NCN Online Archives


Letters To the Editor:
Christal Farm Is Well Worth Saving
by Toni Murphy, Yorktown Heights
The Yorktowner, June 13, 1973

I would respond to Mrs. John Wilkens letter published in your paper May 30, 1973.

I am the mother of three school age children and a tax-paying homeowner in Yorktown since 1956.

Since I believe, "one picture is worth a thousand words," I spent a pleasant hour one Sunday photographing Hanover Hills Farm. I enclose the photos to illustrate the present "neglected" condition of the farm, as well as to acquaint newcomers with the beauty and elegance of its buildings and grounds.

The main house is over 200 years old and is presently under study for its historical value. The entire farm, which encompasses just under 250 acres, is located on the periphery of Croton Heights, a well documented historical area.

The farm was a successful dairy farm until 1970, when the livestock was sold at auction. The manager, Dave Younger, and general caretaker, Ed Tammearu, have remained in residence with their families to maintain the grounds and buildings and tend to a minimum of cows boarded there. Some space has been rented out to board half a dozen houses. Hay and corn are still grown and harvested for forage. Work is constant on the farm and each summer agricultural students have been hired to labor and learn there.

A committee and its meetings are open to everyone. I would like to invite Mrs. Wilkens to join us. We need people who know the value of an apple growing and a cow grazing both for their esthetic value and environmental educational purposes.

As parents, we must be careful not to cut our budgets at the expense of our family's safety or our children's education. We are all feeling the pinch of rising taxes, but on a broader scale we must recognize the rising cost of living across the country. Our present inflation is not peculiar to Yorktown because of a "street sign" or "stop light" we may have needed.

The population of Yorktown has increased from approximately 10,000 people in 1956 to some 30,000 in 1973. Most of our farmland has been lost to building. We should all, therefore, be interested in saving what is one of the last working farms in northern Westchester. We cannot stop building houses where there is a need to house families. It is true that farmers have been selling their land to developers partially because of "increased taxes" and partially because land "value" rises where there is a need to build. This then becomes an economic impossibility to refuse the "right price." In Suffolk County, L.I., townships are buying farms and leasing them back to farmers to work the land and preserve the farm. I don't believe Yorktown can spend a million at this time to preserve the major working portion of it through a generous gift from Nottingham Associates who are presently under contract to buy it.

To speak of "increasing taxes to regain a lost farm" is ridiculous. At a Planning Board meeting recently, all the facts pertaining to increases in school children, units per acre, etc. were presented to the public. It was demonstrated that developing a portion of the farm, using cluster zoning, would bring the town more tax dollars than the acreage brought in as farmland.

Let's not be shortsighted because of past errors in Yorktown. As someone pointed out in a previous article in this paper, "We can't afford to look this gift horse in the mouth!"

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