BY MARIA BROWNSELL
The Town Board Workshop Meeting in Clarkstown on April 21 was opened up with a speech by Hon. Christopher St. Lawrence, the Town of Ramapo’s Supervisor.
“It’s time for Samuel Road to be opened up,” said St. Lawrence. There is a gate at Newport Drive in Nanuet, where it intersects with Samuel Road in Chestnut Ridge.
“I hope my words today will help us from lawyering up, because we will.” He said that the road needs to be opened up for the safety of the residents. He mentioned an incident where an ambulance had to take a detour to get to an emergency situation, which delayed them about 12 minutes, greatly affecting the patient’s outcome. He said by having the road blocked off by a gate, it has become an area of crime, with needles and drug paraphernalia being found.
Clarkstown Town Attorney, Amy Mele, explained that Samuel Road used to be a dead end for about 30 years. It wasn’t too long ago that a new road was added that opened it up. There are also keys distributed to emergency personnel for the gate in case of emergency situations. Clarkstown is currently waiting on a court decision about the gate and will know the outcome in the next few weeks.
Highway Superintendent, Wayne Ballard, continued his discussion on road repairs, asking the town board for an additional $2.5 million on top of their budgeted amount. He said he can’t say which roads will be completed until he knows exactly how much money he will have. He will then cluster the areas that are close together to get as much done as quickly as possible. Supervisor Alexander Gromack asked the town board if they want to approve this one time change. Councilman George Hoehmann was not at the last workshop meeting where the roads were initially discussed and didn’t feel comfortable making a decision without further analysis and research. He wants to see what can be cut from the capital budget to make room for these additional costs. He said they need to have a larger discussion on what they are doing with the roads for maintenance on a year to year basis.
Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner expressed concern about further cuts in the budget, as they have already cut deeply to get where it is. Gromack said they will all take the next week or so to see what, if anything, can be cut, but agreed it may be difficult. For now, Ballard will allocate the funds that he already has so they can get started on some of the roads.
The Davenport Preserve, which consists of 83.5 acres in two parcels, was back up for discussion. The properties were transferred to the town via two life estates and have a restrictive covenant on them. On the property, there is the Zippy Fleisher House, which would cost between 153,000 and 195,000 dollars to renovate or 12,250 dollars to demolish. Councilwoman Shirley Lasker has been working to find a way to preserve the property without demolishing it and without costing the taxpayer a ton of money.
A group called Strawtown Studio is interested in using the land for plant based education. Someone would live in the House on the property and would be responsible for the bulk of the renovations as exchange for living there. The town would be responsible for any asbestos removal, window installation, solar panel installation, and sewer/septic setup. Members of the public and the historical association were both concerned over somebody living there, wondering about the legality of the situation. They also want other options to be put out there besides this one only.
Mele assured that it is legal, and has been done in other places. Laurie Seeman of Strawtown Art and Garden Studio said that the land would be used within the guidelines of the covenant and said it would be the perfect spot for this type of education, for both children and adults. They bring art and science together, study gardening and plants, water shed teaching, and much more. They also have a capacity building grant which will get them started.
Gromack reminded the group that this is just a discussion and a decision will not be made yet.