Around 30 Pleasantville residents came out to on Monday night to ask questions and express concerns about issues that may arise out of a proposed three-way real estate transaction in the village.
Mayor Peter Scherer in purchasing the lot currently occupied by the on Bedford Road and Maple Hill Road. In turn, the church has looked into purchasing the unoccupied former recreation center, located at the intersection of Bedford Road and Great Oak Lane.
"The sole reason for doing this is to achieve longterm savings," explained Scherer. "And if we can achieve longterm savings at the same time as we create space that is more flexible and more useful for a wider range of activities, that would be a happy result."
This transaction would allow the village to sell the Village Hall to an owner or developer who would pay taxes on the building (currently, all three buildings are tax-exempt in Pleasantville).
The , which shares the first floor space of Village Hall, would not relocate, and the village would arrange to lease back the space to the village at 80 Wheeler Ave. if the building were sold.
"None of these plans involve moving the Police Department to Maple Hill, because the building is not well-suited to that and we don't think moving the Police Department to a residential zone makes an awful lot of sense," said Scherer. "In addition to which the Police Department is the most expense piece to move because of the equipment and the cells and all of that."
He added said the village only plans to move forward with the deal if it can justify a cost savings, which is highly contingent on how much the Wheeler Avenue building can be sold for.
"We don't have anybody with a pen poised on an offer at the moment," said Scherer. "Although, I can say five different developers have been through in the last week and a half; all of them seemed interested, a couple of them seemed very interested."
Area residents said they are concerned about the plan for a variety of reasons, including increasingly congested traffic and noise caused by activities in both the United Methodist Church's space and recreation center.
Pastor Steve Phillips of the church said he wasn't surprised by the issues raised by residents, noting he had been made aware of them in the past.
"They are all legitimate concerns," he said.
Questions were also raised about whether the village will be able to sell the northern are of the church's property, which zoning guidelines would permit about five single-family home lots.
"I think we would likely look at the notion of subdividing the northern parcel, the wooded parcel, in a zoning-compliant way for single-family homes because that is space the village wouldn't need," said Scherer.
While Scherer said whether the three-way transaction will be favorable to the village "probably" includes the belief the village will be able to sell the lots, some asked why the Board of Trustees is sure that will be possible, as the church has not been able to find occupants up to this point.
Scherer said the village has had "a number of chats with various real estate brokers" and found, "Our sort of preliminary numbers that we have been working on presume that we could sell those lots at what seems like an extremely conservative price."
The mayor assured the public the intent behind the project is to create a way to help provide tax relief to residents in order to "make government less costly down the road."
"Your taxes will go up next year, even if we don't spend a dime, because the tax base is dropping," he said. "We're doing this with the best of intentions, not with any certainty that this is going to be the right thing to do, but with the certainty that if we don't do anything we're all collectively in trouble."
Scherer also addressed the former on Marble Avenue, which was recently vacated as the efforts are now headquartered in Thornwood. He said the village has already set aside $75,000 for renovations to the building to transform the garage into a storefront. The Recreation Department may move into the building down the road.
For now, the Board said there are no solid offers on the table, and the village will continue to search for viable solutions, even ones that might not include the sale of Village Hall.
"There are a lot of moving parts to this," said Scherer. "The point I want to leave you with is we will invite you back for sure if we get to second base on this project and the trigger point is going to be a solid offer on this building that appears believable."