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Environment Groups Back FASNY Proposal

Sixteen environmental leaders were at the former Ridgeway Country Club Thursday to support the proposed French-American School of New York.

Sixteen environmental leaders from throughout the region signed a letter supporting the proposed French-American School of New York (FASNY) Thursday, a week before the first public hearing scheduled to discuss project.

The letter, addressed to White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach and the six members of the common council, applauds the proposal's expected positives in regards to the environment and local economy, among other things.

"Turning two-thirds of this defunct private golf course into an 84-acre public nature preserve—at no cost to the city in acquiring, developing or maintaining the facility—will deliver significant social, environmental, educational and economic benefits to White Plains and its citizens," the letter states.

Since purchasing the former Ridgeway Country Club in January 2011, FASNY leaders have been seeking the City's approval to build a new school campus on the property. The proposal also includes a "Greens to Green Conservancy" that would leave two-thirds of the property undeveloped and open as a passive walking park that would be open to the public.

Leaders from five environmental groups discussed why they support the plan Thursday.

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"It will open a tremendous resource for public enjoyment, this will become a great recreational resource, a destination in a region that has a $4 billion tourism industry," said Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson.

Sullivan added that if left on the market, he is concerned the property will eventually be purchased by a developer and made into a large residential subdivision.

"To have this unique combination of positive economic development and an educational institution—it's going to be terrific," he said

Neighbors have rallied against the project, citing traffic concerns, reductions to property values and a change to the character of their neighborhood.

Terence Guerrire, president of the Gedney Neighborhood Association, which has opposed the FASNY proposal, said that while the Greens to Green Conservancy may seem appealing, it doesn't reduce concerns about the changes the school campus will bring to the surrounding neighborhood.

"It seems that the French-American School of New York is doing everything they possibly can to avoid talking about the large negative impacts of the school,” Guerrire said. "We would like to focus on the most important part of the application, which is the large intense traffic generating aspects of the FASNY plan and not be distracted by the constant call of conservancy."

The proposed campus would house about 1,200 students and 250 staff members. In addition to the 84-acre open space conservancy, the proposal includes the construction of an upper, middle and lower school totaling 230,863 sq ft., three playgrounds, four tennis courts, four soccer fiends, a six lane track, a basketball court, baseball and softball diamonds and 428 parking spaces.

The White Plains Common Council declared the DEIS as complete and ready to be discussed at public hearings on Sept. 19 and Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at city hall. Written comments will be received until 5 p.m. on Oct. 20 and should be directed to the City Clerk, City Hall at 255 Main St., White Plains, NY 10601.

Click here to view the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the project. A copy of the DEIS will also be available for view at the . 

chris September 14, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Who were the signers? Scenic Hudson and who else?
John Botti September 15, 2012 at 01:12 AM
The full endorsement letter is on the website: http://greenstogreen.org/endorsements.html Here are the 16 environmental groups and leaders that strongly endorsed the plan for the campus and the conservancy: Eban Goodstein, Ph.D. Director Bard Center for Environmental Policy Bard MBA Program in Sustainability Ned Sullivan President Scenic Hudson William H. Schlesinger, Ph.D. President Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies Jill Isenbarger Executive Director Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture Katie Ginsberg Executive Director Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation Kevin Carter Executive Director Teatown Lake Reservation Janet Harckham Director Green Schools Coalition of Westchester Jane Daniels Author Walkable Westchester Clifford Schneider Executive Director Hudson River Valley Environmental Education Institute Candace Schafer Executive Director Westchester Land Trust Jonathan F.P. Rose Founder & President Jonathan Rose Companies Green Real Estate Policy, Planning and Development Lucy R. Waletzky, M.D. Member Westchester County Pest Management Committee Edward Goodell Executive Director New York – New Jersey Trail Conference Steve Ricker Director Westmoreland Sanctuary Zywia Wojnar Research Director Pace Energy & Climate Center, Pace Law School Benjamin Van Doren Intel Science Talent Search – 5th Place in USA White Plains High School ‘12
Dan Seidel September 15, 2012 at 12:06 PM
save for Ned who lives in the stars, this list is NOT a list of "experts". How much were they paid off for the attendance? I guess science like security for our embassies goes by the wayside. Well, just as we prepare for war with Islam, the Citizens of WP are preparing for a long war with these French. A few years of court battle will ultimately determines whether we have a neighborhood or elected officials who are not quite bright. Gloves are coming off. Get ready for lots of litigation and cross examinations of these "experts" - I think I will have some fun with these useful idiots. My lawsuit will cost $350 and a lot of my time.
Dan Seidel September 15, 2012 at 12:11 PM
PS: thanks for the list of "witnesses" to call. This gets better and better. :>)
Dan Seidel September 15, 2012 at 12:14 PM
PPS: watch the missing witness charge for the jury - failure to produce commands a negative inference charge.
LOVE MY WP September 15, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Everything they do brings me back to my original question from when FASNY first bought the land... If this project is such a great one why are they spending so much money to lawyers, PR firms and now experts to prove it???
Joan's WP September 15, 2012 at 03:29 PM
I don't for one second believe that this gang of 16 wrote their letter independent of FASNY. I have followed the FASNY situation closely, and recognize wording straight out of the FASNY playbook. Furthermore, if you open the PDF's provided by John Bott and read the support letters, you will find that for the most part, they have used identical language. FASNY is within its right to attempt to garner support in a letter writing campaign. However, it is insulting for FASNY to think that we don't understand that they asked the companies or individuals to write letters of support and supplied a template for them to use. This is all part of their massive PR campaign.
AMC September 15, 2012 at 11:44 PM
FASNY is a school, a massive school, the size of a small college, that bought a piece of property to fulfill its dream of a unified campus. Noble idea...just the wrong place. FASNY is NOT about open space but rather the destruction of the entire southern end of White Plains with an unparalleled traffic nightmare. A city is destroyed one neighborhood at a time and now is the time to let your elected officials know that a tax-exempt developer holding out the 'aspirational' (FASNY's language in their DEIS) concept of open space is simply a very empty ruse. White Plains is smarter than FASNY's desperate PR machinations. FASNY took a gamble on getting the special permit it needs to develop/ destroy a bucolic neighborhood. White Plains is all about maintaining the integrity of its unique neighborhoods.
Joseph September 16, 2012 at 12:33 PM
The correct headline for this article should state that these groups support "part of FASNY's proposal". Do they comment upon the massive school complex which will bring massive traffic congestion and destroy the character and quality of life of the neighborhood in which the school plans its development?
John Botti September 16, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Joseph, The letter supports the whole proposal. The first sentence of their endorsement letter is: "We are writing to voice our strong support for the proposal by the French-American School of New York (FASNY) to create a new campus and the Greens to Green Conservancy in White Plains." The full letter can be found at: http://greenstogreen.org/endorsements.html
Dan Seidel September 16, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Hey John: how much you getting paid for your work to support the French School project? Disclosure would be nice. and how much have you been paid to date? Where do you live? House? why did you choose to live where you did? What makes your neighborhood attractive?
Joseph September 16, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Mr. Botti: The point is that FASNY is using the "Preserve" to distract from the massive negative impacts of the school. Your DEIS commits only to minimal change to the property now, and the rest is, in your words, "aspirational", to be completed only if funds are avialable many years from now. In the interest of full disclosure I am a 20 plus year resident of the neirhhborhood which your project will irreparably harm. Can you please disclose your interest in this project? Are you the John Botti who is the FASNY parent who makes presentations regularly for FASNY and whose home is miles away from this development?
Yvonne Gumowitz September 19, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Crickets... Botti will never answer those questions. Which "environmental organization" thinks over 2,500 additional vehicular trips are a good thing? This is so bogus. Letters of support from Dannon? Seriously? Since when does a French yoghurt company located in Tarrytown involve itself in White Plains real estate???
Paula October 21, 2012 at 09:24 AM
Westchester Land Trust would not get involved with trying to save White Plains Railside Woods because they had a policy of not getting involved in land disputes that involved something owned by a municipality. The Hudson River environmental groups wouldn't help because they'd say "It was the wrong water drainage basin area", meaning not going to the Hudson. I just can't believe that for this school they get involved, when it is the same water drainage system. They didn't care about the Mamaroneck River when it involved the Railside Woods, and the new storm drains added to get rid of the water problems that were there.
Paula October 21, 2012 at 09:30 AM
Pace Environmental law was also a rat in regard to Railside and not caring about the Mamaroneck River when that fight was going on. I just can't believe these groups ignored that an already existing wooded walking trail was being damaged by having it's buffer removed and the buffer from the dump with TCE's in it.
Paula October 26, 2012 at 10:16 AM
My point is that these environmental groups did not care one bit and were unresponsive when told about the then-impending development of the Railside Woods, which due to the wet lots, required new storm drains to be installed to take more water into the Mamaroneck River. Now they are sticking their noses in to say they support this, which also is over the Mamaroneck River basin. These are eco-people who have a record of not caring about the Mamaroneck River.

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