Residents, Engineers, Teachers Interact at FASNY Open House

Citizens visited the former Ridgeway Country Club site and met with administrators, parent volunteers and teachers to learn, see and experience the site's development proposal by the French-American School of New York.


On Saturday, the former site opened to the public by the , which showcased its proposal to build a 1,200-student campus.

Guests spoke with site development engineers, school administrators, parent volunteers and teachers, and were given the opportunity to tour the 130-acre site via golf carts.

The French-American School of New York (FASNY) has been faced with opposition since its of the former Ridgeway Country Club in 2011. The property was once part of Gedney Farms, and in 1923 was sold to the now-defunct country club where the land stayed green, without buildings.

Being a country club, however, the property did not reflect true “public open space,” said FASNY spokesperson Geoffrey Thompson. In the proposal, 84 acres would be restored back to a more natural state, with native plants and grasses brought in. Of the 130 acres, 84 would be dedicated, permanent conservation easement. Some area residents, however, are not sold on the idea.

Beverly Berger, a 56-year resident of White Plains, has lived in her home on Roger Place for the past 48 years.

“I’m devastated by what I hear,” she said. “We are currently being affected by and the expanding. Those, along with the [White Plains] high school, make for a tremendous amount of traffic.”

At the Open House, computer-generated traffic flow patterns showed on computer screens and highlights of the environmental impact study were displayed on poster board.

“I’m all for education, I’m all for schools, but the traffic [on Ridgeway] is pretty bad now,” said White Plains resident Joan Lefkowits.

To help mitigate traffic, FASNY proposes widening Ridgeway in front of the school and adding two traffic lights, creating one-way lanes on the school campus itself and Hathaway Lane such that traffic would not spill off Northbound to Oxford Road. and Hathaway Lane.

“It is so difficult to get in and out now,” said Berger of the local streets. “I’d like to instead see houses here, with people paying taxes.”

Martine Wicks of Rye has two children who attend FASNY, and believes that “after dropping off your kids at White Plains, it would be only natural to do shopping, get groceries and take care of errands in White Plains.”

This, along with parents and teachers renting or buying homes in White Plains, would add tax revenue back into the city, said Wicks. Sandy Haffner of Hartsdale also sent her children to Lycée International outside of Paris, and believes that schools like FASNY bring the neighbors together, and offer a multicultural and bilingual environment for the students.

Close to 60 percent of FASNY students were born outside of the U.S., said Board of Trustees chairperson Mischa Zabotin. He explained that more than 100 meetings have been held to-date about this project.

“We’ve even brought in a White Plains resident to an existing class to see what a day was like,” he said. “We’re a school, we’re not a developer or real estate group.”

Editor's Note: This article has been revised to reflect new information. In all, the event attracted more than 150 guests, according to FASNY.

Joan's WP June 13, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Ellen, I think you are onto something about the commenters. In particular, upon rereading wpRez, his comments appear to be disingenuous.
John June 14, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Yes. In the 60 minutes I was there I saw a steady flow of people which suggests that they had more than a few dozen during the day. Not like the first time but this was a follow up event and seemed well attended. There was a waiting list for the tour of the grounds. It was very well done overall and very pleasant. What caught my eye was that the course is zoned for 97 houses and an example of how that might look removed the open view of most of the houses and would have affected all those people who have put gates from their gardens onto the course. Be careful of what you wish for.....
John June 14, 2012 at 01:42 PM
The real answer is nothing. It was a virtually unused golf course that had become an extension of their backyards. The irony of the cry that houses are better is that all the buildable land borders the existing houses i.e.they would lose their views and private access to the open space. And these claims that most of the course is unusable for construction are just opinions since they havent produced any studies as far as I know. If the land was that bad the golf course would have been pumping water out the whole time like the one in Mamaroneck (and that had more buildable land in spite of that). I walked the course at the open house and it is pretty obvious that the wetlands is confined to the area of the pond and the woods.
Dan Seidel June 14, 2012 at 01:57 PM
John, come down on a rainy day and walk the grounds. Then come down during our monthly downpours and walk the course - bring your waders. The MOVIES and STILLS (Paula has great ones with the duck pond that forms at the 12th tee, off Ridgeway). I have the movies where the workers are "clearing" the pipes there - WAIST DEEP at the tennis courts. My movies show, date them and do the rain analyses, anything more than a 2inch rain brings the 12th Hole at least to a flooded condition and the stormdrain manhole covers make like the fountains downtown - the fountains last many hours (border bvetween the 12th and 13th Holes and the driving range). The ground gets saturated and is spongy for many hours and usually days. The County GIS Soil maps and overlays (c'mon - this is science - I know) show hydric soil groups. The County stormdrain lines are unable to handle all this - this is engineering stuff probably way beyond your ken. Suffice it to say, there is no way this is a fit - FASNY got conned by the brokers in my opinion. If the brokers disclosed the intense opposition expected and they disclosed the hydrology problems, siting issues, rights of way, utilities, etc., and if FASNY knew about this (which apparently they did not - personal conversations at the beginning), then they are real fools.
John June 14, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Dan, it was a rainy day in a rainy month. It's pretty obvious that both arms of the "U" are buildable and that's the view for the Gedney houses - it's not that hard to build a better storm drain. On the one hand you all build FASNY up as the big bad corporate wolf with armies of sharp edged advisors and on the other you paint then as French peasants who bought the Brooklyn Bridge. Can't have it both ways....Oh, and if the land is really that waterlogged, what makes you think it would be viable as a commercial golf course? That was one of the problems in Mamaroneck.


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