Why spend money on alternative uses study now?

February 13, 2009

NewCastleNOW asked Supervisor Barbara Gerrard: “Why, when the town is counting pennies and nothing’s being built anyway, are we spending money on a study of alternate public uses of the Reader’s Digest property?”  Her response follows:

The underlying presumption that Summit Greenfield cannot or would not attempt to either build or sell their property rights sometime in the not too distant future is shortsighted and unrealistic. There are always projects being done—- certain real property entities are known for their huge cash reserves for just such opportunities as the situation we all find ourselves in.

Right now anyone with the wherewithal can get all the architects and contractors they need to build whatever project they have under budget, with building supplies readily available (remember not too long ago when the price and availability of steel was such an issue—- you couldn’t get steel and if you could it was appreciating in price weekly)—- and labor, the biggest expense, available and eager.

Planning is just that—- looking forward to what might happen and envisioning what should happen. It’s way too late once the backhoe is moving earth. If the town does acquire property on the Reader’s Digest site, it will be for the future of the entire community.  Whether it’s some sort of performance center where talented neighbors can gather to practice and demonstrate their skills, an additional ball field which EVERYONE acknowledges the town needs—- one in the center of town convenient to all, especially the high school, a more ambitious recreation center, or just open space with trails and appreciation of nature, you do your planning when the opportunities arise.  There is always the, “Oh, the town (our town or any other town) missed the chance when this property or that property came on the market, or was bought by a developer …. etc, etc.” 


The County Planning Department reminds each and every jurisdiction in Westchester, under its “Westchester 2025” Planning program, to never let any developer change the character of your community. Our community is built around our excellent school district, our collective devotion to our families and in particular, our children, and a sense of place and belonging.  Do we allow a developer who knows little to nothing about what makes New Castle a wonderful place dictate what happens on the last 100+ acre property located in the center of town?  Or do we, through planning consultants and visionaries, work with our community to allow us, the stewards of the future of our beloved town, make the investment now to provide for the needs and amenities of the future. We should all be investing in our collective future in New Castle… and now is the time to do just that.