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You are here: Home The Goods Just Say No to Development on Garden Road: An Open Letter to the Mayor and Scarsdale Planning Board
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Just Say No to Development on Garden Road: An Open Letter to the Mayor and Scarsdale Planning Board

GardenRoadsite2This letter was written by Andrew and Lisa Rodman from Cushman Road in Scarsdale.

The Village of Scarsdale is a community internationally known for its first-class school system and regionally recognized as the Village in the Park because of the town’s commitment to “green space. In recent years Scarsdale has undertaken projects such as adding cobblestone curbing along many of the village’s streets and repaving major streets such as Fenimore Road. A few years ago the town completed a major infrastructure improvement when a 7-acre water retention pond was built at George Field Park and along Post Road adjacent to the headquarters for the Scarsdale Police and Fire Departments.

Every Scarsdale resident knows that the cost of maintaining the village’s commitment to excellence does not come cheap--real estate taxes in the town are amongst the highest in the country. Scarsdale’s governmental leaders have recognized that there are limits to how much taxes can be raised every year and accordingly, always are on the lookout for additional sources of revenue. Over the past 10-15 years, one such source of incremental revenue has been tax dollars raised from the development of new homes in the community. Obviously, there is an inherent conflict between the need to raise new taxes and the need to not overly ‘tax’ the village’s infrastructure and services.

One current example of this conundrum is the desire of a local developer to construct eight new homes on Garden Road, adjacent to the town’s architecturally unique water tower. As of the time of the writing of this letter, it appears that Scarsdale’s government is inclined to choose easy money over the health and safety of its current residents. The proposed Garden Road site is a wetlands. In the best of times the land is swampy. After rain events such as the ones the community experienced three weeks ago (Hurricane Henri) and two weeks ago (Hurricane Ida), the site becomes a lake. The irony is the current situation comes to the Planning Board after heavy rains, but these rains have just brought to light the conditions that have prevailed for the 30 years we have been a residents of Cushman Road.

The developer of the proposed site has pretended to address the site’s soil problem (the underlying geology consists of dense clayey soil, rock, and a highly elevated water table) by proposing to elevate the site by 5-6 feet. The proposed Garden Road development will massively aggravate a bad situation. The existing homes located on Garden Road and Cushman Roads undoubtedly also will materially suffer. As every resident of Scarsdale knows, water flows downhill. The elevated platform proposed by the developers will flood its neighbor’s homes. No water collection system designed by the developer’s engineers can possibly hold all of the water that will be collected after a rain storm. This is a massively failed plan. One only had to visit the new George Field retention basins after Hurricane Ida (such visit was only possible by rowboat) to recognize that after such a heavy rain event the retention ponds overflowed and shut down several of the local streets. Can you imagine what it would have looked like without the George Field retention basin in place! When it was built we all hoped that would remediate the problem. It has helped but it has not solved the area’s flooding situation.

The Garden Road developer also cleverly ignores addressing critical issues such as who will maintain and pay for their proposed drainage system. It’s a very good bet that after the system fails several times, the new homeowners will request that Scarsdale Village assume responsibility for funding and maintaining the water collection system. In other words, at the onset, Scarsdale’s government officials likely are thinking that the real estate taxes collected from the proposed new homes will be accretive to the Village’s tax base. In reality, the damages caused to village property most probably will cost the Village more than it collects as it focuses on constructing new water retention facilities that the developer of the proposed site failed to properly address.

One last point should be highlighted. In classic real estate developer fashion, the builders of the proposed site have requested approval to construct eight new homes. Even they know this is a ridiculous request. They probably are hoping only to build four homes. When the decision makers who decide such matters for Scarsdale ‘cut’ the developer’s request from eight to four homes, they likely will feel like they ‘beat’ the developers and showed how they could not be played. The Garden Road site realistically can support (with extensive engineering) only one or two new homes.GardenRoadsite3

Please go to the Houlihan Lawrence website. One can see the developer is so audacious that he is already advertising the sale of these unapproved and unbuilt home. Lot #5-#6-#7 are being offered. One must ask oneself with previous failed attempts to get approvals, how can they be so confident? Has control of the narrative been handed over to developers in Scarsdale?

This is one of multiple attempts over the years by developers to try to push through a plan at the site. What has changed? The climate change issues that face the rest of the world are being felt in Scarsdale. Nothing should be giving the developers confidence except that the sitting government of Scarsdale has changed. We appeal to the present Scarsdale government officials who will rule on the outcome of the proposed Garden Road development. JUST SAY NO. Just as other Boards have done in the past, put the interests of the community’s current residents over those of the real estate developer whose only goal is short term profits.

Lisa & Andrew Rodman
Cushman Road
(residents for 30 years)

Photos taken of the water pooling on the proposed building lots from the Garden Road water tower.

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