During the May regular meeting of the Somers Town Board, county legislators Michael Kaplowitz (D-Somers) and Peter Harckham (D-Bedford) suggested that building affordable housing could be a way for the town to get legacy funds to build ball fields. This came after Councilman Richard Clinchy asked what Somers would have to do to get Legacy ball fields like those recently completed in Yorktown.
“I noticed that to their credit Yorktown has the Legacy field,” Clinchy said. “Is there a way for Somers to get them as well? We have a shortage of fields like everybody knows. What would have to happen for use to get involved in that?”
“There is a need in Somers for that,” acknowledged Kaplowitz. However he added, “The legacy projects that have been going on for about a decade as we know them are done. They are done because economic times have changed. They are done because I do not believe that the current county executive supports that kind of project and I don’t think that for some time we will be seeing investments in those kinds of projects.”
Nevertheless Kaplowitz said that the town may have an opportunity to get assistance in building fields by participating in the Fair Affordable Housing Settlement. “If Somers stepped up and said that workforce housing was something it needed and could meet the definition in conjunction with some other housing alike I would push the point hard,” he said. “That would be something you would lobby for as a group and we will help you with that and we will try to bring some legacy money for consideration for doing that kind of housing.”
Kaplowitz described it as a “quid pro quo.” “If in fact this fair affordable housing could go in certain communities,” he said. “It would be a further consideration on ways of getting legacy funds and other investments. That is the only opportunity I see in this environment. It is an opportunity to bring in some money and then maybe we could have some partnership. Yorktown fields worked because Yorktown did the sweat equity. We brought hard dollars and together that is really how the project worked.”
“It was made clear, at a meeting I went to, that no discretionary funding was available from the county unless certain acts in connection with the requirement of the federal housing settlement,” stated Murphy.
“Housing has always been a component for legacy money,” contended Harckham. “It may not have been exclusively a component, but there has always been an affordable housing component and sometimes there was an infrastructure component. It has not necessarily changed but they types of housing in the formula have changed.”
“If it is something that is valuable to Somers, I will say that communities that have stepped up and have built affordable housing in their communities are not being overrun by these units,” noted Kaplowitz. “We are talking 10s and 20s not 100s of units and the communities are very open to it because the ability for people to live there is simply based on their income.”
“We already have several projects in the hopper,” stated Murphy. “They are going to start occupying the development on Route 6.”
“Then let’s link Legacy to that,” urged Kaplowitz. “If you do it five years from now and the county is closer to its 750 units the money may not be available because there would be no need to sweeten the pot. If you get in early operators are standing on the other end on duty and you could get in now and perhaps benefit from by us bringing some ball fields here.”
Somers is one of 31 communities listed in the Fair Affordable Housing Settlement.