Full History of Town Supervisor Paul Feiner
Paul Feiner, currently the longest serving chief elected official of any municipality in Westchester County, began his career in public service at the age of l2, when he worked as a volunteer on the successful l968 Congressional campaign of Ogden Reid. At the age of 16 Paul Feiner was already fighting for quality of life improvements. As Chair of the Teen Democrats of Westchester, he persuaded the county of Westchester to open the Bronx River Parkway on Sunday for cyclists, a program that celebrated its 43rd anniversary in 2017.
Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude at Fordham University and a l98l graduate of St. John’s Law School, Mr. Feiner immediately put his academic skills to good use. He led the campaign to open committee meetings of the Westchester County Board of Legislators to the public. This successful effort prompted Common Cause to name Mr. Feiner one of six national recipients of the Common Cause Public Service Achievement Award in l982. His award cited Mr. Feiner’s "force of imagination, initiative and perseverance that have made an outstanding contribution to the public interest in the areas of government performance and integrity."
In l983 he was elected to the Westchester County Board of Legislators, defeating two opponents who were supported by the political establishment. As a County Legislator he always put his constituents first. Thanks to Mr. Feiner the county Legislature adopted a number of open government reforms, including meetings with public speaking access. And, in l986, Mr. Feiner established the "Have a Heart for the Homeless Committee" which has helped over 400 families avoid homelessness. As a Legislator Mr. Feiner worked to lower utility rates and find housing for indigent families.
In l99l, he was elected Town Supervisor of Greenburgh, the largest town in Westchester County. Mr. Feiner is the longest serving Supervisor in history of Greenburgh. During the past 28 years Mr. Feiner has addressed the infrastructure needs of the town. The most significant of these accomplishments took place in 2003 when Greenburgh moved its Town Hall to a new facility: 177 Hillside Ave. The building, which is partially powered using solar energy (thanks to a grant), was purchased at a price significantly below market value: $6.9 million. In the early 1990s, when the building was built, the cost of constructing 177 Hillside was over $12 million. An incredible bargain!
Other infrastructure enhancements include: The town, with the assistance of a $2.1 million NY State grant, constructed a 2nd floor at the Theodore Young Community Center. A multipurpose center for seniors was dedicated, most of the funding came from non tax dollars. A new public works garage was constructed. A water pump station was built that connects Irvington residents to Greenburgh’s water supply. Approximately 40 million dollars in water related infrastructure improvements will take place in the next few years. Nine new playgrounds were built without using taxpayer dollars. There have been two additions to the police headquarters. A new interactive kiddy pool was built. In 2008 the town completed the construction of a $20 million library expansion (approved by the voters), The library uses geothermal power to heat the building. In 2016 the town approved the first comprehensive plan which will address the long term infrastructure needs of the town, including land use, flood, parking, maximizing the revenue the town can receive on vacant parcels of land. In 2011 the town approved a hazardous mitigation plan—enabling the town to obtain federal funds to address flooding. In 2014 the town made a major change. The town started purchasing new sanitation trucks that uses automation to pick up garbage (an electric arm) started serving sections of the town. The automated refuse collection vehicles reduces collection costs and increase collection efficiencies. There will be fewer worker compensation claims. The new truck requires one employee compared to three employees on older trucks. Supervisor Feiner has also funded the replacement of all the water meters and is replacing street lights with LED lighting, which are more efficient. In the first year the town saved $200,000 on utility expenses as a result of the LED lighting. The town has been working hard making Greenburgh a more pedestrian safe community and has overseen the construction of over six miles of new sidewalks in recent years. In 2017 the town received a grant of almost $800,000 from NYS to connect a neighborhood off of Central Ave in Hartsdale to the downtown business district -another new sidewalk. The sidewalk will be completed in 2020. In 2018 the town received almost 5 million dollars form NYS to connect the Rumbrook and Knollwood Pumping stations- a vital infrastructure upgrade that will allow each station to complement the other’s supply capabilities, better ensure sufficient water volume and pressure during periods of peak demand and provide a continuous water supply when either station is undergoing maintenance- a major infrastructure enhancement. The work started in 2020.
Moody’s has increased the town’s bond rating 3 times under Feiner’s leaderhip. In August, 2001 the town received a new rating of AA1, the second highest rating a municipality can receive. In September, 2006 Moody’s highlighted Greenburgh’s “strong financial operations…solid fiscal management.” In 2007 the Town Board voted to approve a fund balance policy to guide future Town Boards on the use of fund balance. Very few communities have fund balance policies. Standard & Poor’s Bond Rating Agency upgraded Greenburgh’s bond rating to AAA, the highest rating a municipality can receive in 2008. Less than 1% of all municipalities in the nation have a triple A bond rating from both Moody’s & Standard & Poor’s. Unlike some other municipalities in NYS, Greenburgh has complied with the tax cap every year since it’s enactment by NYS.
Mr. Feiner’s unique Town Board meetings were so widely recognized as models of good government that they were profiled in a C-Span special report in l997. Hudson Valley Magazine said that Town meetings in Greenburgh are the best in the Hudson Valley. Feiner initiated a new concept called Dial Democracy, where residents have telephone access to Town Board meetings in progress. Town Board meetings are also archived on the town’s web site: www.greenburghny.com. In 2008 the Town Board voted to stream Town Board meetings live on the internet. The Board also voted to televise work sessions, one of the few communities that does so. In 2018/2019 the town formed local land use advisory committees made up of citizens impacted by proposed developments to assist the town in reviewing proposed land use developments. During the COVID-19 pandemic (spring and summer of 2020) Greenburgh became the first local government in Westchester to hold Town Board meetings via Zoom and to televise the meetings. Unlike many communities in NYS - residents were provided with the opportunity to speak at Board meetings remotely using Zoom technologies. A Medical Advisory Committee appointed by the Supervisor proposed health and safety guidelines for supermarkets during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic--most of the suggestions were later implemented state-wide. In January, 2021 Mr. Feiner received national attention for forming the Covid Angels committee of citizens Over 300 volunteers helped approximately 4,000 Greenburgh seniors and residents get vaccinated. During the early months of 2021 it was very difficult for residents to get the Covid vaccinations. By being proactive many lives were saved. The covid angels program was featured on NBC Nightly News in February, 2021 and inspired similar programs nationwide. Link here: https://www.nbc.com/nightly-news/video/volunteers-help-americans-in-need-make-covid-vaccine-appointments/4310500
During Mr. Feiner’s tenure as Town Supervisor, the first new rental housing in 33 years was built in Greenburgh. In 2013 a new workforce apartment complex (WESTHAB) was built in the Fulton park section of town. A new assisted living facility on town foreclosed property opened in 2020 and an affordable housing project on property the town foreclosed on opened in 2017. In 2021 construction of an affordable housing development was completed at the former WESTHELP homeless shelter. And, construction of affordable housing for seniors started on Manhattan Ave. Mr. Feiner started a Farmer’s market, a sculpture in the park & summer jazz concert series on E Hartsdale Ave and in 2016 constructed a veterans memorial on E Hartsdale Avenue. In September, 2006 Greenburgh became the first town in Westchester County to approve a franchise agreement with Verizon, providing area residents with cable TV competition. Madison Square Garden built their training facility for the NY Knicks, Rangers and Liberty teams in Greenburgh in 2002. Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet opened in 2015 In 2011 Acorda Therapeutics joined Seimans, Beyer, Epicept, Profectus Biosciences, Progenetics Pharmeceuticles, PsychoGenics, Regeneron Pharmaceuticles, Apex Laboratory,Additives Division, Standards Research Services I International, CCS Research Inc & Biomed Pharmaceuticals and other bio tech companies that have decided to locate in Greenburgh. Greenburgh is becoming the bio tech capital of the Hudson Valley!
In 2007 the Greenburgh Town Board adopted very strict ethics laws restricting the ability of elected officials from accepting contracts from those who have proposals before the town or business with the town. In 2016 the town reassessed all properties in the town for the first time in 60 years. Greenburgh was the first local government in New York State to receive permission from the State Legislature and Governor to phase in the impacts of the reassessment over a 3 year period. Prior to the reassessment residents who live in similar homes paid different taxes for equivalent properties –not fair! As a result of the reassessment there has been a significant decline in the number of tax certiorari’s.
During Supervisor Feiner’s tenure the town’s crime rate has gone down to the lowest levels in recorded history. Under Mr. Feiner’s watch the town expanded the police department by creating a Technical Rescue Team – a specialized response unit for extremely hazardous and difficult situations (1997). A canine (K-9) unit was established in 2003, using a dog to help make apprehensions –locate missing persons and track suspects. The town established a community policing program – putting police on foot and bicycle, giving residents more direct access to the police. . In 2003 the town funded a police explorer post, geared to kids 14-20 years old, providing young men and women with exposure to law enforcement. A summer police camp has been offered to students each year for over a decade. The town also has a Youth Court—young offenders are defended, prosecuted and judged by their peers. In 2014 the Town Board created a Human Rights Liaison Committee to work with the county addressing human rights concerns. In 2016 Greenburgh became the first community in Westchester County to outfit all patrol officers with body camera’s.
During Supervisor Feiner’s tenure the police department has received national recognition for their Child Safety Inspection Program which assists parents with proper installation of child safety seats. Greenburgh is one of the only localities in the state that uses police officers to provide residents with emergency medical services. The program was expanded during Supervisor Feiner’s tenure to include services to all six villages within Greenburgh. In 2017 the town also led an effort to encourage motorcycle safety by organizing a very successful motorcycle safety event.
Greenburgh’s parks were not only rebuilt, the town became the first municipality in the state to place a referendum on the ballot establishing a dedicated fund for parkland acquisition. Under Feiner’s leadership the town increased the number of acres of open space from 200 acres to more than 600 acres. Three major new parks were acquired: Harts Brook Nature preserve, Glenville Woods and Taxter Ridge. All three parks were acquired with the assistance of the state and county governments. A new dog park opened in 2008. In l999, Greenburgh became the first locality in the region to ban pesticides on town property. In 2014 outdoor exercise equipment was placed at Travis Park. In 2016 a new Veterans Park was built at Desanti Plaza, across from the Hartsdale Train station. The Supervisor is currently working on an effort to promote organic recycling. In 2018 Greenburgh became one of Westchester’s first communities to collect food waste at a drop off location.
Greenburgh’s Arts and Culture Committee has expanded its programs during Feiner’s administration. The committee sponsors 30 art exhibits a year at the 48,000 square foot Town Hall, Town Court Art Gallery, WARC Gallery, Theodore Young Children’s Gallery and at the Multipurpose Center. The poetry caravan makes approximately 110 site visits a year. In 2006 Greenburgh became the first local government in Westchester to appoint a Poet Laureate. The town of Greenburgh has received over $170,000 a year to start up an innovative after school program called Xposure. In January, 2009 Xposure made the cover of Scholastic Magazine. Students starting at the 8th grade invest in the stock market, learn finances, open up savings accounts and even started their own ice cream business. Xposure students & Greenburgh public access TV were nominated for two EMMY awards by the National Academy of Television Arts & Science in New York during the spring of 2017. Supervisor Feiner oversees an active student internship program and in 2015 started partnering with the Greenburgh school district on an ambitious architect/engineering mentoring program. Supervisor Feiner is also working with the Greenburgh school district on a joint initiative to train students in coding, robotics --preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow.
In l996 Paul Feiner established the Hudson Valley Regional Conference, uniting elected officials on both sides of the river to address regional issues. The Regional Conference compelled the New York State Thruway Authority to remove the tolls at Spring Valley in l997. In 2002 Greenburgh became the first municipality in New York State to mandate energy conservation in residential construction. In 2009 the town became one of the first communities in the nation to mandate LEEDS compliance in new commercial and multifamily construction. In l997 Mr. Feiner’s leadership made local history, as the Tappan Zee Bridge was finally opened to cyclists once a year. In 2007 Supervisor Feiner was elected President of the Westchester – Putnam Town Supervisors Association, an organization consisting of the chief elected officials of every town in Westchester & Putnam counties.
Supervisor Feiner has involved students in government. A summer internship program attracts a few dozen students a year. Students host their own cable TV shows, interact with other officials and organize lobbying initiatives for issues that concern them. An after school program for pre teens (Xposure program) run out of the Theodore Young Community Center hosts their own weekly interview show and was nominated for two EMMY awards in 2017. Greenburgh also has a Veteran’s Living History initiative - almost 150 veterans of World War II and the Korean conflict were interviewed on public access TV (half hour each) --telling their war stories for future generations to appreciate. Each of the interviews is aired non stop on local TV during the Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day weekends.
At times during Paul Feiner’s tenure the Supervisor has based part of his salary on performance. He has tied salary increases to achievement of goals and had voluntarily returned a portion of his salary if his goals are not met.
Spotlight Westchester Magazine named Paul Feiner the "most interesting politician in Westchester" in their "the Best of Westchester 200l issue". Mr. Feiner was also honored by the Rotary Foundation as a Paul Harris Fellow. Mr. Feiner also began hosting a weekly interview program on WVOX Radio (l460 AM) every Friday morning in January,2002. Mr. Feiner also has been appointed an Adjunct Professor of Government at Westchester Community College, teaching one course a semester about local and state governments.
In June, 2023 FORTUNE Magazine named Greenburgh as the 9th Best Place in the United States for Families. In January, 2023 MONEY.COM named Greenburgh as the 8th Best Place in the Northeast. Previously, in August 2008 MONEY Magazine named Greenburgh as the 80th Best PLace to Live in the United States. If you want to know what makes Greenburgh special, look no further than Town Hall. The city’s remarkably open government (the town supervisor makes house calls to settle grievances) mirrors a community light-years away from the parts of New York state that appear on primetime crime dramas.”
Paul Feiner was the Democratic candidate for United States Congress from the 20th Congressional District in l998 and in 2000. Although Mr. Feiner lost the election to the chairman of the House International Affairs Committee, Mr. Feiner won the Westchester County portion of the district by nearly 65% of the vote.
Mr. Feiner, an avid cyclist, has participated in numerous long distance charity bike rides. He has cycled from NY to Vermont over a dozen times to raise funds for the Special Olympics & Westchester ARC. In 2006 Feiner organized a charity bike ride from Hartsdale to Washington DC to raise over $40,000 for a former Hartsdale Volunteer firefighter who was paralyzed from the head down as a result of a bicycle accident. Feiner and his fellow cyclists met with Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer in Washington to lobby for stem cell research funds. Mr. Feiner ran the NYC marathon, the Philadelphia Half Marathon (2014) and enjoys swimming. In 1998 he started lobbying the NYS Thruway Authority to allow bicyclists to bike on the old Tappan Zee bridge. The state closed the bridge for cyclists once a year. In June, 2020 a new bike and pedestrian path opened on the new Mario Cuomo bridge -an initiative that Supervisor Feiner had pushed for. Mr. Feiner makes frequent bike calls around town—asking residents who are walking dogs, doing gardening or just taking a walk what the town can do to help them.
Mr. Feiner was born on February l4, l956 and is married to Sherrie Brown, an attorney. They have a daughter, Julia and live in Greenburgh.
Last Updated: July 19, 2021
I was invited to give a TedX talk to students at Edgemont High School
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Making a positive contribution as an unconventional politician | Paul Feiner | TEDxEdgemontSchool - YouTube
It is time for the unconventional route! Paul talks about how one can make a positive contribution as an unconventional politician- provoking changes, gettin...
You might be interested in the profile of Supervisor Feiner - published in the July, 2008 issue of Westchester Magazine: Please click onto the following link:
You might be interested in the following article naming Paul Feiner as one of Westchester’s 30 most intriguing people (December, 2016) see link