Could a Tax Exemption for Sheldrake Nature Preserve Become Part of a Deal to Add a Leaf Transfer Station and Salt Dome in the North End of New Rochelle?

Time to read
13 minutes
Read so far

Could a Tax Exemption for Sheldrake Nature Preserve Become Part of a Deal to Add a Leaf Transfer Station and Salt Dome in the North End of New Rochelle?

July 10, 2012 - 14:50


Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak wants the school district to give Larchmont a $38,000 a year tax exemption on property that makes up most of the Sheldrake Nature Preserve. Giving Larchmont a tax exemption on the property is a pure giveaway with no identified benefit to New Rochelle. The only justification offered by Mr. Organisciak is that, years ago, the City and Library, gave a similar tax exemption to Larchmont.

The actual value of $38,000 a year, every year, in perpetuity, is over a million dollars, not just $38,000. And the value of the tax exemption will go up every year, reaching over $65,000 a year in 30 years. This is a major transaction and ought to be more carefully considered.

It seems like maybe there is a deal to be made here, akin to a three-team trade in baseball.

The preserve is almost entirely in New Rochelle but owned by Larchmont. New Rochelle residents have restricted access to the preserve. There is a summer camp held there but New Rochelle residents are charged extra and can only attend if there are no applicants from Larchmont/Mamaroneck.

The land in question is Parcel 6-2310-001 or 46.85 acres of "water supply" property and a smaller adjacent property.

Parcel 6 2310 001 1

Parcel 6 2310 001 2

Larchmont also owns a third parcel in New Rochelle, on Pinebrook near the Hutch ramp (Parcel 7-3097-001).

Parcel 7 3097 001

Parcel 7-3097-001 would be the swing man in a "three-team deal".

Parcel 7-3097-001 is 1.46 acres along Pinebrook near the Fire House on Stratton.

It is not clear why Larchmont would own a piece of property off the Hutch that is in New Rochelle and closer to Scarsdale than Larchmont. That interesting story is yet to be told but we will set that aside for now.

If we are going to give Larchmont $38,000 a year in perpetuity maybe a better deal for New Rochelleans is to swap the tax exemption for the parcel near the Hutch, Parcel 7-3097-001.

The Republicans on City Council have been, for years, pushing the idea of having a leaf transfer station and salt storage facility in the North End of New Rochelle. The Democrats on City Council have always opposed putting anything in the North End except the fire house. The topic is up for discussion today.

Parcel 7-3097-001 is long and narrow but could perhaps be assigned to DPW to build a salt dome and leaf transfer station as part of the planning of a move of the City Yard to Beechmont Avenue. There is always an issue that the property at Beechmont is too small and is at the far end of New Rochelle with no direct access to the North End except through crowded neighborhood streets.

Pinebrook Stratton

More efficient road salting and snow removal directly benefits the school district as the winter roads are cleared better and faster so school buses can get around safely. Parents and children benefit as well, especially parents who live within 1.5 miles of their children's school and must drive their children to school each day. As the Superintendent is willing to give away the money for nothing, any benefit is better than no benefit.

The City and Library can remove the tax exemption at any time.

So, here's the idea for a deal.

What if New Rochelle governments, as a whole, stepped back from what the City and Library already did to date and offer Larchmont a package deal: in exchange for a permanent tax exemption on the two Sheldrake properties, Larchmont transfers Parcel 7-3097-001 to New Rochelle.

In effect we are buying from a Larchmont a piece of land that is utterly useless to Larchmont, they get free rent on their nature center, no money changes hands and DPW has a place to put a Salt Dome and Leaf Transfer station for free.

The location seems ideal if it is not too narrow -- it is on a primary/snow emergency road, near the fire house, partially under the Hutch and would have minimal impact on the few homeowners in the immediate area. There are only a few houses there some of which are blocked by a screen of trees, the homes are already at a section of Pinebrook between two busy roads (Stratton as the way to Scarsdale and the Hutch). A leaf transfer station is mostly used during the fall leaf pick up and the salt dome only used during winter storms.

A satellite leaf transfer station and salt dome on Pinebrook near Stratton road but tucked around and under the Hutch on-ramp would be unobtrusive and reduce the 10 mile round-trips for snow and leaf removal. This would cut down on fuel and equipment costs in the fall and winter. It would cut down on labor costs. It would reduce CO2 emissions. The salt dome would also partially reduce the annual 35% loss of salt that occur each year. It also lessens the burden on the proposed DPW yard on Beechwood Avenue and reduces street traffic in area of New Rochelle that is, according to traffic studies of the area, already graded "unacceptable" by traffic engineers.

This idea will allow New Rochelle to benefit in many ways: we realize an actual value for the tax exemption granted to Larchmont for Sheldrake, the City saves money, winter roads are cleared faster, and the entire idea is the very definition of being "green" (helping the nature preserve, reducing carbon emissions, etc.)

The question boils down to whether Noam wants to put his money where his mouth is on "green" or whether "green" mean keeping the North End "green" by keeping all services and equipment south of Eastchester Road?

This "three-man trade" with Larchmont might then set the stage for a compromise on the proposed Beechmont Yard and, in turn, pave them way for a deal on Echo Bay and the Armory. The North End is going to have to have some skin in the game if they are going to ask the South End to support a Beechwood Avenue site for the City Yard. This deal may just provide a path towards that?

Or am I wrong? Tell me what I missed.

RELATED: SIGN THIS PETITION PLEASE: You Can Save Our School System $38,000 A Year

There are 18 Comments

How much would it cost to maintain and, more important, insure this addition to DPW. It would be vacant during much of the year and be a magnet to the children in the immediate area for mayhem and mischief. A current councilman talks how he used to ride dirtbikes at the Beechwood location years ago.

Has the large Driveway behind the Pinebrook/ Stratton Road Firehouse ever been considered for a satelite DPW area?

Robert Cox's picture


I wrote "a place to put a Salt Dome and Leaf Transfer station for free".

Note the phrase "a place to put".

I did not say the converting the space to a satellite DPW location would be free but that this parcel along Pinebrook, acquired under a swap as proposed, would give the DPW a place to put the facility at no cost to the City.

The City spent several million dollars on 3 acres on Beechmont, under I-95. Getting 1.5 acres or property in the North End of New Rochelle at a net cost to the City of zero dollars strikes me as a good deal by comparison.

This also resolves the most oft-repeated objection I have heard to a North End DPW Satellite facility -- that it would be in Ward Acres. My children have attended both Ward School (across the street) and Albert Leonard (just down the road a ways) and I can understand why there might be objections to using Ward Acres. This solution entails a location along Pinebrook near the on-ramp to the Hutch, far from Ward Acres.

Many North End residents might reflexively balk at this idea but I would encourage them to consider the cost savings (lower taxes), the improved service and reduction in greenhouse gases that would follow from this solution.

I do not believe there is a large cost to building a leaf transfer station -- clearing the trees and otherwise making space. I have no idea what a salt dome would cost but if they simply dumped salt in a pile it would be no different than what they have been doing for many years at the CIty Yard. Whatever the cost, I would prefer they incorporate the cost of the satellite DPW facility into the proposed bond they intend to do for the Beechwood site.

I might also note that in the original specifications for an alternative DPW yard location, there minimum size was 4.0 acres. The City bought 3 acres at Beechwood Avenue. This was justified on the basis that the City would buy or lease an additional 1.5 acres from the New York State Thruway Authority. That deal never happened. To some extent a satellite facility would make up the difference from the original plan.

You omitted alot. Is the area stable for multi- ton Trucks or will it need to be stabilized?

Lighting - It doesn't only snow in the daytime so the facility would need to have electric service installed in order to be lit. The facility would have to be lit all year for security/ insurance reasons, not just in the winter for the crews there performing night time operations.

Drainage - once the area is cleared where will the weather run off go to? More costs and long term maintenance

The Firehouse site can already handle large trucks and has electric service which would only need to be altered for the DPW purposes.

There are too mnay additional costs for what? Saving a few gallons of gas 3 times per year when it snows? Totally not cost effective for that. I understand sparing the residents near Beechwood during leaf pickup time but again, are the costs worth it?

Robert Cox's picture


Of course, doing a feasibility study makes sense. Certainly there are costs to be determined before proceeding with building a satellite location for a North End DPW Yard and I would support the idea of evaluating other viable locations including the area around the Stratton Road Fire House or whatever else makes sense.

My article is first and foremost about discouraging the idea that the school district should exempt Larchmont from paying taxes on the parcels at Sheldrake to the tune of $38,000 a year (and growing) with a total net present value in excess of $1 mm.

I am not aware of any effort by the City to determine the costs/savings available from servicing the North End from a satellite facility for leaf transfer and road salt.

I would not agree that the savings would amount to "a few gallons of gas 3 times per year ". There is really no point in debating this topic at this time because it is knowable based on a study and so we can just wait and see if such a study is done. My understanding is that Council Member Tarantino intends to ask for this very thing, today.

I am really offering two ideas here: (1) if we are giving Larchmont these tax exemptions then let's find something they can give to us that has value to us and none to them. The parcel on Pinebrook fits the bill but I would consider other ideas; (2) if we get the land we have to find a use for it and it is not really "developable" so a City use like a satellite DPW facility may make sense.

Can we at least agree that giving Larchmont about a million dollars worth of tax breaks and getting nothing in return is not a good idea.

.....Upon Further Review...
Half of the Parcel is between the Entrance Ramp to the Hutch Parkway and the Parkway itself and then continues to the other side of the Parkway. You omitted that as well. There is no way that part of it will be developed for anything.

The balance is too small for anything like this sort of facility. It would have to be set back from the Road so far that there's no tnearly enough property.

Robert Cox's picture


If you review the article you will see that I provided maps. I did not "omit" that the parcel runs under the Hutch. I specifically mentioned that and provided the property portal map which clearly indicates that.

I am struggling to understand your point and your purpose. Maybe you could help me understand you better by addressing a few points:

Do you support the idea of the BoE giving Larchmont a tax exemption on the Sheldrake Property? Are you OK with the BoE doing this without getting anything in return?

Do you support the idea of a North End DPW facility, generally? If not, would you if a study showed cost saving that would equal or outweigh the costs of a North End DPW facility?

The parcel does not run 'under the Hutch'. It is fractured by the parkway itself and then again by the entrance ramp. So more than half is not usable unless there is major changes to the Parkway which will not happen. The balance is then a thin strip of land which in no way is suitable. It seems you're flailing to make things work in your land deal/ baseball analogy. BTW - how 'bout that NL last night!

A satelite DPW site is not cost effective if only used for leaves and to hold salt unless it is placed on existing city property. Studies do not sway me, a study, really? Don't you writetime and time again how the city wastes money on studies. Guess it's OK if it's for your own home baked kakameme ideas...

Robert Cox's picture

So, you are not disputing that I did not omit a description of the parcel, right? As I included the property portal page for the parcel? You are also not addressing the two questions I asked and really you are being argumentative for the sake of being argumentative. This is about all I can see that you have been doing on this site since the name SlickWheat first appeared.

Obviously you are not willing to be convinced of anything so there is no real point that I can see in attempting to respond further. It has become clear that you have your own agenda which has nothing to do with whether or not it would make sense to try and get something from Larchmont in exchange for a perpetual tax abatement on the parcels that compromise or whether a land swap might be worth considering or whether there ought to be a satellite DPW facility in the North End or whether the parcel owned by Larchmont might be utilized for that purpose in some way.

In other words you are troll, coming onto the site, as I recall because you were upset about criticism of the Honda Dealership and have apparently decided that the way to respond to the criticism is to be as disruptive as possible. That's fine. I have been doing this for over a decade and dealt with trolls many times and will deal with you within the site policy.

Your account has been suspended for one week. You can request reinstatement on July 18, 2012.

This would be a great idea. Instead of just giving tax money away they get something usable for it.
That said I do not think Strome or most of the Dems on the City Council would accept your idea to put themselves out if they were on fire. And you could probably double the sentiment down at the NRED.
Thus Making sense makes no sense.
The thing about leaves is that in a few short months they go from being a liability to an asset, while salt is a needed evil that nobody would not want on their icy roads.
Too bad the idea will be deemed stupid and divisive from your keyboard.
I like the idea however.

$38k is but a small drop in the bucket that's New Rochelle's sink hole. Charge Larchmont $38,000 and they should be able to figure a way to sock it back to New Rochelle and I'd imagine the cost would be more than the $38,000 we gain. It's never black & white and usually a shade of gray. One gains while another loses.

Why focus on more money? Expenses are NR's problem. There's plenty of money, they just need to spend it correctly, which of course they don't.

Robert Cox's picture


You understand the concept of Net Present Value right? Like if you have a lottery ticket and you take the cash option. They tell you that you won $10 million but if you take the cash option you get maybe $3.7 million. Why? Because they take that $10 million, divide it up into 20 annual payments so that you are getting $500,000 every year for each year starting now. Those payments are called "future cash flows" and the total value of all of them combined TODAY can be determined by discounting those cash flows. You would discount them (i.e. reduce them) based on some assumption about interest rates. This works in reverse. You can take a series of future cash flows like this $38,000 and add them up out into the future. In this example for 5 five years.

If you get $38,000 a year for 5 years that would be...

Year 1 $38,000
Year 2 $38,000
Year 3 $38,000
Year 4 $38,000
Year 5 $38,000

The total is $190,000

But due to the time value of money (interest rates) that last payment is not worth $38,000 in today's dollars. It is maybe worth $36,000.

Push that out 30 years... and that same $38,000 adds up to be $1,140,000 total but you then reduce that by some discount rate (3% or 4% or whatever) so that total after 30 years is a bit below $1mm.

In this case however, you can argue for no discount rate at all because the taxes will go up every year. It will not be $38,000 a year every year. If taxes keep going up as they have then in Year 30 the taxes on the property would be more around $65,000.

There is not exact figure and is based on various assumptions but it is in the ball park of $1 mm.

It ain't $38,000.

In a district with an annual budget over $235 million, the amounts you're talking about are very insignificant.

Over 30 years (at today's budget) that's over $7 billion dollars. Compared to $7 billion, $1 million looks small, doesn't it?

Robert Cox's picture

On what basis do you believe that your should evaluate the decision to give a tax exemption to Larchmont based on the total size of the budget? I fail to see the logic.

Last time I checked is $1 million is still $1 million dollars.

It's still a very small part of the budget, but you think somehow its bigger, that's why its important. $38k is $38k & the budget is $235 million (all in today's money), how is that a big slice of the pie? Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill!

Today’s money is tomorrow’s savings. That $38K is one job saved each year or a City Sponsored Event like the parade or fireworks. It all adds up. What doesn’t add up is why the people we pay don’t see these things. It is time for the city to get on track and start making smart decisions or there will be no money to manage. New Rochelle can’t afford to let even the small pieces of pie get away.

How is that a big slice of the pie? If I had all of the slices of pie this city has given away or sold below cost, I could open up a bakery. Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill? I would rather climb a mountain then try to get rid of a mole hill. Once you get one mole they turn your yard into their own community. Ever try to get rid of moles or any other type of rodent pest. It’s not easy. Maybe The City could learn something from the moles. No, because moles can’t see in the light and New Rochelle can’t see the light of day.

It’s time to change our pest control system!

Robert Cox's picture


Fifth is just being silly and attempting to be provocative. We are not talking about spending $38,000 a year in perpetuity (ie, a million dollars in net present value), we are talking about GIVING AWAY that money.

It's a no brainer, you do not give away money for nothing, especially when it is not your money to give.

I'm actually very serious. There's really NO point in having 1 town/city/village/county tax another.

And again I hate to break it to you, but $38k really isn't that much money in a $235 million budget. I don't know why you don't realize that 1/100th of a percent is a small number. That's .000162 of the budget, why do you keep insisting that this is somehow a huge amount of money?

You guys show how clueless you are by chasing these things. And in Bob's math he likes to look at 30 years worth of exemptions to claim we're giving away $1 million but he neglects to realize that over the same period of time the district will spend well over $7 billion.