WESTHELP CLOSES...NEGOATING LEASE WITH FERNCLIFF (DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED HOUSING)
Release Date: October 03, 2011
WESTHELP HOMELESS SHELTER CLOSES AFTER 20 YEARS....
TOWN TO LOSE $1.2 MILLION A YEAR IN RENT AFTER WESTCHESTER CANCELS CONTRACT WITH WESTHELP...
WE ARE NEGOTIATING A LONG TERM LEASE WITH FERNCLIFF MANOR. ANTICIPATE ABOUT ONE MILLION A YEAR IN RENT IF AGREEMENT IS FINALIZED...
On Friday, September 30th a 20 year partnership between Westchester County, WESTHELP and Greenburgh came to an end. Last year the Westchester County Executive announced plans to close down WESTHELP--the transitional facility that served the homeless population. WESTHELP was located on a six acre county property adjacent to Westchester Community College. The organization, which provides transitional services to the homeless, was started by Andrew Cuomo--when his father was Governor.
During the past twenty years WESTHELP has helped hundreds of families transition from homeless to productive members of the community. Over the years I have received very few complaints from residents who lived near the homeless facility.
At the time WESTHELP was built the county agreed to turn over the property to the town after the original lease expired. The town can collect rent for 30 years and acts as a landlord for the property. After the first 10 lease expired WESTHELP paid the town $1.2 million a year in rent. It was a win-win situtation. WESTHELP continued to serve the homeless population in Greenburgh and our taxpayers benefitted from the rental income. We had worked out an agreement with the civic association and Valhalla school district to give some of the income to the school district. That was found improper by the State Comptroller. Now that WESTHELP is not serving the homeless population the town stands to lose $1.2 million a year--money that was used to keep taxes lower in both the unincoporated section of the town and the villages.
The town needs the revenue from Westhelp. We are currently negotiating a new sublease agreement for the remaining lease term with a not for profit organization that is Westchester based that would provide housing and educational services for approximately 35 develomentally disabled children and adults. We had issued a request for proposals for the use of the property earlier this year. There was some interest in the property from colleges (for college dorms), veterans (to house veterans on the property) and affordable housing organizations (low income/affordable housing). Ferncliff indicated to the town if we leased the property to them that they would be able to pay the town close to one million a year. They would provide housing and educational services for 35 developmentally disabled children and adults.
We have been negotiating with Ferncliff Manor for a number of months. They need state approvals and also need county approval to extend the terms of the master lease and modification of lease provisions limiting the property's use to low income housing. We have been discussing Ferncliff's needs with the county regarding modifications to the master lease and expect to receive a decision soon. We believe there is a good chance that an agreement will be reached.
As of September 30th we are no longer receiving any rental income from Westhelp or from the county. We hope to finalize a rental agreement with Ferncliff soon so we can start receiving the rent that is needed by the town. The following is a summary of the mission statement, philosophy and history of Ferncliff Manor, an organization that has a very good reputation in the county.
I hope to welcome Ferncliff to our town soon. The campus setting will provide the developmentally disabled with a great quality of life.
MISSION STATEMENT OF FERNCLIFF MANOR (from their website)
Sail (The School for Adaptive & Integrative Learning) at Ferncliff Manor is an organization dedicated to meeting the needs of people with developmental disabilities, their families and the community utilizing research-based, adaptive and integrative strategies. Services provided include educational, rehabilitative, specialized residential, health care, creative arts therapies and recreation programs. The mission of our organization is to enable each individual to learn, develop and enjoy a meaningful and personally rewarding life.
Our Students Receive Close Personal Attention, Structure and Stimulation in a Safe Environment That Fosters Growth and Development!
Sail (The School for Adaptive & Integrative Learning) at Ferncliff Manor provides a full range of high quality educational, therapeutic and health care services to children with developmental disabilities offering close personal attention, structure and stimulation in a safe, secure environment that fosters growth and development. We believe that the combination of professional expertise, teamwork, concentrated effort, and nurturing care is the key to success with each child.
Utilizing a family-centered approach to designing and implementing the child’s program, we recognize the primacy of the family-child unit and regard our role as supportive in nature. Parents and family members play a central role in the educational and therapeutic effort and are assisted in the process of exercising their right of self-determination. An ongoing exchange of ideas and information between staff and family serves to preserve and enrich the family unit.
A Valentine Love Story with a Tradition of Excellence into the 21st Century
Founded in New Rochelle, NY in 1935 by Margaret Brady, RN. Ferncliff Manor was one of the first private schools to specialize in the care and treatment of individuals with developmental disabilities. Upon its opening Margaret Brady had no way of knowing that through Ferncliff Manor she would meet her future husband and start a tradition of excellence that has continued for more than 70 years. It all began with a chance meeting. Bill Saich was sent to inspect her residence and school on Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t long after that first meeting that he returned, not to inspect the school, but to take Miss Brady out on a date. The rest, as they say, is history. Each Valentine’s Day, Bill Saich sent his wife a dozen long-stemmed red roses to commemorate their anniversary.
Margaret Brady Saich’s legacy continues through her son William Saich, Jr. and his wife Patricia who have operated the school since the summer of 1972.
Over the years, Ferncliff Manor’s mission has remained constant in providing an individualized program of superior services and nurturing care that will enable each of our students to achieve an optimum level of independence and self-esteem. This commitment to our students has kept us at the forefront of innovation, assuring them of the most current technological advances and in seeking the most appropriate strategies to meet their needs. With over 70 years of solid experience, Ferncliff Manor offers a truly unique environment and a dynamic rehabilitative effort.