Rubbing Me the Wrong Way

Plus, forget me (Hugue)not and opining about bovines

Got My Goat!

Q: Hello, I was reading an article you printed and was curious as to why the Bear Mountain Bridge is referred to as the Goat Trail?
—Joe Mauro, [town not given]


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A: Joe, I did the best I could. I really did. I was going to make up a story about Hamilton and Burr dueling on Bear Mountain when a goat head butted Burr off an embankment and Hamilton got an idea for a musical, but I discarded the notion because the magazine’s fact-checkers are an anal-retentive lot and don’t let me get away with anything.

My buddy, Patrick Raftery from the Westchester Historical Society, Gina DiSarro from the NYS Department of Transportation (which oversees state bridges), and the folks at the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation all shrugged their shoulders. Then, they all offered a variation of:

“I think because it’s only fit for mountain goats.” Sorry, that’s all I got for now.


Linking Logs

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Q: There is a charming log cabin at the top of Wilmot Road in Eastchester. It doesn’t look as though it is occupied as a residence: There doesn’t seem to be a path to the front door or a driveway. It appears more to be used as a Boy Scout or Girl Scout cabin. Can you share the history?
—Rosalie Lombardi, Mount Vernon


A: That cabin is part of what is known as the Little Farm, consisting originally of several buildings, including a farmhouse, a slave quarters, and a smokehouse. The official address is 93 Wilmot Road, New Rochelle, and it’s currently owned by the Platzner family, the well-known developers.

The farmhouse was originally built for Huguenot settlers. Pierre Bonnet acquired the property in 1714. Daniel Bonnet then owned the property from 1718 to 1740, after which it was passed down through generations of the Bonnet family.

In the 1940s, the property was owned by the Watson family, who combined the rundown smokehouse and slave quarters to make the main house. It is believed the smokehouse was constructed in 1720. 

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The Platzners purchased the land in 1985, intending to develop homes. Many protested, and the Platzners agreed to preserve the farmhouse.

As for the cabin, it appears to have been built much later than the other existing properties. Historian Patrick Raftery told me the cabin does not appear on a 1925 aerial photo of the property but does appear on a 1929 map of the land. New Rochelle historian Barbara Davis added that the cabin doesn’t qualify as historic but that the farmhouse certainly does.


The Oldest Profession

Q:There were multiple prostitution arrests at a “spa” in Cortlandt recently, along with several other similar “spa” busts throughout the region. It’s obvious what’s going on here, and I know it is illegal to give a massage without a license, but I don’t understand how these sleazy, fake spas are allowed to operate at all?
—Jack Dyson, Mohegan Lake


A: An excellent question — with a complicated answer. You are no doubt referring to the arrests made at 2153 Albany Post Road in the Montrose section of Cortlandt Manor in June and October. To  get your answer, I consulted a criminal attorney, the New York State Department of State, the American Massage Therapy Association, and a spa owner.

The DOS told me a spa and the people who work there need to be licensed according to their specialty. However, what would stop a legitimately licensed nail specialist, for example, from giving an illegal massage behind closed doors once a customer entered the legitimately licensed nail specialty establishment? To make matters more complicated, the DOS oversees beauty/barbering professionals, while the Department of Education oversees massage licensing. So, different spa positions are overseen by different agencies.

Jeremy Saland, a criminal defense attorney who served as a Manhattan and Westchester municipal prosecutor for 12 years collectively, told me that in addition to the above scenario, a business could have filed false documentation in order to open their illegitimate business.

“If a business opens up without promising to do a certain service that relies on licensure, there isn’t anything obvious to investigate until there is a complaint.” Saland says.

One might toss this off as a victimless crime, but consider that some of the workers may be human-trafficking victims, which explains why the Department of Homeland Security gets involved sometimes.

Ron Precht, senior manager of communications for the American Massage Therapy Association, makes another point on the topic: “Some local governments are very good at verifying the legitimacy of a business, and others are not. We are often told that resources are short at the local level, and that results in these businesses opening.”

Bottom line is, if you see or hear (or perhaps feel) something, say something. 

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