City officials led a public site walk of the Theodore Fremd Avenue site where a senior affordable housing project is proposed the weekend morning of March 10.
By Bill Lawyer
City officials led a public site walk of the Theodore Fremd Avenue site where a senior affordable housing project is proposed the weekend morning of March 10. There were more officials than neighbors at the start but as they joined the tour they were quick to ask questions and express their views.
The site visit, explained Mayor Joe Sack, is part of the public hearing process. In order to build the 54-unit affordable senior complex on the 2.08-acre site, the City will have to rezone the property.
Developer Lou Larizza, who has worked on a number of affordable housing projects in our area, provided lots of details on the “lay of the land.” He began with how the site would be accessed — by a wide road leading into the property, with a sidewalk, stone walls, plantings, and other landscaping amenities.
The group then walked westward into the property, to where the two three-story buildings would be located. (An obvious observation was that there was a steady drone of noise from nearby I-95, and a frequent clickety-clack from clearly visible trains going by.)
As Larizza continued to explain how the existing topography of the site would have to be modified to control stormwater runoff, the increasing number of nearby residents began asking questions and stating their concerns.
One person who lives in the “Dublin” section of Rye, on the west side of I-95, said they already have a problem with people driving through their neighborhood to avoid that light.
Another person said that the additional traffic would create serious safety issues for the children walking to and from the elementary and middle schools.
Larizza noted that since the housing is for seniors 55 and over, a fair number would probably not be adding to the traffic during the school and commuter periods.
The other main issue raised by neighbors had to due with the health issues concerning the proposed site and the gas station that the site wraps around. Several spoke with disgust at the noxious odors coming from the work being done on the gas station; one added that the smell could be detected as far away as WESTMED.
Other citizens worry that since the proposed development site is lower in elevation than the gas station, that pollutants from the gas station would seep down to the site.
They also raised questions about whether the “clean bill of health” given by the NY State DEC and the Westchester County Health Department was accurate.
Mr. Larizza said that all environmental concerns would be addressed. They were planning to raise the elevation of the site three to four feet to handle drainage and runoff. He and the County would foot the bill for any remediation work needed. He added that they would also foot the cost of any traffic studies needed to insure safety.
A woman asked the City Council members present if they would want to live near this site? She said she hoped they would not let themselves be “bullied or bought” by the County and the developer.
Mayor Sack concluded by saying that he and the Council had not made up their minds, and he urged everyone to keep an open mind until all the studies and information-gathering activities are completed.
Meanwhile, the Federal Monitor on Fair Housing will not only be watching what Rye does but how we go about it.