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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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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.
TC Seyda Kılıçlıoğlu Tuna July 10, 2014 at 05:29 PM
I am a group leader who stayed in the campus for 2 weeks with 45 students.There is no enough security in the school,The town is lovely,people are kind but the school is terrible.I will never take my groups to here again.
True Believer July 10, 2014 at 06:20 PM
May I add again the reason there were no problems the prior 19 years with EF was one person ED LUGARI. As director of the entire campus he took NO nonsense from any students (EF or mArymount/Fordham) and you can check police blotters during that time to compare. They need someone like him to take charge of that campus and restore some order
Benjamin Sands July 11, 2014 at 09:41 AM
Town vs. Gown I may be a minority on this blog, but I have lived on Neperan for 21 years and do not find the situation as dire as some of the comments here. Indeed, my house was the one featured on YouTube with the Spanish kids bouncing on our trampoline. Re trash: It is true that trash is a constant irritant and it is also true that it would be very nice if EF were more proactive having someone walk down the street picking up litter at least once a day. However, it is also true that the trash problem has been reduced significantly since the trash bins were installed on Neperan. Given that most of the trash is refuse from 7-11 maybe the owners of that store should be brought into the discussion as they are the ones profiting (very significantly) from all of the student foot traffic. EF has shown itself to be concerned and has made efforts to ameliorate the problem. Could they do better? Sure, but I think they are doing a reasonable job, maybe a B instead of an A. Re noise: Yes, some kids do get noisy at night, particularly after 2am. Amusingly, I think Ms. Garcia was right when she pointed to the Spaniards as the culprits but the World Cup was only the latest outburst of Spaniards' joie de vivre. My family has witnessed the Spanish compulsive love of communal singing at various places around the world and can attest that they are probably the loudest tourists out there. Even worse than American tourists who just talk loud. Spaniards love to sing! Does that make them the Ugly Spaniard like the Ugly American of yore? And as far as teens being loud because they are in a foreign country... I used to live in Heidelberg, Germany and witnessed plenty of American students on their European school trips being very loud. It's the age. Can EF tell their students that it is culturally inappropriate to make that type of noise in an American village neighborhood? Yes. Will the teens listen? You get the drift. I love the fact that EF is up the street. It makes our neighborhood rich seeing not only the young faces from around the world but I thoroughly enjoy hearing the music of so many languages being spoken. The kids are polite and eager to make contact so striking up conversations is easy. Even those caught in the moment of youthful exuberance are quick to apologize and pick up their litter or quiet their voices if asked. My recommendations? EF does need to continue efforts to cut down on trash, perhaps in conjunction with 7-11. They also need to keep reminding kids, particularly those from countries where being on the loud side is a normal part of their culture, that they are guests here and should try to respect local norms. On the other hand, I think we are all indebted to EF not only for the taxes mentioned above but for being able to save the wonderful campus AND for enriching our community with the inflow of so many wonderful youngsters. Thank you EF!

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