New Legislation Allows town to Create New Park and Move Forward with RPC Development Plans

PRESS RELEASE FROM SUPERVISOR ANDY STEWART

Local parkland must be “alienated” by NYS before it can be used for other purposes. Earlier this year, the Town worked with the NYS Assembly and Senate to obtain passage of legislation that would give the Town the right to use the 65 acres of Broadacres lands for commercial redevelopment. Through a successful lobbying effort involving the Town Board, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, Senator David Carlucci and the Town’s Albany-based lobbying expert Wilson Elser, Inc., Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law today, October 22, 2013.

The proposed “home rule legislation” envisions swapping Broadacres for compensating new parkland in the part of the RPC site that fronts on Lake Tappan, fulfilling a longtime goal of the RPC redevelopment process to create more public access to the waterfront, and preserve open space. The Town’s concepts for redevelopment are spelled out in detail in the Revised RPC Redevelopment Plan, and include the basic principles of improving the tax base through commercial development, avoiding saddling the schools and taxpayers with excessive residential development, improving access to the site from Veterans Highway and carrying out about $20M in demolition of abandoned state hospital buildings.

Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart said, “We’ve worked hard over the last year and a half to get the RPC redevelopment process back on track, and Cuomo’s signature is another step towards a success. It helps create the long-sought waterfront park, and it enhances the development potential of the rest of the site, making it more likely we will find investors willing to spend the estimated $20M to remove the 60 vacant hospital buildings that currently stand in the way of new construction.”

The legislation is also a key component of a partnership between the Town and the State, through the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), to develop unused State and Town-owned lands at the Rockland Psychiatric Center (RPC) site.

“Orangetown residents will soon be able to experience more diverse opportunities for recreation, including walking, jogging, bicycle riding, rollerblading and picnicking,” said Orangetown Town Supervisor Andy Stewart. “A new park along the shores of Lake Tappan will also expand visual access to the lake and provide a valuable scenic resource to Orangetown residents,” he said.

The closure of Broadacres will also provide the town with a new economic development opportunity. Earlier this year, the town and the ESDC began partnering in an effort to develop abandoned lands at the RPC site. ESDC will lead a marketing campaign that will advertise scores of town and state owned lands at the RPC site for private development, including the Broadacres lands. ESDC offers expert marketing guidance to localities in selling municipal lands.

“I am very pleased that the Town of Orangetown has begun a partnership with ESDC,” said Supervisor Stewart. “It has long been the town’s priority to develop vacant and abandoned lands at the RPC site. The Town-ESDC partnership will create a viable plan to achieve that goal.”

The Broadacres legislation is essential to the Town-ESDC development effort because it allows the town to reconfigure unused RPC lands in a manner that is best suited to achieve maximum economic gains. Moving parklands from the eastern border of the RPC site across the site to Lake Tappan will create a single contiguous parcel of developable land that is closer to major thoroughfares, like the Palisades Interstate Parkway and Veterans Highway.

“I thank all of our local legislators, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee and Sen. David Carlucci, for sponsoring this legislation and their efforts to pass it,” Stewart said. “I also thank Gov. Cuomo for signing this legislation and for providing Orangetown with ESDC’s support to move forward with a viable effort to develop the RPC site,” he said. “Together with Gov. Cuomo and ESDC’s support we will strengthen our future and improve the quality of life for all Orangetown residents.”

All RPC development projects will be subject to local zoning and planning review and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) process.