WPCNR SOUTH END TIMES. By John F. Bailey. September 15, 2013:
Terence Guerriere, President of the Gedney Farms Association, stated tonight to WPCNR neither his Association nor the White Plains School District was consulted by the city officers and FASNY officials who worked out alternative entrance plans over the summer for the French American School of New York planned campus at the former Ridgeway Country Club property.
The Draft Final Environmental Impact Statement submitted by the French American School for their proposed project is on a Council Special Meeting Agenda Monday evening at 7 P.M. Mr. Guerriere also said no one from the public would be allowed to speak at the meeting. He said he expected the Common Council will approve the DFEIS as complete.
Mr. Guerriere offered the opinion that the Council will vote Monday night to accept the DFEIS as “complete,” at which time the city council will have 30 days to make an Environmental Findings Statement. He said that they could make one of three environmental findings: 1. Effects have been mitigated. 2. The plan can proceed with further environmental mitigation, or 3. the environmental effects of the project cannot be sufficiently mitigated. Should options one or two be selected by the Council after 30 days, the project can then proceed to site plan development and more hearings,Guerriere said.
Peter Bassano, a member of the White Plains Board of Education confirmed to WPCNR Sunday evening that the Board of Education first heard of a proposed traffic circle proposed in the DFEIS two weeks ago. He said the Board of Education was never approached by the city to participate with city officials and French American School of New York officials who designed a traffic circle proposal involving reconfiguring the entrance to White Plains High School (shown below).
Bassano told WPCNR the new interim Superintendent of Schools, Timothy P. Conners was also not told by the city of the high school entrance alternative manufactured by the city and FASNY representatives. Bassano said the Board is waiting for a presentation by the French American School on September 23 and has an open mind.
Two representatives of Gedney Farms expressed disillusionment at the last Tuesday evening Council of Neighborhood Associations meeting that the city and FASNY created a Bryant Avenue entrance and the high school circle entrance on North Street in secret.
Over the week the French American School of New York issued a citywide mailing saying among other things that “After almost two years of review, no one can reasonably claim the project is being rushed through or there has been a lack of transparency.”
When FASNY public relations man Geoff Thompson of Thompson and Bender was asked by WPCNR how come alternative entrances were put forth in the DFEIS, Mr. Thompson explained the new entrances were requested to be explored by the Draft Environmental Impact Statement based on public comment.
Nevertheless when the Gedney Association asked to be heard in the design of the alternative entrances, and other changes appearing in the Draft Final Environmental Impact State they obtained by FOIA request–in a letter to the city, Gedney Farms Association recounts:
“In recent weeks the Association has made several attempts to meet with City officials connected with the review of the DFEIS: the Commissioner of Planning, the City’s Planning consultant, the Parking Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner of Parking for Transportation and the Commissioner of Public Works. The Association has been told that any meeting regarding the FASNY project would need to be approved by Chief of Staff and Corporation Counsel John Callahan. When contacted, Mr. Callahan told the Association that meeting with the City’s commissioners and staff would be “highly inappropriate.”
When the Gedney Farms Association first learned of the two new entrance proposals they requested new hearings be scheduled by the Common Council to review the pros and cons of the two new entrances: The roundabout high school entrance changes traffic patterns at the high school and requires taking of high school property. The Bryant Avenue entrance requires a traffic light opposite the group home complex entrance a short distance from the Methodist Church. To date the council has shown no interest in doing so.
The letter further states that the city is falling into a “trap,” set by FASNY, which, and we quote,” might allow them to sue the city on the grounds the council mislead them and acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it did not indicate which option (Bryant or high school entrance) would be best and did not allow FASNY to pursue the preferred option, or that the city was presented with not just one good option, but three and rejected all of them), or the council indicates its preference, and finds the impacts cannot be mitigated and denies the application”
“Our (Common) council should not fall into this trap laid by FASNY. It is not the Council’s duty to select the option from the Hobson’s choice of a Ridgeway entrance, North Street entrance or Bryant Avenue entrance. The city should not place itself in a position of a purported co-developer with FASNY. The FEIS should reflect FASNY’s choice of a plan and the Council should demand that the SEQR process be properly adhered to by FASNY.”