The biggest news story in Rosendale this past year was unquestionably also the town’s longest-running controversy, brought close to final fruition after a series of contentious public hearings. That hard-fought battle concerns the proposal by Hudson River Valley Resorts, LLC (HRVR) to redevelop the 779-acre former Williams Lake Hotel property in Binnewater. After a long lull, action on the application was revived in May when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued its acceptance of HRVR’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The Williams Lake Project is slated to consist of up to 154 for-sale residential units, including 83 townhouses, 59 detached single-family homes and 12 duplex workforce housing units, a 130-room hotel with a lodge and detached lakefront suites and cabins, a 500-seat conference center and two restaurants, a 17,000-square-foot spa, a fitness center, a wellness center, a pizza café and a historic interpretive center.
The project’s proposed density and use of townhouses required creation of a special zoning district called a Conservation Planned Development Area, which was approved — not without considerable controversy — by the Town Board in October. The town issued its own findings on the FEIS, and in December finally voted to approve HRVR’s Master Development Plan. The process now moves onto the docket of the Rosendale Planning Board for site plan approval, with HRVR hoping to break ground on the first phase of construction by the summer of 2014.
While consideration of the Williams Lake Project brought out large numbers of vocal supporters and opponents alike, one aspect of the redevelopment on which all Rosendalers could agree was the reopening in September of the segment of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail that passes through the former Williams Lake Hotel property. That milestone completed the process of linking the Wallkill/Gardiner/New Paltz/Tillson segment of the rail trail with the Rosendale/Hurley/Kingston segment, made possible by the opening of the refurbished railroad trestle over the Rondout in June.
Also on the community front, the entire façade of the beloved Rosendale Theatre was ripped open this past July to make way for Phase I of the Rosendale Theatre Collective (RTC)’s master plan to make the space more aesthetically attractive, comfortable and user-friendly — especially to folks with mobility issues.