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So Long, Citgo: Relaxation, Retirement Await

Longtime gas station and auto repair shop merchant, Joe Emanuele, is counting the days until his retirement.

It's been a long time coming - too long in Joe Emanuele's mind - but the change is gonna come. Or so he hopes.

Emanuele, who has been working at the station for almost 35 years, said he's ecstatic to finally retire. 

On December 16 he came a step closer to doing so when the Scarsdale Planning Board approved a negative declaration on the construction plan that would replace the Citgo North Ave. Service Station with a two-story, up to 12,046 square-foot retail development site.

The board did not, however, render a decision on the proposed site plan and parking arrangements, which involve a 1,146 square-foot underground parking garage.

"The only thing that [decision] means is that the board didn't find anything wrong with the project," said Joe Emanuele, owner of the service station.  "As far as I know, nothing's going on right now," he added.

And delays on the development project - which was announced in December 2008 - have left him frustrated.

"The deal has been done for about 6 to 8 months, but I'm still here, still working," said Emanuele.  "I'm getting tired; the project is grating along and nothing's being accomplished."

The board's declaration states that the project will have no negative impact on the environment, which alleviates the concerns of many residents.

However, it does not specify when construction will begin because a final site plan must still be approved.

"The property owners are currently in discussion about the details," said Village Planner Elizabeth Marrinan.  "[Site plan approval] probably won't be on our January agenda but it may be talked about in February."

Many residents have worried about how the construction project would impact traffic density, Marrinan said, but analysis showed the increase would be minimal. Closing the curb cut that sits closest to the Five Corners intersection on Palmer Ave. would help smooth traffic there.

Doug Brout and Brad Perkins, the property owners, did not return calls seeking further description about the portions of the proposal which were held over. 

Traffic isn't the only concern residents have. Some people say they drive in from neighboring towns just to get the great service offered by Emanuele and his team. 

"You really can't get service like this anywhere else," said Michele Silber, a White Plains resident who regularly brings her car to the Citgo station.  "Nobody helps you like Joe does... nowadays most gas station workers don't even speak English."

Local stations like this one are becoming a thing of the past, said Silber.  "He's really one of the last few honest repairmen.  I guess now I'm just going to have to go to the dealership and pay double."

"I've made a lot of friends," said Emanuele.  "I treat my customers on a one-by-one basis, and we've developed relationships over the years.  They trust me and I like them.  I know there are going to be some sad people."

But at age 70, Emanuele is ready to move on.

"Unfortunately, there comes a time in life where you just have to wrap it up and say goodbye."

The next Planning Board meeting will be Jan.27, 8pm at Village Hall.

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