As schools in Riverdale opened for the new school year last week, sidewalks and streets throughout the community were teeming with students and parents.
However, one neighborhood was a marked exception: the exclusive 140 acres of Fieldston.
Private security guards manned barricades at entrances to the neighborhood Sept. 10 and 11, denying entrance to drivers residing outside of Fieldston in addition to buses and commercial vehicles.
Local private vehicles were allowed to resume using the neighborhood’s streets last Wednesday. But in adherence to Fieldston’s longstanding practice, buses and commercial vehicles are still prohibited.
While the closure for private vehicles lasted just two days, it left residents who live outside of Fieldston livid.
“It makes me want to sell my house and get the hell out of this community, because I don’t have access to the community,” said Todd Rubinstein, whose house is adjacent to Fieldston. “The point of living in Riverdale is you have access to certain things.”
Mr. Rubinstein said guards prevented him from driving through Fieldston on Sept. 10 and 11, forcing him to take a circuitous route to work and to vote at his polling site in Manhattan College.
However, Brendan Contant, the president of the Fieldston Property Owners’ Association board (FPOA), said the road restrictions are intended to preserve the neighborhood’s streets, which the owners of the 225 homes in Fieldston pay to maintain.
“The streets are owned by the FPOA and are recognized to be private, as is the sewer system that lies beneath,” he stated. “In order to preserve this arrangement, as well as to remind the public at large, the FPOA engages in periodic street closings.”
Mr. Contant wrote that despite the private ownership of these streets, 4,300 vehicles on average pass through Fieldston every weekday.
Some Fieldston homeowners complained the recent closures were too extensive, but all requested anonymity to avoid conflicts with their neighbors.