I have read articles, letters to the editor and heard comments at the July 2 Yorktown Town Board meeting re: the proposed 150-unit rental apartment complex between Lee Boulevard and Hill Boulevard. Those in opposition express concern about increased taxes, an influx of school-aged children, car accidents, parking congestion, detrimental effects to the environment, violation of the 2010 Comprehensive Plan, etc. They are encouraging residents to sign petitions against the project. They are reminding our elected officials that they can be voted out of office if their voices are not heard.
As a long term resident of Yorktown and an active community member, I have faith that incumbents or prospective candidates, whether Republican, Democrat or independent, will do what is best for the entire community and the future of Yorktown, without fear of their political fate. Before a decision is made based on the court of public opinion, I trust that the following be given careful consideration:
The needs of the community must be assessed. Yorktown is not the place it was 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. Society and demographics have changed. There is a great need for options in housing that include rentals as very few currently exist. Whether it is seniors selling their homes and looking to rent, millennials who can’t afford or do not want to own a home, families that are looking to rent, at the current time, Yorktown cannot offer much. This forces people to leave, taking their spending dollars with them. Within the last few weeks, six people ranging from mid-20s to late 70s, told me that they were moving. The reason? They want to rent and hardly any rentals exist in Yorktown.
People in the decision-making capacity must review all the facts. Rather than have pre-conceived notions that the developers are working for their own goals only, why not have an open mind to work together? Along with potential negatives, what are the positives of such a development in supporting residents and boosting the local economy? After an informational session is conducted by the developer with the town officials and residents, concerns must be addressed.
For example, with 150 one- and two-bedroom units, what is the number of people allowed to live in a one bedroom versus two bedroom apartment? How many will be school-aged children? How many cars will there be? What are going to be the taxes paid by the developer and the complex? Will the development be pedestrian friendly so that residents can walk to the Jefferson Valley Mall and DeCicco Family Markets? Is it realistic to have 150 units or could there be fewer? What will the developer do to work with the town to ensure the safety of its residents on the roads and to ease traffic congestion?
Very importantly, decisions must be made thinking about the future of Yorktown and the generations to come. It is people who create a vibrant community. When resident Tony Grasso spoke at the July 2 Town Board meeting, he mentioned how Jefferson Village, with hundreds of units of housing, would not be here if compromises were not made and housing needs were not addressed. As many other people feel, he mentioned that his grandchildren would like to live here but have no options to do so. His message was a wise one that cannot afford to be ignored.
I was very active in advocating for the community good when both Wynwood Oaks and Trump Park (a development built by Louis Cappelli) was up for approval. At the time, many of the same arguments against those projects were made, with valuable time wasted on discussing fears that did not become an issue. With the Cappelli project, I was among a group of residents who made it clear to the town and the developers that we wanted to be heard and, therefore, work together. With that approach, the developer worked with us, listened to our concerns and made modifications that addressed these concerns and benefited the community. Today, both these developments offer critical housing options.
When it comes to this and any other proposals, it is important that the town officials make decisions based on review and analysis of the facts, the impact on all residents and the future of Yorktown.