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Yorktown Hears Plans For School For Autistic Teens, Adults

Shrub Oak International School, which is affiliated with a Manhattan-based network of for-profit schools, is planning to open a facility for autistic teens and adults at the former Phoenix Academy on Stoney Street.
Shrub Oak International School, which is affiliated with a Manhattan-based network of for-profit schools, is planning to open a facility for autistic teens and adults at the former Phoenix Academy on Stoney Street. Photo Credit: Shrub Oak International School/Facebook

YORKTOWN, N.Y. – The grand brick edifice perched on a hilltop in the Yorktown hamlet of Shrub Oak has had many lives; first as a seminary, then a Bible college and later as a residential treatment center for troubled teens.

Now the 140-acre campus – 60 of which are forested -- off Stoney Street may become a private day and boarding school for people with autism.

David Steinmetz, an attorney who leads the applicant’s development team, recently presented plans for the proposed Shrub Oak International School to the town, according to ciyinfo.org.

The school is affiliated with Manhattan-based K3 Learning, an entity that runs dozens of for-profit schools in New York, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, its website said.

The Shrub Oak campus would serve 300 clients, ranging range in age from 14 to 30.

Steinmetz told local media that his clients in under contract to buy the property.

The school is seeking a special permit and site plan approval from the town Planning Board.

The proposal also calls for a helipad that would be made available to local first responders, ciyinfo.org reported.

A public informational meeting has been tentatively set for February or March. The exact date is expected to be set at the Planning Board’s Monday, Jan. 23 meeting.

According to ciy.org, the school will be staffed around the clock. Sixty people will be on duty during the night, and 150 during the day.

Two staff members will live on campus, ciyinfo.org said.

Clients are expected to come from all over, so one of the buildings may be used to house family members who want to stay overnight.

The applicant wasn’t able to estimate the number of visitors expected.

The main building will remain basically unchanged, but will be upgraded to meet current codes and security needs.

The parking area may be expanded.

The school, which will have a jitney service bringing staff to and from train stations, is working on a study of likely traffic impacts, ciyinfo.org reported.

The school’s website is already promoting the program as ready by the fall of 2018.

Construction, once all the approvals are obtained, is to take place in two phases.

Ciyinfo.org said the school may be able to start work on interior upgrades while the project is under review.

Because it is a private school, its buildings and land will go back on the tax rolls where it will generate revenue for the town, ciyinfo.org said. The town has to determine the property’s value so an assessment can made.

When Phoenix House, which closed 2015, was there it allowed the town to use one of its driveways to get to playing fields.

The school plans to improve the driveway and will continue to let the town use it until it builds its own to a sports complex being proposed at the site.

The school told the town that it currently has no plans to develop other parts of the property, including 12 acres on the other side of Stoney Street.

However, it left open the possibility that it may, for financial reasons, seek the town’s approval for a subdivision, ciyinfo.org said.

For more about the proposed school and its programs, click here.

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