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White Plains Sets Deadline For Comments On Proposed French-American School

More than 70 White Plains residents attended the "final" public hearing on a proposed French-American School in Ridgeway. Public comments are being taken until Dec. 18.
More than 70 White Plains residents attended the "final" public hearing on a proposed French-American School in Ridgeway. Public comments are being taken until Dec. 18. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- After more than three years of discussion and debate, the City of White Plains is accepting its last public comments on the proposed French-American School of New York through Dec. 18.

It's unclear when the Common Council will decide the fate of FASNY's proposal to build a $60 million campus on the former Ridgeway Country Club, merging its schools now operating in Larchmont, Mamaroneck and Scarsdale.

But in recent months, and at the "final" public hearing Wednesday, Dec. 3, at City Hall, questioning from Common Council members about the project's impact on traffic and public safety intensified.

FASNY can't proceed without a special permit and Common Council approval of its site plan.

Councilman Dennis Krolian read from a Sept. 15 letter signed by Schools Superintendent Timothy Connors and the seven members of the White Plains Board of Education, which unanimously opposes the development. They wrote that the new school, with or without promised traffic and safety improvements, would "have a profoundly negative and disruptive effect on the operations of White Plains High School. . ."

FASNY lawyer Michael Zarin said he is puzzled that city school officials waited so long to question the project, prompting Krolian to say, "There's no statute of limitation on free speech,'' and applause from more than 70 people in the audience.

Zarin insisted the school board's letter ignored five years of data, calling it "a governmental ambush."

"What analysis was done?" Zarin said. "There was none"

Five of the seven City Council members remained wary FASNY's more recent plans to move its main entrance from RIdgeway to North Street and close Hathaway Lane.

Zarin said developers had conducted a new car count on Hathaway in October; the numbers were not made public at Wednesday's meeting.

Zarin said the school would not exceed the city-suggested limit of 530 cars during peak traffic from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. "We are very confident we can meet the cap,'' he said.

Other Common Council concerns included Fire Department response times and the project's potential impact on 78 acres of green space.

Zarin said FASNY has compromised by shrinking its student enrollment from 1,200 to 950, and adopting a busing policy to cut vehicle traffic in half.

He also reiterated FASNY's pledge to Mayor Thomas Roach that the site would convert golf course greens into a  "Green Conservancy" -- a free park open to the public.

FASNY bought the 128 acre site in 2011.

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