WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The modified environmental findings statement for the French American School of New York (FASNY) development was adopted by White Plains council in a 6-1 vote on Thursday, Dec 19.
Though this does not mean the project has been approved, it is a step closer to approval for the development.
The proposed plan, which would call for a nursery, elementary and high school to be built in White Plains, in order to unite the three branches of the school, has been a hot-topic in White Plains since the school bought the abandoned Ridgeway Country Club property several years ago.
Several changes have been made to the proposal in order to mitigate concerns, including decreasing student body 20 percent from 1200 to 950, relocating the entrance of the school to North Street, requiring FASNY to monitor and facilitate traffic within its own campus, establishing mandatory busing of students and moving the parking lots farther away from Gedney Esplanade.
Mayor Thomas Roach said he believed the findings comply with the law, and to adopt them would be in the best interest of the City.
"I recognize the emotion and justified concern on this topic. (...) Our work is not done with this vote tonight, but I will be voting in favor of adopting the findings," he said.
Council President Beth Smayda said she believed much of the information circulating the project was false, including that the development would increase strain on taxpayers.
"The property has been off the tax rolls for two years. No additional impact would be felt," she said.
Though the school would not be paying property taxes, Smayda said she believed the preservation of 73 acres of open space for public use at no additional costs was enough of a benefit to move forward with the project.
Councilman Benjamin Boykin echoed many of Smayda's statements, saying FASNY would be an opportunity for White Plains to continue to compete for its role amongst the world's best cities.
"White Plains needs to continue to find ways to improve and be innovative. I believe that FASNY is an opportunity that will ... [take White Plains]... to another level," he said, "This is a painful and messy process, change is uncomfortable and unsettling, but something is going to happen on that property."
Councilmen John Martin and Dennis Krolian made similar comments, saying though they plan to vote to adopt the findings, it does not mean they will vote to approve the project, which will be based on how FASNY conducts themselves moving forward.
Councilwoman Milagros Lecuona said she was voting against adopting the findings, as too many issues still exist in the modified findings for her to feel satisfied or comfortable.