The Examiner

Rejected Applicants Gear Up to Challenge Chap Train Station Lease

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The two proprietors whose applications were recently rejected to operate a restaurant at the Chappaqua train station have begun collecting signatures to force the Town of New Castle to schedule a referendum to challenge the lease.

Chappaqua residents Carla Gambescia, owner of Via Vanti! in Mount Kisco, and Peter and Erin Chase, who own a worldwide hospitality development company, decided last Friday to try and force a permissive referendum, about a week and a half after the town board made its decision.

In a 4-1 vote on May 20, the board awarded a 10-year lease to Leslie Lampert, owner of  Ladle of Love and Cafe of Love in Mount Kisco. Lampert plans to open a bistro called Love at 10514 at the town-owned train station building.

In a joint statement from Gambescia and the Chases, they decried a process that they contended lacked transparency. They have also launched a Facebook page titled Our Station, Our Town highlighting the issues.

“We are fully confident we will be able to gather the required number of local registered voters’ signatures, resulting in the issuance of a Permissive Referendum on the lease and restarting the (Request for Proposal) process based on a fair and transparent approach,” the statement read in part.

Gambescia said on Monday that the petition to trigger a referendum would have to be filed by June 19. They would need about 350 valid signatures from registered voters in the town.

Gambescia said that while she and the Chases had different issues with the board, they agreed there were irregularities with how the RFP was handled.

“We’re pursuing this because we don’t feel it was a fair and open process,” said said Gambescia, who stated if a referendum is scheduled the new establishment would likely have to wait. “It’s about the process.”

Gambescia was told by the previous town board she would be awarded the lease. After the current town board was seated, she had a disagreement about the public’s access to the bathrooms.

At the time of the board’s vote two weeks ago, Supervisor Robert Greenstein said Lampert’s proposal “meets the needs of our community and provides the best re-adaptive use of (the) depot’s beautiful interior space.”

Meanwhile, Lampert said she is still planning on moving into the space this summer. While hesitant to comment, she said she hoped to provide a positive experience for the community.

“We’re just really focused on everything that’s we’re set up to be creating,” Lampert said.

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