Another Smelly Deal in Ramapo

To the editor (Our Town):    The Ramapo Town Board has just voted to give the developers of a luxury housing development in Suffern a long-term reduction in their real estate taxes of 85%!

If any of our ordinary citizens were elected to our town board they would demand documentation before giving a developer a tax abatement worth more than $20 million. Unfortunately, the members of the Ramapo town board are not just ordinary citizens. Their political careers are contingent on their unquestioning loyalty to Supervisor St. Lawrence. St. Lawrence, in turn, loves to do favors for his most generous political supporters. These include Jeff Goldstein and his family's real estate empire.

The Goldstein family and real estate interests have had a close working relationship with the Cuomo family going back to the days of Mario Cuomo. This real estate empire managed and, I believe, still manages thousands of section 8 apartments and has done so since Andrew Cuomo's days as head of HUD.

Richard Sirota, Andrew's campaign manager, is a limited partner in the Goldstein's proposed luxury development in Suffern. What a coincidence. Even more surprising is his willingness to show up at a Suffern public meeting with members of the Goldstein family before the primary election! Is this what is meant by the phrase "arrogance of power"?

Apparently the Ramapo Town Board has the legal authority to reduce not only Ramapo town real estate taxes, but also the real estate taxes paid to the Central Ramapo School District and Rockland County. It is quite possible that the school district will actually lose money providing the children living in this development with their education.

Perhaps Ed Day, our new county executive, can take a close look at this smelly deal.

Robert I. Rhodes
Chairman, Preserve Ramapo