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.
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.