(New City, New York) – Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann announced a historic agreement to purchase the Rockland Country Day School campus for $4.4 million. The agreement, which will be voted on by the town council later this month, will add an additional 20.5 acres of public land adjacent to the town-owned 33.5 acre Kings Park.
At the announcement, Supervisor Hoehmann stated: “I have made preserving, protecting and enhancing Clarkstown’s quality of life my number one priority. A key part of that goal is identifying opportunities to purchase lands that could be used to preserve open space or provide more opportunities for our residents to enjoy increased access to parks and other recreational activities. Today’s announcement with Rockland Country Day School is another step in protecting Clarkstown from overdevelopment while providing our residents the public amenities they demand and deserve.”
The town will initially finance the cost of the acquisition through bonding, but will utilize outside funding sources to pay the bonds quickly and at a cost that is as revenue neutral to taxpayers as possible. A significant portion of the $3.9 million allocated to Clarkstown by the Champlain Hudson Power Express Haverstraw Bay Community Benefit Fund will be used for the purchase. In addition, Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, Jr. has secured $200,000 in state funding to defray the cost of purchase.
Rockland Country Day School was established in 1959 as a Pre-K through Grade 12 school. RCDS has a current enrollment of 110 students. Kimberly Morcate, Head of School for Rockland Country Day School, said of the sale: “While we have enjoyed this pastoral campus for many years, the cost of maintaining a campus of this size places a considerable strain on our budget. The opportunity to eliminate debt while charting a new course for the next 60 years is an opportunity we welcome. We look forward to continuing to serve the wonderful children of Rockland County and surrounding communities by providing them with an RCDS education, which has a long, proud tradition of inclusion, the celebration of individuality, and an innovative spirit.”
The town and RCDS are engaged in discussions to enter into an agreement for the school to lease a portion of the campus from the town while the school seeks a new home.
The 20.5-acre campus was originally a working farm, which has served as a unique setting for RCDS students. The campus contains three academic buildings, an art studio building, a cottage, STEAM Lab, several ball fields, a gymnasium, an organic garden and open space.
Councilman Pete Bradley (Congers), who represents the area applauded the deal, stating: “This agreement is a wonderful opportunity for the town and local residents to develop a vision for the campus that will be enjoyed by generations of Clarkstown residents. I applaud Rockland Country Day School for keeping the interests of the immediate community in mind as they contemplated this move.”
Gerry O’Rourke, President of the Congers Civic Association echoed Councilman Bradley’s sentiment: “The members of the Congers Civic Association have always considered RCDS a great neighbor. I look forward to working with Supervisor Hoehmann, Councilman Bradley and the other members of the town council in fostering community involvement in the design of future plans for the campus. This is a logical extension of the town’s existing property and a firm commitment to maintaining control over this environmentally sensitive and historic land.”
Today’s announcement is the third acquisition Clarkstown has made since 2016. Working in conjunction with the Sisters of Marydell and The Trust for Public Land, the Village of Upper Nyack and New York State Parks and Recreation, Clarkstown invested $300,000 in February 2017 to preserve and expand Hook Mountain Park by 30 acres, extending the Long Path, connecting it with the Hudson River Valley Greenway at Nyack Beach State Park. In addition, the town announced the purchase of 4.3 acres of land from St. Peter’s Syro-Malankara Catholic Church in November 2017 to preserve wetlands that will create a trailhead and parking area adjacent to the county-owned Mountainview Nature Park.
Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (D), who secured an allocation of $200,000 for this purchase said, “I am pleased to be able to partner with Supervisor Hoehmann to help secure state funding to aid in the purchase of this lovely campus and look forward to the opportunity to further help in making it a destination for the people of Clarkstown to enjoy.”
“In order to maintain Clarkstown’s status as a great community to live and raise a family in, we will continue to explore opportunities like the one we have announced today in all corners of this town,” said Deputy Supervisor Frank Borelli (New City), adding “I look forward to working with all interested parties in seeing that this land is used to the maximum benefit of our residents.”
Councilman Don Franchino (Nanuet) expressed support for the purchase agreement, saying “For myself and the other council members, this is a great example of the good that comes with fostering a strong relationship with the educational, cultural and civic organizations around the town. We will continue to identify many more opportunities to partner with others in developing programs and services that serve our seniors and youth.”
Councilmember Patrick Carroll (Bardonia) saw an immediate benefit to the purchase: “With the demand for athletic fields at near-capacity, this agreement comes at a fortuitous time. This acquisition immediately Increases access to sports and other programs that will keep our youth engaged in healthy habits. This is also a golden opportunity to make a long-term investment in our parks and recreation department and add to our open space.”
The acquisition of the property requires the town council to approve two resolutions at its meeting on January 23rd. One resolution authorizes the town to pay for the already completed appraisal of the campus. A second resolution authorizes the town to purchase the campus for general municipal purposes, subject to an environmental review required by state law. The town is expected to close on the sale of the property later this Spring.
Supervisor Hoehmann expects that the town council will adopt both resolutions unanimously. “This is just one in a series of announcements that we will make when it comes to the future use of this property. At a time when politics can seem hopelessly divisive, it is a source of pride that we worked together in a bipartisan manner and with other levels of government to achieve a common, historic goal–namely, to preserve and protect an important asset for the future of Clarkstown”