The Capitol Projects Board recommended the Common Council approve purchase of the D’Elia property, along the Greenway, as part of Mayor Delfino’s Environmental Protection Initiative.
In swift, decisive action, with a minimum of discussion, the D’Elia property was cleared to become the city’s first Open Space Acquisition as part of Mayor Joseph Delfino’s Open Space Acqusition plan Wednesday afternoon.
AT LONG LAST, the D’Elia property is on the brink of being purchased by the city for $1,775,000. The curved light gray portion of the map above is The Greenway. The D’Elia property is in dark gray just below it. The property is located on the East side of the Greenway, abutting the Scarsdale border is approximately 6 acres, thickly forested including the “paper street” that runs through the center. The D’Elia property also features the trickling West Branch of the Mamaroneck River, rocks and steep slopes.
The recommendation to allocate $25,000 from the City Recreation Trust Fund and bond for $1,750,000 to purchase the 5-acre D’Elia property from The New York Trust for Public Land, has to be approved by the Common Council. It is expected by WPCNR that the Council will take up the resolution at their next Common Council meeting September 4.
The $1,775,000 the city will pay, if the Council approves, is less than a New York Trust for Public Land-selected private appraiser has valued the property for sale on the real estate market today. This was the criteria by which the Trust judged whether to acquire the property.
The property was evaluated by the appraiser, Bob Balog, of Balog-Ferrier Real Estate Appraisals in Tarrytown, according to Susan Habel, Deputy Commissioner of Planning. The New York Trust for Public Land negotiated the deal on the city’s behalf and will actually purchase the property from a Greenwich developer who will pay Mr. D’Elia for the property. The city will purchase the piece from the Trust.
Greer raises question of outside aid
Robert Greer lightly raised the question of whether the city would seek aid from Westchester County or the state to fund the purchase. Mayor Delfino said that time was of the essence in purchasing the property. Deputy Commissioner Habel pointed out that the Trust for Public Land had only three months from September 4 to December to close on the contract.
Based on his experience with the County Board of Legislators, Delfino said it would take too long for the County government to work a funding proposal through the system in time to meet the Trust for Public Land 90 day window of opportunity to buy the D’Elia property. He also pointed out if the county helped in acquiring it, the parkland would have to be made available to all county residents.
Delfino said, “If we did not have the money to fund this, we would fund it anyway. We would find the money. That’s how important I feel open space is (to this community).”
Meeting with Spano coming up
Delfino said the city would explore other sources of funding to reduce the need to bond for the money, but it was important to accept the deal at this time because of the owner’s deadline. The Mayor said he would be meeting with County Executive Andy Spano to discuss other issues important to White Plains in the next 10 days, and that funding for this would be part of the discussion.
CCOS delighted. Open Space Acquisition Committee’s first success.
Barbara Benjamin of Concerned Citizens for Open Space was an observer. She commented, “CCOS is absolutely delighted. We feel that this land should be preserved in perpetuity. It’s very environmentally sensitive. We hope to work out ways it can be used as an environmental laboratory.” She added that some of the plans for the site are to use it to teach ecology to students in the White Plains schools.”
The D’Elia property acquisition is the first apparent success, (depending on the Common Council voting for its acquisition), in the Mayor’s Environmental Protection Initiative, and it took just 4 months. The Mayor created the Initiative to pursue open space preservation aggressively. If the Council approves the expenditure of $1,775,000, it will be the first Open Space acquisition by the city in 20 years, according to the Mayor’s office, and the first property purchase by the city in 10 years.
One property almost in the portfolio, 4 to go on “Most Wanted List.”
The D’Elia property is the first property appearing on the Open Space Acquisition Committee “ Top 5 Most Wanted Properties List” to come within reach of the city. Susan Habel commented for WPCNR on the other four properties on the “Want List:”
The Dellwood and Pettinnichi properties in Woodcrest Heights were properties that the city is interested in acquiring, but the County owned the Dellwood piece and has an option to buy the Pettinnichi property for low cost affordable housing. This is currently due to go to the Westchester County Planning Board, but has not as of yet and has been hanging fire since last Spring.
The other property, the Grieco property, also in Woodcrest Heights, is currently under option to Richard Cohen, a developer, who is going through a lengthy environmental review with the Planning Department in attempting to build his Jillian Estates project, consisting of 16 homes on the property. Habel said the owner cannot negotiate to sell their land until Cohen’s option expires.
Another property on the “Most Wanted List” is adjacent to the soon-to-be acquired D’Elia piece. The Mindich property near the Greenway, is in “ongoing” discussions with The Trust for Public Land, according to Habel, but the owner is interested in building a home there at the present time.
A great time to borrow
Habel added that borrowing at this time is very advantageous for the city since municipal bond rates are even lower than commercial bond rates. Louis Cappelli, speaking Monday night to the Common Council also commented that this is a great time to borrow money.