GREENBURGH, N.Y. — In less than three weeks, Greenburgh residents will have the chance to vote for national leaders. But this year, they'll also have the chance to directly impact their local community.
Town Proposition No. 1 on the Nov. 6 ballot will seek voters' approval, both in unincorporated Greenburgh and in the villages, of a lease with Game On 365 to build a sports complex on public land on Dobbs Ferry Road. The lease, approved Aug. 13 by the Greenburgh Town Board, has been the topic of endless debate between the town and its citizens, and has spawned a lawsuit against Game On and the Greenburgh Town Board.
Lease supporters say The Westchester Field House would provide the town not only with recreational opportunities, but also with jobs and tax relief. Opponents say the facility would be costly to the town, and illegal.
Martin Hewitt, the Game On project manager, said the Field House will relieve the tax burden on Greenburgh citizens. Some local organizations say the town will bear all the financial risks.
"We will continue to encourage the residents of Greenburgh to vote on Nov. 6 in favor of the Game On 365 proposal to build The Westchester Field House, which will generate over $5 million in revenue for the town over 15 years, relieving the heavy tax burden on residents," Hewitt said.
Local organizations that filed the lawsuit, however, say the rent money that the town collects from Game On during the first year will not exceed costs borne by taxpayers.
"This doesn't even include the likely increase to the Town in community services from such a huge facility," members of the group Burst the Bubble wrote on their website. "The Town will not make any money off this property for 15 years."
The lawsuit claims the lease violated the state Finneran Law, which says residents of Greenburgh's villages may not use public facilities built on town parkland paid for only by Greenburgh residents outside the villages. But Hewitt noted that the Finneran Law specifically relates to allowing use of Greenburgh parks.
"The site at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road is not designated as a park and is owned by all residents of Greenburgh, including the villages," Hewitt said. "Finneran's does not apply, since the proposal is not to build parkland."
The lawsuit alleges other legal violations with the lease and cites residents' concerns for traffic, noise, visual impacts and pollution. The first court hearing for the lawsuit is set for Nov. 9 — three days after the referendum. Greenburgh residents can hear more information about the referendum on Nov. 2, when GATV will air comments from supporters and opponents of the lease.