Longtime boosters and skeptics alike of the Williams Lake Project (WLP) united at the Wednesday, May 14 meeting of the Rosendale Town Board to approve both the Workforce Housing Agreement and the Local Sourcing Agreement proposed by Hudson River Valley Resorts, LLC (HRVR) for the $200,000,000 Binnewater resort, spa and housing development. The parameters for local sourcing of supplies and materials for the project drew particular praise from town officials, who touted it as a unique, unprecedented agreement and a template for future use by other municipalities.
“The Town of Rosendale and WLP have been crafting this agreement for over a year, as no existing example of such an agreement could be found by the Town, nor the developer,” noted HRVR in a press release. Councilman Ken Hassett, who has been negotiating contracts for nearly three decades on behalf of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1262, called the finished document “an agreement that’s going to be a model throughout the state.”
Under the terms of the Workforce Housing Agreement, 12 of the residential units planned for construction on the Williams Lake site will be set aside for “the provision of residential housing units for rent to employees of the project or the general community at the ‘Adjusted Monthly Affordable Rent’…defined as 30 percent of the Area Median Monthly Household Income, less a monthly allocation for utilities.” The actual rent charge would be adjusted on the basis of the renter’s income.
Six of the Workforce Housing units will be townhomes and the other six single-family homes, phased in over the multi-year course of construction. Councilman Chris Pryslopski asked HRVR representative Tim Allred if there were any way to specify how many of those 12 units would be set aside for Williams Lake employees and how many would be open for rental by the general public. Allred responded that it was much too early to tell, since “We just don’t know who’s applying.”
Describing the Local Sourcing Agreement as “actually a slightly uneven playing field favoring Rosendale bids,” Allred explained that the plan defines “local” as falling into three tiers of descending preference: the Town of Rosendale itself, Ulster County and the Hudson Valley region. The terms of the agreement specify that for residential construction, at least 75 percent of the labor force must be hired locally, and at least 50 percent for the commercial buildings on the site, which he said may require more specialized contractors than are available locally. Allred added that 25 percent of the construction work must be done by union employees, and that all of the estimated 287 ongoing resort jobs will pay above minimum wage.
Noting that “local sourcing has been a concern of mine throughout this process,” councilwoman Jen Metzger asked Allred, “Is procurement of food from local farms included under that category?”
“Yes,” Allred responded. “It’s a resort about wellness and farm-to-table food. We’re trying not to mess this up.”
The agreement provides for the creation of a Local Sourcing Council to oversee the procurement process, but town supervisor Jeanne Walsh noted that “Anyone can approach” HRVR already who has a product or service to provide. “We want to reassure the community that they want to be a good neighbor as well as a successful business,” she said. “It’s not going to hurt them to be able to hire local people.”
Aspiring contractors can sign up for HRVR’s bidders’ list at www.williamslakeproject.com/contractors. Copies of the full Workforce Housing Agreement and Local Sourcing Agreement for Williams Lake are posted on the Town of Rosendale website at www.townofrosendale.com/government/agendas.