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The Honorable Andrew Cuomo Governor of New York Executive Chambers Albany, NY 12224 Dear Governor Cuomo: At the regular meeting of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) on Monday February 11, 2013, by unanimous consent, the Board placed into committee a proposed lease for Ferncliff Manor, The School for Adaptive and Integrative Learning (S.A.I.L.). Ferncliff Manor is a residential and day school for children with severe developmental and physical disabilities. Ferncliff Manor has applied to New York State for the necessary approvals from the state agencies that oversee its operations to redevelop the former WestHELP site in Greenburgh, New York for its school and residences. The purpose of this letter is to ask that your administration expedite the review process for Ferncliff's application while the Westchester County BOL completes its review of the lease proposal in our committee process. Founded in 1935, Ferncliff Manor was one of the first private residential schools in our area to help treat persons with such disabilities. Due to the severity of each child's condition, be it behavioral and/or medical, neither home care nor an education in their local school district is a possible option for them. For nearly 80 years, Ferncliff Manor has helped to treat these students without accepting payment from their families. Funding for Ferncliff Manor is contingent upon their compliance with New York State mandated regulations, including situating the organization in a residential setting rather than an institutional one. Being that New York State classifies many of these children as “hard to place,” Ferncliff Manor serves a unique purpose as it is the only residential school in the entire lower Hudson Valley region that can accept and properly treat the extent of the disabilities of its students.
The current facilities of Ferncliff Manor no longer adequately serve the needs of students and residents and the school is on notice from the State Education Department and associated State agencies to find a new facility. The organization has been operating from the same 6.5 acre site in northwest Yonkers, New York since the 1950s. For many years now, Ferncliff Manor has diligently searched for a new location that could better serve the needs of its population. If a new site for Ferncliff Manor is not found soon, it will be forced to shut down, thereby sending the children farther away from their families. The organization's 250 employees, most of whom live in Westchester, would become unemployed. In 2012, Ferncliff Manor responded to a RFQ for the property. The Town Board of Greenburgh voted, unanimously, to have Ferncliff Manor occupy the site. An already existing structure on that site can be utilized for Ferncliff Manor’s academic and administrative purposes. The existing transitional housing units would be replaced with new residences for 64 of Ferncliff's students. The majority of Ferncliff's students come from families who would qualify for fair and affordable housing. The State Education Department and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities have indicated that the Greenburgh site will meet their regulatory requirements. The organization’s re-location must be initiated as soon as possible, as mandated by New York State agencies, which is why we urge you to help us secure the necessary approvals to continue the vital services that Ferncliff provides to Westchester and the lower Hudson Valley's most challenged and deserving residents. We the undersigned represent the majority of the Westchester Board of Legislators.
Legislator John G. Testa District 1
Legislator Michael J. Smith District 3
Legislator Michael B. Kaplowitz District 4
Legislator William J. Ryan District 5
Legislator David B. Gelfarb District 6
Legislator Sheila Marcotte District 10
Minority Leader Legislator James Maisano District 11
Legislator Bernice Spreckman District 14
Minority Whip Legislator Gordon A. Burrows District 15
Legislator Virginia Perez District 17