YORKTOWN, N.Y. – A public hearing on the site plan for Shrub Oak International School, a private day school and boarding program for people with autism, has been tentatively scheduled for Monday, May 8, following several planning board work sessions.
The date is tentative because of the lack of a complete stormwater design, though school representatives said they will work closely with the town engineer and hope to have one ready prior to May 8. The southern quadrant of the property lies in the New York City Department of Environmental Protection watershed. Because the school would be adding impervious surface to the property, it would have to comply with stormwater regulations, said Planning Director John Tegeder. Any approval of the site plan would likely be contingent on satisfying issues with the Department of Environmental Protection.
Shrub Oak International School would be located at 3151 Stoney St., at the site of the former Phoenix House Academy, a teen drug rehab center that closed in 2015. The Shrub Oak International School has a projected enrollment of 300 students, ranging from adolescents to students in their mid-20s
A primary focus of the April 17 work session was traffic in the area surrounding the school, especially Stoney Street. Ron Hill of H2M Architects and Engineers, a traffic consultant for Shrub Oak International School, said there are many existing issues with the street, such as speeding, but nothing the school is necessarily required to fix. Planning board Chair Rich Fon described Stoney Street as a “historically old road that doesn’t meet any current standard.”
Hill said he was surprised when he did his study to learn there was no traffic light at the intersection of Stoney Street and East Main Street, where there have been 74 accidents in the last five years, according to Yorktown’s Traffic Safety and Advisory Committee.
The traffic consultant recommended the installation of a light. Though traffic lights tend to cause more rear-end accidents, those are considered preferable to “right-angle accidents,” which are typically more severe, Hill said.
Deputy Supervisor Gregory Bernard, who serves on the traffic safety committee, said the town board approved a traffic light for the intersection last month, and the only thing preventing its installation is the cost. According to the Department of Transportation, traffic lights can cost up to $500,000 to install and $8,000 annually to light.
Attorney David S. Steinmetz, representing Shrub Oak International School, said the school would contribute to the cost of the light, but would not fund it entirely. He recommended the school and town perform a “fair-share analysis” of the cost.
The board also asked the consultant what can be done about speeding on Stoney Street, which is often used as a cut through to Route 6, Fon said. Hill said that is ultimately the town’s decision, but he recommended against the installation of stop signs, saying they cause more accidents than they prevent.
Also discussed was the proposed helistop on the property, which would be used for medical emergencies. The school would allow local first responders to have access to the helistop.
The board asked Shrub Oak International School to be prepared to answer questions about the helistop at the public hearing, such as the number of planned trips, times of use and flight patterns.
“We look forward to the May 8 public hearing to further explain this exciting project to the community and to address concerns about traffic mitigation and improvements to the Stoney Street and East Main Street intersection,” Steinmetz told Yorktown News. The May 8 planning board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at town hall.
Shrub Oak International School would be an entity affiliated with K3 Learning, a Manhattan-based education company that owns a network of more than 60 for-profit schools in New York, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina, according to its website.
About 521 full-time employees would work at Shrub Oak International School. Roughly 60 employees would be present at the property at all times.
The school would also contribute to the restoration of sports fields at nearby Granite Knolls Park. The school would allow residents to access the park through a driveway on its property.
The 127-acre campus was built in 1954 as the site of Loyola Seminary, which was owned by the Archdiocese of New York. The Phoenix House Academy opened at the property in 1983 and closed in June 2015.