For 50 years Freightway garage on Garth Road has served its utilitarian purpose for commuter and long-term parking, but for quite some time, it’s been an eyesore. Rusting, dank and dark, it’s not yet crumbling, but village officials tell us it will cost around $2.5 million to fix and maintain over the next 10 years and then possibly $25 million to eventually replace it.

So, the question is, should we rehab/replace or should we rebuild. And if we rebuild, what might we build. In Rutherford Hall Wednesday night, two teams competing for the project envisioned transformative mixed-use projects for Freightway’s future — sweeping plazas and stairways, arched passageways, inviting spaces for dining and shopping, lush landscaping, townhomes and apartments (perhaps as many as 200 rental units), and as many as 700 public parking spaces (about 20% more than currently available on the site). But at this point, it’s all just the developers’ pie in the sky.

The stewards of our village want to know what current residents envision for the site. The deep dive into the prospects for Freightway’s future began three years ago. There have since been focus groups and a steering committee, an online survey (the response rate was a dismal 427), and as always, the opportunity for public comment at board meetings.

At the meeting Dec. 11, residents pushed back against many of the concepts in the redevelopment proposals, anticipating far more drawbacks than pluses. Many people expressed concerns about the degree to which a mixed-use residential development would increase enrollment in our schools, others fretted about the burden on taxpayers living in single-family homes vs. those who would occupy the proposed rental units. These are all legitimate concerns, and ones that the village trustees should definitely address as they continue to explore options and concepts for the 2.5-acre site.

Mayor Marc Samwick said the public comments at the Freightway meeting “reinforced the board’s positions about protecting our schools and budgets as well as finding ways to reduce the scope of the project.”

Those who spoke at the meeting were mostly naysayers. Some even became angry. Maybe you agree with or maybe you oppose the plans, or maybe you have even better ideas.

Well, here’s your chance. For the next 60 days residents will have their say in response to the two developers’ very preliminary concepts for Freightway. That feedback will help the village choose one of the two finalists as a partner to work with on the next steps — whatever those might be.

“We were pleased to hear the preferences and concerns of residents [and] we want to hear from more residents,” the mayor said, encouraging everyone to view the proposals on the village website or stop by Village Hall to see the developers’ ideas on display.

The mayor said the board believes “a viable project can be

beneficial for the community” and they “look forward to continuing the process of refining the proposals.” He emphasized that contrary to the perception voiced by numerous residents at the community meeting, this is not a done deal. In fact, he said over and over again that a real option for Freightway is “not to do anything.”

But let’s not leave it crumbling. And let’s not pour tax dollars into an eyesore. Let’s be bold. We can look to our neighbors who have remade themselves with transit-oriented developments, or we can come up with something entirely unique to Scarsdale, something that will bring vitality to the core of the community, something that will appeal to businesses as well as pedestrians. We can even have some fun if it’s done correctly. But whatever we do, there has to be

community buy-in.

The board seems sincere about hearing from the community over the next 60 days and thereafter. So seize the opportunity to respond — email your reactions and your ideas to freightway@scarsdale.com. If you don’t, you’ll have no right to complain.

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