I am writing to voice opposition to the proposed affordable housing project in Selkirk which was recently granted a waiver to the town building moratorium. The Bethlehem Town Board saw fit to violate it’s own building moratorium with a 4-1 vote in favor of granting a waiver to the moratorium, with Mr. Foster voting against granting the waiver. Then during the same session, the same board voted to extend the very same building moratorium for another six months….a rather dichotomous decision to say the least. Give an out of state developer a pass to the moratorium but not local builders.
The current proposed site on a parcel between 9W and Jericho has no access to public transportation and no sidewalks. Pedestrian traffic along 9W is perilous to say the least. The strain that would be placed on the RCS school district would be overwhelming to an already overburdened faculty and staff due to the disproportionately higher than average population of special need students that are bused in from outside districts.
According to available data, the Bethlehem Central School District has an economically disadvantaged student population of 14.7 percent grades 3-8 compared to a 42 percent student population for RCS grades 3-8. The same source also sites that the students with disabilities population is 25 percent higher at RCS than it is at BCSD.
Perhaps the town should consider giving economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities access to the BCSD considering the dramatic disparity between the two school districts. It has been rumored that the town is being pressured by NYS to establish affordable housing within the town. If this is in fact true, then perhaps the town should consider other hamlets and school districts that could better support the needs of such a project.
According to U.S. News & World Reports, the BCSD has 54.3 percent of their graduating seniors “college ready” as opposed to just 12.7 percentfor RCS. Proficiency scores are 96 for math and 99 for English at BSCD as opposed to 68 and 81 respectively at RCS.
These numbers are in no way a slight against the dedicated, overworked faculty and staff at RCS district, but there are already glaring differences between the two districts, and it does not appear that the Town Board has taken this into consideration by any metric.
Advocates for affordable housing want to live in an affordable home, with access to jobs, schools and other amenities for themselves and their children. Clearly, this proposal as well as the Town Board’s support of it does not meet any of those desires.
It is also clear that the Town Board is willing to curry favor for a multi-billion dollar developer from Ohio by violating its own moratorium as opposed to listening to its residents and doing what is best for an already overwhelmed school district, shame on you, and thank you Mr. Foster for being the only board member to vote against granting the waiver.