Hush Over Hampshire: Village Manager Responds
Former Mamaroneck Village Trustee Tom Murphy says there should be public discussion over what to do with the Hampshire Golf Club property.
That’s why, he says, he requested some documents pertaining to a potential purchase of the property by the Town and the Village of Mamaroneck.
Murphy requested the information under New York State Freedom of Information Law, but he was denied. He says Village Manager Richard Slingerland refused because he is in negotiations with the Club and its representatives.
"I FOILED the Village because I think that this is a momentous decision and that the public needs to know what the municipalities plan to do with this property if they acquire it", Murphy tells theLoop.. "There should be a public discussion of the need for this property and what intentions the Town and Village have for the club."
Village Manager Richard Slingerland told theLoop, "My main concern with regard to this whole issue is that if we release confidential information and studies prepared as part of the investigation process for the possible purchase of property, it could harm the Village’s position in those negotiations."
He sent the following in an email:
I would like to give a quick synopsis of events.
· Tom Murphy submitted his FOIL request for documents prepared by the Village’s Planning consultants with Buckhurst, Fish and Jacquemart, regarding the Village’s and the Town’s exploration of the joint purchase of the Hampshire Country Club. These materials were prepared by the joint request of the Village and the Town with the sole purpose of providing information regarding the property to the municipalities as potential buyers of the property.
· The FOIL request from Mr. Murphy was denied, based on the Public Officers Law, which exempts documents prepared as part of contract negotiations from being released to the public. The specific language and reference is as follows: New York State Law, Article 6, Section 87 of the Public Officers Law, 2., c.), all of the requested records have been withheld because: “if disclosed it would impair present or imminent contract awards or collective bargaining negotiations.
· An appeal of the denial was submitted to me, as Village Manager, and upon my review of the law, and based upon consultation with the Offices of the NYS Committee on Open Government, the Village’s position and understanding of the law was affirmed.
· Mr. Murphy responded again and threatened to put his appeal of the denial under FOIL before the Courts.
I have reviewed the matter with the Village Attorney, and we are reviewing the documents to release some of the documents to Mr. Murphy, with confidential information withheld.
My main concern has been and continues to be that the Village and the Town should maintain negotiations for the purchase of real property in a confidential forum.
Murphy maintains he is prepared to go to Court in order to obtain the paperwork.
Stories previously in theLoop.
A news release by the two municipalities from earlier in the month:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 11, 2010
Contacts: Stephen Altieri Richard Slingerland Terrence Nolan
Town Administrator Village Manager Sr. Project Mgr., Trust for Pub. Land
914-381-7810 914-777-7703 973-292-1100
Subject: Joint Statement of ongoing, cooperative interest in the purchase of the
Hampshire Country Club in Mamaroneck, New York
The Village and Town of Mamaroneck are working with the Trust for Public Land, to pursue the possible purchase of the Hampshire Country Club in the Village of Mamaroneck, New York.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national, nonprofit, land conservation organization whose stated mission is to conserve land for people to enjoy as parks, community gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.
We are interested in the purchase of this property. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Village of Mamaroneck and the entire Town of Mamaroneck.
The Village and the Town in conjunction with the Trust for Public Land will continue to pursue negotiations with the Club’s representatives, and will continue to perform our due diligence with regard to this purchase.
This is so very important. It would be awful to have McHouses on that beautiful property.
The schools can get the fields they desperately need without resorting to plastic ones. And the town/villages (and local fauna) can have precious open space.
I am reminded of the foresight a previous generation had, and one that didn’t. Larchmont Reservoir property was slated for housing, before the Village of Larchmont bought the property. open space that generates revenue from the camps and Sheldrake Environmental Center, delighting and informing children on trips from local schools.
The lack of foresight was when the high school sold their lovely, sloping front lawn to developers. Instead of the space it now needs for fields, they are cheek to jowl with an apartment complex.
There will never be another chance like this. Call your Village/Town trustees and let them know you want this to happen.
And thanks to Tom for bringing in the light.
The Village cites a brief excerpt from a law, which may not be applicable or may be applicable only in part; there is not enough information to tell. Simalrly the Village and the Town appear to have discussed this matter behind closed doors for an extended period of time.
Ironically, the citation is from a law designed to provide the public with open government. Yet, the people of the communities have heard virtually nothing about what their governments plans are regarding the issue and property or the potential revenue and expenses.
It appears that “when the time arrives”, the public will have neither sufficient information nor sufficient opportunity to affect the decision of those who claim to represent the public.
Thank you Tom. It is time our municipals governments let the sunshine in!