As a resident of Irvington, I often walk in the area of Wilson Park, where, as your September, 2007 article points out, the development of 14 homes are to be built.
As pointed out in that article, the Village of Tarrytown, in its June 25 "Findings Statement," has determined that the "Enhanced Park Plan" for this development is the preferred one and the findings conclude that the development "will not have a significant adverse impact on land use, zoning and public policy…" It saddens me that our definition of what constitutes an adverse impact on our community is so short-sighted.
Residents of the rivertowns share a tremendous duty and appreciation for the unique topography and history of the area. I can recall the day I inadvertently came upon this most beautiful landscape. When I stumbled upon the grassy hillside that is the yet-undeveloped area of Wilson Park, I was stunned by its natural beauty. I had to sit down to take it all in. The sloping hillsides and magnificent trees are reminiscent of the Hudson School of painting, a topography once ample in our environment and now so rarely seen in public spaces. With the rate of expansion going on in the Villages of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, this natural heritage, this gift we were so generously granted, will soon cease to exist. It saddens me that we see the construction of yet another group of large residences as a positive impact on our community. Do we really need more of them? Will people come from all over to see yet another housing development, as they do to take in the local history and natural beauty of our villages as they exist now? In 20, 30, 100 years, will these houses cause a person walking on the now-limited trailway to stop and catch her breath, startled by the sheer beauty of the scene? And while it is commendable that the proposed plan incorporates open space and a trailway easement, the current vista will surely change, and not, in my opinion, for the better.
There are other problematic practicalities as well. It is the homeowner who ultimately determines the character of bordering parklands, not the park itself. There are scant regulations that guide a homeowner on how to landscape the property, how to retain the natural beauty of the environment through carefully considered native plantings, etc. The study finds no impact on the surrounding lakes and sets a standard for use of non-phosphate fertilizers by the future homeowners as a way to minimize pollution from storm water runoff. The enforcement of such a program is unrealistic – does the Village have the resources to ensure compliance with these and other environmental standards?
It is simply tragic that we can’t see what we have in front of us, how our communities are enriched by their natural beauty, and that it is our natural resources that prevail, decade after decade, in setting our communities apart, giving them the character, quality of life and historic relevance that ensures their long term preservation.