On Saturday, the former site opened to the public by the , which showcased its proposal to build a 1,200-student campus.
Guests spoke with site development engineers, school administrators, parent volunteers and teachers, and were given the opportunity to tour the 130-acre site via golf carts.
The French-American School of New York (FASNY) has been faced with opposition since its of the former Ridgeway Country Club in 2011. The property was once part of Gedney Farms, and in 1923 was sold to the now-defunct country club where the land stayed green, without buildings.
Being a country club, however, the property did not reflect true “public open space,” said FASNY spokesperson Geoffrey Thompson. In the proposal, 84 acres would be restored back to a more natural state, with native plants and grasses brought in. Of the 130 acres, 84 would be dedicated, permanent conservation easement. Some area residents, however, are not sold on the idea.
Beverly Berger, a 56-year resident of White Plains, has lived in her home on Roger Place for the past 48 years.
“I’m devastated by what I hear,” she said. “We are currently being affected by and the expanding. Those, along with the [White Plains] high school, make for a tremendous amount of traffic.”
At the Open House, computer-generated traffic flow patterns showed on computer screens and highlights of the environmental impact study were displayed on poster board.
“I’m all for education, I’m all for schools, but the traffic [on Ridgeway] is pretty bad now,” said White Plains resident Joan Lefkowits.
To help mitigate traffic, FASNY proposes widening Ridgeway in front of the school and adding two traffic lights, creating one-way lanes on the school campus itself and Hathaway Lane such that traffic would not spill off Northbound to Oxford Road. and Hathaway Lane.
“It is so difficult to get in and out now,” said Berger of the local streets. “I’d like to instead see houses here, with people paying taxes.”
Martine Wicks of Rye has two children who attend FASNY, and believes that “after dropping off your kids at White Plains, it would be only natural to do shopping, get groceries and take care of errands in White Plains.”
This, along with parents and teachers renting or buying homes in White Plains, would add tax revenue back into the city, said Wicks. Sandy Haffner of Hartsdale also sent her children to Lycée International outside of Paris, and believes that schools like FASNY bring the neighbors together, and offer a multicultural and bilingual environment for the students.
Close to 60 percent of FASNY students were born outside of the U.S., said Board of Trustees chairperson Mischa Zabotin. He explained that more than 100 meetings have been held to-date about this project.
“We’ve even brought in a White Plains resident to an existing class to see what a day was like,” he said. “We’re a school, we’re not a developer or real estate group.”
Editor's Note: This article has been revised to reflect new information. In all, the event attracted more than 150 guests, according to FASNY.