The public will have its chance to voice opinions on Rivertowns Square, a mega-multi use development project proposed for the former 17.7 acre site Akzo Nobel off the Saw Mill River Parkway in Dobbs Ferry, Thursday.
Though state law doesn’t require another public hearing, the Dobbs Ferry Village Board has called for a fourth hearing to be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Embassy Community Center, 60 Palisades St.
Click here for an overview of the proposed project.
The Dobbs Ferry Village Board will take the public’s comments into consideration, along with recommendations from other departments, to created the project's findings statement, the last stage in the state mandated environmental review.
“The fact is that we’ve mitigated everything we needed to,” said Marty Berger—a managing member for Saber Real Estate Advisors, one of the project developers. “I think we’ve proved over and over again that we have mitigated the quality of life, made safety improvements, increased the flow of traffic in addition to making off-site improvements, which is combined with a positive economic impact with job benefits.”
However, some locals disagree and say the project is too massive and would overwhelm the area with traffic and negatively impact the surrounding residential neighborhoods.
“Bottom line is that the developers have not budged from their initial proposal,” said Carolyn Whittle, co-president of the Rivertowns Preservation Civic Association. “They have not listened to residents or the planning board who say that this is simply too big.”
Click on the PDF for the final environmental impact statement’s project summary and see table 2.3 for a summary of anticipated impacts and mitigation. The Rivertowns Preservation Civic Association says that many of these proposed mitigation measures are “trivial.”
“Changing the timing on a stop light, painting a crosswalk, putting in a speed bump—these are minor,” said Whittle. “His [Berger’s] standard for what our streets should look like [and function] is very different than what we want our streets to look like.”
Berger said developers are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and even making off-site improvements, which he says need to be done to improve safety regardless of whether Rivertowns Square is ever built.
There will be improvements at 36 intersections, according to Berger, that are among the $4.5 million in capital improvements that will be made including roadways, sidewalks and utilities. The applicant is even offering to provide striping for left turn lane and signing improvements at Ravensdale Road and Farragut Avenue in neighboring Hastings-on-Hudson.
Whittle said that there is no guarantee that Rivertowns Square will follow through will everything they have proposed to do. She wants to see mitigation measures and tax agreements put in writing with escrow accounts created to fund everything.
The applicant is also offering to run a shuttle from Rivertowns Square to Dobbs Ferry’s downtown and train station, allowing residents and patrons of Rivertowns Square to also patronize the downtown businesses and access mass transportation.
The Rivertowns Preservation Civic Association argues that the developer’s proposal to try out the shuttle for 90 days is an insufficient amount of time to see whether it would be utilized, and that the trial period should be extended to several years. Regardless, Whittle says that Rivertowns Square patrons will be more likely to patronize other businesses in Rivertowns Square rather than venture to Dobbs Ferry’s downtown establishments.
See page 2-8 through page 2-12 for a list of proposed traffic and transportation improvements. The project’s FEIS also boasts benefits like:
- creating 350 man years in new construction related jobs that will continue for 18 to 20 years
- About 660 full and part time jobs
- bringing in $1,92 million annually in annual real estate tax revenue, including $1.26 million for the Ardsley School District and $.387 million to the Village of Dobbs Ferry
- the addition of sidewalks and bike lanes
- storm water improvements, including the addition of two pipes that would flow into two separate discharge points to improve storm water quality and reduce storm water quantity to reduce flooding
“With the negative impact of traffic [from the current proposed development], there are other uses that can generate taxes [revenue] that don’t have such a negative impact,” said Whittle. “It seems to me the residents of Dobbs Ferry would be willing to pay $85 out of their pocket for a year not to have Rivertowns Square, because that’s the net benefit to the residents Dobbs Ferry.”
See Table 2.4 in the project summary for as summary of benefits anticipated by the applicant.
“We’re looking forward to making this a wonderful amenity,” said Berger. “There’s nothing like it in the area. I think it will be a significant upgrade. It’s nice to stay local, go to the theatre, stay after and have a bite to eat. And it’s also nice to have an alternative to Stop & Shop or DeCicco’s.”
See Berger’s previous response to the Rivertowns Preservation Civic Association’s negative accusations of the project here and here to see what the association said. and here for all of our coverage on Rivertowns Square.