Game On Proposition Passes In Greenburgh

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The public has voted to support the Westchester Field House's construction on Dobbs Ferry Road.
The public has voted to support the Westchester Field House's construction on Dobbs Ferry Road. Photo Credit: Game On 365

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Greenburgh residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of Town Proposition No. 1, a lease with Game On 365 to construct a sports complex on Dobbs Ferry Road.

With 80 percent of precincts reporting at 11:30 p.m., 65 percent of voters cast ballot in favor the proposal and 35 percent voted against, according to unofficial results from the Westchester County Board of Elections. 

"One of the reasons I wanted to have the referendum is that people were really critical of this"  said Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner. "But the public spoke and it sends a strong message to the planning board that this is what the people want."

The Greenburgh Town Board voted in support of a 15-year lease in August, but turned it over to the public for final approval. The proposal for a 94,000-square-foot dome, called The Westchester Field House, to be built on the former Frank's Nursery property.

The lease with Game On was hotly debated in town board meetings and generated a lawsuit against the town by citizen activists and a competitor.

Martin Hewitt, Game On project manager, said the project would provide more than $5 million to the town of Greenburgh, plus rent payments. The complex's construction would give children a place to train and practice year-round, and provide a track for seniors to walk during the cold winter months for free, the developer said. 

Critics of the field house's construction argued that environmental issues made the proposed site a bad choice and that the town wouldn't net the profit that developers claimed. Opponents also said the 80-foot-high complex would bring a huge disturbance to quiet neighborhoods nearby.

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I was really surprised about the wording on the ballot as well. I didn't even know it was there until I turned it over, by chance. It could have easily been missed if you didn't know it was there. That said, there was no informational hand-out at the ballot with a better explanation of the pros and cons. I know very little about the issue, but what I do know told me I should vote no. Forget about the fact that the site has known carcinogens. They can be mitigated. My main issue is that you don't need to spend $125k on a full investigation in order for the land to be valuable. There is not a lot of open land in lower westchester and even if it cost $1million, if the value of the property is $2million, we could have made $875k on top of the $15million in tax revenue over 10 years (or whatever they claim). I do think someone should challenge the results of this proposition.

I've taken a strong stand against the Proposition since before it was a proposition. However, I also believe that those seeking a similar result should know what they are talking about. Frankly, I don't want the field cluttered with a lot of noise which makes the side of those wearing the white hats look half-baked -- it reflects badly on my communication skills.
Writing of which, since you knew how to find your way here, how come you never took advantage of the many opportunities to learn about the Referendum? There was certainly much written so I can't understand what you are complaining about.

Specifically, yes the property should have been sold -- the filed lawsuit makes that point. However, your valuation attempt is clearly not thought out.
"My main issue is that you don't need to spend $125k on a full investigation in order for the land to be valuable. There is not a lot of open land in lower westchester and even if it cost $1million, if the value of the property is $2million, we could have made $875k on top of the $15million in tax revenue over 10 years (or whatever they claim)."

What does this mean? The property should be sold to an "investor" before any studies were done to find out the extent of the contamination (this using up much of the $125,000) and then you are saying the property (as is) could fetch $2 million net (not having to pay out the $125,000), as is, and whoever buys it could collect the $5 million called "rent" (with most of it going toward paying taxes) by leasing it to a sports facility for 15 years? And who is paying for the mitigation?

While there may not be a lot of open land in lower Westchester, everyone had the opportunity to own this parcel which Greenburgh acquired because no one else wanted to pay the now outstanding $1.4 million in uncollected taxes AND be responsible for the cost of clean-up.

While it has been said that there once upon a time was a bid of $1.5 million, deduct the $1.4 million and you have carfare left. Which still should have been the correct choice for the Town. However, a mystery buyer may have chosen to purchase the property with no intent to immediately improve it, leaving it untouched waiting for even less land left and while holding the "bag" only on the line for paying low taxes (vacant) and debt service on borrowed purchase money -- and forcing the bubble to look elsewhere. Now who would want to do that?

I suggest you rethink your idea and return. Ignorance is food for Feiner.

Hal Samis

First, Hal, I don't appreciate your insults. I could have been a little more clear in what I was saying, but that doesn't excuse your discourteous comments towards me. Let me try to explain a little better now that I am on a computer, and not my phone.

In my comment, I was trying to make two points. The first is that the vote on the proposition was poorly advertised, and that the Town made no attempt to provide educational literature at my election facility (I don't know if materials were available at other facilities, but I am guessing not). The simple fact that while there may have been opportunities to learn more about the referendum leading up to the vote, the Town did not advertise them properly. You may have the time to check the Town website or Lohud on a daily basis, or wherever else it was advertised, but not everyone does. I will not get into the multitude of effective ways of making residents even aware of the vote. The worst part is that even after poorly advertising about the vote, there was NOTHING except a one paragraph (a factually correct, but albeit misleading paragraph) describing what the vote was for. Provided this is an important topic to the Town, some concise literature should have been provided with arguments by both sides using mailers or at least at the voting facilities. To assume that just because anyone else who didn't seek that information out doesn't deserve to have their opinions heard is elitist, at best. The Town has a responsibility to inform it's residents of issues such as this, and my opinion is that they failed.

My second point was really a reason why I voted No on the proposition. My "main issue" is still the same, except maybe I will spell it out a little better for you as you misinterpreted what I was saying... Leasing the property prior to knowing the results of the $125k investigation may significantly undervalue the property. Forget about the numbers and risk of exposure to the carcinogens, and consider only the real estate value. If the investigation finds that only a small dollar amount of remediation is needed to be made to safely develop it, the Town (and it's residents) would be losing the entire value of the property (minus the investigation and remediation costs). As for there being no prior interest in the property, that is no surprise considering the scope of the remediation is unknown. How could someone accurately value the property, and thus make an offer to buy (or lease) it, without having adequate knowledge to estimate the cost of a remediation would be? I am a Geotechnical and Environmental Engineer and deal with situations like this on a daily basis. The smart owner to performs an investigation to get a handle on the property's value before deciding what to do with it. That is not what the Town proposed. Is there a risk that a very expensive remediation would make the property (currently) worthless? Yes. But I would put my money on the fact that if the property was found not worth the cost of remediation after it were leased, Game On 365 would back out of the deal anyway. In short, the Town plays the sucker because it loses out on a huge up-side without ridding itself of the down-side.

Can't see how increasing competition by having more sports related venues would increase the cost of local sport participation. I think it is great to have more choices and more places for kids and young adults to recreate. Plus is solves an eyesore to the Town. The tax revenue aspect is another benefit.

Was stunned by the language of the proposition on the ballot.

I can't understand why Feiner identifies the #1 reason for this as field shortage for local soccer and lacrosse. Yet he hasn't ever reached out to existing (not-for-profit) local sports organizations to get a clear sense of needs and how they can best be addressed by the Town. Instead, a for-profit is propped up by the Town, effectively raising the cost of local sport participation.

The "public spoke" with a "strong message" on this issue? Someone needs to check their hearing - and refine their critical thinking skills.

FOOLS. I spoke to so many people yesterday that were so misinformed in the issue and they had no idea even to turn the ballot over to vote it. When i turned my ballot over i expected to see a video with wheelchair bound children crying holding blind puppies while Sarah McLachlans Arms of The Angel played in the background. Thats how mislead the public was on this issue. Fools and its gunna cost ya big bucks!! Its so nice to know TOV gburgh is so flush with cash.

The people spoke? Puuleease. There are 90,000+ people in Greenburgh and only 5,000+ voted for this. It's absurd to say the people have spoken. Feiner’s supporters pushed this through. Nothing like having a town-wide email list and mailing center at your disposal. Very sad turn of events. Let's see if Feiner lets his family play there.

They had an opportunity to speak and they chose not to so shame on them. Paul Feiner put it to the people and WE DID speak and so lets not try to say everyone didnt have a chance to vote because we did.

There are several legal issues - 1) Should the proposition have been on the ballot to begin with in General Election - don't believe so. 2) Info on the ballot was misleading and one-sided akin to handing out campaign lit at the polling places which is illegal 3) No mention of the recent report indicating high levels of carcinogens on the property. Great town that we live in...now they're really trying to kill us.

You can fool some of the people all of the time.