Letter to the editor, May 9, 2019
Sandy Beach to be permanently flooded
This year, again, the floods are affecting the Hudson shoreline. The Sandy Beach residents are especially hit hard, even worse than 2017. It is now expected that water levels will rise more often during spring seasons. The Town Council has taken the right decision to prevent building new houses over the 100-year flood line.
However, Sandy Beach residents will nonetheless be flooded permanently in the years to come, not so much with water hopefully, but for certain with hundreds of news houses and cars deriving from the high density residential project, in which they will have no real say.
On April 30, citizens held a meeting to discuss what is known as the WillowBrook project, 100 plus houses.
Councillor Helen Kurgansky helped organize this meeting but only after it had been requested by citizens. Mayor Jamie Nicholls and DG Philip Toone were present with the developer Philippe Robert.
The latter answered most of the technical questions adequately. But early on, it became clear to most present that the Town Council representatives had no intention of obtaining citizens’ real input about the future development of the project.
The general frustration of citizens was the fact that the successive development plans voted on by Town Council were never available to citizens for comments. The Town Council has approved the project without ever obtaining a negative impact study on traffic (200 additional cars flooding Main Road and Bellevue daily), on long term infrastructure costs, nor consulting the citizens on how the forested area that make up the Hudson that we love would be protected.
Mr. Mayor and DG Toone’s answers were very comprehensible on that topic – the Town had no legal obligation to fully inform, nor consult, the citizens. Moreover, Town Council blamed the citizens for not voicing their concerns about the project during past meetings, notably last February and March, even though the important details of the project – meaning streets and lot layouts – are confidential and would not have been available for citizens to review. A perfectly circular reasoning.
During the April 30 meeting, citizens did get to see a draft of the plan and were invited to submit ideas for modifications, thanks to Mr. Robert's initiative. However, the plan will not be available to citizens who could not be present at the meeting, even though those citizens are also invited to submit proposals for modifications on a plan they will not see. Again, that circular reasoning.
All through the meeting, citizens flooded Mr. Mayor with legitimate questions about negative impact that remained unanswered for the most part. But in the end, the general consensus was echoed by two braves citizens, two women, who voiced their feelings of having been let down and sometimes bullied by the elected and administration officials who seem to manage this town like their private estate.
The handling of the WillowBrook Project sets a precedent.
Consequently, let it be known right now to Sandy Beach District citizens that in a coming spring they will be flooded with 300 new houses and much more cars that a dam of sand bags filled with evidenced negative impacts will not contain.