But what’s really behind Cohen’s campaign? Is he just an interested local resident or is there more behind the push. It turns out Cohen only moved to the area a few weeks ago, and should have been well aware that he was moving near the site of a potential sports bubble. In addition, Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner claims that Cohen’s lobbying efforts are being funded by a competitive company, House of Sports, that is planning to open a similar sports facility in Ardsley, less than 3 miles away.
We emailed Cohen and asked him directly about his affiliation with House of Sports and the motivation behind his campaign and here is a copy of his reply;
“I am not affiliated with or supported by the House of Sports although I do know them. I have recently moved here after a messy divorce, I am creating a nice second home environment for my children with space to live and play. I feel that the Game On 365 organization are meerly creating a smoke screen to take your mind off of this entirely scandalous lease debocle. Rent AND taxes that are way to low.
My objections are very clear as detailed in my many many emails, letters, mailings and print ads. This is just the wrong proposal for the wrong site. They are paying $1.32 per square foot and re-selling it at $40, fourty dollars, doesn't that in its very self raise a flag? Aren't the town under pricing it? I'd say so. Just for one!!
In defense of the deal, Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner recently sent Scarsdale 10583 the letter below and asked us to post it on the site. He believes that Cohen has sent out misleading information and here is Feiner’s version of the story:
A lot of misleading and wrong information about the town's plans for Frank's nursery has been sent to residents from a company that is planning to build another sports facility in the area. The company, House of Sports, has funded a very expensive opposition campaign against the sports bubble because they don't want competition. I have received many calls and emails from residents wanting to know what is going on. Members of the Greenburgh Town Board have decided to start our meeting on Wednesday evening July 25 at 6:30 PM (an hour earlier) at Town Hall to provide the public with the opportunity to learn more about the proposal and to ask questions.
The proposed lease with Game On is for 15 years. The town will receive a minimum of $260,000 a year in revenue. After three years the revenues increase to $300,000 a year. And-the revenues escalate to $330,000 by the end of the 15 years. In addition, Game On will help the town cleanup a contaminated site ---they have agreed to pay $100,000 for the cleanup. The town factored the taxes into the rent. If the costs of the cleanup are excessive both the town and Game On have the right to back off from the lease. We have compared the revenues we are receiving to rent other localities that have sports bubbles in their communities receive. The town is generating much more revenue from our proposed agreement with Game On that neighboring localities. For example: Mt Vernon is receiving $65,000 a year. Armonk is guaranteed $134,900 Even with the taxes deducted from the rent, the rent payments we receive will be above market value.
In addition to the above, the town will benefit because we're getting more improvements to town land. Game on's construction costs will be site enhancements, utilities, septic, landscaping, paving, drainage, lighting on property owned by the town. At the end of the 15 years it's our property!
Some people have asked: how did Game On become the preferred tenant for this property. Last year, after the town took ownership of the property due to a foreclosure, we had a community meeting at Frank's. A number of proposals for the property were discussed. Neighbors objected to many of them. We put up a big sign outside of Frank's inviting people/businesses to submit proposals. I located letters that I sent to the Westchester County Board of Realtors and the Construction Industry Council of Westchester (letters were dated August 10) requesting that they circulate the RFP to their members. I also sent out notices about the RFP to newspapers, blogs, social media contacts, etc... We received three bids. Two bids were to purchase the property- the Sports Bubble was the third bid. Property values are not at the high point right now. We decided that leasing the land was best for the town. In 15 years we probably will get a few million dollars more for the property. And we're getting almost $5 million during the life of the contract. In addition, at the end of the lease we will own a clean site-something we don't own. We currently are paying over $50,000 a year in taxes to the school district, county and fire districts-and getting nothing in return.
Will there be traffic? A traffic study will be conducted as part of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). The Westchester Field House is an ideal project for the area since the majority of its business will occur during off-peak traffic hours; after school, during the evening, and on weekends. Also, as an indoor sports facility, the busiest season will be winter. During the winter, all neighboring properties (Westchester Golf Range, Elmwood Country Club, Rumbrook Park, Carlson's Nursery) have very little traffic, if any.
The Westchester Field House will have more parking than is required by code.
The process for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) has started for the site and meets New York State requirements. The Town of Greenburgh has declared itself the lead agency as the owner of the property.
In comparison to similar commercial land leases, the lease payments are above market value.
Instead of selling the property in a depressed market, the Town board opted for a 15 year land lease which will generate close to $5,000,000 for the Town. The financial benefits to the Town include retaining ownership of a valuable property while receiving annual income that far exceeds any potential tax it would receive from selling the property.
As is standard with a land lease, Game On 365 will begin paying full rent upon the issuance of building approvals. Full approvals are anticipated within one year.
Game On 365 has agreed to pay for the Phase II environmental study. If any remediation is required, Game On 365 will spend up to $250,000 to clean up the site without the Town incurring any out of pocket expense.
The Westchester Field House is a multi-sport training facility with turf fields for activities and clinics where kids will be supervised by trainers, coaches and parents at all times.
Game On partners have more than 15 years of experience operating similar successful recreational facilities in Bergen County, New Jersey. Both the Soccer Coliseum in Teaneck and Superdome Sports in Waldwick are operated by Game On partners.
An attractive amenities building will replace the current dilapidated Franks Nursery. This building will sit in front of the dome substantially improving the overall visual impact from Dobbs Ferry Road.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor
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