King Komments, By White Plains City Councilperson, William King, Filed 3/28/02: Councilman William King attended the Fisher Hill Neighborhood Meeting last night, held to discuss the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services plan to house foster care teenagers at a home they have purchased in the Fisher Hill Neighborhood. Here is his open letter to the JBFCS.
Dear Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services:
I will be sending you a complete letter after I have had a chance to read all about your organization and the many good things you do from your website, www.jbfcs.org And let me wish you all a Happy Passover.
I am writing as a member of the White Plains Common Council who has heard with concern my fellow citizens’ concerns about your proposed group home for troubled teens at 139 Walworth Avenue in the middle of a wonderful single- and 2-family neighborhood in the Fisher Hill section of White Plains near the Scarsdale border.
I do not believe this is a good location for your group home and ask you to reconsider your purchase of the home and, instead, resell the home and look for an alternative location that is not in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
For example, there are homelike buildings in disrepair in the “historic oval” of the New York Presbyterian Hospital campus in White Plains which could be fixed up and used without upsetting a surrounding residential neighborhood. I note that one of JBFCS’s Westchester Division board members, Paul Bergins, is a private attorney representing NYPH who could possibly make initial contacts to pursue this possibility further.
Last night I met many of the residents of the neighborhood surrounding 139 Walworth Ave. at a Fisher Hill Neighborhood Association Meeting, including former White Plains Mayor Al Del Vechio, who lives just up the hill. The mayor and 40-50 residents in attendance who spoke in a level-headed but determined tone voted unanimously against the proposal for your group home. I agree with them.
I learned that your organization purchased this beautiful early 1900′s home with significant historical value (architecturally and due to earlier residents including one Nobel Prize winner) with attractive surrounding property for only $475K.
I believe you could resell this house, in the current market, at the same or possibly a significantly higher price. If you did so, you would provide great relief to the residents surrounding the home, many of them relatively new residents of White Plains who have made substantial investments in what they thought was an improving older neighborhood, one of several such neighborhoods we are trying to preserve in White Plains.
They are now concerned about their houses losing value after they have made substantial investments in buying and renovating them. One resident told me she has been contacted steadily by a realtor advising her to sell now before her house value drops.
Thank you for your consideration. I will follow this email up with a formal letter and I hope you will hear comments in the same vane from our mayor in the near future. If you would like to meet with me and my fellow members of the White Plains Common Council along with residents of the neighborhood, you can contact me at home or at work.
Bill King, Member, White Plains Common Council