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Eminent Domain – Risk Vs. Uncertainty

February 19, 2006

Crotonblog: Letters to the Editor, Croton-on-Hudson, New York 10520
I’m writing this letter because a decision to execute Eminent Domain will have huge ramifications for the Village into the foreseeable future and I feel we all need to know much more than we’ve been given so far.

While reading a Robert Ludlum novel, Amber Warning, p. 240, I came across the following paragraph which I think is apropos to this decision:

“….there’s a difference between risk and uncertainty … Risk is quantifiable. Uncertainty isn’t. Its one thing to know there is a 50 – 50 chance of something going wrong. It’s another to not know what the chances are at all. It’s a matter of knowing what you don’t know.”

With regards to the Village Board’s recent steps towards acquiring a 9.8 acre site at 1A Croton Point Avenue (Metro Enviro) for an admittedly much-needed DPW facility using its powers of Eminent Domain, I think this action veers more toward the uncertainty side of this equation.

Here are some things that we, as residents who will pay for this, know we don’t know:

  • What is the amount the Village Board thinks its going to have to pay for this site?
  • Is this amount based on an operating site or a non-operating site?
  • What is the potential difference between these values?
  • How much money will be spent and how long will we be litigating this action?
  • How much will the new DPW facility cost?
  • What will happen to the Village if a later decision by a judge (after the point of no return is reached in court) determines the site has a higher value than the Village Board anticipated?
  • How will the action and the total expenditures affect our bond rating?
  • How will this action affect other projects needed in the Village such as parking lot improvements, waterfront improvements, equipment and infrastructure programs, and developing community space?
  • Can the Village be pre-empted in this action at a later time by higher level agencies or entities?

Perhaps sooner rather than later, the Village Board will be able to quantify these questions and tell us the answers. So far that has not been the case. We need those answers to understand how exercising Eminent Domain will affect our future and whether it is a risk we want to take.

Ann Gallelli

Related:

On February 19, 2006 4:38 PM, weewill said:

As Mr. Pellicci erroneously depicted in last weeks “cartoon” in the Gazette… “We are Back.” In fact, we’ve never gone away!. We’ll continue to speak out until we get the answers we need.

No question we need a new DPW building. It outgrew its present building and space many years ago. The DPW is to be commended on managing as well as they have for several years with the space constraints.

But until the Board can determine a reasonable estimate of costs, pursuing ED would be irresponsible. Add up all the costs suggested by Ann Gallelli and the final tab could be extraordinarily high. It just might put the village over its constitutional debt limit.

An acre of vacant land in the village sells for at least 1/2 million plus dollars. Many single family homes sell for a million and more. We can only guess at what 9+ acres of the former MetroEnviro site will cost.

Add to the basic costs of fair market value to the costs associated with Ann Gallelli’s questions. As you guess at these costs, keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for the smallest single family house in Croton to sell for 1/2 million dollars and more. Homes on Arrowcrest Drive, River Landing and many other neighborhoods often sell for more than a millions dollars.

Do the math and you may be shocked to find we may see cumulative costs surpassing even our current total operating budget of more than 14 million dollars.

That’s a scary thought!



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