Monday, September 7, 2015

House of Sports Sold

In a surprising turn of events, the successful House of Sports facility based in Ardsley, New York, was recently sold to the American Skating Entertainment Centers. American Skating Entertainment Centers claims to be the largest independent owner/operator of ice skating and indoor sports facilities in the United States. They have partnered with the Robert Martin Company and Diamond Properties to acquire the House of Sports.

Constructed in 2012, the House of Sports is a 100,000 square foot, state-of-the-art indoor sports facility offering lacrosse, basketball, soccer, baseball, volleyball, camps, birthday parties, and Athletic Republic performance training. House of Sports opened in 2012, spearheaded by CEO Donald Scherer. Mr Scherer became well-known after he made numerous appearances at Greenburgh Town Board meetings protesting Mr Feiner's illegal lease offer to GameOn 365's owner for the former Frank's Nursery property. You'll recall negotiations for that "deal" took place before the Town even acquired the property through foreclosure.

One of the main factors of the illegal lease deal that Mr Feiner continued to push for with GameOn 365 was their proposed use of an 83-foot tall inflatable bubble on the property to enclose their sports fields - in a residentially zoned neighborhood! Mr Feiner did his usual arm-twisting and sought numerous concessions from the neighbors throughout the Town to accept the deal. Everyone objected.

Subsequent investigations by ABG and others brought to light many safety issues with these bubbles, actually acquiring footage of bubbles collapsing during storms. GameOn 365 insisted they were safe. That is, until their smaller bubble at their facility in New Jersey collapsed. People interviewed by news crews at that time believed they could have been killed. More problems lay underground. After learning that the former Frank's Nursery property had many unidentified contaminants buried in it, the neighborhood civic associations, residents and businesses protested trying to utilize the former Frank's Nursery property for kids' use.

GameOn 365 eased out of the public eye and continued to secretly work behind closed doors with Mr Feiner. Suddenly, GameOn 365 was back before a Town Board Work Session seeking their approval to build a fixed structure with an outdoor field and 80-foot tall lighting. But this latest proposal would be next door to the former Frank's Nursery property on the Visioli Golf Driving Range property! Apparently, they entered into a contractual agreement to have the "right of first offer" to purchase the property. For some unknown reason, GameOn 365 was bent on remaining on Dobbs Ferry Road. Our staffers' best guess is because Mr Feiner promised to push all applications, variances and requests through as his trifecta-Board is unstoppable. Or are they?

The House of Sports sale means little in the fight to keep the Town from changing the current zoning restrictions to allow commercial entities a variance to build in a residential neighborhood. This is the main problem with the GameOn 365 proposal to build where they want, not where it's zoning appropriate. THAT is the objection that everyone has toward this project. The Worthington Woodlands Civic Association has been steadfast in their mandate: build residential in a residentially zoned neighborhood. And, while Mr Feiner has contacted numerous area residents one-on-one to try to convince them to acquiesce for the last several years, he has failed.

We wish the new owners of the House of Sports well. We also thank the former owners for all of their participation thus far and hope they will remain engaged in Town events and issues. They have proven it is possible to accomplish your goals without "special considerations" from Mr Feiner and his Town Board. In the end, the Town's zoning codes must be maintained to keep the beauty of Greenburgh. Mr Feiner has continued to wholesale parts of Greenburgh to developers - except when it's in his or his Board members' backyard, such as the JPI development in Ardsley. The Villages have Mayors and Village Boards that protect the interests of the residents. Unincorporated Greenburgh could use that same protection but do not get it with the elected officials we have. It must change. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

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