Suffern, N.Y.: A Pedestrian-Friendly Place With City Access

After being transferred to a job in Mahwah, N.J., Andrew Mitchell was hoping for a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood like the one he had left behind in Annapolis, Md. He found what he was looking for just across the New Jersey state line, in Suffern, N.Y., where he recently moved into a new apartment building close to the commuter rail station and the shopping district.

“I wanted a place that had great walkability, where most errands could be accomplished on foot,” said Mr. Mitchell, 64, a regional training coordinator for Jaguar Land Rover North America. He now pays about $2,000 a month for a one-bedroom at the Sheldon, a 92-unit luxury rental complex.








Lafayette Theater

Suffern Free Library

Suffern train station

Mahwah R.














1/2 mile

By The New York Times

The Sheldon is the first major residential development in Suffern in decades, and its developer, Joshua Goldstein, who grew up in Suffern and is president of the Lynmark Group, and Mayor Ed Markunas hope it will bring more foot traffic to local stores and restaurants.

With 11,000 people living in two square miles, the village of Suffern, part of the town of Ramapo in Rockland County, offers a compact downtown and a train commute of around an hour to New York City, as well as access to the New York State Thruway and Interstate 287. Although it is largely residential, the village is also home to Good Samaritan Hospital, Avon’s research and development center, the Salvation Army’s College for Officer Training and the Tagaste Monastery, which serves a Catholic religious order.

One recent challenge for officials has been the shutdown of a Novartis pharmaceutical plant that employed hundreds of workers and was the village’s largest taxpayer. Since the shutdown, Suffern’s annual tax revenue from the 162-acre property has dropped from a high of $1.1 million to about $329,000, according to the village clerk’s office. The plant’s new owners are offering leases on office and warehouse space.

CreditKatherine Marks for The New York Times

Beth Toubin, 46, a teacher and single mother of 14-year-old twins, moved to Suffern 17 years ago, in part because it was more affordable than Westchester and Bergen counties. She has been happy with Suffern’s schools, she said, because of their services “for advanced children and for children with special needs, as well.”

There are many opportunities for children to participate in sports and other activities, said Ms. Toubin, whose sons play soccer. She also likes the village’s diversity: Suffern’s population is about 8 percent Asian and 19.6 percent Hispanic, according to census figures.

“I think everyone should have that exposure to different cultures,” said Ms. Toubin, who teaches in a neighboring school district.

Gina Bertolino, 54, grew up in Suffern and lived in Orange County, N.Y., before returning in 2002 because she wanted to raise her sons, now 20 and 21, in the village.

“I wanted a place for my kids to be able to jump on their bikes and go downtown,” said Ms. Bertolino, who owns Mystic Images Salon on Lafayette Avenue. Her husband, Joseph Bertolino, 61, works in the village as a construction administrator for an architect.

Mike Curley, 58, a retired New York City firefighter, owns Curley’s Corner, a restaurant and bar on Orange Avenue, and has lived in Suffern since he was 11. Mr. Curley said he appreciates the neighborly spirit, as well as the proximity to the train and highways.

As he put it, “Suffern has a small-town feel with big-city access.”

Suffern is right on the New York-New Jersey border, near Harriman State Park, and about 35 miles northwest of Times Square.

Near the shopping district, houses built before World War II line quiet streets. Other neighborhoods have homes built in the postwar period.


CreditKatherine Marks for The New York Times

The village has a number of townhouses, condos and co-ops, including units in two midcentury garden complexes, Stonegate Homes at Suffern and Bon Aire Park.

Debra Durkin, an agent with Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty in Suffern, said the village attracts many buyers from New York City. Although you’re only about an hour from the city, Ms. Durkin said, “you feel like you’re up in the country.”

Home prices range from about $30,000 for a studio co-op to around $500,000 for a colonial, with larger, pricier houses in the nearby villages of Airmont and Montebello, according to the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service.


CreditKatherine Marks for The New York Times

In the 12 months ending Aug. 1, 73 single-family homes sold in the village for an average price of $330,000, compared with 54 sales at an average of $317,000 in the same period a year earlier, Ms. Durkin said, based on figures from the multiple listing service.

Sales of condos, co-ops and townhouses jumped to 131 in the 12 months ending Aug. 1, up from 58 during the same period the year before. The average price of a condo, co-op and townhouse rose to $189,000 from $173,000 during the 12-month period.

Suffern’s supply of townhouses, condos and co-ops makes it more affordable than many other suburban towns, said Jon Paul Molfetta, a Keller Williams Valley Realty agent in nearby Woodcliff Lake, N.J., who is active in the Suffern market.

“I think that Suffern townhouses, for what they offer size-wise, are the best buy in Rockland County,” Mr. Molfetta said. Townhouses of 1,300 to 1,600 square feet (not including basement space) typically sell for $330,000 to $390,000, depending on their condition, he said.


CreditKatherine Marks for The New York Times

Suffern’s downtown area, centered on Lafayette Avenue, offers a number of ethnic restaurants, including Italian, Thai, Afghan and Mexican. The Lafayette Theater, a one-screen movie house that opened in 1924, features first-run and classic films.

Hikers can explore the trails at Harriman State Park. For wine lovers, there is the Torne Valley Vineyards in nearby Hillburn, N.Y. The shopping centers of Paramus, N.J., Nanuet, N.Y., and West Nyack, N.Y., as well as the Woodbury Common outlet center, in Central Valley, N.Y., are all within a 20-minute drive.

Small-town traditions include summer concerts, a fishing derby and parades for Memorial Day, Halloween, Veterans Day and Christmas.

Suffern’s library is “a community hub,” said Gertrude Szyferblatt, 61, a retired editor who bought a condo in Suffern 32 years ago.

Among the library’s unconventional programs are a sleepover for teens who complete a summer reading plan and Book a Librarian, a service that allows patrons to reserve one-on-one time with a staff member. Often, patrons want help setting up tablets and smartphones, said Carol Connell Cannon, the library director.


CreditKatherine Marks for The New York Times

About 4,100 students attend schools in the Suffern Central School District, which also serves Airmont, Hillburn, Montebello, Sloatsburg, Tallman and part of Monsey. The district operates five elementary schools, one middle school serving sixth through eighth grade, and Suffern High School, which serves ninth through 12th grade.

In 2018, 56 percent of students in third through eighth grade tested proficient in English language arts, compared with 45 percent statewide; 60 percent tested proficient in mathematics, compared with 45 percent statewide.

Suffern High School offers 27 Advanced Placement classes, and 97 percent of graduates in the class of 2018 continued to two- or four-year colleges, according to the district. In 2017-18, average SAT scores were 583 in reading and writing and 585 in math, compared with 534 for both statewide.


CreditKatherine Marks for The New York Times

Suffern is on New Jersey Transit’s Main-Bergen County Line. The trip to Penn Station in New York takes 55 to 80 minutes, with a change at Secaucus Junction. The fare is $14 one-way or $376 monthly.

Commuters who drive have easy access to Interstate 287, the New York State Thruway, Route 17 and Route 59. The trip can take anywhere from 40 minutes to two hours, depending on traffic.

Suffern was founded by John Suffern and incorporated as a village in 1796.

Fifteen years earlier, during the Revolutionary War, Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Count of Rochambeau, the commander of the French forces in America, camped in Suffern with 5,000 soldiers en route from Newport, R.I., to Virginia. Rochambeau’s troops then joined George Washington to fight the British at Yorktown, Va., in the final battle of the Revolution.

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Published at Wed, 21 Aug 2019 09:01:24 +0000