With the Samuel F. Pryor III Shawangunk Gateway Campground currently under construction and projected to open to the public this year, Gardiner lawmakers are taking steps to alleviate concerns about the potential danger of high-speed traffic to campground patrons crossing Route 299 or walking along the shoulder. At its meeting on Tuesday, March 11, the Town Board voted unanimously to authorize a letter to the New York State Department of Transportation officially requesting a reduction of the speed limit from 55 to 40 miles per hour near the campground entrance.
As the work on the site visibly nears completion, several Town Board members had expressed worry that many campground users will be rock climbers, and that some will opt to head up to the climbing routes of the Trapps and Near Trapps on foot, requiring them either to cross the busy road to a trail or walk along 299 itself. The consensus was that a 55-miles-per-hour speed limit at the crossing point constituted a potentially fatal accident waiting to happen.
The approximately 50-acre campground site will be owned by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and its operations managed by the Mohonk Preserve and the American Alpine Club. It will provide approximately 50 campsites, bathhouse facilities and a pavilion for educational programs. First proposed in 2006, the project has encountered stiff opposition over the years from neighboring homeowners, who fear that the new facility will foster the same kind of noisy, alcohol-fueled late-night parties associated with the Department of Environmental Conservation’s nearby Multiple Use Area campsite. The Shawangunk Gateway Campground will employ a full-time, live-in supervisor charged with maintaining public order and compliance with regulations designed to minimize negative impacts on the neighbors and the site itself.
During the “privilege of the floor” segment of the Town Board meeting, David Straus suggested that the town further enhance the safety of the crossing by adding pedestrian right-of-way signage at the campground entrance, similar to that used at crosswalks in downtown New Paltz. Former Town Board member Rich Koenig also pointed out that at present Route 299 has no gateway signage indicating to westbound motorists on Route 299 when they are entering the Town of Gardiner. Noting that the town line is located at the intersection of Jenkins Road, highway superintendent Brian Stiscia said that he would look into posting an “Entering Gardiner” sign at that spot.