The proposed conference center development for Partition Street in the village of Saugerties was debated last night at a long-awaited public meeting of the village's Planning Board. Today, the conversation is still going on at the comment boards at the Daily Freeman, which covered the event. Particularly at issue is whether the project will include public access to a waterfall over a dam on the Esopus Creek.
A commenter calling himself 1950kevin writes:
[T]he only " economic benefts" from this project will be reaped by the 3 owners. The rest of the village can only lose.
Ulsterresident10 took a more nuanced view:
I agree that the hotel and conference center done right would be good in the long run for the village and county. [H]owever[,] access needs to available and help the residents of saugerties particularly the small businesses there. ... [Don't] be hasty to dismiss this opportunity and at the same time protect the values of the area and maintain a balance ..
SaugertiesPublicAccess countered that the plan's critics don't want to shut it down entirely, just change it:
There is no opposition to the project, to its economic benefits, or the taxes and jobs it will bring. What is at stake is a walkway along the bluff with a scenic view of the waterfall that is easy to achieve using the same criteria of the size of the buildings and the number of parking spaces as the applicant proposes. This is a mere rearrangement of the internal pathways to open up the waterfront for all visitors, encouraging increased tourism to Saugerties.
And Rick12053 pointed out that most other towns in the Catskills would by dying for such a development dillemma:
I'm sure this project is no panacea, but it has to be net plus versus what occupies that site now. It is conceivable that the lodging and banquet business will draw some customers from existing businesses in the town, but I can't see how the village possibly loses.
Do you have any idea how thrilled most communities in Upstate NY would be to have this kind of development proposed? Sometimes I think there is a certain disconnect from reality displayed by people on these blogs. Yes a nature trail would be nice and try to get one, but ultimately you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.
Meanwhile, over at Saugerties Citizens for Smart Development, the group that has been most vocal in opposing the plan in its current form, Patrick Landewe, who spoke at the meeting last night, had his own post today. He reminded the Saugerties Village Planning Board that public access to the Esopus Creek waterfront is required under local zoning laws:
The duty of the Planning Board is make sure that development plans conform with the zoning law in its entirety, not to ignore parts of the law you think inconvenient or narrowly interpret criteria to favor the applicant ... A scenic waterfront walkway at this site has been part of public discussion for years and was included in previous proposals for the site, which created public expectation for a scenic walkway in the first place. However, the current site plan made a departure from prior visions for the site. I’d like to see the scenic walkway put back on the table for consideration, especially since the applicant was awarded $780,000 in public funds based upon a site plan which included access along the bluffs.