Dobbs Ferry Trustees OK Rivertowns Square Study

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DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – The Rivertowns Square project took another step in its development process Tuesday when the Dobbs Ferry Board of Trustees approved the environmental impact findings on the project by a narrow 4-3 vote.

The majority of the board agreed that the proposal has satisfied the potential environmental impacts to the greatest extent possible, allowing the application to proceed to a site plan review.

The project is planned for a parcel between the Saw Mill River Parkway and Lawrence Street on the Ardsley-Dobbs Ferry border and would  include residential apartments, a gourmet supermarket, retail and restaurant businesses, and a Sundance Cinemas complex with eight theaters.

Trustees Vincent Rossillo, Donna Cassell and David Koenigsberg voted against approving the findings, while Trustees William Flynn and Victor Golio and Deputy Mayor Catherine Kay and Mayor Hartley Connett voted in favor.

The vote followed nearly 45 minutes of public comment on both sides of the issue. Several speakers asked the board to vote against the "positive findings" and strongly admonished the board members to consider working with the developers to decrease the size of the project. Others spoke in favor the development.

Susan Smith Santini said the board would not be representing the will of the community if it approved the findings.

"There is a complete disconnect between what the findings statement says and what the public has told you," Santini said. "People from all parts of this village have said it's too big. Make it right for our village."

Connett spoke in favor of the project, detailing the benefit of $300,000 in annual tax revenue as well as $8 million to $10 million in infrastructure and other improvements to be made by the developers.

Bill Crawford said he had been following the project since its beginning. Although the project was "big and scared him to death" at first, he said, the board and the developers had responded well to the community during the process.

"The millions (of dollars) that are coming in to upgrade the village is significant," Crawford said. "I'd like to see the project approved with the contractors having more conversations with us to make sure that our village maintains the quality of life we moved here for."

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Comments (3)

As nice as it would sound if we could just return to the past, or even less likely simply keep things the way that they are and avoid "change", this is not our reality. Things are constantly changing and many of those changes are coming from outside our Village boundaries. When the U.S. decided in 1947 to change the way that federal funds would be used in the future and then adopted the 1949 Housing and Community Development Act, it set into motion the great American sprawl experiment that was finally confirmed to be a complete failure in 2007.

Our region is now confronted with an environment that has been compromised by excessive infrastructure, requiring lifestyle patterns that have proven unsustainable, and compromising the very sense of community. Rivertowns Square is an adaptive reuse of an existing property that is already served by infrastructure and that used to bring 1,000 cars to this site in a two hour period in the morning and saw those 1,000 cars leaving the site in a two hour period in the evening. It is exactly the type of project that the Mid-Hudson Economic Region Sustainability Plan has identified as a repair to the damage caused by the policy of sprawl. It is a mixed use complex that balances jobs, homes, amenities, stores, and businesses that will reduce the total vehicle miles traveled by people in the surrounding communities. And it does that with very real financial and other benefits to those communities.

The long list of concerns that was developed in the SEQRA review has been carefully addressed in complete detail, evaluated by an unusual number of trained professionals, and then analyzed carefully by the Mayor and Trustees, who made a decision on Tuesday that allows the project to move into the Site Plan Review process. The Planning Board will now be able to work with the developer to evolve the design so that it maximizes benefits and minimizes potential adverse impacts.

The people opposing the project have either generated or accepted inaccurate information about the project and the repetition of that inaccurate information has caused confusion within the community. I don't know Mr. Crawford, but what he said at the meeting Tuesday night was a summary of how this project has evolved. He acknowledged that it is a large project and that he was very concerned in the beginning, but noted that after reviewing the facts, he urged the Board to move the process forward. The impacts are understood: it has been determined that, with the appropriate mitigating measures implemented, there will not be adverse impacts. The people entrusted with this responsibility have properly moved the project forward, as is mandated by law.

This is a good thing and something that will help us "maintain the quality of live that we moved here for," which is a Village that was substantially developed with a land use pattern that predate sprawl, including the area of Chauncey, which was here before the Village of Ardsley.

I say it all the time "if you build it they will come" as they did with Stew Leonard's and Ridge Hill. I believe although a tough and maybe not that popular of a decision the board was presented with 2 years of facts and a majority of the board was satisfied with it. Protesting Mercy and the Ardsley ave bridge? is there anything that we can build in OUR town that The Rivertowns Preservation Civic Association wouldnt be opposed to. I bought a book in Readers Hardware that shows Dobbs Ferry before and after with pictures and descriptions and even though at that time people may have protested it shows that the Village has undergone changes since it inception and it will continue to long after we are gone. Progress

I disagree with Mr. Crawford when he states that the project will "make sure that our village maintains the quality of life we moved here for." I believe the very opposite will happen. How can adding 600-800 cars per hour on our narrow and winding streets, and 200 new apartments plus hotel, etc. help to maintain the quality of life in Dobbs Ferry? What Dobbs Ferry has he been living in?