Neighbors on Butterville, Cragswood, Woodlot, Gatehouse, White Oaks and Canaan roads and Lenape Lane met with the New Paltz Town Board last week, talking about issues dealing with parking concerns near the Mohonk Foothills. The debate was about whether or not “No Parking” signs should go along the roads. Residents admitted they felt deeply about potential big changes close to home.
Bridget Regan, of Gatehouse Road, wanted to know why the Town Board was even toying with the idea of the signs. She urged the board to decide that they only have data — not anecdotes — guiding their decisions.
“I want to know what is the problem?” Regan said. “I’m not saying I’m for or against the ban, but I need to see data about Butterville. I want to see data about Woodlot. I want to see data about Cragswood. I want to see data about Canaan.
“Without data, you’re looking for a solution without defining the problem.”
Lisa Chason, of Outlook Farm Drive, noted that she used Butterville Road and Lenape Lane for parking. She thought that perhaps residents of the Mohonk Foothills area could get “resident parking” passes, like those common in beach communities, which would allow them parking access.
“I pay extremely high taxes to live in this community,” said Chason. “We don’t get a lot of services for the taxes that we do pay, proportionally. One of the things that we get is access to Mohonk. I’m happy to pay my annual fee to support Mohonk Preserve, but to not be able to walk on that property I think really becomes exclusionary for people who live there.”
Councilman Daniel Torres and other board members cautioned the community.
“I just want to make it clear, in case people aren’t aware, we don’t have a stance on this yet. We’re really not prepared to make a decision either. Really, what we’re doing is just listening,” Torres said.
Supervisor Susan Zimet noted that some groups of neighbors have asked for no parking areas. Others want to be able to park along the side of the road to hike or walk.
Board members seemed unclear about how they’d balance the conflicting input they received from the public.
David Porter, of New Paltz, said he thought the Town Board’s timing was off in discussing any parking issues until Mohonk Preserve can create parking for the Testimonial Gatehouse project.
“Mohonk Preserve, while they may hope to get their parking spots … at present there is no alternative parking space for people who want to go down Lenape Lane,” Porter said.
Neighbors said that even publicity of the Mohonk Preserve’s multi-million dollar plan — a plan to buy 534 acres of land from the Open Space Institute and rejuvenate the Testimonial Gatehouse — is driving traffic to the area. Curious onlookers want to check it out.
It’s not surprising. For motorists, Testimonial Gatehouse seems like a place out of time — a haunting, castle-like ruin that, on first viewing, has the feel of a personal archeological discovery.