Letter to the Editor: Digest Developer does not have best interests of the town at heart

April 3, 2009
by Steven Swirsky, Smitesh Jhaveri and Laurie Hamburg

Dear Editor,
It was stunning to open the mail this week and find yet another expensive brochure put out by Summit Greenfield, the developer of the Reader’s Digest property, offering to “help” fund our schools.

However, actions speak louder than words. If Summit Greenfield truly had the interest of our schools and town at heart, they would not have been late paying their taxes to New Castle for all of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009. In a year like this, the school district and the town obviously need revenues on a timely basis, yet Summit Greenfield chose to pay for the production, printing and postage of two costly marketing pieces before meeting their obligations and commitment to the town.

It would not be difficult to take apart Summit Greenfield’s purported “Project Benefits” line by line, but it is not necessary. The basic fact we all need to understand is that the last thing this town needs right now is to be flooded with an additional 278 townhouses. The supposed tax benefits will be lost when they do not sell. Age restrictions will fail and Summit Greenfield will inevitably push to have sales opened up to families with school children. There will be an increase in town traffic and a burden not only on our schools but on all of our municipal and emergency services.

Recognize also the fact that townhouses have a different tax status than single family homes; condo owners pay roughly half to two-thirds the taxes that same-price single family homeowners do. All this adds up to less than a zero sum game for the town of New Castle. 

It is evident that Summit Greenfield has a very different set of priorities than the rest of us and does not share our view as to what is in the ultimate interest of home owners in our town. We would all be better served if Summit Greenfield would cease sending out these expensive brochures. The town board is looking at more productive ways to use that property. We applaud the board’s initiative and believe it is time for the developer to seriously listen and work with them.

Steven Swirsky, Smitesh Jhaveri and Laurie Hamburg,
Representing NewCastleRD, an organization of New Castle residents opposed to the over-development of the Reader’s Digest property.