The Dobbs Ferry Village Board of Trustees isn’t the only one with mixed feelings on its adoption of a positive environmental findings statement for Rivertowns Square.
“Obviously, we were very disappointed,” said Carolyn Whittle, a former county legislator, retired financial analyst and vice president of the Rivertowns Preservation Civic Association. “It is not a good thing for Dobbs Ferry.”
The Rivertowns Preservation Civic Association—a community organization that has advocated for and against various local projects, like Mercy College’s proposed addition and the Ashford Avenue Bridge—some residents and groups like the Ardsley School District feel the project is too massive and would negatively impact the area by causing a fiscal drain on the community, in addition to exacerbating traffic and storm water flooding, reducing green space and changing the character of the neighboring residential community.
However, developers and other project supporters say Rivertowns Square will enhance the area by bringing in needed amenities, jobs, and cultural and economic benefits. Developers are looking to build the following on the 17.7-acre former Akzo Nobel site off the Saw Mill River Parkway in Dobbs Ferry, located in the middle of Lawrence Street and Ogden, Livingstone and Stanley avenues:
- 18,000 sq. ft. Mrs. Green’s Natural Market
- a 123-room hotel (probably run by a division of Hilton hotels, yet to be determined)
- a 33,600 sq. ft. eight screen Sundance movie theatre
- 62,028 sq. ft. of retail/restaurant space
- 202-unit rental apartment (which includes 10 percent of affordable housing, per Village code)
- 1,228 parking spaces
“We are pleased that the Board of Trustees approved the findings and that Rivertowns Square is proceeding to become a reality,” said Martin Berger, principal and managing member for one of the developers Saber Dobbs Ferry LLC.
Whittle said she wasn’t surprised by the board’s split four to three vote since she heard “warnings” in the few weeks before the vote that Dobbs Ferry Trustee William Flynn would vote for the project along with Mayor Hartley Connett and Trustees Catherine Kay and Victor Golio.
“I am very pleased that David Koenigsberg, Donna Cassell and Vincent Rossillo all voted against the findings,” said Whittle. “They believe the project needs to be downsized, which we’ve been saying all along. I think it [the vote] was a wake up call to the village. Now we know what track the administration is taking and we need to speak out.”
The adoption of a positive findings statement ends the state environmental quality review (SEQR) process—which aims to assess and mitigate impacts caused by the proposed by the development— and certifies that the developer’s final environmental impact statement (FEIS) mitigates all potential impacts caused by the project.
However, Whittle says the FEIS fails to mitigate adverse impacts caused by Rivertowns Square and that the positive findings statement “hides the truth” when it comes to the true impact on things like traffic. Whittle was pleased that the Village decided to use language the civic association proposed for the findings statement, which she said strengthens the document with language that forces the developer to honor commitments set forth in the FEIS.
She hopes that the project will be scaled down and that all impacts will be properly mitigated during the project’s site plan approval process. The Dobbs Ferry Board of Trustees must give final approval on the site plan before Rivertowns Square gets the green light to be built.
Developers argue that their environmental impact statement is thorough and even go beyond mitigating impacts of Rivertowns Square by promising to also make off-site improvements.
“The important thing is not whether the vote was four to three or six to one, but that we all work together to insure that Rivertowns Square will be the best place it can be, one that we can all be proud of and enjoy for decades to come,” said Berger.
What's your reaction to the adopting of a positive findings statement for Rivertowns Square? Tell us in the comments.
- For more information on the Rivertowns Preservation Civic Association visit: http://rivertownspreservation.org
- For more information on Rivertowns Square visit: rivertownssquare.net
- Click here for the Village's website on the project: dobbsferry.com/Rivertowns-Square
- Click here for Rivertowns Patch's coverage of this project.