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Tensions Between Residents and EF Escalate in Summer

The town-gown relations between nearby residents and the EF School are an a bit of an impasse; one resident writes a letter to officials about the trash and growing annoyances that don't seem to be getting addressed.

 

There was a YouTube video circulating a while back of international students running around a Neperan Road property in broad daylight, giggling, jumping on the trampoline. It all seemed both innocent and not at all. That it was posted on YouTube made it a little creepy – and perhaps for that very reason, it seems to have been taken down.

The students of appear regularly in the Tarrytown police blotters – typically doing minor studentlike things (making noise in the park after hours and such) but often going further. There have been arrests made for underage drinking and purchasing of alcohol, vandalism (including the pulling up nearby residential shrubs), complaints of graffiti on playground equipment, and so on as students go up and down the steep hill late into the night.

There used to be a shuttle service ferrying students from the Tarrytown Train Station to the school at the top of Neperan Road, but the school discontinued it due to not enough usage (surprising, considering the steepness of the hill).

The anticipated further growth of EF – specifically their desire to convert an unused library into a dormitory accommodating about 200 additional students – has been a postponed agenda item on the Planning Board for months.

The shrubbery uprooting incident was something of a call to action, said Village Administrator Mike Blau, prompting a meeting at EF between the school, neighbors, and village officials. That was about four months ago, said Blau, and they've heard nothing from EF since about any plan to address the ongoing problems.

“Our position now until they address the issue of students going up and down the road is the situation will not progress,” Blau said. “We have not seen a thing at all.” Blau said that they are obligated to have a shuttle in order to get building approval.

In the meantime, one Neperan Road resident David Davenport sent off a letter Monday, July 2 to the mayor, school officials and Patch among others, complaining of a seasonal uptick in littering and late-night antics. He attached 13 photos of the litter (shown here) that appeared between the park and his house at the top of the hill over the course of a weekend.

He wrote:

While the noise and trash situation improved for a while after our "Neperan Neighbors" meetings with EF earlier this year, the latest crop of students are truly disrespecting our neighborhood.

Also, on Friday and Saturday nights after 10, I was awakened several times by loud, rowdy, probably tipsy students. (I say probably tipsy based on their singing of loud songs and the beer cans I picked up in the AM afterward).

Davenport had questions for EF: is the shuttle running? Is the school patrolling every half-hour in the evenings for drinking and loud behavior, and “what happened to the people you promised would clean up the trash on our street?”

Davenport concluded, "I am very disappointed by the poor behavior of the guests who visit our village. I enjoy seeing all the students from around the world, but I would like to see them be more respectful of their neighbors in the village of Tarrytown."

To this, EF Executive Director Diana Garcia wrote a short email response:

Thank you for the information. We will investigate and work on these issues. I apologize for the singing, it was probably the Spanish celebrating the Euro cup win. We will instruct them to be quiet.

To Patch she offered a more nuanced explanation. For one, Garcia said, it's summertime and people – not necessarily only students – are out more, littering more, making more noise (and being heard more, since residential windows are open).

Garcia also wanted to remind the community that EF has actually been a good neighbor at this location for 19 years. “That says something,” she said. For years, EF rented space in the Marymount complex until Fordham was leaving and they had the opportunity to buy in 2008. “People don't realize we've been here that long because we're not targeting people here but rather internationally.”

The population has grown through the years to about 1,200 enrolled now in the summer vs. an average of 1,100 at other times of the year. (A good percentage of Tarrytown, Garcia said.)

Overall, Garcia said, “We have a very nice operation within a town, within a community, that we like."

The students at EF generally range from 13 to 21 and, Garcia admitted, the summertime crowd may be a little more carefree and chaotic than the regular school-year population. These are largely people here for the short term who may see themselves as being on vacation. The school, however, does their best to educate their students on how to behave when walking around the village, but Garcia said there isn't the time with summer students to really ingrain these messages as deeply.

EF students were a very visible presence helping out on trash-pickup several years in a row at the . For the most part, they are good citizens who love and respect the village, Garcia said. “Like everywhere, the minimum percentage makes all the noise and the maximum percentage is not even noticed.”

In the end, Garcia said the school hadn't made any promises about drafting any plans at that meeting, it was only a discussion. She said that the school doesn't mind being on the back-burner with the Planning Board, because they are actually “waiting to see how the global economy is holding up” (since their students hail from all over the world and enrollment could suffer if things go the way they've been heading in Greece, Spain and beyond).

There are many security measures in place, and Garcia said their team works closely with the Tarrytown Police to make sure liquor stores aren't selling to minors. There are resident advisors and younger summer students also come with group chaperones from their homeland for double the supervision.

As far as the reinstating the shuttle? “We are working on it,” Garcia said. “But there will still be students walking up and down, it's a street.”

On the day I spoke to Blau he said he'd been witnessing out of his office window “about three-fourths of EF going into the city today for some reason." And what comes down must go back up. 

What are your thoughts on EF and their relations with the village? Tell us in the comments.

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harris bank July 06, 2012 at 09:59 PM
WE have to remember that EF has been added to the Tax rolls. Ask Mr. Blau what tax revenue EF GENERATES??
wanda July 07, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Harris That's a Great question, I heard that the Village cut them a deal and the TAXES are $140,000 A year. Something stinks just like the Boat Clubs that pay $1500.00 a year and the Elizabeth Macia day care which pays nothing and we pay for the Heating oil and the repairs and upkeep and kids from out of Town come to Day care and the Village Taxpayers pay them . Why ? Maybe Krista can find answers to the question.
Robert Solari July 07, 2012 at 12:35 AM
EF is in the process of grieving the Taxes that they're currently paying. Maybe they should pay the new Hotel tax implemented in Tarrytown.
Aris July 07, 2012 at 03:24 AM
I am a bit taken aback about all the negative comments regarding EF. First, on the tax issue... EF is a business, and just like any other business it seeks to maximize profits. So, if the Village struck a deal with them so that they pay a low rate, then who is to blame? Secondly, I agree withe John Anderson that there are always going to be some trouble makers in any large group of people. EF has more than a thousand students, so is it surprising that some of them are a nuisance when they are off campus? And is EF legally responsible for each student's actions when he/she is off campus?
Gregg G July 07, 2012 at 05:47 AM
As someone who grew up in and currently lives in beautiful downtown Tarrytown, this topic strikes a nerve. The litter produced by these kids is astounding. I am constantly reminding these kids that congregate on the benches in town and in Neperan park to please remember to use the trash cans. I think it would would be great if our town's administration could reach out to the EF school's administration to encourage them to include information in their welcome material with regard to this topic. "Thank you for choosing the EF school. We look forward to welcoming you to the historical village of Tarrytown, New York, in the majestic Hudson Valley. The beautiful small town prides itself in welcoming visitors from around the world. Please respect your neighbors and do your part to keep Tarrytown clean and green to ensure our standing as one of America's most beautiful towns."
taba s July 08, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Having lived in Tarrytown all my life it is sad to see the decline of Marymount/Fordham/EF. The buildings are falling into disrepair & the grounds are sad & forlorn. The behavior of the students is sad & shameful & I am sorry for the residents who live on Nepprehan. The "school" should be monitoring these students better & should be held accountable.
wanda July 08, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Some of the students are minors and the PAYING PARENTS send them here to learn. ARIS if your friend had a 15 year old daughter stay over your house would you be responsible for them and their actions ? EF is PAID big money and they need to step it up .You are right SHAME ON THE PEOPLE WHO GAVE THE TAX BREAKS !
Patricia July 09, 2012 at 12:19 PM
it is not an army base...do people need to hang flags in order to be patriotic?
Patricia July 09, 2012 at 12:27 PM
How quickly people forget..when that was Fordham and before that Marymount, we had American youths running around and drinking,yelling, and fighting. The bars on Main st were filled with underage drinking. I do believe that the people today are much less tolerant of kids than they used to be. People call the police on 10 to 12 year old kids climbing trees in the park, skate boarding, playing tag in the neighborhood. You don't live in a gated community or an "over 55" community..you live in a neighborhood.
Patricia July 09, 2012 at 12:30 PM
You are absolutely correct...these kids are not that bad...if a mess is made it will be picked up...the noise will eventually pass and it will be quiet again..When I was younger I went to college parties and much worse was going on then.
Patricia July 09, 2012 at 12:35 PM
They are paying a lot of money to come here, don't you think that means they want to be here. What's the deal with wearing an American flag on a shirt...what does that even mean..Why do we need other people who are not from this country to be patriotic? Also wearing of the flag as a shirt,hat,or otherwise is disrespectful. The flag is meant to be raised and lowered and carried in to battle.
Aris July 09, 2012 at 04:16 PM
To continue on the thread above, does anyone recall what parking was like in the neighborhood when it was Fordham? The 1100 kids of EF don't have cars... And, no matter, they must generate income for Tarrytown. It would be interesting to hear the perspective of local businesses - do they benefit from EF? - as well as those home owners who rent rooms to EF students.
harris bank July 09, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Dam it!!! Leave the kids alone!!!!!
harris bank July 09, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I WAS THAT WAY WHEN I WAS A KID?? WERE YOU??
Krista Madsen (Editor) July 09, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Good questions. I know I see (and hear the various languages) of young people dining outside at Main Street restaurants.
DeeplyConcernedabout T-town July 09, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Harris, You & your brother were not like this as kids. Your mother would smack you down if you even tried!
wanda July 09, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Hey Harris ,You were like what? which sexy brother are you anyway?
K July 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM
The lack of supervision of the EF students (especially the younger ones, 13-17) concerns me. I fear something is going to happen to one of those kids. They are out all hours of the night without any chaperone. Why would their parents let them go to another country without any supervision? Would you consider letting your 13 year old go off to another country and be on their own?
Frank July 10, 2012 at 04:11 PM
There are two schools on the campus. The "younger" students with the high school program are off for the summer.
harris bank July 10, 2012 at 09:00 PM
The old slogan,. " If you can't beat em' join them. HaVE A PARTY WITH THEM OUT IN THE STREET. THEY WILL BREAK UP & YOUR PROBLEM WILL BE SOLVED..OR HAVE A PARTY YOURSELF IN THE EVENING & INVITE THEM WHEN YOU SEE THEM WALKING UP THE HILL. THEY WILL NEVER DISTURB YOU AGAIN.
harris bank July 10, 2012 at 09:01 PM
where is there girls 13 years old going to school at EF
wanda July 10, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Hey Harris , whats the deal you looking to hang out with 13 year olds and party with them. Something sounds wrong
Benjamin Sands July 12, 2012 at 02:47 PM
I live on Neperan Road and can vouch for the litter and noise. I can also vouch for how nice the EF kids are and how happy and respectful they are when talking with a "native" as I invariably chat with them as they go up or down the street. Kids will be thoughtless kids and if you think American kids are immune you should visit villages around the globe when they are inundated with American students who can be just as loud and thoughtless. My pet peeve isn't necessarily with the kids. Nor that the Village isn't doing enough or that they have made some tax arrangement with EF. Nor do I think that a drill sergeant telling new recruits not to litter is going to have much of an effect. Rather I don't understand why 7-11 and EF haven't implemented some type of cleanup patrol paid for and executed by those two entities. Almost 95% of the cans, bags and food boxes come from 7-11. The remainder from McD's. I would also hazard that 99% of the litter is generated by EF students and 7-11 is making money off of them hand over fist. So my question is, is 7-11 stepping up to the plate and doing something about all of the litter that they are generating? The only other litter that I have seen by a non EF student wasn't thrown by a walker. Rather it was tossed by a car driving by. So there you have the supplier, 7-11, and the consumer, EF, and neither is taking appropriate action to relieve the problem.
Tori Weisel July 12, 2012 at 02:49 PM
The school should institute a good-neighbor policy by having the EF kids participate in a mandatory Litter Pick-Up Patrol up and down Neparan three times a week as part of a community service initiative. The Patrol should consist of both older and younger students and possibly a chaperone as the program starts up. Nothing like Peer Counseling and positive influence to grow a sense of responsibility. The village and the town should institute the street as a "No Skateboarding" zone because it is dangerous not only for kids but for drivers as well. Kids can be kids, but littering and unsafe behavior must be remedied by adults structuring the consequences in a way that a lesson can be learned from it.
harris bank July 12, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Listen Wanda we should have an all night block party. I will get the band that does the macareena, charleston, tango, rumba, hustle, samba, line dancing, etc. If you do that , you can invite the students. Did you ever see the girls from Norway & Sweeden. They are not 13 because theree is no 13 year old there. They have girls from Norway, Sweden that are 6'2" and tower over you, Wanda.
harris bank July 12, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Mr. Sands, it should be up to the village to keep the streets clean. Don't they clean up the next day?? If not call Scott Weaver at the village garage.
harris bank July 12, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Who is Wanda, anyway???
Krista Madsen (Editor) July 12, 2012 at 05:37 PM
To address the tax question that comes up often in this thread, Village Administrator Mike Blau said, "EF School did not receive any tax break from the Village and in fact, their property tax bill to the Village of Tarrytown is $201,617.29 for this fiscal year."
True Believer July 12, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Ms garcia is correct in one aspect. EF was there when Marymount-Fordam owned it. So why did we not have this problem then? I will tell you why: security @ MMC-Fordham was top notch with more than just a couple of guards. EF is too cheap to hire the proper help. Their main concern is $$$ With regard to a shuttle if you read the minutes of their app. A shuttle was a requirement. Garcia says it was not utilized? Then why are there taxis along MM avenue (sometimes as many as 10) It looks like a hack stand. TT board is lax in all matters.
harris bank July 12, 2012 at 06:10 PM
See what Krista says? 201,000 & change tax receipts from EF international. That is 201,000 more in the coffers since it was not taxable prior to their ownership. However, it helps somewhat but miniscule.

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