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.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
"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 .