The New Castle Town Board voted Tuesday night to rescind the lease it had granted to a Mount Kisco restaurateur to operate a bistro at the Chappaqua train station depot.
The action came less than a week after one of the proprietors passed over for the lease, Peter and Erin Chase, submitted a petition to officials containing 520 town residents’ signatures that forced the board to either schedule a permissive referendum asking the public whether or not to rescind the lease or revoke the lease on its own. The Chases initiated the petition after claiming that the Request for Proposal process was flawed and unfair.
In May, the town board had granted a 10-year lease with a five-year option to Leslie Lampert, the owner of Ladle of Love and Cafe of Love in Mount Kisco. Lampert had proposed to open Love at 10514 at the station this summer.
Supervisor Robert Greenstein, in a statement issued on Wednesday, said the town’s RFP created a level playing field that attracted three strong applicants. His statement contended that all the applicants had an opportunity to review the RFP.
“Nevertheless, we’re going to do it again,” Greenstein said. “When the Board reviewed the referendum petition and weighed its options, the most prudent choice was to rescind its lease award and reopen the selection process once again. We invite all prior applicants for leasing the Chappaqua Train Station to resubmit their proposals for consideration.”
While he did not say explicitly why the board agreed to rescind, scheduling a special election would have cost thousands of dollars and taken up to two months to schedule.
Erin Chase, who with her husband, Peter, own a company that operates and develops restaurants and bars across the United States and abroad, said the board made the correct decision even if it will delay an establishment from opening up at the train station for several months.
She added that it was important for the town to follow an RFP process that is transparent and provides each applicant a fair opportunity to be considered.
“Everyone involved in the process is really happy,” Chase said. “Hopefully, no one is holding any hard feelings against anyone.”
The Chases argued that the town’s RFP process was fraught with irregularities, including having the applicants make their presentations to the board before the RFP was distributed. Once it was made public there was key information missing, they said.
A message left for Lampert on Wednesday wasn’t returned.
The third applicant was Carla Gambescia, owner of Via Vanti! in Mount Kisco. Gambescia thought that she had been awarded the lease during the first RFP process conducted by the previous administration but an agreement was never finalized. Shortly after the current board took over in January, officials and Gambescia quarreled over the public’s access to the depot’s bathrooms, prompting the board to restart the RFP.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/