPERS continuing to block Black people from having access, opportunities,  liberties, justice and the innate right to be free! 

As for the Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, shame on you for acting as if Black Lives Matter in Greenburg! You as the Towns Supervisor should be acting as chief officer overseeing government activities, not just fiscally but to also include the Black citizens that voted for you, you have an obligation to serve the Black Lives that live in Greenburgh, the lives that you bicycle to and act as if everything is wonderful to. YOU also did nothing when you speak about affordable housing, how important it is to you, it’s only important to you if Black people stay contained within the boundaries created through redlining and it’s proven that the redlined needle hasn’t moved towards anywhere near fair and equitable to Black people in Greenburgh since you’ve been in office for the past 33 years. Now you’ve doubled down and let 113 Single Family Homes priced at $1.2Million be built on your watch, not advocating for or demanding that an affordable component be built in. Do Black Lives Matter in Greenburgh Paul? Did Black Lives Matter when that sign was taken down by a vandal on Knollwood Road and the Town took 281 days to get it put back up and it’s now day 437 no suspects, no information being given to the Black community since we all know this was a HATE CRIME targeted towards Black people, as the message sent was Black people aren’t wanted on Knollwood Road, yet it’s not being called the hate crime that it is and YOU as Town Supervisor have said nothing more about it! So, I say again, Paul, do BLACK LIVES MATTER IN GREENBURGH? Not that your answer of yes, will change a thing because it hasn’t in 437 days since this sign was torn down and with your NO VOTE on the affordable component in the deal submitted to you by the developer they don’t matter when it comes to these 113 single family homes that are to be built. So, your actions speak louder than your words.

With Councilman Francis Sheehan and Councilwoman Ellen Hendrix the other two Town Board Members, we Black people already know you are going to keep this systemically racist system going, because it makes you feel safe to know where the Black people are in Greenburgh, in Fairview, the project’s and the 5 scattered sites, yup, right where you want us and that’s why Parkway Homes and Parkway Gardens isn’t on your radar. You know that homeowners have come before the Town Board informing you that many of the homes are not owner occupied in this community but becoming rental properties where many of the bedrooms in these homes have locks on the bedroom doors indicating that rooms are being rented out in this affluent black community with its rich Black History and they are being purchased not by black people but by LLCs and White investors because the property values are lower than their neighboring communities and will drop even lower if this continues, but that’s just fine with you because that can force Black homeowners to leave, then what? Well, 20 years from now, really less than that if this goes unchecked by the town, this will just be another space in Greenburgh where Black people will say, yeah did you know this used to be a very prestigious community of Black people here, but they are gone now, just like those families near the Golf Course where you are building these homes and the Black families and Black businesses on 119, that used to be there too. And to think, Francis you were so excited about the in Support of Black Lives Resolution that the NAACP had done, wow, smdh! I knew it would just be a piece of paper with no merit for Black people.

This board is really incapable of that type of change at that level and to think the NAACP had called on the two Black Town Board Members to educate the White Town Board members, on what  Black people in Greenburgh needed to have a fair and equitable existence, but there was HOPE that these two councilmembers understood the assignment and we see they too promised change and didn’t deliver, especially on this opportunity presented before them, 113 single family homes that can afford many a Black person the access to thrive within Greenburgh. NO what’s happening is redlining, still living under a cloaked oppressive regime, handing out handshakes and smiles of change.

As many may not know what redlining in Black communities is and YES, Black people of Greenburgh you are redlined, it is this…

Redlining is a discriminatory practice in which services (financial and otherwise) are withheld from potential customers who reside in neighborhoods that have significant numbers of racial minorities and low-income residents. There are food deserts, like the removal of supermarkets, paying higher insurance premiums (auto, life) and the warehousing of these people and giving limited or no other services that are easily accessible or accessible at all in these neighborhoods.

I just say, how many more high end car dealerships are going to be built on 119 in the Fairview community where if 1 Black man from the community who has employment if you’re reading this let us know. What about the removal of the grocery store in Fairview. What about the buses at the Theodore D Young Community Center that served seniors and others in the community? Did you know these buses have not been in service for several years because the TOWN didn’t ensure that DMW had the medical information of the drivers so DMV took these buses off the road?! These are just a few examples of what can happen to us while living in a redlined communities, not to mention the treatment of the seniors that were moved to have their homes redeveloped during a pandemic. Did you know they were moved when Governor Cuomo had a stay in place order during covid, where several seniors died.  Let’s not forget the 5 scattered sites that too are under redevelopment, where many did not receive a Section 8 Voucher in their hand but instead moved into Section 8 apartments, but many may now learn that after a year and a day a voucher can be put in their hand, wait what, is that what was promised initially, NO, wait but now they get a voucher after a year and a day, is this true? Only time will tell, but what I do know is that no one from Greenburgh got any work on these redevelopments. The crew and company doing the 5 scattered sites are from New Jersey, wait, so their money goes to New Jersey it doesnt stay in New York, let alone Greenburgh! Again, just a few signs that Black Lives Don’t Matter in Greenburgh!!

So what I say to the Black people in Greenburgh, what are you prepared to do? Are you prepared to join the MOVEMENT? Are you willing to stand up by any means necessary for our children as our parents did, as their parents did and all before them? Our history is rich with evidence that this doesn’t have to happen if we mobilize, commit and be consistent to fight for our innate right as human beings to be FREE!

I STAND WITH YOU! I WILL FIGHT NEXT TO YOU…. I CAN’T STOP & WON’T STOP, I AM IN THIS MOVEMENT FOR LIFE, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!

 In Solidarity-

Mechelle Brown

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Black Westchester - News With The Black Point Of View is an online news magazine for people of color for Westchester and the Tri- State area of New York at every economic level. Our mission is to promote the concept of “community” through media.

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