Neighbors who have fought against French-American School of New York’s proposal to build a nursery school through twelfth grade campus on the former Ridgeway County Club site, say that FASNY’s Greens to Green Conservancy is a distraction from the fact that the development is inappropriate for the residential neighborhood.
Gedney Association President Terence Guerriere questions whether the school is truly committed to building the conservancy, and said it only serves to divert attention away from the building of the campus, which some locals are concerned would overwhelm the surrounding streets with traffic and negatively impact the environmentally sensitive property.
FASNY recently announced that it has hired Teatown Lake Reservation Inc. to study 84-acres of the 129-acre property—some of must legally remain open space, as it is considered wetlands. The Greens to Green Conservancy would serve as an open space passive recreational site that would also include educational components.
“There’s nothing in the DEIS [draft environmental impact statement] that says they're definitely going to build it,” said Guerriere. “We’ll definitely see the negative impacts of the school on the environment and traffic, but we’re not necessarily going to see the conservancy. From my reading, this means they’ll build the school first, the upper, middle and lower schools, and then if they have the time, the inclination, and the money they will eventually built it.”
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Guerriere is disappointed that the draft environmental impact statement for FASNY’s proposed site plan application referred to the conservation as being only “aspirational” without any language that holds FASNY to their promise.
FASNY contends that the term “aspirational” only refers to the “programmatic” elements that could become a part of the conservancy, like a greenhouse, and not the conservancy as a whole. These elements would be dependant on whether or not there ends up being funding to make it happen.
“Creation of the Greens to Green Conservancy at the French-American School of New York at White Plains, is not aspirational,” said FASNY spokesperson Geoff Thompson. “It is an integral part of the school’s plan for the defunct Ridgeway Golf Club property.”
Thompson said that if the White Plains Common Council approves the project, the conservancy would be built and protected by a permanent conservation easement that will stay with the property in perpetuity, and that the school will maintain and provide security for the conservancy.
“The Conservancy will be one of the largest open space properties in White Plains,” said Thompson. “The school’s innovative approach of retuning what has for decades been an intensively manipulated unnatural golf course environment to a natural state is unprecedented in the Westchester area. It provides unique opportunities for environmental education and learning.”
The City of White Plains is currently reviewing the DEIS for the proposed project, which would house about 1,200 students and 250 staff members, and would include the construction of:
- an upper, middle and lower school totaling 230,863 sq ft.
- three playgrounds
- four tennis courts
- four soccer fields
- a six-lane track
- basketball court
- baseball diamond
- softball diamonds
- 428 parking spaces
Once the council determines that the DEIS is complete, it will conduct hearings for the public to weigh in on the document. FASNY has posted an online petition asking individuals to express their support for the project.
“We look forward to the public hearings once application is deemed complete,” said Guerriere. “We believe there is a growing number of people in White Plains who want to understand the full impact of the building of a educational facility this size. And who realize that it's too much, in the wrong place and that the French-American School chose the wrong place for their future and should perhaps look for a more appropriate campus site.”