NXIVM gets nixed by residents

Community News/July 31, 2003
By Jennifer Mapes

Already worried about traffic that may accompany the facility, which may be open seven days a week, neighbors searching the Internet for information about Executive Success Programs have found that some consider the group a cult. The project was brought before the Planning Board in late June. Introduced as NXIVM, the center would be run by Executive Success Programs, which is currently based in Albany, representatives said.

The two-story, new-age building is set to be 66,900 square feet and would include a physical therapy center and on-site day care. The Woodin Road area is zoned for commercial businesses.

At June's Planning Board meeting, Nancy Salzman, NXIVM's president, said the center teaches people to maximize their potential through parenting, relationship and executive success classes.

Gregory Mayo of Stone Quarry Road sent printouts of an anti-cult Web site that has published several reviews of ESP literature by cult experts to the town.

One is provided by an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences at the University of California in Los Angeles, John Hochman.

Hochman writes that based on an ESP manual and their Web site, the organization, "is quite similar to aspects of a number of cults and cult-like organizations with which I am familiar."

He notes that the program is based on secrecy and that the program's founder, Keith Raniere, must be addressed by participants as "Vanguard."

According to the Ross Institute Web site, ESP programs cost from $1,200 for a three-day course to $7,500 for a 16-day course.

Neighbors said they were concerned with what they found on NXIVM's Web site.

"Their Web (site) sounds like brain washing or some type of cult," wrote Tammy and John Quinn of Woodin Road in a letter to the town. Julie Mayo wrote in a July 28 letter to the town that she had witnessed an unauthorized groundbreaking ceremony at the proposed NXIVM site at 6 p.m., July 16.

"Some people were on their hands and knees kissing the ground, scoop ing up the soil and kissing it, some were rolling on the ground," she said. The Mayos led a list of 19 people on a petition asking the town to deny NXIVM's application.

The Quinns also expressed concern about the safety of their children, who walk to school along Woodin Road. "The traffic would be ridiculous," they wrote.

Town Historian Ellen Kennedy, who lives on Stone Quarry Road, agreed. "This commercial development would result in increased danger to the residents who travel this road," she said in a July 25 letter to the town.

On Tuesday, nine letters opposing NXIVM were in town files.

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