Mount Vernon – Over a hundred residents of Fleetwood Village in Mount Vernon known as Fleetwood Citizens Society (FCS) gathered at the Yannantuono Funeral Home located at 584 Gramatan Avenue, Wednesday, to fight the privatization of the Broad Street Municipal Garage that is part of the unwanted 16 Floor 249 unit, luxury Apartment building slated to be built at 42 W. Gramatan Avenue.
The FCS were able to temporarily halt the construction with a lawsuit filed April 20, that claims the transfer of municipal garage is illegal. The FCS is pushing back on the city of Mount Vernon transferring the ownership and operation of the garage with a required Special Auction or Sealed Bid. They claim the city just unilaterally attempted to transfer the municipal garage without going through the competitive process to get the maximum value of it, for the residents.
James Periconi, attorney for the FCS got up and explained the lawsuit that was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of new York, County of Westchester, its status and answered questions from concerned citizens. One of the talking points was the fact that the developer, Alexander Development Group of 345 Seventh Avenue, 23rd Floor New York NY, never filed for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
For those of you unfamiliar with EIS, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a document prepared to describe the effects for proposed activities on the environment. “Environment,” in this case, is defined as the natural and physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment. This means that the “environment” considered in an EIS includes land, water, air, structures, living organisms, environmental values at the site, and the social, cultural, and economic aspects. An “impact” is a change in consequence that results from an activity. Impacts can be positive or negative or both. An EIS describes impacts, as well as ways to “mitigate” impacts. To “mitigate” means to lessen or remove negative impacts.
In layman terms an EIS is required to examine what effect a proposed project will have on the environment such traffic conditions. If you build a 249-unit structure which would add 249-plus more cars to an already congested area will surely have an impact on the local environment. Building a 16-floor building could be a further strain on the Mount Vernon Fire Department who is already being accused of abusing the Westchester Mutual Aid Plan due to its undermanned fire stations, if such a building were to catch on fire. Not to mention the drain on already over crowded, under funded, local schools.
What the FCS finds the most egregious is the monthly parking they currently pay $65 for would almost triple to $150 immediately. Periconi also pointed out that without utilizing Attendant parking, which is currently violates the city zoning ordinance, even if the developers take over the top three levels on the garage it will not give them the minimum 249 (one space per apartment) plus an additional 40 spaces for retail stores needed without utilizing attendant parking.
From the proposed plan and transfer of operation and ownership of the garage, Alexander Development would make over $37,000 a month ad over $448,000 a year, from parking fees alone. Currently the municipal garage is utilized by local residents and customers for the local businesses. The transfer would make it very difficult to find parking. BW found this out personally when we had to ride around for 20 minutes to find parking on the street to attend Wednesday meeting at the funeral home despite they fact we arrived 28 minutes early.
Local elected officials who showed up included former Mayor Clinton Young, City Comptroller Maureen Walker, City Councilman Richard Thomas (who are all expected to run in the crowded upcoming mayoral race) and developer Andre Wallace who is running for City Council. The FCS allowed each one to speak and introduced Thomas as one of the two councilpersons who voted in support of the FCS against this project.
Christina Kemp from Senator Klein’s office was also present and announced that Senator Klein’s office secured $500,000 for much-needed revitalization of the parking structure. After the Quality of Life Memorial Field Forum which was hosted by BW, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow announced he had secured and additional $250,000 for the garage as well as $1 million dollars for Memorial Field. The $750,000 could be lost of not used for that structure. Fleetwood residents also expressed their anger that the $200,000 which mostly came from the residents to repair the elevator, would just be gifted to the developer if this transfer was to go through.
The FCS discussed the need to come out in great numbers in the upcoming election and vote out Mayor Ernest D. Davis and the current administration that has tried to push this through with no concern of the local citizens. While many on the southside may feel this does not affect them at all, Mount Vernon residents need to be concerned and pay attention to everything that takes place in their city, if these actions such as an illegal transfer of property can take place on one side of town do not be fooled it can’t happen to where you live next.
The City of Mount Vernon and Alexander Development may think its a done deal but the FCS has vowed to fight this illegal transfer and privatization of their municipal garage to the end, including attending every city council and planning board meeting as well as demanding an EIS study be done. Stay tuned to BW as we will continue to cover this developing story.