JCC Rockland’s annual Founders Award Dinner Dance is typically the organization’s largest event of the year.
This year, it’s bigger by far than ever before in its 24-year history, with more than 380 expected to attend Sunday evening at Rockleigh Country Club.
The event’s journal, produced by a committee headed by Paul Adler and Barry Kantrowitz, has raised half-again more than the most successful previous book, in part because of the prominence of this year’s honorees and their importance to JCC, says JCC Chief Executive Officer David Kirschtel.
And still, the event this time is prelude, one of 11 events across a year dedicated to the memory of the Munich 11 — Israeli athletes and coaches who died as a result of terrorism at the 1972 Olympics.
It’s all part of the walkup to the JCC Rockland Maccabi Games, which will bring together about 1,500 young Jewish athletes from Rockland County, across the U.S. and around the world.
The opening ceremonies here come Aug. 12, the same day as the closing ceremonies of the London Olympics.In its sponsorship of the youth games, JCC has joined the decades-long effort to see the International Olympic Committee observe a minute of silence for the Munich 11.
Family of the slain coaches and athletes have pushed for such recognition and would so dearly love to see it happen in London that they have come to Rockland to support the JCC Maccabi Games and JCC’s effort to see their loved ones honored on the 40th anniversary of their deaths.
Ankie Spitzer, widow of Israeli team member Andrei Spitzer, has spoken to JCC organizers via closed circuit TV and last year spent a week in Rockland visiting schools to speak about the Munich 11 and the need that they not be forgotten.
She is back in Rockland now, and spoke with Maccabi Games leaders Wednesday evening at JCC headquarters. A broadcast journalist, Ankie Spitzer, has been pressing the Olympic Committee for decades to honor her husband and the others, who were either slain or held hostage in their Munich quarters by Palestinian terrorists. Those who survived the initial attack later died in a shootout at a German airport.
On Sunday evening, Spitzer will be JCC’s guest when her husband is honored posthumously at the Founders Award dinner.
In September 2011, Ben Berger, the 94-year-old father of weightlifter David Berger, who grew up in Ohio, attended the dedication of a memorial to the Munich 11 at JCC headquarters.
Two couples — Bonnie and Alan Elkin and Ellen and Arthur Wagner — who made substantial contributions to fund Eric David Laxman’s sculpture of a stylized Olympic flame, are among Sunday’s honorees. Alan Elkin and Arthur Wagner are principals of Active International, which as a corporation sponsors a charitable giving program that has helped more than 600 local groups. Active also is a major donor to Change4Change, a JCC effort to collect millions of dollars in spare change to help fight hunger in Rockland and Israel.
Along with the Elkins and Wagners, the Founders Award will be presented to Linda and Larry Weiss in recognition of their impact on JCC through their leadership, insight and financial support. Weiss also coaches a JCC baseball team.
Michael Rosen, who died in 2011, will be honored with the Rubin Josephs Community Service Award and the J-Award for dedication by a not-for-profit employee, will be presented to Marla Cohen, editor of the Rockland Jewish Federation Reporter.
The dinner is the eighth of 11 Maccabi Games-related events, each dedicated to one or more of the Munich 11.
The ninth comes Monday, when 12 elite dancers among a group of 35 visiting high school students from Israeli will present a free exhibition at 7:30 p.m. at the Reuben Gittelman Hebrew Day School in New City.
A final prelude to the games will come June 10, when 21 sets of runners will carry the Maccabi Games torch from JCC Rockland to the fieldhouse at Rockland Community College, where the opening ceremonies will take place Aug. 12.
So far, 150 Rockland youths ages 12 to 16 are registered to compete along with about 1,200 from the U.S., Israel, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Mexico and Canada, says JCC’s Kirschtel, a driving force behind the youth games. Both numbers are expected to grow.
Venues for the competition in baseball, lacrosse, golf, basketball and tennis, among other sports, will include Suffern Middle and High Schools, Clarkstown South High School, Ramapo’s St. Lawrence Center, Rockland Community College and West Rock Indoor Sports and Recreation in Bardonia.
The JCC now needs to recruit about 1,000 volunteers of all faiths to help during the week-long games. They also have only about 200 of the 450 Jewish families needed to host visiting athletes, so there’s much still to be done before the Opening Ceremonies on Aug. 12.
NEW CITY – Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Rand Realty’s first foray into New Jersey with its recent acquisition of Preakness Realty will likely not be its last, Real Estate In-Depth has learned.
BH&G Rand Realty Managing Partner Matt Rand told the newspaper in a telephone interview that the firm is looking for further acquisitions in Bergen County, NJ and is using Preakness as its beachhead for its expansion into Northern New Jersey. Preakness Realty has locations in Hawthorne and Wayne in Passaic County.
“Expanding into the New Jersey real estate market has been part of our strategic growth strategy for quite some time, but we needed to identify the right opportunity to continue our momentum outside of New York,” Rand said. “We were drawn to Preakness Realty because of its incredible reputation within the community for the last 40 years, the quality of its agents and our similar client-centric business models and values.”
Rand revealed however that initially it was looking to strike a deal close to the New York border in Bergen County (Wayne is approximately 20 miles from the New York border with Rockland County). “What we originally set out for was looking to find an office close to the New York border that would be home to our New York agents (New York has reciprocity with New Jersey) that would allow us to tap into the tremendous amount of relocation business we have with Cartus (relocation subsidiary of Realogy Inc.),” he said.
Rand added that in addition to work involving Rockland and Orange County businesses recruiting workers from New Jersey, Rand has also been sending referrals to other New Jersey firms because BH&G Rand did not have a license in the Garden State.
He added that the Better Homes and Gardens Franchise Development Team assisted Rand in its search for opportunities in New Jersey, which eventually led to the introduction of Rand with the similarfamily- owned Preakness Realty firm.
“We are still actually looking for opportunities to fill in, in Bergen County, between our New York offices and Wayne in Passaic,” Rand said. He added that the company is in talks with some firms in Bergen County.
“We intend to have something, even if we open (a Rand office), to have at least one office in Bergen County this year,” Rand said.
“I think if we were able to over the next year or two have three offices in Bergen County and the two offices in Passaic, I would think that would be a very solid footprint to service all of Northern New Jersey,” he said.
The acquisition of Preakness Realty adds 50 agents to the Rand Realty firm, which now includes 28 offices and 850 agents. In addition to now being licensed in New Jersey, the company joined three New Jersey multiple listing service organizations— the New Jersey MLS, Garden State MLS and the Hudson County MLS. Rand reported that David Anthony, formerly with Coldwell Banker, has joined Rand and will manage the Preakness Realty offices.
Gene Lowe, owner of Preakness Realty, and his daughter Debra Lowe, the firm’s broker of record, along with Joe Simone, the company’s top sales associate, will remain with the organization.
“Our decision to associate with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Rand Realty was an easy one,” said Debra Lowe. “The Rands impressed us from the first time we met with Marsha Rand, the founder and matriarch, along with her sons and managing partners Matt and Joe. The Rands bring with them a strong reputation, innovative marketing strategies and cutting-edge tools that will allow our agents to continue to greatly serve consumers and stay ahead of the competition. The power of the Better Homes and Gardens brand, coupled with the familyowned culture the Rands will maintain, will provide a fantastic opportunity for agents and the clients whom which they serve.”
WHITE PLAINS – Construction industry association executive Ross J. Pepe briefed members of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors on Feb. 28 at the HGAR offices in White Plains on the plans being advanced by state and federal officials to build a new $5.2-billion Tappan Zee Bridge.
Pepe, president of the Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley, Inc. and the Building Contractors Association based in Tarrytown, said that if all goes according to plan a Design- Build contracting firm will be selected this summer and a Record of Decision reached by the end of August or early September with construction starting shortly thereafter. The project calls for the construction of a new bridge that would support mass transit at a future date.
Approximately 50 members of HGAR attended the joint session of HGAR’s Commercial Investment Division and its Legislative, Legal and Political Affairs Council.
After the session was completed, the Legislative, Legal and Political Affairs Council met to discuss the Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Project and approved a policy statement in support of the new bridge plan.
HGAR in its policy statement noted, ”Considering that building a new bridge is now among the highest infrastructure priorities at both the federal and New York State levels, that we have the commitments of the Obama and Cuomo administrations to commence the project, and that there is serious consideration of fundraising options by those parties, it does not make sense to risk all that by tacking on an untold number of years to plan and review the transit options. Our preference as an organization is that the project stay on its current fast track and in transit-capable mode.”
The Legislative Committee stressed that its position in support of the expedited plan “is not to be interpreted as a less than enthusiastic endorsement of the mass transit component, but rather a pragmatic seizure of an opportunity that may not reoccur. We do in fact strongly support mass transit, and we urge that every effort be made to start planning for it right now, so that a final configuration could be in place when the bridge construction is completed, if not sooner.”
The committee noted that prior studies have amassed a tremendous amount of information concerning a mass transit component on the new span. The committee stated, “The Federal Highway Administration and the New York State Thruway Authority and Department of Transportation should assist local governments in the I-287 corridor with program grants and other resources to complete the corridor study as a separate project. County governments in the corridor could perhaps be the coordinating entities; Westchester and Rockland both had advisory groups for the former project. In short, we recommend that there be two tracks, the mass transit capable bridge, and the mass transit redesigned I-287 corridor. Neither must wait for the other, the need is too urgent.”
Developments on the Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing have come fast and furious. In fact, later in the day of the HGAR session was the first of two public hearings on the recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the new bridge project that found no adverse environmental impact. The Feb. 28 public hearing was held at the Palisades Center in West Nyack. On March 1, a session was scheduled at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown.
Proponents of the project were expected to be out in force for the project that is expected to create more than 10,000 construction jobs and thousands of other jobs. Also predicted to have large contingents at the sessions are those that are pushing state and federal officials to have some form of mass transit (bus rapid transit or commuter rail) be part of the bridge project upon completion. Among those mass transit advocates are Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino and Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoeff.
On Feb. 7, the New York State Thruway Authority and the New York State Department of Transportation announced they had selected four design-build consortiums as qualified bidders for the new bridge project.
State officials reported that a request for proposals (RFP) would be issued to the four bidders in coming weeks. Thruway Authority officials noted that a total of five design-build partnerships expressed interest in the new Tappan Zee Bridge project, but only four were deemed qualified based on what they said was a “thorough multiagency technical review.” The identity of the firm not deemed qualified was not released.
The four groups that will be sent RFPS for the project are:
Hudson River Bridge Constructors
(a group including Dragados USA, Inc., Flatiron Constructors, Inc., Samsung C&T, E&C Americas, Inc., and Yonkers Contracting Company, Inc.)
Kiewit-Skanska-Weeks Joint Venture
(Kiewit Infrastructure Co., Skanska USA Civil Northeast Inc., and Weeks Marine, Inc.)
Tappan Zee Bridge Partners, a Bechtel/Tutor Perini Joint Venture
(Bechtel Infrastructure Corporation and Tutor Perini Corporation)
Tappan Zee Constructors
(Fluor Enterprises, Inc., American Bridge Company, Granite Construction Northeast, Inc., and Traylor Bros., Inc.)
In relation with the new bridge project, the New York State Department of Transportation announced that Trevcon Construction Company, Inc. of Liberty Corner, NJ was the apparent low bidder at $17.9 million for test pile installation across the Hudson River as part of the Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing project. Work has already begun on the pile project.
Pepe explained that the design of the new bridge would either be an arch style or “cable-stay” with two towers. Both design options would be a twin span (two decks) each featuring four 12-foot traffic lanes (for a total of eight lanes), a left shoulder and emergency access, a right shoulder, and barriers along the decks’ edges. The left and right shoulders would serve as disabled vehicle lanes. The left shoulder would also provide emergency vehicle access. A bicycle lane would also be provided.
He also noted that the expedited project is being advanced under the “Design- Build” process, which was passed by the New York State legislature last year, where the private sector competes to offer the most innovative, cost effective designs for the new bridge. Rather than the state mandating a specific bridge design and construction method, qualified firms are now competing on their respective designs for the replacement bridge. The designbuild process permits an expedited construction schedule compared to traditional state contracting, and offers significant cost savings with less risk to state taxpayers of design changes and resulting cost overrun, state officials have said.
In October 2011, President Barrack Obama announced that the Tappan Zee Bridge project was one of 14 megaprojects across the nation to be fast-tracked in an expedited approval process. The project team, which includes the Federal Highway Administration, the New York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Thruway Authority (the owner of the bridge that connects Rockland and Westchester counties), are now working on the environmental approvals and design for a new span to be built just to the north of the existing structure. The project team issued a Request for Qualifications to interested contractors in November of 2011.
The Federal Highway Administration, which is now spearheading the project, rescinded the prior environmental studies that were underway, which included a number of designs for a new span as well as bus rapid transit and commuter rail to be possibly incorporated into the project. Cost estimates ranged from $8 billion to $16 billion for a full build-out that included commuter rail in a more than 30-mile study area that began in Suffern and ended in Port Chester. Instead, the new fast-tracked study now involves a little more than three miles from Nyack to Tarrytown, and is focused solely on building a new bridge that “does not preclude transit in the future.”
“Until last October, it would have been a safe bet that a new crossing would not be started or built for at least a five to 10-year period,” Pepe said. “The (prior) process that was engaged had reached nearly a decade with little movement to success.”
He charged that the prior study involved a 30-mile area and included bus and commuter rail options with little financing available to fund the nearly $20 billion project.
The expedited plan could allow a groundbreaking for this project to be held prior to Election Day in November.
Pepe said that under the new plan the state has been or will be applying for approximately $3 billion in federal (TIFA) loans and TIGER grants. The balance of the project will be financed via traditional bonding (likely to be issued by the bridge’s owner The New York State Thruway Authority) and toll increases. State officials have also said that pension fund and other private investment could be possible.
The New York State Department of Transportation has hired Jeffrey A. Parker Associates of Philadelphia to provide financial advice and analysis on the financing of the new span. A report on financing options is expected to be released soon.
Pepe later in the day was part of a press conference orchestrated by ReplaceTheTZBridgeNow. org, a statewide coalition of major employers, transportation professionals, civil engineers, and labor organizations representing more than 300,000 employees and 15,000 employers, in support of the expedited bridge plan.
In a press statement, Pepe said, “Based on the assessment of the project’s limited funding opportunities for the foreseeable future, the decision to exclude the complete build out of a mass transit program was a wise decision. Based on the reality of the funding that is now available, the new Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Project will not preclude the planning, design, construction or consideration of future transit modes through the TZ corridor. In other words, the final bridge design will not preclude future transit operations