BY MARIA MIRAKAJ BROWNSELL
At Tuesday’s town board meeting in Clarkstown, a special presentation opened up the agenda. The Youth Police Academy celebrated their graduation from a 10-week program given by the Clarkstown Police Department. There were twenty-four teenage graduates from different areas in Clarkstown.
“The academy has been in existence for over eleven and several hundred students have graduated. We are pleased to say that some of our graduates have gone on to be police officers,” said Sergeant LaFasciano as he introduced the group of young men and women. Chief Sullivan and Captain Ovchinnikoff congratulated and shook hands with each graduate as they received their certificate.
The town board members and Supervisor Gromack also expressed their feelings on the hard work of these students.
“Congratulations to all of you. You are fine young men and women and this is a great accomplishment,” said Councilwoman Shirley Lasker. “You have great families and great futures ahead of you.”
Once the graduation was complete, a public hearing was opened. The topic was a proposed local law entitled “Amendment to Chapter 290 (zoning) of the code of the town of Clarkstown and the town zoning map with respect to neighborhood shopping.” Before the hearing was opened, Deputy Town Attorney Daniel Kraushaar explained some of the details. There were two areas being looked at, one off 9W and the other 304 in Bardonia. They were considering putting residents over commercial property in Bardonia where it was not approved of in the past. There will also be an increase in outdoor seating for restaurants, fixing of areas prone to flooding, green building and a limit to how much of a lot you can build upon. According to an environment study, there will be no adverse effect. This change will compliment the aesthetics of the neighborhood.
The first member of the public to speak was Stephen Levine of Congers who was concerned with the multifamily units to be installed. Frank Grandel of Congers asked if the community has a say in this housing change and about the effect of this multifamily or low income housing. Marge Hook of New City was concerned with the school taxes that would be increased due to more families moving into the area.
John Hanchar of Congers was for the zoning change. “9W needs some sprucing up,” he said after talking about the “unique” motels on the road. Richard Cena of Bardonia spoke for the change also.
Clarkstown Town Planner Joe Simoes explained that Cambridge Systematics Consulting looked over the areas and that the residential component will only be in the northern part of 9W. The permits given will be very limited and the housing will not be low income, but fair market value. Each dwelling would be between 200 and 1200 square feet with a minimum of one bedroom and a maximum of two bedrooms. Only twenty-five percent of the units could be two bedrooms and it could take thirty to forty years for a full build out if every single property actually decided to move forward with this. As for the schools, they are not filled to capacity at this time and the property owners would cover the increase in school taxes when they build.
“History Matters,” exclaimed the pins on numerous shirts at the board meeting. After the recent destruction of the Teaberry Port House in West Nyack, many Historical society members and other citizens were concerned with the preservation of another local historical house, the Vanderbilt-Budke House on Germonds Road.
“We won’t let what happed to Teaberry happen. We’re on the road to a positive outcome,” said Joel Epstein, Clarkstown Zoning and Code Enforcement officer. United Water Company is responsible for the loss of the Teaberry Port House. They didn’t have the funds to rehabilitate the house which would have cost between $500,000 and $1 million. To avoid another such tragedy, Clarkstown aquired the property on Germonds Road. The Vanderbilt-Budke House is the second oldest house in Rockland County.
“We are here tonight to fulfill this mission,” said Clare Sheridan, the president of the Historical Society of Rockland County, speaking of promoting the preservation, restoration, continuing and adaptive use of the County’s historic buildings and sites. “We have received a letter from the board that the town is committed to the restoration,” she said.
Jim Cropsey, a trustee of the Historical Society, thought that since the town already owns the house, it should either go to public use or have a history person take it over to prevent further deterioration. Many others spoke in turn about the importance of the preservation of this home.
“That’s why we purchased this property. It’s under our control. We are part of the Rockland County Foundation, where people can make contributions with specific instructions,” said Supervisor Alexander Gromack.
“We’ve learned a lesson that preserving needs to be done along the way,” added Councilwoman Hausner.
The board assured that their historical review board will work diligently on this project and they are open to the input of the Historical Society of Rockland County.
Recently Davies Farm has been approved for subdivision. They must have assessment by Orange and Rockland about the transformer that is on lot one but will be serving both lot one and two. With the existing three trees on the property and new landscaping, they will meet or exceed the requirement of trees on the property. The DEC said there is no impact from the subdivision.