Letter: A response to two building proposals in Purchase

To the Editor,

The following is a letter sent this week to Harrison Planning Board chairman Thomas Heaslip about the proposed soccer team practice facility and the proposal of a 26,000-square-foot church on Anderson Hill Road under board consideration.

The writers urge the community to take a stand with them. Attend the meetings on April 22 at 1 Heinemann Place in Harrison at 7 p.m., and send in your letters with your opinions about this overgrowth and the noise and traffic we face.

Dear Mr. Chairman,

As a longtime Purchase resident and a resident of The Springs who lives directly across the street from the outdoor playing facility at Manhattanville College, I am writing to you on the matter of the proposed soccer team and practice facility under consideration by the board, with a footnote to the additionally-proposed Trinity Presbyterian Church.

I intended to come to the monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 25, when this matter was openly discussed. The reason I did not come was a week before, I had an extensive conversation with Keith Leventhal, athletic director of the college. After speaking with him, I was completely satisfied that our concerns on this proposed project were overstated and the proposed soccer facility actually might fit smoothly into the community.

First, Leventhal told me these were practices, not matches of any kind, and would not be open to the public. Second, it would be limited to roughly 25 individual cars from players and coaches, and the brunt of the traffic would be on Purchase Street, not Anderson Hill Road. Third, these practices would be generally held mid-morning and on weekdays. Fourth, the college was not contemplating building any bleachers, stands, et cetera, to accommodate larger crowds. In fact, he said maybe they would open an occasional [practice] up to students within the college.

Last, Leventhal said the overall traffic would actually be considerably less than the summer traffic is now, when the college opens its pool to camps, causing more significant traffic in the area.

My wife and I, along with other Springs’ residents, seemed to think this was an acceptable plan.

Subsequently, I was informed by two residents of The Springs who did, wisely, attend the March 25 Planning Board meeting that none of Leventhal’s assurances turned out to be true.

As I said, my wife and I live directly across Anderson Hill Road from the outdoor soccer and softball facility. Our initial complaints to the college have been about the irritating bright lights and noise that came this March from evening play, lasting until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.

We would come home after dark and there would be a live match going on with noises of competition and the whole area completely illuminated directly across the street.

I also addressed the blaring music coming from mega-sound systems, which seems to be a ritual of the spring softball season on weekends. Whoever at the meeting suggested there was no noise, only the crack of the bats and cheers, doesn’t know what she’s talking about. The music can be deafening—and I like The Who. I even wrote about this, somewhat humorously, in a piece in the February issue of Westchester Magazine. We feel like we’re at Woodstock, which we were at, by the way.

Mr. Chairman, I do not live in Purchase to be across the street from a commercial sports facility. I do not live here to come home to bright lights across the streets and shouts and cheers. I do not live here to see Andersen Hill Road backed up half a mile at critical times with non-community-based traffic seeking to come to a sports event. I also do not live in Purchase to see a proposed 70-foot spire, religious or otherwise, constructed 500 feet from my home or to have to have policemen in our quiet neighborhood, where bike traffic is the norm, managing congested traffic flows on Sunday mornings.

And there will be just that.

This isn’t just a bunch of moneyed people who want to protect their way of life. It’s about a vision for our community. To me, it all comes down to what type of community Harrison/Purchase wants to define itself as.

Are we a low-traffic residential area with two-lane, country roads, or are we being merchandised out to the highest bidders so whatever rural charm and lifestyle, which is still part of this community, is gone in five years.

Does this benefit Harrison in some way? Does this increase the tax roll? Does this sort of lifestyle inspire new buyers in for homes and a place where young families want to raise their kids?

 

Andrew and Lynn Gross,

Purchase