After public backlash and an effort to collect signatures for a petition, a controversial land sale in the Westchester town of Lewisboro has been rescinded.
The Lewisboro Town Board had agreed to sell two acres to the confidential secretary of Peter Parsons, the town supervisor, as well as another acre to her neighbors. The board initially approved the sale without public knowledge or a public auction, according to the Rockland/Westchester Journal News.
The acres in question came with rights to Lake Truesdale, which is in high demand. Mary Hafter, the secretary, aimed to purchase the two unbuildable acres for $5,000. The price, along with the one for the 1.3 acres going to Hafter’s neighbors, was deemed to be well below the market values in town assessment records.
The sales sparked a public backlash, with more than 500 signatures filed for two different petitions, which could have forced a town-wide vote on the sales under the state’s referendum law. It also became a political football, putting board members’ seats in jeopardy.
“Not only does skipping a public auction almost certainly short-change the town, but the total absence of transparency can only undermine public confidence in how the board conducts business in general,” said town board candidate Andrea Rendo.
Parsons recused himself from the initial vote, but promoted the sale of the parcels. This week, he reversed course and voted to rescind the sale to his confidential secretary.
The Main Street properties in South Salem have rights to Lake Truesdale, which is private with two beaches that are run by private associations. It’s unclear what the town plans to do with the land parcels now.
[Rockland/Westchester Journal News] — Holden Walter-Warner