The Northern Westchester Examiner

Funding Sought/Received for New Highway Garage, Depot Square

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Funding to relocate the town’s highway garage and construct a mixed use commercial and residential building in its place took center stage in Yorktown last week.

On Thursday at Yorktown Town Hall, state Senator Terrence Murphy (R/Yorktown) returned to his old stomping ground to hand elated Supervisor Michael Grace a $375,000 check to assist the town with building a new highway garage on Greenwood Street.

“It’s great having a friend in Albany,” said Grace, who has been touting the plan to consolidate the highway and parks departments on Greenwood Street to make room for a development dubbed Depot Square as a lynchpin to rejuvenating the downtown area of Yorktown.

“We want to make sure this doesn’t cost the taxpayers of the town anything, and this is part of it,” Grace continued. “We have to look at revitalizing the whole Front Street. You need a draw; you need the ‘wow’ factor. This is the ‘wow’ factor.”

Murphy, a former town councilman who served when the Depot Square project was first introduced, maintained Depot Square was the type of development that can help New York State improve its current dismal ranking of being 49th in the nation in being “business-friendly.”

“These are the little things we can do to make a stamp in municipalities,” Murphy said. “These are the things that make our communities a great place to live.”

Two days earlier, the Yorktown Town Board held a public hearing during a work session on applying to the state for a $500,000 grant that would be used to demolish the existing 60-year-old highway garage.

If Yorktown were to receive the grant, it would have to commit $50,000. Estimates to build a new garage have ranged from $2 million to $4.8 million, which prompted several speakers to question seeking the grant and leaving the public guessing as to the real cost.

“I have no clue what this project is going to cost,” said 50-year Yorktown resident Dan Strauss. “If you’re going to get $500,000 that’s a good thing but that’s only part of the picture. That’s only for the demolition.”

Former councilwoman and supervisor Susan Siegel contended applying for the grant was “a waste of time” and criticized the board for its lack of transparency on the grant and the project.

“The public is being asked to comment on something they know nothing about,” Siegel said. “We have no idea what the size of the building is being proposed. The town’s application doesn’t seem very competitive. They are looking for projects that are shovel-ready.”

Former Councilman Tony Grasso applauded the board for its plans and agreed with Grace that it could be done at little cost to taxpayers.

“Let’s get this project going so we can get this town back to where it should be,” Grasso said. “As I follow the numbers this project is good for the town.”

Grace has maintained he has several developers already interested in Depot Square and the sale of the highway garage site will cover the costs of all expenses involved.

The board voted unanimously to apply for the grant, but Councilman Vishnu Patel, who has been obtaining signatures opposed to moving the garage, said the site was contaminated and he expressed skepticism on it being sold for an adequate price.

“The project is a good project if you do it right,” Patel said. “This has to be done right by the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) and make it safe. Why don’t you sell the site as it is? Sell it as is and I’m with you. If something goes wrong, what are you going to do?”




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