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Catskill Gardens project discussed at planning board work session

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    Catskill Village Planning Board Chairman William Zwoboda (center) and board member Gil Bagnell (left) listen to Catskill Gardens project attorney Corey A. Auerbach.
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    Catskill Gardens attorney Corey A. Auerbach (center) speaks during a Catskill Village Planning Board meeting with project partners (from left to right) Rodney Morrison, of the LRC Group, Richard Tompkins, of Mauri Architects PC, Mike Newman, of CSD Housing, LLC and Charles Voss, of Barton & LoGuidice.
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    Proposed site plan for Catskill Gardens.
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    The proposed Catskill Gardens site on West Main Street near Creekside Restaurant in Catskill.
July 24, 2018 11:30 pm

CATSKILL — The Catskill Village Planning board discussed the environmental impact statement on the proposed Catskill Gardens, a $25 million low-income complex for adults with special needs, at a meeting at the Washington Irving Senior Center on Monday.

The proposed 18-acre site on West Main Street, near the Creekside Restaurant, would be a three-story, 90-unit apartment complex with options for one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Office space for educational programs, community space, a gymnasium and computer room would occupy 3,700 square feet.

The Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties proposed the development and Poughkeepsie-based Mauri Architects PC has been hired to work on it.

Project partners submitted an environmental assessment to the board for review prior to Monday’s meeting. The assessment gave the project a positive declaration but cited three potential environmental impacts: drainage, traffic and community character, project attorney Corey A. Auerbach said.

“When we talk about something like community character, we’re talking more about the integration of a specific land use and potentially the scale of structure or things like that, not about a specific population, Auerbach said.

The 60-day scoping process eliminates insignificant impacts from the review and clarifies what the board wants project partners to look at in the draft environmental impact statement, he said.

“Our hope is that we can take from you potentially today a scoping document where we can then provide you with that first draft environmental impact statement,” Auerbach said. “The draft scope is your document, it’s yours to change or modify, add to, within the purview of those three potentially significant environmental impacts.”

Planning Board Chairman William Zwoboda questioned whether support staff would be on-site for the special needs and low-income residents.

The building will be staffed 24 hours a day, CSD Housing and LLC Program Development Director Mike Newman said. CSD develops affordable housing for low-income residents.

“The mental health side pays for it because it’s kind of a standard the state wants to see that there’s staff there in case somebody has a problem,” Newman said.

Planning board member Gil Bagnell asked how the project will be integrated with recent neighboring developments such as Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts and the restored Black Bridge that crosses Catskill Creek.

“There’s a lot that’s moved into the area and the question is whether this project at that location is going to help, or hurt, or make no difference,” Bagnell said.

Lumberyard will provide a boost to the economy while the proposed Catskill Gardens doesn’t appear to, Zwoboda said.

“I don’t see how that will be an economic stimulus for the village,” he added.

Supportive housing residents enjoy the village’s pastoral setting and going to cultural events and restaurants like other residents do, Auerbach said.

“In today’s world of live, work, play, what could be better than to bring some density and for people to enjoy these wonderful amenities that your village offers,” Auerbach said.

No other plans for the property besides housing are being considered, Auerbach said.

“What we’re presenting to you is the full scope of what our development plans are,” Auerbach said.

The West Main and West Bridge streets intersection, Grandview Avenue to Broome Street, the intersection of Route 9W and West Main Street and the village’s Main Street intersections all have to be looked at during a traffic study for the project, A traffic study should be done while school is in session to obtain more accurate readings, planning board member Patrick McCulloch said.

“There’s a lot of traffic that goes down through the village of Catskill while school is in session,” McCulloch said.

More pedestrians will be walking the streets because of the project and the traffic study should include them, Bagnell said.

“We also live in a community that has a lot of foot traffic,” Bagnell said.

The planning board needs more information on the draft scoping document and its contents, Zwoboda said, adding another meeting will be held July 30 at 7 p.m. to get down in writing items the board wants included in the document.

“It would be impossible to have any future public hearings without really taking a look at a further in-depth study of what the issues are,” he said.

Project partners are treating the environmental impacts equally and mitigation measures will be incorporated so the environment will not be affected, Auerbach said after the meeting.

“We want to make sure the planning board is comfortable that we’ve analyzed those impacts and eventually we think it will lead to a positive finding statement,” Zwoboda said.

Catskill residents shared their thoughts at a public workshop meeting July 9 about the draft scoping document for the project, which applies to the preparation of a draft environmental impact statement, evaluating zoning and land use suitability of the proposed site to assess potential environmental impacts.

To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM

Of course, this project must move forward and be made. It's not a Greene County expense. It's good for people of all kinds.