Friday, October 27, 2006

Should the town cooperate with Ardsley in building affordable housing for village/town employees, volunteer firefighters, ambulance corp members?

The Greenburgh Town Board unanimously agreed to take the waterwheel property, located in Ardsley, off the foreclosure auction sale this past Tuesday. This was done at the request of the Village of Ardsley.
I have been working with the Mayor of Ardsley and with other Ardsley community leaders on a proposal to turn foreclosed property into affordable housing for volunteers (firefighters, ambulance corp members), police, teachers.
There is an affordable housing shortage in Westchester. In the blog comments (listed in misc) some people have pointed out that it is becoming more difficult to attract and retain volunteer firefighters. One blogger indicated that it is possible that without affordable housing for volunteers - Ardsley may eventually become a paid fire dept, resulting in major tax hikes. THe reason: Ardsley is too expensive a place to live for many young families. I support turning foreclosed property into affordable housing. I appreciate the fact that the members of the Town Council stopped the sale of the property and expressed a willingness to talk to Ardsley officials about the proposal to build affordable housing on the land.
Should the town be in the business of selling the property to the bidder who will provide taxpayers with the maximum dollars? Or, should we work with Ardsley officials and help our volunteer fire dept stay in business by building affordable housing for their members.


Anonymous said...

What do you mean by cooperate? Provide the land free or at a very reduced price.

If the town wants to give away the land for affordable housing, Ardsely volunteers should not be given preference. The land is valuable, it is not fair to allow it to be used to subsidize the Ardsley fire fighters. I am certain they are very worthwhile and deserving -- but the Town has to stop trying to play favorites -- every time they do they end up in court. Ardsley is a wealthy community. They can either pay their firefighters, or buy the land from the Town.

The issue here is not do you support affordable housing, but if the Town provides the land free, then all Town residents/employees/volunteers should be eligible equally.

Anonymous said...

I think that if Town land is given away or otherwise used for a reduced rate, any low income housing has to be fairly available. If it is limited to volunteers and Ardsly uses volunteers and most others places in Greenburgh use paid employees that is not fair. It also should not put municipal employees ahead of town residents. Municipal employees already get benefits many residents don't. Many town residents are living in substandard housing. Everyone in Town should have equal shot at any low income housing -- probably a lottery will be necessary. It should be fair. Otherwise the land should not be given away or used for this low income housing.

dano said...

I support low income housing for volunteers, but this particular property could be sold for big bucks. Then, use the revenue to build new, good quality low income housing. Centrally locate it in a neighborhood within Greenburgh somewhere, and first dibs goes to volunteer firefighters and EMTs (Ardsley and otherwise) whose incomes meet whatever the federal standards are for low income.

Anonymous said...

volunteer firefighters are local residents. They are not employees. They are willing to risk their lives for us 24/7. They deserve affordable housing opportunities in the community they protect.

Anonymous said...

The volunteer firefighters are willing to help us when we need help. We should be there for them. God bless our firefighters.

Greenburgh Taxpayer said...

Dear Anon at 10:42

If you want low income housing in the community that the firefighters serve, then that municipality, Ardsley, should raise the money.


I would like a better understanding of the number of volunteer firefighters and emts in each community.


Dear Dano:
You refer to the proposal to build housing as "low income." The proposed housing for volunteer firefighters, police officers and teachers is not low income. It is affordable housing for working families. No section 8 certificates will be issued. Dano: PLEASE DON'T TRY SCARING PEOPLE FOR NO REASON.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon at 10:17

Whether affordable or low-income, it can not be used to subsidize Ardsley. This is town owned land, which should not be given away for the benefit of Ardsley.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 10:51:
If the town turns foreclosed property at the waterwheel into affordable housing it will not be for the benefit of Ardsley. IT will be for the benefit of people who get to live in the homes. Who are they? They are your children's teachers. They are neighbors who would wake up at 2 AM to fight a fire in your home. They are police officers who would risk their lives for you if you were ever in danger. Don't make this political. It ain't.

dano said...

I'm not sure how many volunteer firefighters and EMTs there are in the area, but I do know that some are well-off and don't need any subsidized housing. That said, I wasn't trying to "scare" people. All I'm saying is that if we have volunteer firefighters and EMTs who have low incomes, then it might be nice to offer them affordable housing opportunities.

Michael Kolesar said...

I will repeat in part a comment posted in response to another topic elsewhere on this blog site.

First, this is not in my view just about Ardsley. Volunteer firfighters provide fire protection for Hastings, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Tarrytown, Ardsley and Elmsford. In addition, each of these areas, with the possible exception of Dobbs Ferry, also provide substantial fire protection services to unincorporated Greenburgh. In the case of the two fire districts served by the Ardsley Engine Company, 32% of the assessed values lie in unincorporated Greenburgh. These two areas pay only about 25% of the rate that the Greenville, Hartsdale and Fairview fire districts charge. Question 1 should all areas of unincorporated Greenburgh pay a uniform rate to the respective Villages? If so, in the case of Ardsley, the Village would receive an additional $900,000 annually. With that additional money, the Village could buy the named property in a heart beat and build whatever it needed. The same situation impacts the other Villages, although I am not knowledgeable about the financial impact. The Villages and their volunteers are the people who are subsidizing significant portions of unincorporated Greenburgh.

Anonymous said...

Dear Michael,

The fire districts and school districts have their own boundaries. That they are not coterminus with the village is somewhat difficult at times, as others have noted. That being said, you want the property for a use which will not beneift most of Greenburgh. That is unacceptable.

Do you think that the fire district and the school disctict have the right to expel parts of their respective districts? I do not think so. So your comments that if the unincorporated part of Greenburgh within the Fire District were expelled are irrelevant. If the Fire District has to provide stipends for volunteers, or has to buy land for housing, that is a cost of the Fire District.

You are correct, that most of Greenburgh has paid fire fighters and has higher costs. So what you are now proposing is that in addition to our higher costs we should subsidize your lower costs. You may be able to get Feiner to agree to that, but it isnt right, and we will fight it tooth and nail. You may even build the housing and find that in the end it will be open to all.

Anonymous said...

I think that with the money spent on housing subsidies, pensions and other perks for the volunteers, that a career fire department could be funded for all the villages combined, and then we have guarenteed response times with professional firefighters.

Anonymous said...

anon at 12.23

these "volunteers get pensions"???

I knew they were eligible for membership at Veterans.

enough is enough

if ardsley wants to call them volunteers -- they can call them whatever they want.

In this day and age, almost every house hold I know has to have both parents working. So if one member "volunteers" and in exchange gets a pension, subsidzied hosuing and subsidized recreation, it doesnt take a lot for the other member. This is absurd.

Anonymous said...

Is subsidized housing for the Fire Fighters more acceptable because they are all, or almost all, white men. No blacks, hispanics or single mothers.

And who decides who gets to be a volunteer fire fighter?

My guess is that their are strength requirements that rule out women. and size requirements may eliminate many hispanics.

We all value the work of volunteer firemen, but there are many,many issues with giving them preferences for subsidized housing.

responding to disgusting anon said...

Dear Anon:
Your comments are disgusting. Greenburgh is a diverse community. Our community welcomes people of all ethnic backgrounds. Affordable housing for volunteers and municipal employees addresses a need.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon,

You think I am disgusting -- you miss my point. Providing subsidized housing only to volunteer firemen (likely white males) is, in IMHO, unacceptable.

I think this is wrong wrong wrong

Anonymous said...

Are you aware that one of the officers of the volunteer firefighters serving Edgemont is an african american?

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon

1. I thought most of Edgemont was in Glenville, which is a Fire District which has paid firefighters, not volunteers. Is this person you are referring to someone with an honorary title?

2. Need to know total break down of people who would be eligible for housing, by residence etc.

one person does not make this right. It stinks -- and everyone knows it -- it is benefits for white men

Anonymous said...

The Glenville Fire Dept has a volunteer fire dept that works with the paid fire dept. It is not all white.
The affordable housing for the waterwheel property is in the concept stages.

Anonymous said...

I think as the concept developes we all will want to know the answer to the questions BEFORE ANY LAND IS GIVEN AWAY regarding

1. What is the pool of potential tenants?

2. From what town, village do they come -- total numbers and proportions, not just general all over the town statements.

3. Race and gender of potential tenants?

Ardsleyan said...

Race and gender? Last time i checked fires do not discriminate along these lines.

Anonymous said...

Last I checked, most firemen are men and white.

There are many other valuable people in our community.

This is the biggest boondoggle -- Ardsly should just start paying firemen instead of asking greenburgh for the land

ardsleyan said...

Dear Anon: Please read the earlier posts esp by Mr. Kolesar. The Ardsley Fire Engine Company services large parts of unincorporated Greenburgh. If you had to pay the real cost of this by hiring firemen (who are of course often married to women), and paying for all the customary benefits they get, it would cost you millions. As it is you are paying about 10% of the true cost. Ardsley volunteers are picking up the balance of the 90%.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ardslyean and Michael (who probably knows),

The boundaries of the Ardsly Engine Company are not contiguous with the Village --- big deal. Some people in Greenburgh live in the fire district, some do not. Those that do are asking those that do not to subsidize their district. That is not fair.

Anonymous said...

Approving affordable housing for Ardsley volunteer firefighters is a good idea. I live in unincorporated Greenburgh and appreciate the fact that my taxes are not as high as they could be because I don't have to pay for a paid fire chief, paid captains, paid Lieutenants, paid firefighters. The all volunteer firefighter does a great job protecting me and my family.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't someone clean up the fire district boundaries? They seem like they were laid out decades ago.

Six village boundaries, six fire district boundaries, period. The only exceptions would be for isolated little sections of Unincorporated Greenburgh that can only be accessed through a village, such as Chauncey (which should have already been annexxed on to Ardsley anyway). In fact, the six village fire departments might be more cost efficient for taxpayers and less strain on the volunteers if they merged into three departments.

Actually, has anyone considered just merging the various fire departments in Unincorporated Greenburgh into one centralized municipal Greenburgh Fire Department. That would also be very cost efficient for taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

I don't want my taxes to go up. I live off of Joyce Road. A paid fire dept would be more expensive. I say yes to affordable housing if it means that I won't have to pay for a paid fire department.

Anonymous said...

The volunteer fire men (and women, I hope) really care about us. They are are neighbors. We should do something for them. Yes to housing for volunteers.

Anonymous said...

Dear anon at 8:05

Your taxes will stay down if the subsized housing is provided.

My taxes go up if the town gives away the land.

Anonymous said...

Don't be selfish. We live in a community. Sometimes, your neighborhood will get some benefits. Sometimes my neighborhood will get benefits. It's like being married. There is give and take. In the end everything averages out.

Anonymous said...

and what does edgemont get -- no parks in edgemont, no sidewalks

oh -- we get to pay for everyone elses




Concerned Tarrytown resident said...

I do not think that the only beneficiaries of affordable housing should be employees of or volunteers to the village. Plenty of young people, elderly people, disabled people, and poor families need affordable housing. Providing a benefit for one small segment of our community smells of favoritism and corruption.