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Greenburgh sports complex plans ripped by residents

Greenburgh residents discuss the proposed sports complex. (July

Greenburgh residents discuss the proposed sports complex. (July 19, 2012) Photo Credit: NIK BONOPARTIS

In a tense and at times confrontational meeting Thursday night, Greenburgh taxpayers made clear their disapproval of a proposed sports complex at the site of a former nursery.

Town officials want to lease the contaminated site on Dobbs Ferry Road to a company called Game On 365, whose planners envision a 94,000-square-foot air dome and outdoor soccer field that would be called the Westchester Field House.

Elected leaders, including Supervisor Paul Feiner, say the project would generate revenue for the town -- Game On would pay annual rent starting at $260,000 and increasing to $330,000 over the course of the 15-year lease. That would generate more than $5 million in rent payments over the life of the lease, he said.

But some neighbors balked at the proposal. They say the town should sell the property, assessed at more than $1.3 million, and point out that the town could indirectly pay to help clean up the site before Game On moves in.

That's because the 7-acre site is contaminated by an old petroleum spill and by pesticides used by the most recent occupant, Frank's Nursery. Game On agreed to put up the first $125,000 for site cleanup, but if the cleanup job costs more than that, the money would be deducted from Game On's rent.

Town officials believe the deal would benefit taxpayers.

"They're receiving no tax abatements, no incentives, no nothing to come in here and build the Game On" facility, Edye McCarthy, the town assessor, said of the company.

Some taxpayers said Thursday that McCarthy's statement wasn't entirely true -- Game On would not directly pay taxes to the town. Instead, tax payments would be included in the annual "rent" the facility would pay to Greenburgh.

Tom Bock, one of the neighbors who showed up to Thursday's meeting, said Greenburgh leaders should have sold the property when Frank's Nursery went into foreclosure. Renting such a property, he said, should not be an option: "The town should not become a landlord."

"There's so much more that can be done with this property that they're not even looking at because Paul's got it in his head that it's a done deal," Bock said.

Greenburgh's town board will hear from the public again at its July 25 meeting, and board members could vote on the proposal at the following meeting in August.

"It's not perfect for the town, it's not perfect for Game On," said town attorney Timothy Lewis, "but it generates revenue for the town, money to reduce taxes if you approve this proposal."


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