Open space has been a Ramapo Town Board priority since 2003. We are buying properties that are paying for themselves. We have invested over 35 million dollars in open space, parkland and historic preservation of parcels throughout the Town in many Villages and Hamlets. In doing so, Ramapo has safeguarded our region’s water supply, wetlands, water quality, historic sites and more than 2,000 acres of green space. The residents of Ramapo deserve to be commended for their steadfast support of our endeavors. Ramapo is one of the Visionary Communities in the country that have come to the realization that the only effective method of preserving open space in perpetuity is through public ownership.
Ramapo’s Open Space purchases are generating revenue, which allows us to continue saving green space and enhances our recreation amenities without relying on the property tax.
Our Open Space Program is truly unique because it has four major parts:
- Historic Preservation. This year we purchased the Henry Varnum Poor House securing a $500,000 State Grant Funding, added to Jacob Sloat House with $300,000 State Funding, acquired the Smith Family Farm and Mobray-Clarke House, and the soon to be restored 1791 House on newly acquired Sythe Energy power plant site, with a Grant of $200,000 from the Ford Motor Company.
- Parkland - Over 50% of Ramapo’s land area is parkland. In 2009 we will be using $946,000 in Park Embellishment Funds to improve our parks, without using taxpayer monies.
- Green Space Preservation such as the Mitch Miller property in Wesley Hills.
- Income Producing Properties which are paying for the debt service:
- The Ramapo Tennis & Swim Facility which currently had over 400 members in fiscal year 2007. On-site Tennis Clinics and programs generated over $250,000 in revenue.
- The Ramapo Cultural Arts Center which serves as the home of the Spring Valley NAACP, Ramapo Haitian Task Force and soon to be the home of the new Ramapo Music Program and Job Training Program. The Ramapo Cultural Arts Center was booked for use by community groups every weekend in 2007, and was booked in advance for every weekend in 2008. It is also used by a local dance group three times a week and periodically by the East Ramapo Central School District.
- The Joseph T. St. Lawrence Community, Health & Sports Center which generated approximately $475,000 in revenue 2007. Currently the facility has 2,380 members. In addition, both the on-site Dome and Turf Field Facilities are booked solid throughout the year. The Saint Center also offers a plethora of multi-generational activities, birthday parties, tennis classes, senior citizen defensive driving classes, family nights, open gym nights, basketball and volleyball tournaments, dance classes. In 2009, we will also continue our Get Healthy Ramapo Program.
- Camp Scuffy in Airmont which has been filled with over 600 campers ever since it was purchased by the Town several years ago. This private-like camp which is available at a reasonable price generates over $750,000 in revenue for our six week program.
Renovation of the Ramapo Equestrian Center’s ninety stalls is now complete, at no cost to the taxpayers, and the renovated third aisle is now open for full service boarders. Construction on an additional outdoor riding ring will soon be completed, and it is anticipated that the facility will have 100% occupancy by early next spring. I encourage you to visit this unique facility.
The Town Board has engaged in several historic environmental initiatives over the past several years:
Preservation of the Torne Valley. Stopping the Power Plants was the beginning of our efforts to safeguard the entire Torne Valley - not the end. Last week, Ramapo acquired the Waste Management building. Soon, we will close on the Braen Stone property utilizing 2.5 million dollars in State Parks Funding and the Ramapo Hamlet property, which will generate $200,000 in revenue annually. The HTI building located in Torne Valley will soon have a new tenant, which will generate $140,000 in revenue. Never again will this belt of green space be scarred by industrial abuse.
Last but not least, one of the largest infrastructure investment projects in the history of Rockland County - the 125 million dollar Western Ramapo Wastewater Treatment Plant will become operational protecting the Ramapo River and our water source for Rockland and increasing home values in Western Ramapo.
In 2008 Ramapo acquired the 55 acre Liberty Rock property in Sloatsburg, an approved subdivision, where developers anticipated constructing ninety single-family homes - now it will remain Parkland in perpetuity.
Fiscal Stability, Public Safety and Protection of the Environment facilitate economic expansion, cooperation among diverse community groups, and people of all races and religions wanting to live in the Town of Ramapo.