Not All in Gedney Farms Oppose FASNY Project, Writer Says

WPCNR LETTER TICKER. JANUARY  25, 2016:

To the Editor
As a White Plains resident of Gedney Farms, I have naturally been following your reporting on the French-American School and, more importantly, the potential for a White Plains city nature park, which will be a key feature of more than half of the land FASNY has purchased. I believe there are a few issues that deserve clarification.
I often read that the plan has been opposed by residents led by the Gedney Association, which is true but could inaccurately lead readers to believe that most Gedney Farms residents oppose the plan. In fact, there is a very small vocal minority that has been unwilling to reconsider its early opposition to the original proposal, even though the current FASNY plan addresses all of their early objections.
The current plan dramatically reduces the original traffic concerns, and in fact, will create far less traffic in and around Gedney Farms than 85 new homes on the site, which is the only realistic alternative to FASNY. Further, this small group of residents has been claiming that the school will lower the City’s tax base, which is misleading, and lower nearby property values, which is patently untrue. Any taxes levied on new homeowners will be spent to provide them with City services. There will be no net-gain for the City. Furthermore, it is likely that the influx of new public school students will necessitate City funding (and possible Citywide tax increases) for new school construction and additional teachers. The argument against FASNY because the school will not pay taxes is simply unfounded.  Quite the opposite, FASNY’s gift of a public nature park at no cost to city taxpayers is unprecedented.
With respect to property values, 85 new homes will create additional supply, which will naturally lower the value of surrounding property. In other cities, homes abutting parks, nature preserves or private schools tend to be valued higher. I cannot imagine why White Plains would be an exception. The school’s plan, including the nature park, will increase — not decrease — nearby property values.
Concerns about student safety are also unfounded. While one could point to some of the very earliest FASNY plans as warranting discussion about student safety, the current plan opens several car-free paths to students who wish to walk or bike to the High School from Gedney Farms and neighborhoods to the south and west. FASNY’s plan makes it far safer than walking on Ridgeway or Bryant — today’s only choices. The housing alternative cannot possibly be argued as safer: walking through a new housing development where 85 households will be funneling out in their cars at exactly the same time students will be sharing the road on foot.
My family and I live in Gedney Farms, and we stand with the majority of our neighbors — and the vast majority of residents across all of White Plains — strongly in favor of the FASNY plan. The benefits of an esteemed educational institution, particularly when coupled with the facilities and nature park it is offering at no cost to the City, is the clear best choice for White Plains. The Common Council’s duty is to vote for plans that are in the best interests of the majority of White Plains residents. Anything but a unanimous “yes” vote for FASNY would be unconscionable.
Respectfully yours,
David Kohl
21 Dupont Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605
+1 914-686-0406

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