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Government & Politics
Greenburgh News

Residents, Officials Rip Report on Edgemont Incorporation

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March 21, 2024

By Rick Pezzullo—

Residents and town officials crammed into Greenburgh Town Hall Wednesday to rip a draft report from a consulting firm retained to study the financial ramifications of the hamlet of Edgemont becoming Greenburgh’s seventh incorporated village.

The Center for Government Research (CGR) was hired by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins reportedly for about $100,000. Last year, Stewart Cousins, who has represented Greenburgh and Edgemont since 2007, introduced a Chapter Amendment in Albany that would allow the close to 8,000 Edgemont residents to vote on incorporating as a separate village with its own government and elected officials.

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In January, the Greenburgh Town Board adopted a resolution hiring former state Supreme Court Justice Peter Sherwood to oppose the bill, which amended the 140-year-old Village Law that was created when most of the town’s unincorporated area was farmland.

“I’m staunchly concerned about a village that wants to separate,” said Bishop Wilbert Preston of Christ Temple Church in White Plains. “Voter separation is still alive in the State of New York on something that will impact our lives.”

The Edgemont Incorporation Committee (EIC), a small group of residents that has been lobbying for Edgemont to become a village for seven years, submitted petitions in 2017 and 2019 that were defeated in court by Greenburgh but has not filed any new petitions.

According to CGR, over the last 25 years, only three new villages have been formed in New York State. CGR estimated it would cost between $500,000 and $1.5 million for Edgemont to just get off the ground if it incorporated.

However, its annual overall government costs would be approximately $30.8 million.

Under state law, Edgemont would have to provide police services through Greenburgh. It would also have to work out a way to provide water to residents, since Greenburgh officials have indicated it would want Edgemont to split from the existing water district.

In addition, Greenburgh has said it would seek to divest from parks in Edgemont since it would no longer be able to afford supporting them. Parks affected would be the Greenburgh Nature Center, Cranes Pond and Cotswold Park.

“We serve all of Greenburgh. We have never had a focus on Edgemont,” said Jim Blann, treasurer of the Nature Center, who noted the non-profit facility draws 100,000 visitors annually, including 200 schools.

CGR projected if Edgemont went out on its own, Greenburgh would reduce its costs in all departments by 7%, but residents in Unincorporated Greenburgh would see a 5.6% tax increase.

“I’m concerned the town could be significantly hurt more,” said former Town Clerk Judith Beville.

“We’re talking about an enormous scope that could make the incorporation of Edgemont impossible,” said Mike Schwartz, a 30-year Edgemont resident.

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner and Councilwoman Gina Jackson criticized the data in CGR’s draft report, with others characterized as being “Edgemont-centric.”

“I’m very disappointed with this presentation. This does seem very one-sided,” Jackson said. “It doesn’t give the full picture.”

At a Greenburgh meeting in January, Stewart Cousins explained her rationale for proposing the Chapter Amendment, which she maintained was not targeted at Edgemont, but was designed “to fix a system statewide” and align New York with laws throughout the country.

CGR has until April 1 to submit a final report to New York State.

 

 

 

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