By Johnny Liesman

The Village of Pelham, coordinating with the Pelham School District, will seek a new approach in projecting how local downtown apartment developments affect student enrollment in a $5,000 agreement with WXY Architecture and Urban Design. The agreement is laid out in six parts, but the Village has agreed only to the first three tasks, with the option to finish the proposed six after review.

Details of the agreement were disclosed at the Village of Pelham Board of Trustees meeting on June. 11.

In Task 1 and 2, WXY will examine current enrollment projections and school capacity information. Current enrollment projections do not reveal any significant changes through 2022-23, but WXY will attempt to highlight any potential capacity concerns stemming from local developments currently being built and others being proposed.

In Task 3, WXY will work with the Village of Pelham to determine what formula should be used to create a student generation multiplier, the number of school children likely to be generated by a new development. Previously, the Village of Pelham, as well as many other towns outside NYC, relied on a generation rates study developed in 2006 by the Rutgers University Center for Urban Policy Research. Known as the ‘Rutgers Study’, their study presents averages based on an analysis of census data and the types of people (school-aged children, public vs. private students, families…) that tend to live in different types of developments.

Instead of using the Rutgers methodology that is typically used by most developers proposing new housing, WXY has developed its own approach that relies on data more specific to individual municipalities. WXY most recently worked with this formula in New Rochelle.

“The multipliers [in New Rochelle] were determined through detailed census filters that considered similar developments (based on elements such as number of units, years built, income levels and locality),” wrote WXY Architecture in its proposal to the Village. “They were also checked against similar buildings within New Rochelle and took into account the local public school participation and attrition rates.”

In consultation with WXY, the Village and school district will determine whether or not WXY should follow through with this or stick with the Rutgers Study. If it is determined that the WXY method can work in Pelham, it will be included in the $5,000 payment.

“At the very least, what we think would be interesting is having this firm with its expertise meet with our school district, meet with us, look at all of the various projects… and look at all the information that is very specific to Pelham,” said Mayor Chance Mullen at the June 11 Village Board Meeting. “It’s very likely that they will say yeah you should use the Rutgers study, but if not, we would like to know what those new multipliers would be.”

The work is anticipated to take 6-8 weeks, and once the initial information is provided the Village can determine if WXY would like to finish step 4-6 of the proposal. Those steps would include the creation of a formula that would be used to determine a fee for developments that could impact the schools’ Level of Service (LOS). Fees would be charged the developer to pay for services that  maintain Level of Service. The method could also be used to charge developers for negative effects on traffic.

These tasks would only be conducted if the new generation multipliers project numbers significantly greater than the current projections.

“We’re going to learn a lot for $5000,” said Deputy Mayor Adam Kagan.

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