A proposal to move the Department of Motor Vehicles from the White Plains Mall to 3 Barker Ave. was sharply criticized last week by representatives of My Sister’s Place and a neighboring hotel.
The applicant, 3 Barker Ave. LLC, is seeking a Government Use Permit that would allow it to move from the mall, which is scheduled to close in the near future, to the office building at 3 Barker Ave.
At the July 1 White Plains Common Council meeting, William Null, an attorney representing 3 Barker Ave. LLC, which owns the office building, said councilpersons and residents asked where the DMV offices would be moved within White Plains. The state Office of General Services did an inventory and determined that 3 Barker Ave. would be the best location to move the DMV because it is, in part, close to forms of mass transit, Null said.
There are 246 parking spaces at the office-building site and his client is doing a shared parking analysis, Null noted. For DMV actions not requiring a DMV employee, a kiosk would be made available to the public on the first floor, he said. Residents who need assistance from DMV employees would go to the second floor. On the third floor testing would be made available for the DMV clients he said.
The second floor would have access from the parking garage without the public needing to come to the first floor, Null said. A security officer would work on the first floor to direct the public if they needed services that would be provided on the first, second or third floors. The entire second floor would be occupied by DMV offices, Null said.
Null indicated his client has been meeting with occupants of the office building and would continue to do so.
Mayor Tom Roach said that the first hour of parking at the office building lot is $5, while the cost is $1 per hour in municipal parking lots. Null said that was correct, adding the rate currently charged at the White Plains Mall is $5 for the first hour. There is lower-cost municipal parking spaces two blocks from the office building, he said.
Karen Cheeks-Lomax, chief executive officer of My Sister’s Place, which is located at 3 Barker Ave., expressed several objections to the plan to move the DMV.
“For over 40 years My Sister’s Place has been providing an array of confidential and critical service to the victims of domestic violence and human tracking,” she said. My Sister’s Place opposed the proposed DMV move, she said. “There are lines, there are people milling about,” she said, adding the people sit for long hours seeking DMV services.
People who are assisted by My Sister’s Place are fearful and vulnerable and they could be discouraged from seeking its services if the DMV is moved to the office building, she said. “Our location would become known to thousands of people,” posing potential dangers to clients, she said. The office building was not intended to provide services to large numbers of people, she said. “The plan is misguided, ill-conceived,” she said.
Among the other critics of the proposal to move the DMV last week was Ken Hung, general manager of Residence Inn by Marriott, located at 5 Barker Ave. “It is going to negatively impact the hotel economically and as well as operationally,” Hung said. The White Plains Mall can handle a large amount of people, Hung said. The current parking lot would not be able to accommodate the additional residents who would come to use the DMV, he said, adding it would make it more difficult for people to come to the hotel.
The lobby would be jammed by the additional people who would come to the office building for DMV services, Hung said. People already come to the hotel asking if it is 3 Barker Ave. and that situation would be worse if the DMV was moved, he said.
Between 80 to 100 parking spaces are used by hotel guests, per night, Hung said.
Common Council members also expressed their concerns about the proposed DMV move during last week’s meeting.
Councilman Dennis Krolian said the office building houses My Sister’s Place and law offices. Both require confidentiality for their clients. Krolian said. He was concerned that those who need confidentiality would encounter residents seeking to use the DMV facilities, Krolian said.
Null told Krolian the DMV would occupy the entire second floor of the office building. People who need confidentially, such as law office clients in other buildings do not lose their anonymity, he said. “We don’t think there’s any compromise,” Null said. “Any number of people go to the DMV.”
Councilwoman Nadine Hunt-Robinson also expressed concern about the loss of privacy for those who use the office building and said there needed to be measures put in place to protect them if the DMV offices are moved, she said.
Councilman Justin Brasch also said the privacy of the clients of My Sister’s Place needed to be protected. “These are people in fear,” he said. “They will be afraid to go into this building.” The applicant should consider a separate entrance for the DMV, he said.
The Common Council adjourned the public hearing until its Aug. 5 meeting.