Directors of the Edgemont Community Council last night expressed skepticism that the Town of Greenburgh actually intends to follow through on promises to construct sidewalks in Edgemont to make it safe for children to walk to Edgemont’s schools.
Speaking at the monthly meeting of the ECC, which attracted more than 25 residents, several directors suggested Greenburgh’s elected officials were stringing Edgemont residents along with empty promises to build sidewalks they do not intend to honor.
Edgemont civic leaders have been asking the Town to construct sidewalks for more than ten years, but town leaders for years had opposed such requests.
One ECC director, from the Fort Hill area, said he was appalled the Town approved engineering work to be done on a proposed sidewalk from the portion of Fort Hill Road beginning at Ardsley Road but extending only to Longview Road – without even considering extending the sidewalk to Underhill Road.
“I walk every day along Fort Hill Road from Longview to Underhill,” a director from the Fort Hill Association said, “and so do many kids walking to the high school. Plus, kids also walk from along Fort Hill from Underhill to Longview to get to Greenville School, so why would the Town not plan to do a sidewalk for all of Fort Hill Road?” No one disagreed.
Another director, from Southern Greenville, expressed annoyance with Town Supervisor Paul Feiner for having promised her association last month that the Town would authorize a request for bids to hire an engineer to proceed with engineering work on a sidewalk on Fort Hill from Jackson Avenue to Ardsley Road. The Town last week approved a resolution which first required that a feasibility study for any sidewalk be conducted on that portion of Fort Hill Road before any actual engineering work be done.
Several directors expressed annoyance that Town officials seem to be requiring Edgemont residents to jump through more hoops than anyone else in Town to get something as basic as sidewalks needed for children to walk safely to school.
ECC president Bob Bernstein pointed out that there is now a major sidewalk under construction in Hartsdale on Hillcrest Avenue between West Hartsdale Avenue and Ridge Road which is not in the vicinity of any schools and did not appear to be subjected to any of the requirements that the sidewalks under consideration in Edgemont are being subjected to.
The ECC directors agreed to file a Freedom of Information Request from the Town to find out more about the Hillcrest Avenue sidewalk.
Directors noted that the Town recently completed a feasibility study for sidewalks on Seely Place, Ardsley Road from Seely Place to Highland Avenue, and on Fort Hill Road from Ardsley Road to Longview Road, with outside consultants estimating the cost to be around $1.1 million.
Mr. Feiner has said, however, that he will proposed borrowing in 2016 for only the Seely Place sidewalk, which was estimated to cost $258,000, stating that to do any more spending next year for any sidewalk in Edgemont would be too expensive.
By way of comparison, the Journal News reported today that the Town has already authorized repairs to the problem-plagued indoor pool at the Theodore D. Young Community Center estimated to cost $850,000.
Edgemont civic leaders have asked that the Town proceed with engineering work on all sidewalks needed for public safety in Edgemont so that the Town could apply for federal and state funding to pay for the construction. Even here, though, town officials seem reluctant to approve spending the money to get this work completed even for that limited purpose.
ECC directors noted last night that if Edgemont were an incorporated village, it could apply for the funding itself, much as the Village of Ardsley did for the new nearly mile-long sidewalk it has on Heatherdell between Farm Road and Anthony Veteran Park, without having to wait for the Town to do so on its behalf.
In other news at last night’s meeting, ECC directors were told that the Greenville Fire District is planning a budget-to-budget increase of about $300,000, from $8.3 million to $8.6 million, most of which is expected to cover debt service on borrowing that voters approved last year. Jon Faust, an incumbent fire commissioner, said he is planning to seek re-election to a second five-year term. The election will be held December 8, 2015 from 3-9 p.m. at the Greenville Fire House at 711 Central Avenue.
Mr. Faust explained that Greenville Fire District, like the school district, is not only owned and controlled exclusively by Edgemont, but the fire district responds not just to fires, but is also Edgemont’s first responder for medical emergencies. Mr. Faust explained that the Town also responds to medical emergencies in Edgemont, but because its personnel service the entire 19-square mile area of the Town, the Town’s ability to respond to medical emergencies in Edgemont can vary. Edgemont is located in the southernmost portion of the Town.
Mr. Faust also pointed out that because the fire district has a roughly equal number of both paid professionals and volunteers, Edgemont is in a much better position to respond to fire and medical emergencies than those communities that must rely entirely on volunteers.
David Stern, president of the Edgemont school board, and a volunteer firefighter, added that Edgemont’s ISO rating – where fire and medical emergency services are ranked from 1 to 10 with 1 being the best – has now been ranked 3, which makes Edgemont among the 4,000 safest communities nationwide and helps keep Edgemont homeowner insurance premiums low.