WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- After fighting development on a wildlife corridor running behind Orchard Street since 1997, Alan Gassman said he can hardly believe the citys capital project board unanimously voted to buy the plot for $130,000 on Monday, with aspirations of absorbing it into surrounding open space.
Its unbelievable to me. This is a day we have only hoped for. Im thrilled, said Gassman, a land surveyor who has lived on Orchard Street since 1994.
Gassman said he and his neighbors banded with the citys Concerned Citizens for Open Space , the local Sierra Club chapter and the Central Westchester Audubon Society to rally against a developer who considered building on a strip of land running behind Orchard Street homes between Bernard Place and Chadwick Road. The land is home to unique wildlife and is near the city's five drinking wells.
Ive seen a lot of wildlife that you dont see anywhere else, Gassman said, referring to snapping turtles and eastern box turtles, which are on the countys endangered and threatened species list. If left undisturbed, they [eastern box turtles] can live for 100 years.
Mayor Thomas Roach said he was pleased to send the proposal to the Common Council for approval after years of discussion.
This purchase is a rare opportunity to increase the citys open space inventory and protect the citys watershed, Roach said of the tract, which was recommended for purchase by the White Plains Open Space Committee.
Planning Commissioner Susan Habel said the land was really a piece that fits into a bigger puzzle of surrounding open space.
This is a tremendous opportunity for the city to continue to assemble parcels, said Habel. The Francis Place city-owned parcels were declared parkland recently and this connects to that. It connects additionally to watershed. It also enables the city in the future to de-map paper streets as they are no longer required for development.
The deal, which was negotiated down from the original $150,000 listing price, will be an investment for the future generations of the city, according to Councilperson Milagros Lecuona.
The Common Council is expected to approve the purchase at its Feb. 6 meeting.
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