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Critics Bash Proposed Greenburgh Sports Bubble

GREENBRUGH, N.Y. – The town of Greenburgh is forging ahead with its plans for a domed field house despite a number of residents set on bursting the bubble.

Accusations of propaganda, lies and back-door dealings have flown around town as officials near a 15-year-lease with Game On 365 for the sports complex, dubbed the Westchester Field House.

Undeterred, the town may vote to approve on the deal as soon as next Friday.

“We are still moving ahead with Game On,” Supervisor Paul Feiner said Friday, one day after a contentious meeting outside the Dobbs Ferry Road site where the field house would be built.

Leading the charge against Game On’s proposed 94,000-square-foot dome and outdoor soccer field is a citizens group headed by Greenbrugh resident Simon Cohen. Already the group has launched a website, helpburstthebubble.com , and sent out mailings to Greenburgh residents criticizing the details of the project.

Help Burst the Bubble cites problems such as the lack of a request for proposal process and pointed to the residential zoning of the site as well as the lack of a traffic study or recent appraisal of the land’s value.

“Without knowing the fair market value of the property, the town has made an uninformed decision in setting a rent price and has not gotten the best deal for its taxpayers,” the groupd wrote on the website.

Frequent town critic Hal Samis also has dug his heels in against the proposal, citing a number of concerns with the project.  One problem Samis has cited is that Game On will spend an estimated $100,000 initially to clean up a environmentally contaminated lot, the former site of Frank's Nursery. Any further expenses would be deducted from Game On’s rent.

“This whole undertaking is another typical Feiner dalliance: not thought out and thereafter hoping to remain hidden amidst the bells and whistles of promoting why Jack or Jill should have another place to play soccer after school,” Samis wrote in a recent email.

The sports facility would pay an estimated $260,000 in annual rent to occupy the nearly seven-acre area left vacant after Frank’s Nursery went bankrupt and the town foreclosed on the property last year. Feiner has estimated the town would see revenue from the facility top $5 million over the course of the 15-year lease.

Critics disagree and wonder if the town will stand to make much, if any, profit from the deal as the town has agreed to exempt Game On from paying taxes on the property.

In its mailings to Greenburgh taxpayers, Help Burst the Bubble wrote that “The taxes paid by the town will almost exactly equal the mere $260,000 paid in rent from Game On.”

Feiner called the claim untrue and said he estimates the town will profit $150,000 to $160,000 per year from the facility after taxes are paid out.

“My feeling is we are definitely coming out ahead,” he said.

Feiner added he believes much of information is misleading and being driven by another sports complex, House of Sports, in Ardsley that opens in September.

“None of it is based on the facts,” he said. “It’s based on the propaganda of misinformation. Almost everything they said was not true.”

Representatives from House of Sports were not available for comment.

The town board is expected to discuss the lease at its July 25 board meeting, with a vote coming as soon as Friday.

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