MUCH ADO ABOUT ‘OVERYLAY’ DISTRICT

Kevin Nolan, one of many residents who questioned the reason for an “overlay” district” as public hearing continues

Dozens of residents turned out on Tuesday evening, March 26, for the continuation of the “overlay district” proposed for the area surrounding Stony Point’s Patriot Hills Golf Club.

Comprised of Stony Point residents Raja Amar and Brian Hayman, joined by Lawrence Melchionda, formed Patriot Hills, LLC specifically for the purchase of the golf course. The “overlay district” is comprised of the 25 acres surrounding the golf course to attract developers to the site in the hope to attract a hotel/conference center and other amenities to attract more golfers.

Kirkbride Hall, the ROE Building and Stony Point‘s Courthouse, would be updated and a new senior center would be built, but taking down the remaining buildings that housed the “feeble minded” until 25 years ago is problematic. The catch? The former mental hospital buildings are all connected through underground tunnels that houses the former facility’s asbestos-covered electric lines. The buildings also contain asbestos as well as lead paint and other contaminants, posing an expensive challenge to anyone looking to purchase the property and repurpose it.

One problem is the golfer’s clubhouse, which has no showers or lockers, a must-have for the sports aficionados. Another glitch is Incredible Caterers’ decision not to renew its contract with the golf course to continue running the catering venue at the Patriot Hills Country Club. To make matters even more problematic, Stony Point is still paying off the Mirant debt, which has made it next to impossible to make infrastructure improvements or buy new highway or EMS vehicles. Selling off the Letchworth Village property by creating the overlay district is the Town’s answer to making it worthwhile for potential developers, including Patriot Hills, LLC to buy the golf course and remediate the surrounding property.

The 25 acres in the overlay district does not include the ball park or the dog park. The buyer would also upgrade Kirkbride Hall, the ROE building and the Letchworth building where the town’s courthouse is located, should it end up buying the golf course.

Attorney Patrick Nugent said the draft of the Patriot Hills Incentive Overlay is available on the Town’s website and noted the Town has sent the Rockland County Planning Review the updated draft for the proposed district.

Susan Filgueras, a member of the Stony Point Action Committee for the Environment (SPACE), said the proposal to upgrade the property surrounding the golf course has been given the once over for several years and to date, no one’s come up with a specific plan of action to remedy the situation.
Most of the people who stepped up to the podium did not want to see more single-family homes and hoped the potential buyer of the golf course doesn’t plan on building a condo complex surrounding it. Someone suggested a 55 and over community, but Paul Carlucci said such communities could be “opening Pandora’s box.” Others said assisted living, a medical complex, skating rinks and indoor sports facilities for soccer and lacrosse would bring revenue to the Town from surrounding towns as well as its own population.

Councilman Tom Basile told one resident the land must be sold and cannot be leased “because no lender would give a builder a loan to build on leased property.” New resident Emily Harvey moved to Stony Point from Garnerville and suggested a small part of the property be developed into a cultural resource. “There is no art museum in Rockland County,” said Harvey. “Many large institutions are interested in expanding to satellite locations,” a suggestion that was widely applauded.

“Over the years, we have had many great ideas presented to us,” he added. “When the town was offered to take the Letchworth property nearly 20 years ago, it made it ineligible for government funding.”

SPACE’s George Potanovic waited patiently while other residents spoke their piece before getting up to the microphone. “We are paying for bad planning by former elected officials,” he said. “This property, as well as the waterfront, needs special attention. We need to think of jobs instead of housing. Why don’t we create a vision and re-do the zoning after we have definite plans for both the waterfront and this property. We need to get the Town taxpayers involved in this, as it affects us all. As residents, we need a plan to review and understand.”

The public hearing on the proposed overlay district will continue on Tuesday, April 9 at the ROE building beginning at 7 p.m.

In the meantime, the golf course is scheduled to be opened next week.