Five Dobbs Ferry residents have banded together to form the Rivertowns Preservation Citizens Group in the hope of controlling the scope of a new development in the village directly off of the Saw Mill River Parkway.
Rita Kennedy, Vincent Rossillo, Paula McCormick, Roxana Avalos and David Gralnick believe there was not enough community involvement in the construction of the Chauncey Square () complex a few years ago and are determined not to make the same mistake twice.
“I don’t know what I was doing when Chauncey Square was built, but we can’t be complacent and let it happen again,” said Kennedy at a community meeting with the property-owners and developers on Tuesday.
Though even founding members of the Rivertowns Preservation Citizen’s Group understand that something will be built on the former Akzo-Nobel property, they hope to have a strong hand in the planning process.
“This plan is clay to be molded,” said Martin Berger, a managing member of Saber Real Estate Advisors, who own the land. “When everyone is satisfied, that’s when we’ll break ground.”
At this point, everyone is far from satisfied.
Held at Dobbs Ferry’s Tuesday’s community meeting drew a crowd of at least 30 residents who came armed with an arsenal of criticisms and concerns.
Bo Faro, who lives close to the site, wanted to know how high the buildings would be compared to New York Sports Club. “I don’t want to see large monstrosities from my home,” he said. Referring to a planned four-storey apartment complex, he said. “That sounds too high to me.”
Berger was unsure how high exactly the NYSC complex was, but guessed the apartments would not be as high because “residential ceiling heights are lower than those in commercial buildings.”
Traffic was another key concern. A traffic study is currently underway, but even without its results, residents are convinced congestion will be an issue.
“With a supermarket there, we will have trucks coming in and out, but they can’t drive on the parkway. That means they will drive through the village,” Paula Dambroff said. Dambroff was also less than thrilled by the supermarket proposition, predicting it would put Stop & Shop out of business.
Berger responded: “Stop & Shop is in an incredible location; we believe there is a need for supermarkets in both places.”
Nancy Delmerico was concerned that opening more stores near the parkway would further detract from business on Main Street.
“There are a lot of empty store fronts in Dobbs Ferry,” she said, to a round of applause from her neighbors. “You’re cutting the village at the knee.”
Another issue discussed at great length was the finance. According to Berger, the property will generate approximately $1.7 million in tax revenue annually—though $1 million of that will go to the Ardsley School District. Dobbs Ferry residents expressed frustration that Ardsley would reap the bulk of the benefits, while their fire, police and public works departments would be burdened with extra work.
“What I want to know is how this will benefit us,” Rita Kennedy demanded.
Though the conversation was contentious at times, some residents—like Vincent Prendi—said they thought community members should make more of an effort to work with the developers.
“I think what they’re proposing is good,” Prendi said. “I’d rather give them a chance than run them out of town and get stuck with somebody worse.”
The take-home message of the meeting was that the plan is amendable and that Dobbs Ferry residents have the opportunity to have a strong part in its creation.
"We have to be heard,” said Vincent Rossillo, who served as the mediator of the session. "It is going to be built, but the size and scope are unacceptable. We have to pressure them to make changes that will benefit us.”
Want to know what's in the current plan for Rivertowns Square? Click .
What will it look like? See renderings in the media section of this article.