Letter to the Editor of Rockland Voice
From: Jim Flynn
Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack and Deputy Supervisor Shirley Lasker are suing the purchaser of the Pfizer site even before the buyer takes ownership of the property. What are they thinking? Are they thinking only of their own re-election? Have they taken leave of their economic senses?
As all residents of Nanuet and Pearl River are aware the Pfizer Site has been in decline for at least the past decade. Once employing over 5,000 people it is now home to just 1,300 and this number is scheduled to fall to 600 over the next 18-24 months. The site has been in a downward spiral ever since Pfizer purchased it.
Pfizer has been trying to lease or sell the site for most of the past decade. As the number of people working there have declined, the local businesses have been decimated. Whether you own an auto repair shop /gas station, restaurant or other small local business in Nanuet or Pearl River you have seen your sales drop significantly. Many local shops have been forced to close.
The site is approximately 80% in Pearl River (about 100 of the 550 acres are in Clarkstown). It pays Town Taxes to Orangetown and School Taxes to the Nanuet Public Schools. Before the decline the site paid 40% of the Nanuet Schools tax bill which amounted to about $20 million dollars a year. That was slashed in half five years ago as use of the site spiraled down. All residents of the Nanuet School District have been shocked and dismayed as the School Board has stayed under the 2% tax cap yet tax bills have skyrocketed 40%.
Residents of the Nanuet School District have resigned themselves to the fact that they are facing one more large increase of probably 12-15% in the 2016-2017 school year tax bill, due to the fact that Pfizer has been demolishing many buildings and the site has be re-evaluated as part of the pending sale to IRG (Industrial Realty Group). This sale, which has not closed yet, had brought a ray of hope for the future to many residents. Even though the purchase will probably result in lower tax revenue for all involved for the next decade, it would be the start of a rebirth for the site, for Orangetown, and for the Nanuet schools. The site is projected to be an incubator for Hi-Tech companies, bringing with them high paying jobs for residents and their children.
Thus I was outraged to discover that Supervisor Alex Gromack and Deputy Supervisor Shirley Lasker of Clarkstown had ordered the Town to join a lawsuit against IRG – a lawsuit which, whether it is successful or not, may derail the pending purchase. What business would want to invest in a site when one of the host Towns will sue before it even owns the property?
Supervisor Gromack and his sidekick deputy need to explain to the taxpayers what they propose to do if IRG walks? This site and its location only makes economic sense for Hi-Tech Companies due to the high taxes and the high cost of living which Supervisor Gromack and his deputy have been complicit in creating during the past decade of their administration.
Are they too financially inept to understand that no company can bring in low-margin manufacturing jobs to such a location?
What are the alternatives?
- Pfizer goes back to what they did two years ago and knocks down all the remaining unused buildings thereby getting its taxes reduced 75% and it simultaneously proceeds to move out of the site completely while trying to sell it to whomsoever will take it.
- Pfizer donates the site to a tax exempt organization. By doing so Pfizer gets a charitable donation deduction to offset its Federal and State taxes probably for whatever the site is valued at by the towns. Taxes from the site go to zero immediately. If donated to a religious based charity the nightmarish RLUIPA comes into play and who knows what will occur then on this site.
- Orangetown realizes that if they rezone the property ‘residential’ they will receive the same amount of taxes as the site presently provides. The Nanuet School District would probably get the same $10 million they get now when all the houses are built – about 1,000 on ½ acre lots – but the District would need to build new schools for the 2,400 children the homes would generate. As it currently costs $30,000 per student the School Tax would have to double at a minimum which is insane; no one would be able to afford this and the School District would have to be dissolved.
I do not know which possibility scares me more, probably #2 given the demographics of Rockland County but I for one do not want any of the above options to occur.
So Supervisor Gromack and Deputy Supervisor Lasker my question is:
“What in Heaven’s Name are you trying to do? Are you simple pandering for votes in this election year? Do you not realize the harm your actions may cause to the residents of both Clarkstown and Orangetown?”
I invite you to explain yourselves to the taxpayers of both Clarkstown and Orangetown!
[Editor’s Note – IRG is a nationwide real estate development and investment firm specializing in the acquisition, development and management of commercial and industrial real estate throughout the United States. IRG, through its affiliated partnerships and limited liability companies, operates a portfolio containing over 120 properties in 28 states with over 100 million square feet of rentable space. IRG is nationally recognized as a leading force behind the adaptive reuse of commercial and industrial real estate, solving some of America’s most difficult real estate challenges.