NYT on Kiryas Joel Population Explosion
Little piece in today's NY Times about the baby boom in Kiryas Yoel, the Satmar Chasidic megavillage north of NYC :
KIRYAS JOEL, N.Y., Aug. 22 — As the administrator of this village in southern Orange County, Gedalye Szegedin knows that much of his job revolves around a simple equation: the number of girls who get married is roughly equal to the number of new homes this community will need to accommodate its rapid growth.But the overdevelopment of the village has residents of neighboring communities predictably panicking about a potential influx into their towns of Chasidim who are getting crowded out of Kiryas Joel:
Last year, Mr. Szegedin oversaw the construction of 200 houses and apartments, mostly on the outer-lying lots along the eastern edge of this 1.1-square-mile community, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclave about 60 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. By the end of this year, he said, the village will most likely have 300 new homes.
“There are three religious tenets that drive our growth: our women don’t use birth control, they get married young and after they get married, they stay in Kiryas Joel and start a family,” Mr. Szegedin said.
“Our growth comes simply from the fact that our families have a lot of babies,” he added, “and we need to build homes to respond to the needs of our community.”
But developable land is a finite resource here, and not much of it is left. And as Kiryas Joel pushes up against its borders, nearby neighbors in the towns of Blooming Grove and Woodbury are moving aggressively to prevent the community from expanding by incorporating into villages of their own.I completely suport the residents' of Kiryas Joel's right to live and procreate as they wish. I am also sympathetic to their problems of lack of space for their exploding population numbers. That said, I can fully understand the feelings of those residents in neighboring villages who feel that the choices of the Kiryas Joel residents are being foisted on them, and their resistance to having the housing and living styles of the Chasidim encroach upon their homes - free country or not.
“We still have huge tracts of open land in Woodbury, and we want to keep it that way,” said Woodbury’s supervisor, John P. Burke, who grew up in the Bronx and moved to Orange County in 1969.
“We want to make sure that no outside community is able to completely transform the character and the look of our town,” he said. “If we need a village to do that, so be it.”
...“We just don’t understand why they have to keep pushing their expansionist ideas on us,” said Charles J. Bohan, who is the supervisor of the Town of Blooming Grove and a resident of the new village, named South Blooming Grove.