Monday, January 28, 2013

clarification re: Newsday article -Ferncliff

I sent this clarification to our county officials re: Newsday article about Ferncliff.

From: Paul Feiner

Sent: Monday, January 28, 2013 9:52 AM

To: Jenkins, Ken; Shimsky, Mary Jane; County Executive (WEB); Plunkett, Kevin J.; Williams, Alfreda; Smith, Michael; ''; ''; ''; ''

Cc: ''; Town Board; Timothy Lewis; Townclerk

Subject: correction to ken's comments

Clarification: in the following newsday article ken Jenkins indicates that the county will not get any money from the 50 year lease re: westhelp property. Not true! The town only gets the rent for the first part (until our 20 year rights to the property expire). The county will get the revenue after that –for the balance. It’s my hope that the Legislature will schedule a vote (up or down) in mid February so we could move on. We are not interested in fighting with the county. If the County Legislature says yes to Ferncliff the developmentally disabled will have a terrific quality of life at this campus and town officials will be most appreciative since it will help us keep taxes down (and since town officials are passionate about helping this population). If you say no, we will lease the property out to an affordable housing developer. The town will generate much less revenue from affordable housing each year resulting in larger tax hikes for residents of Greenburgh and the villages. Personally, I think Ferncliff meets the affordable housing requirements since most of the population is lower income.


Affordable-housing demand should boost, not hurt, Ferncliff's proposed move, backers say

Originally published: January 27, 2013 5:02 PM

Updated: January 27, 2013 7:33 PM


Photo credit: Elizabeth Daza
Special education teacher Molly Conway, 33, helps Justin Irizarry, 17, play a tambourine and sing along during class at the School for Adaptive & Integrative Learning at Ferncliff Manor in Yonkers, (Dec. 13, 2012)


WestHelp decision expected

Because students from low-income families live at Ferncliff Manor, the school for developmentally disabled children, the school should be able to relocate from its aging campus in Yonkers to a county-owned site designated for affordable housing in Greenburgh, proponents say.

"There's 10 to 15 percent affordable housing in most projects," said Legis. Michael Smith (R-Greenburgh), who said most Ferncliff students are from Yonkers, Mount Vernon and similarly distressed cities. "This is around 80 percent affordable given demographics. This is a highly, highly diverse population."

The new argument in favor of Ferncliff's move is the latest bid by the school's advocates to overcome political and legal hurdles that have prevented a relocation for months.


MORE: Lawmakers back Ferncliff's move to county site
Westchester Dems would join GOP for Ferncliff deal
More education headlines


Greenburgh has a lease to the site, a former homeless shelter on county land on Knollwood Road near Westchester Community College. But the lease stipulates that the property be used solely for affordable housing.

Until recently, the stipulation was viewed as a roadblock. Westchester County Board of Legislators chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) and others have resisted Ferncliff's move in large part because they argue that they don't want to lose an opportunity to erect affordable housing. Now Ferncliff advocates believe they can frame the debate to get over the Democrats' opposition.

"In a legal case, if they really want to argue about affordable housing on a technicality of the lease, our children are from low-income families," said Stephen Madey, Ferncliff's director of educational services. "Sixty-four kids would move in there."

State regulators have told administrators that Ferncliff needs to upgrade its antiquated facilities. The school would receive around $15 million in state funding to renovate the former homeless shelter, Madey said. The state also would provide the school with $500,000 to pay Greenburgh rental payments for the property, he said. The state requires the school to have a 50-year lease wherever it relocates.

The issue could come to a head soon if school administrators, Greenburgh officials and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, submit a new draft lease for Ferncliff's relocation to legislators, as expected, this week.

"My hope is that the Board of Legislators will schedule a quick vote on Ferncliff sometime in February," said Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner.

County legislators need to approve extending a new lease but not necessarily changing the affordable-housing requirement. Under county law, extending the lease for that much time requires the approval of a supermajority, or 12 votes, on the Board of Legislators.

A majority of legislators has signaled support for the move. But it's not clear whether Ferncliff can assemble a supermajority.

Jenkins is already countering Feiner and others' arguments in favor of the move. He didn't see why Greenburgh should receive the $500,000 a year if a school, rather than affordable housing, is built on the land. He might support Ferncliff's relocation by extending the lease to 50 years, he said, if the county rather than the town received the rental payments.

"We aren't getting a dime for what the supervisor [Feiner] is proposing on our property," Jenkins said. "We should take our property back, and we can determine what we'd like to do."

Be the first to rate: