Mayor Mike Spano to New York City: Stop Taking Yonkers Taxpayers for Ride
YONKERS, NY – September 28, 2017 -- Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano today called on New York City to relocate its MTA bus garage, located on Alexander Street and Babcock Place, occupying nearly four acres of prime real estate on the Yonkers waterfront.
At a press conference held today just steps from the MTA bus garage, Mayor Spano stated, “My message is clear to New York City: Stop taking Yonkers taxpayers for a ride. For over 20 years, New York City has housed its MTA bus lot on our pristine waterfront without any benefit to our city and without any effort to work with us – it’s time to give Yonkers back its waterfront.”
The MTA operates the bus garage yards away from the Yonkers shoreline in the single most valuable stretch of the Yonkers waterfront. Eighty buses are fueled, maintained and rest on the site and only serve New York City-based routes. Over of the last five years, New York City and the MTA have refused to have meaningful discussions with Yonkers officials about the relocation of its bus garage to any location other than where it lies today. As a result, the City of Yonkers, acting through its Industrial Development Agency, was forced to file a condemnation petition earlier this year seeking ownership of the underlying property on which the bus garage sits.
The City of Yonkers conducted a third party appraisal of the MTA bus garage site, which returned a roughly $6 million valuation. During initial discussions, New York City refused to discuss the relocation of the garage unless Yonkers paid $45 million.
Mayor Spano commented, “Both the MTA and New York City should act as responsible intermunicipal partners. Instead, both have taken the unconscionable path of stubbornly ignoring the City of Yonkers, and insisting that any potential for relocation of their facility should be on the Yonkers taxpayers' dime – effectively imposing a ransom on Yonkers’ prospects for economic success.”
Adding, “This is a textbook example of ‘David versus Goliath,’ where New York City believes it can push its locally undesirable land uses onto its smaller and less powerful neighbors, and invoking MTA’s tax exempt loophole to avoid paying property taxes to Yonkers – over 20 years, we could have collected $12 million in taxes. That revenue could have gone towards our schools, our infrastructure needs such as firehouses, bridges and road maintenance. Instead, we’ve collected gas fumes, noise pollution, congested streets and wear and tear to our roads.”
Additionally, Yonkers’ efforts to conduct master planning for the waterfront area are impeded by the presence of the MTA Bus Garage. The bus garage blocks the necessary extension of public roadways and infrastructure to serve the burgeoning waterfront, prevents natural routes for public access to the expansive waterfront promenades and undermines the value and quiet enjoyment of the properties being developed in its vicinity.
“It is evident to me that Yonkers is subsidizing the ridership of New York City,” said Mayor Spano. “This bus garage serves no purpose to Yonkers residents or its visitors, it obstructs additional economic development that will continue the revitalization of our waterfront.”
As of today, public hearings on the condemnation have concluded and the Yonkers IDA has six weeks to make a final determination as to proceeding with the taking.
Mayor Spano concluded saying, “I am sure New York City and the MTA will continue to object to the court, and make every effort to hide behind technical rules and exemptions to allow them to remain on the site, tax-free. That is why we are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill De Blasio to cut through this bureaucracy and bring some sanity to this issue so that Yonkers can continue with its unprecedented waterfront growth.”