New plan to renovate Riverhead schools comes in at $80 million

04/14/2011 1:09 PM |

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | Representatives from BBS Architects and Engineers presented an $80 million plan to fix Riverhead schools.

Riverhead taxpayers served up a big fat “no” last time, but they might be asked again later this year to allow the school district to borrow millions to upgrade overcrowded buildings, some of which need structural repairs.

The district may ask for permission to borrow up to $80.2 million, nearly $43 million less than the $123 million bond proposal voters rejected last year.

That’s the plan unveiled last week by the district’s Community Partnership for Revitalization team, a group of teachers, administrators and residents charged with preparing a new building improvement proposal. If the school board goes ahead with the plan, officials predict a vote would take place this fall.

District superintendent Nancy Carney and representatives from BBS Architects and Engineers of Patchogue presented total estimated figures for the capital improvement project during the committee’s monthly meeting last Wednesday night.
It was the first time all the numbers were presented publicly.

The plan calls for $80.2 million in spending, down from the $93 million architects first said a scaled-down version of the rejected plan would cost. Representatives from the firm insisted they were able to lower the cost without taking away any projects included in the $93 million plan.

“The only way we can come down from here is by taking away,” Ms. Carney said of the scaled back proposal when she addressed the committee and members of the public last week.

State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said the bond would most likely not be affected by the proposed 2 percent cap on annual tax levy increases, a measure that is expected to be passed into law in Albany later this year.

“It would be the only exception to pierce the cap,” he said, noting that the cap could be overridden by a super-majority of taxpayers.

He said the biggest obstacle the school district faces in getting the bond approved is the taxpayers.

“[The school district] would have to sell the Riverhead taxpayer on whether this is a good thing,” Mr. LaValle said. “If a person has $100 in their checking account and you’re telling them to write a check for $110, they don’t have the money.”

Mr. LaValle also said the Senate is exploring reforms to the Wicks Law, which requires local governments performing projects costing more than $50,000 to seek competitive bids from plumbing, electrical and HVAC contractors in addition to the general contractor. He called the Wicks changes, which could save money, a form of mandate relief.

If district officials hope to pass the plan, they will have to convince adamant critics like retiree Hal Lindstrom of Calverton. When the previous bond was being considered last year, Mr. Lindstrom printed 1,000 fliers pointing out what he thought were deficiencies in the plan and distributed those fliers to local residents, especially senior citizens.

He said this time around, he would be against any spending increase, especially if a plan called for building additions to the district’s existing schools.

“It seems that people in the school system feel that the taxpayers have an endless supply of money,” he said. “I just think the timing is wrong with the economy being so bad.”

Included in the plans are building new classrooms at Roanoke Aveneue Elementary, Riley Avenue Elementary and the middle school; a new cafeteria at Pulaski Street School; and a new kitchen at Aquebogue Elementary. The plan also calls for $35 million in upgrades to the high school, which would feature a new home and careers classroom and weight room, according to a copy of the blueprints obtained by the News-Review. Those plans were last updated March 2, so the price tags may have changed.

Not included in the plan, however, are $2.2 million in upgrades the committee defined as “wants,” such as security cameras at some district schools, repairs to the high school parking lot and replacing spotlights at the middle school.

The new plan also does not call for shutting down Roanoke Avenue Elementary school and reopening it as administrative offices, as was planned under the first bond proposal rejected last year. That bill would have been paid for with taxpayer money over 23 years.

The 35 revitalization team members who attended last Wednesday’s meeting did not agree on how to deal with the deteriorating roof at the district’s Osborn Avenue bus barn. One idea has been to put a separate $2.8 million bonding proposition on the ballot for money to renovate that building, including the roof. Another option has been building another facility somewhere else and using the space where the buses are now kept for athletic fields.

“The current bus garage is in really bad shape,” Ms. Carney said. “[But] if ultimately we don’t want it there, then I don’t want to throw $2 million at it.”

Many in attendance agreed the building is an eyesore.

“It would bring such continuity to the whole property,” school board member Amelia Lantz said of razing the garage and building another one elsewhere.

The committee is scheduled to meet again May 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Riverhead High School.

vchinese@timesreview.com

58 Comment

  • It is still a lot of money to be spending! I urge all Riverhead residents to vote NO!!

  • yeah def vote no…. why have kids spend tons of hours and build their life in a nice school. Lets build more baseball fields and re-do a soccer field for 30k dollars instead. WOOOOOO HOOOOO

  • I think that both comments are just plain RIVERHEAD!
    Our Schools are falling apart for this very reason…no one wants to put any money into them. The meetings have been going on for months and I personally have attended each and everyone. I would hope that both commenters would look at the big picture of our Community as a whole and that our Children deserve a great place to go to School each day. One that doesnt include screwed windows and leaking roofs nevermind overcrowded hallways.
    Please look at the project before your make a decision. This project is well planned and very good for RIVERHEAD.

  • EVERY TAXPAYER HAS THEIR RIGHT TO COMMENT HOW THEY FEEL.I ALSO AM ON THE COMMITTEE AND I DON’T SEE SECURITY CAMERAS AS A WANT NOR SPOT LIGHTS.THE DISTRICT IS TAKING AWAY ONE SECURITY GUARD AT REILLY AVE AND AQUEBORGUE SCHOOLS LEAVING THEM WITH ONE GUARD JUST LIKE THE OTHER ELEMENTARY BUILDINGS.IF YOU TAKE AWAY A GUARD THAT GUARD SHOULD BE REPLACED WITH SOMETHING ,WHY NOT A CAMERA?WANT?NOPE IT’S A NEED…..SPOT LIGHTS ARE ALSO A SECURITY AND SAFETY ISSUE….
    MR.ABC YOU WONT BE TOTALLY HAPPY BUT MOSTLY HAPPY.

  • I agree! They need to restructure the schools, rework their contracts and find out where all the money has gone. The cost per student is as high in districts that are not rated so low. Why?

  • You told us that about the last one.

    Which part of WE ARE BROKE don’t you get?

    You’re on the bloated payroll of the district, so I guess you wouldn’t know what financial hardship the rest of us are suffering.

    Another union goon who thinks money appears magically and not directly from the pockets of workers.

  • Wow…that is a lot of money and the public already spoke loud and clear the last vote. How about putting in one big project a year into the school budget until things are fixed. I wish the state would pass a law to only allow schools to vote in May. Now we have to watch closely on when they will try to pass this. I would love to redo my house but can not afford it. One project at a time, if something breaks they use reserve funds to cover it just like in real life.

  • Didn’t mean to “like” the comment. I’m staying neutral about the bond!

  • the district is rated low because of all the students who don’t give a crap, Riverhead is an excellent school district-you get out of it the effort you put in, you cant look at ratings based on other places because other places have different populations in them…judge for yourself the school’s rating which, if you ever look at the top half of the graduating class (you know the students who put effort in and want to learn) you will see that most of them are going to great four year institutions based on the education and extra curricular activities that Riverhead provides for them…..VOTE YES!

  • I agree with you that Riverhead offers many opportunities for kids. My kids are in AP classes, sports, and after-school clubs. You may it, what you want. BUT I can not afford to keep giving the school 5% increases each year plus another % for huge projects. The district has to find another way….it can not keep coming from the tax payer.

  • I’m sure a lot of the “union goons” you decry live in the district and pay the school taxes.

  • Oh Bradley you live a sheltered life. Numerous Principals live in District…Numerous Teachers Live in District…Our School Board President is a retired Teacher and Past Union President.
    Believe me there is not one hurting for money.We have two Board members whose Spouses work for the District. .However I do have to say along with that.Teachers took a concession on their contract But they still get a step raise. The Superintendent along with all the Assistant Superintendents and Principals along with Asst Supers all held off on their raises.The thing we don’t know is what were they offered in order to take what they took?The Teachers usually has one hand to wash the other…it’s always a give and take.Time will tell .

  • Know what? We’re lucky Riverhead has the teachers it has. Perhaps you would rather pay no school taxes and educate your kids at home. Demonizing the teachers and administrators out of jealously,resentment or envy is pretty sad.

    Sheltered life, you say?

    Why didn’t you become a teacher? Or a cop? Or any of those other civil servants who are paid so outrageously to your way of thinking? Too late now, I’d guess.

    Fed up? You could move to North Carolina like so many other Long Islanders. There, teachers are underpaid, can negotiate nothing,per pupil expenditures rank something like 42nd out of the 50 states, student achievement is equally low, and pay has been frozen for the past 4 years, with no relief in sight. Yassuh!

    You can’t have it both ways. Even our best Long Island districts are hurting because of cuts in state aid. What “time will tell,” as you put it, is whether our students will remain competitive in today’s world. It doesn’t appear so, but blaming the teachers is not going to solve anything.

    Do you really think cutting programs, increasing class size, and laying off teachers will make for improved student performance?

    Of course not!

    Let’s face it, we’ve all lived sheltered lives for the past few decades. There ain’t gonna be much if any shelter from here on out.

    Get used to it, and stop sniveling. Try volunteering at your neighborhood school. They could use the help.

  • So there you have it. Brad has summed up the far left’s position perfectly.

    Shut up you “sniveling” working families, there are gym teachers who need $100k pay packages no matter how much suffering it causes you through ultra-high taxes. You and your family are to serve one purpose: support the ever growing, ever higher compensated government worker class.

    How much is enough Brad? Maybe you’d like to see teachers $300,000 as a starting salary. Of course, don’t dare measure performace, as that would be an affront to the “educators”.

  • By the way, isn’t it ironic that the very same people telling us we need to shut up and just give more, and more, are the same ones who tell us how wonderful illegal immigration is and how it’s our duty to pay for the education of half the third world’s children at $20k per student, per year.

  • So what’s your point? Teachers and school administrators should be paid minimum wage?

    Everybody in the middle class, or what’s left of it, is struggling in this economy . Your blindered “left/right”
    division of the world is not flattering. It’s too typical of the complainers who vote against their own self interest. So, who did you vote for in the last election?

  • Bradley don’t get your undies in a bunch.I never said I was Fed Up.In fact I’m on this committee , I’m not saying if I agree with the committee I’m only one person and there are a lot of members .The voters will be the ones to have the final say so.
    As far as Volunteering..your barking at the wrong person.I was 2 years Secy in the Middle School PTO…2yrs VP on The High School PTO…4 Years President High School PTO…4 Years President of the PTO Executive Council.I also Volunteer my time to tape the school Board Meeting and have them put on Riverheads Government and Education Channel so the community that is busy working 2 and 3 jobs can see what is going on in our schools.
    I didn’t become a Teacher because I don’t have the personality that I believe a Teacher should have and to tell you the truth it’s none of your business what I do but with the way you went off
    we all know that your a dime person…
    I don’t tell people how to vote for the simple fact I am not in their pocket book I try to facts as I know them and most of the time it’s both sides.I’m a big believer in Freedom of speech.So everyone has their right to nay or yea this bond.However you have no right to attack me……

  • Bradley don’t get your undies in a bunch.I never said I was Fed Up.In fact I’m on this committee , I’m not saying if I agree with the committee I’m only one person and there are a lot of members .The voters will be the ones to have the final say so.
    As far as Volunteering..your barking at the wrong person.I was 2 years Secy in the Middle School PTO…2yrs VP on The High School PTO…4 Years President High School PTO…4 Years President of the PTO Executive Council.I also Volunteer my time to tape the school Board Meeting and have them put on Riverheads Government and Education Channel so the community that is busy working 2 and 3 jobs can see what is going on in our schools.
    I didn’t become a Teacher because I don’t have the personality that I believe a Teacher should have and to tell you the truth it’s none of your business what I do but with the way you went off
    we all know that your a dime person…
    I don’t tell people how to vote for the simple fact I am not in their pocket book I try to facts as I know them and most of the time it’s both sides.I’m a big believer in Freedom of speech.So everyone has their right to nay or yea this bond.However you have no right to attack me……

  • How is it possible that the cost is $2.8 million to REPAIR the ROOF on the bus barn? And IF the decision is made to raze it, why does it NEED to be replaced…somewhere else? Why not get some LEGIT, NOT inflated bids for a NEW, STEEL building, at least as big as the old one, on the SAME site, from LOCAL contractors? Like South Fork Contracting? Or Tebbens Steel? I’m not in steel construction, but I’ll bet a new building, WITH A ROOF, that will last 20 or 30 or 50 years — would be under a million bucks. Yes, probably far under. What kind of roof are we getting for $2.8 million? Just for a roof? Is it gold-plated? Come on, stop padding your friends’ pockets, Riverhead School Board…and Ms. Carney. I know that’s the way it has always been, but that is NOT the way it needs to be.

  • I was told that the 2.8mill for the bus barn isn’t for just a roof.They have to repair the bathroom and enlarge it and bring it up to code as far as handicap.They also are going to put siding on the building.They said it will look pretty when they are done flowers and bushes and stuff…
    Don’t bite my head off ..I’m only a messenger..lol

  • Hey, thanks for all the volunteering.

    You of all people then, should see the need for good schools.

    So what, besides not having the personality you feel a teacher needs, is your gripe, exactly?

    And hey, though “we” all might not know it, some of my best friends are dimes!

  • You seem to have a problem discerning who is and who is not telling you to “give more and more” and if anybody whatsoever is telling you your duty is to “pay for the education of half the third world’s children.” I can’t imagine who, but you sure can.

    Too bad you live in such a tortured world. Better luck next time. (Maybe you’ll come back on the “far left.”)

    Booga! Booga!

  • I know many dimes also as far as a gripe I was just trying to show what is going on it don’t mean it’s my gripe.I’m on this committee and I don’t believe in everything they took out ….However like I said earlier many in the group like it.
    The reason the District got so unmaintained is because for years Board members took maintenance money out so a budget would pass.For Years we had Board members that were on forever.13 yrs 28 yrs etc…Yet we sat back thinking all along our buildings were being taken care of…Trusting those we put in to represent us.Mean while they all stuck it up ,well you know what I mean….So if you vote with your heart or your pocket book it doesn’t matter ..we all have reasons why we do what we do behind the curtain..and that don’t make anyone a bad person..just do what you have to do..and what you feel is right..
    Have a good Night Bradley

  • “Voting against their own interest”.

    You really show your true colors here. This is a the mantra of liberals who can’t understand why certain groups don’t vote in lockstep with the left. Poor people, minorities, women….anyone who strays from the Democrat plantation must be too stupid to participate in democracy. Don’t worry though, Brad knows whats best for you.

    I never suggested teachers get paid minimum wage. They should be paid a wage comensurate with the job and their performance.

    You seem to think it’s perfectly OK to impoverish taxpayers in order to fund upper middles class salaries and benefits for government workers, regardless of their performance.

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  • I’m ending this tiresome correspondence. Your supercilious attributions and obvious prescriptions for who should determine teacher salaries (you and others of your ilk) ring hollow. Too bad you can’t see beyond your self imposed left/right view of reality.

    Scapegoating teachers and school administrators for the problems of the middle class is not only pathetic, but despicable.

    Have a happier life sometime.

    Ta ta!

  • The bus barn rises again. Why not knock the building down and park the buses on the space where it stood? When the economy starts looking up then plan a new building if it’s proven one is needed. Why is it educators just don’t get it? The nation is BROKE, so make do with what you have. If all the educators in America didn’t get a raise for two years, they and theirs would not suffer any undue hardships. Be grateful you have jobs.

  • So who should determine those salaries Brad?

    The taxpayers should decide, period. If they want to pay $1,000,000 a year per teacher, and can live with the resulting property taxes, then so be it. If they want to pay $50,000, and then find the teachers willing to work for that amount are not of the caliber they want, then they can elect to raise the budet to get the desired outcome.

    Who taught you that government employment was a social program? Why shouldn’t taxpayers get good value for their money? More to the point, why should they overpay?

  • I’m not going to say your right or wrong I just want to say to knock the bus Barn down will cost more than the 2 mill.The Barn is only used to park the mini buses and for repairs.We really don’t need the Barn at all ,what we need is at least 2 or 3 bays for repairs.
    Everyone has their own idea on the barn..I would love to keep it because of the history of it and you want it down..lol..you have more people on your side.At the meetings they want it down so they can have more Fields for sports.Thats a great idea but you take into consideration how many years prior to regulations on spilling out oil and fuels the buses were their.Prior to the Buses it was the Highway dept….they not even dumped oil and fuel ..but they poured out the tar for the roads and rolled it into the stuff they swept up and then placed it on the roads..I would hate to see how much it would cost to reclaim that…
    Have a nice night

  • Maybe if you get your facts confirmed before you write or speak, you won’t get yourself in so much drama..

  • Maybe if you get your facts confirmed before you write or speak, you won’t get yourself in so much drama..

  • Guest why are you hiding behind a false name?

  • I WILL TELL YOU WHERE ALL THE MONEY HAS GONE, AND YES I AM WRITING IN CAPS BECAUSE I AM SHOUTING!!

    THE MONEY WAS TAKEN OUT OF MAINTENANCE IN ORDER TO PASS THE BUDGETS FOR THE PAST 30 YEARS AND NOW WE ARE BEING ASKED TO FOOT THE BILL.

    LET THE TEACHERS AND ADMINS TAKE A PAY CUT TO PAY FOR THIS.

    TALK ABOUT “WANTS” AND “NEEDS”. LISTEN TO THE TEACHERS AND ADMINS “I WANT! I WANT! I WANT!’”

    VOTE NO!!!!

  • If you have been at every meeting, like I was too, you know WHY this work wasn’t done and the district has a lot of nerve asking us to foot the bills. We cannot keep giving you people raises, PLUS pay for these repairs. Dip into your own pockets, we’re broke broke broke. Or are you the RETIRED PENSION COLLECINT FORMER TEACHER who thinks we have the money stuffed in our mattresses and don’t want to take it out?

  • THey can afford to pay them , they make 3 times what I do, Bradley. Glad you’re so well paid.
    And P. S. many of them live in Southold, guess why? Lower taxes.

  • And yet, Bradley, many of our RETIRED TEACHERS and COPS MOVE to NC, TEnnessee, and other states just like you describe. Why? They think the taxes on LI are too high. When we have EIGHT assistant superintendants making 170,000 each and it isn’t unusualy for a teacher to make 140,000, when a pension collecting pig is earning $800 a DAY (Bradly there are many people in Riverhead who don’t make $800 a week), get ready for the uprising, it is coming.

  • Thank you for that Vera, you have been at many meetings and I would hate to see you have a “side”.

  • Sensiblein Riverhead….If you find that building for under a million bucks prove it!
    Get us some quotes and see what you got. I dont think thats possible. Just knocking down the exisiting building to put up your under a million building would run the taxpayer probably half a million. Gas tanks, steel disposable. Come on show us what you got!

  • After throwing out grenades, you’re “ending” this correspondence? YOu have a lot of nerve accusing people who are flat broke of all the things you have. I’m very happy you are so flush, may God bless you as much as he has our public employees.

  • Boy, are you in a dream world.

    So long, peasants. I arranged for my jet to leave for Mustique in just a few minutes, and my limo is waiting.

    Are you for real?

  • Boy, are you in a dream world.

    So long, peasants. I arranged for my jet to leave for Mustique in just a few minutes, and my limo is waiting.

    Are you for real?

  • Boy, are you in a dream world.

    So long, peasants. I arranged for my jet to leave for Mustique in just a few minutes, and my limo is waiting.

    Are you for real?

  • LOL talk about delusional and paranoid.

  • You think teachers salaries are set by the free market? Are you insane Brad?

  • NR and “guest:”

    Can’t take it? You get a vote on the school budgets. It’s called “democracy.”
    Teachers bargain collectively for their salaries with the school board, which is elected by the citizens.
    If you think that’s insane, why don’t you two get together and become Southerners. In due time, you might even be able to secede again.

    Wake up and look around! Big Business, the Kochs of the world and the others who fund our politicians, write our laws, and have so negatively affected our middle class lives have arranged things so the federal government is cutting jobs and decreasing funding to the states, which in turn are also eliminating their own “high paid government jobs.”

    Faced with that loss of revenue, states slash funding to the local governments, like Riverhead’s. Some see this as part of a union busting attempt to get rid of those workers who vote Democratic, so the corporations can complete their seizure of government and continue the assault on America’s middle class.

    Middle class wages have barely budged in decades, while the upper echelon rich have increased their wealth immensely. That’s why the income gap in our nation is now the highest it’s been in memory.

    As the baby boomers retire, many are starting to realize the once viable “three legged stool” for retirement (your pension, savings, and Social Security) doesn’t work. Most retiring folks have very little if any savings, pensions are largely a thing of the past (except for those pesky government workers- the last part of the middle class that still have such benefits) and thus they will face disaster as they spend down what they have.

    If we eventually descend into civil unrest, it will be a shame if people who sympathize with the sentiments of NR and “guest” are manipulated into focusing their frustration and anger at their fellow middle class citizens, instead of where it belongs.

    “Class warfare?” People like those two unfortunates don’t even seem to recognize that the war is being fought every day-against the middle class. And so far, the other side is winning.

  • NR and “guest:”

    Can’t take it? You get a vote on the school budgets. It’s called “democracy.”
    Teachers bargain collectively for their salaries with the school board, which is elected by the citizens.
    If you think that’s insane, why don’t you two get together and become Southerners. In due time, you might even be able to secede again.

    Wake up and look around! Big Business, the Kochs of the world and the others who fund our politicians, write our laws, and have so negatively affected our middle class lives have arranged things so the federal government is cutting jobs and decreasing funding to the states, which in turn are also eliminating their own “high paid government jobs.”

    Faced with that loss of revenue, states slash funding to the local governments, like Riverhead’s. Some see this as part of a union busting attempt to get rid of those workers who vote Democratic, so the corporations can complete their seizure of government and continue the assault on America’s middle class.

    Middle class wages have barely budged in decades, while the upper echelon rich have increased their wealth immensely. That’s why the income gap in our nation is now the highest it’s been in memory.

    As the baby boomers retire, many are starting to realize the once viable “three legged stool” for retirement (your pension, savings, and Social Security) doesn’t work. Most retiring folks have very little if any savings, pensions are largely a thing of the past (except for those pesky government workers- the last part of the middle class that still have such benefits) and thus they will face disaster as they spend down what they have.

    If we eventually descend into civil unrest, it will be a shame if people who sympathize with the sentiments of NR and “guest” are manipulated into focusing their frustration and anger at their fellow middle class citizens, instead of where it belongs.

    “Class warfare?” People like those two unfortunates don’t even seem to recognize that the war is being fought every day-against the middle class. And so far, the other side is winning.

  • Bradley, you know as well as I do that the budget has nothing to do with salaries. THe Koch brothers I have no ability to control. THe school district I do. Civil unrest is what we need.

  • NR,

    You sound pretty restive to me. Was your vote in the minority during the last school board election?
    Sure sounds like it.

    You don’t have one of those tricorn hat costumes, do ya? Some of them have such pretty nice lace jabots. Woo! Woo!

    See you on (the other side of) the hustings.

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  • You make no sense at all. Repost in English and I will respond.

  • Don’t you read the English language, or have one o’ them dictionary thingies?

    Please- no more responding.

  • Money for even more Athletic Fields, a Weight Rooms, and a Bus Barn? The last I heard, playing fields and Bus Barns don’t increase reading and math scores.

    Just vote NO. Let’s focus and getting by on less. Every segment of society does this, why do schools expect to be treated differently?

    Get by with less and you’ll see how much you can do without….. That’s how my house and business work.

  • New athletic fields, a weight room, and a Bus Barn? How are these expenses relate to better reading and math scores.

    The whole system has to change….I’d like to know how much goes directly to math and english skills and then just cut everything else.

    Get by on less. You’ll be amazed how much you don’t need. That’s how my house and my business operate.

    Thanks.

  • To Anonomous07

    You say “the district is rated low because of all the students who don’t give a crap”.

    Well these people who don’t give a “crap”, are your customers. And if they don’t care, then why should we continue funding a school who can’t find a way to engage these students?

    It’s the schools job to educate all students, not just the easy ones. Remember, its a job and that’s why you get paid.

    Thanks again.

  • Maybe the president of the school board would like to come on and explain why we need to fund a bond. Hint: they cut the funding for repairs so they could keep their raises. It’s for the CHIIIIIIIILLLLDDDREEENN!!!

  • Why aren’t the sources from whom this information was directly taken and published, verbatim, cited as the real author? It’s a bit deceiving.

  • This is just bending the rules to make money. The Pine Barrens should be left alone. Do you really think they were planning on building $369,000 homes back in 1993. Grandfather clause in this…

  • With so many homes in Suffolk County either vacant or under forecloser, this should never have been started. who in the world can afford these homes? Certainly no one working on this Island, except maybe policeman.And most of them have homes already…We need more green areas not more homes….