FAQs

1. What is the Greens to Green Conservancy?
2. Why is FASNY creating the Greens to Green Conservancy?
3. Who will pay for the maintenance and security of the Conservancy?
4. Why can’t Ridgeway just remain a golf course?
5. Ridgeway Country Club last paid $278,000 a year in taxes, but since the French-American School is a non-profit and tax-exempt, will it negatively affect the City budget resulting in either service cuts or tax hikes on the rest of us?
6. Will Ridgeway become a congested traffic nightmare?
7. Are there other viable alternatives for the Ridgeway property?
8. How will the Campus and the Conservancy affect flooding?
9. Should I be concerned with the maintenance of the Property pending approval of the Campus and Conservancy?
10. Will the French-American School’s new Campus and Conservancy require significant infrastructure costs by the City?
11. What impact will FASNY’s proposed project have on my property values?
12. How will you stop people from using the Conservancy at night?
13. Will the Greens to Green Conservancy be the new Central Park of White Plains?
14. Will the Conservancy be a Nature Center that attracts lots of visitors?
15. What are the parking needs for the Conservancy?
16. How can I support the Greens to Green Conservancy?

1. What is the Greens to Green Conservancy?
The Greens to Green Conservancy will be a living laboratory for a managed ecological restoration and reclamation program. The Conservancy is dedicated to serving as steward of the unique 78-acre property that will be a permanent, publicly accessible open space adjacent to the French-American School of New York’s White Plains campus. It will offer environmental and educational opportunities. We are inclusive and welcoming to members of the local White Plains community who are interested in joining this unique opportunity.

2. Why is FASNY creating the Greens to Green Conservancy?
From the very inception of the proposed Campus on the property, FASNY recognized that it had a unique opportunity to not only create a unified campus for its N-12 student body, but also give something back to its neighbors. For that reason, FASNY has, from the very earliest design stages, included a community open space as part of its proposed Campus. After much thought and collaboration with the public, FASNY has proposed this open space be designed and used as the Greens to Green Conservancy.

3. Who will pay for the maintenance and security of the Conservancy?
The Greens to Green Conservancy at FASNY will offer 78 acres of publicly accessible open space, a valuable asset to White Plains residents free of charge. It would cost the City over $10 million to purchase such open space, and even more to maintain and secure the Conservancy. With our children in school next to the Conservancy, its security and upkeep will be our top priority.

4. Why can’t Ridgeway just remain a golf course?
Ridgeway, like golf courses throughout Westchester and the nation, faced serious fiscal problems. Membership at Ridgeway had been declining for years. Efforts over a number of years to find a new public or private operator/owner for the golf course failed. The City of White Plains considered purchasing the property, but decided it was not fiscally feasible to run it as a golf course or preserve it as open space. A proposal to have the City purchase the property failed by a 6-1 City Council vote. We strongly believe that our plan for a clustered school Campus and an 78-acre publicly accessible Conservancy is the best and most realistic green alternative for the defunct golf course.

5. Ridgeway Country Club last paid $278,000 a year in taxes, but since the French-American School is a non-profit and tax-exempt, will it negatively affect the City budget resulting in either service cuts or tax hikes on the rest of us?
This is a misleading figure. The economic benefit to the City of White Plains from the FASNY Campus in White Plains and the FASNY community living and spending money in White Plains will far exceed any lost annual property taxes FASNY might pay on the Property. When Ridgeway was last an operating golf course in 2010, it paid approximately $278,000 to the City in property taxes, which represents less than one-half of 1% of White Plains property tax revenues. The simple math is $278,000 divided by 56,000 White Plains residents = $5 per resident per year on average. In addition, FASNY is providing, maintaining, and securing an 78-acre publicly accessible nature Conservancy worth over $10 million at no cost to the City or taxpayers. As it has done at its other campuses, FASNY is committed to supporting local businesses in purchasing goods and services. This is why our plan has been formally endorsed by both the Westchester County Association and the Business Council of Westchester. Click here to view Organizational Endorsements

6. Will Ridgeway become a congested traffic nightmare?
No. We believe our proposed traffic management system and infrastructure improvements will adequately address the increased traffic at morning peak hour and afternoon peak hour and traffic will flow. The French-American School has used state-of-the-art traffic modeling software to identify potential traffic impacts. Using these tools, we have identified a set of roadway improvements, which are intended to avoid or minimize potential traffic impacts to the maximum extent practicable. These include widening Ridgeway using FASNY property, adding eastbound and westbound turning lanes, queuing on Campus, adding new traffic signals, and modifying multiple existing signals. FASNY will be responsible for paying for all of these infrastructure improvements at no cost to the City or taxpayers. In addition, FASNY would implement a Traffic Management Plan, which would prevent FASNY vehicles from cutting through the local neighborhoods. The School will also stagger morning start and afternoon dismissal times for the four different school divisions in 15-minute increments over the course of one hour to optimize vehicle flow.
Click here to view video: FASNY Traffic Plan - Case Study of Scarsdale Middle School

7. Are there other viable alternatives for the Ridgeway property?
FASNY’s plan for an 78-acre, publicly accessible Nature Conservancy and a low-density School is the best, most realistic, and most environmentally sound alternative for the defunct Ridgeway Country Club. The golf course and clubhouse was listed for sale for years. No viable operator stepped up to purchase the Club to continue to run it as a golf course. Golf courses across the County are in financial disrepair and the Club was struggling for years. There are 32 public and private golf courses within 10 miles of Ridgeway. Keeping it as a private golf course would also deny the community of publicly accessible open space.

Given the fiscal struggles facing municipal government, the City of White Plains deemed it unfeasible to spend the over $10 million that would be required to purchase the property and the millions more required to maintain it as public open space. A proposal to have the City purchase the property failed by a 6-1 City Council vote.

Any for-profit real estate developer who purchased the property would seek to maximize density on the property. It is projected that upward of 90 homes could be built on the property. A new residential development of that size would place a real strain on City infrastructure. Finally, no private developer would set aside two-thirds of the property for publicly accessible open space, let alone create, maintain and secure a nature Conservancy.

8.How will the Campus and the Conservancy affect flooding?
We believe our plans for the property will reduce the likelihood of flooding. Our plans for the Campus and the Conservancy will improve and enhance on-site storm water management, and reduce off-site flooding by maximizing the use of pervious surfaces and bio-filtration (rain gardens), and by using vegetated swales to direct storm water to new retention ponds. In addition, we have stopped irrigating the property, which required millions of gallons of water annually when it was a golf course. Lastly, the Conservancy vegetation will undergo a gradual transformation from the compacted soils and shallow root system of golf course grasses to a more diverse plant system of meadows and transitional shrub land species. The change in plant type and root system will result in a landscape that can absorb much more water and produce much less runoff during storm events.

9. Should I be concerned with the maintenance of the Property pending approval of the Campus and Conservancy?
No. FASNY has always recognized its role and responsibility in each of its operating communities to be a good neighbor. In addition to periodically mowing the entire site, FASNY has coordinated clean up days to remove debris accumulated over many years around the Property - including around the Pond and the fence line along Hathaway Lane. FASNY families have worked with trained professionals to remove invasive vines from some of the significant trees in the forested area. FASNY has continued to monitor the existing stormwater and drainage systems to prevent debris from clogging and blocking drains, and sought approvals necessary to repair aging drainage pipes in order to address ponding on the property. Additionally, after being notified by DEC in late 2011 that the earthen berm constructed on the Property in the late 1960’s would be considered a dam under current regulations, FASNY has taken steps to ensure that the earthen berm would meet current dam regulations.

10. Will the French-American School’s new Campus and Conservancy require significant infrastructure costs by the City?
No. FASNY is seeking no public subsidies for any of its infrastructure needs. The Conservancy will be maintained at no cost to the City. The efforts to upgrade the property’s storm water management system will be undertaken at no cost to the City. The same holds true for any traffic mitigation efforts. FASNY will pay in full for all infrastructure and other improvements necessary as a result of the new Campus and Conservancy.

11. What impact will FASNY’s proposed project have on my property values?
As FASNY parents seek to move closer to the school, they will push up demands for nearby homes and increase property values for those residents looking to sell. When FASNY first opened its Nursery School in Scarsdale, only 11 families lived in town. Within 5 years, 60 additional families had moved into town. Numerous studies show that schools increase home values. According to a published study by the Journal of Contemporary Economic Policy, proximity to natural open space (Conservancy) can increase home values by up to 16%. Click here to view Open Space, Trails, & Home Values

12. How will you stop people from using the Conservancy at night?
We are absolutely committed to creating and maintaining a peaceful and secure Conservancy. FASNY will be responsible for the maintenance and security of the Conservancy just as it will be responsible for the maintenance and security of the Campus. The Conservancy will be open from dawn to dusk. We will work with our own security and the White Plains Police Department to develop a comprehensive safety and security plan. FASNY has already hired local security guards to patrol the property and ensure that it is well secured today. This Conservancy will be the backyard of our School where our children spend many hours.

13. Will the Greens to Green Conservancy the new Central Park of White Plains?
The Conservancy will not be a park. The Conservancy will be used only for low impact/passive activities, such as walking and bird watching. There will be no recreational programs and facilities such as ball fields, playgrounds, barbecue pits and picnic areas on the Conservancy.

14. Will the Conservancy be a Nature Center that attracts lots of visitors?
The Conservancy will not be a Nature Center. Although education will be a key component of the Conservancy’s mission, public programming and other activities, such as birthday parties and petting zoos, typically found at nature centers will not be offered.

15. What are the parking needs for the Conservancy?
We conducted outreach to a number of other nature preserves and conservancies throughout Westchester and the surrounding region to determine the appropriate number of parking spaces necessary for passive use natural open space. All reported fairly low levels of visitor traffic even on warm weekend days. Our plan calls for three small gravel parking areas, with 4 to 6 spaces each. In addition, we expect most of our visitors will walk or bike to the Conservancy from the surrounding neighborhood.

16. How can I support the Greens to Green Conservancy?
We appreciate all the offers of support and assistance in turning the Greens to Green Conservancy into a treasured open space for White Plains. To establish the Conservancy, we need the White Plains Mayor and Common Council to vote in favor of our proposal to build a clustered school campus and public open space nature conservancy. Click here to see how you can help make this happen!