A project scoping session on Wildberry Lodge — the proposed $75 million indoor water park and resort hotel — drew a large crowd to New Paltz Town Hall Monday night. Most of them offered suggestions to developer Steve Turk.
David Porter, an environmentalist who battled previous attempts to develop that same 57-acre lot, asked Turk and his consultants to look into recapturing water.
Porter urged them to look at Omega Institute’s “Eco Machine,” which is a water reclamation system utilizing algae, bacteria, snails and plants — but no chemicals — to treat the water. He also urged them to conduct thorough soil tests, due to the Plesser property’s history as an orchard.
Paul Brown, former town Planning Board chairman, had other suggestions. He asked Turk to consider ways to alleviate parking and traffic. He also thinks Wildberry could create a community benefit for its neighbors.
“This site will need an up-to-date, modern sewage treatment facility. It is an opportunity to solve once and for all that terrible problem for those folks down in Ohioville,” Brown said.
Ross Winglovitz, engineer for Wildberry Lodge, noted that the project won’t intrude on existing wetlands, but it would need a traffic study and a zoning change. New Paltz town code doesn’t envision a destination resort like what Turk is proposing, he added.
Lyle Nolan, a Planning Board member, described the scoping document — which comes at the very beginning of the State Environmental Quality Review process — as a “table of contents” for later impact statements.
Tim Rogers, another board member, said he’d like Wildberry Lodge to pursue green technology where feasible — and affordable — to the developer. He also asked that the developer make it clear how any potential payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement might impact the New Paltz Central School District.
Wildberry Lodge’s Turk is better known around Ulster County as the owner of the Rocking Horse Ranch resort and SplashDown Beach Water Park. Wildberry, sited on Paradies Lane near the Thruway, would be a four-story, 275 room hotel — complete with a 70,000-square-foot indoor water park. It’d also include a 10,000 square foot conference center, multiple indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a ten-lane bowling alley and a ropes course.
Turk said he’d like to make the up to 14 tennis courts available for public use, potentially even using them to host NCAA college tournaments. He’d also like to establish a relationship with the Culinary Institute of America for Wildberry Lodge’s proposed demonstration kitchen.
So far, New Paltz Town Board members have liked what they’ve heard about the project — since it could create 250 full-time jobs and many more seasonal jobs.
Planning Board members should discuss Wildberry Lodge again on Aug. 11.
To see the full scoping document yourself, head to https://www.townofnewpaltz.org/sites/newpaltzny/files/file/file/wildberry_lodge_draft_scoping_document.pdf.