A proposed hotel behind the Sunoco station on Route 32 came one step closer to reality as the town planning board of Saugerties approved a subdivision of a ten-acre hotel property from the 561-acre Winston Farm following a public hearing. The approval does not include the overall site plan, which is still under review.
A public hearing on the subdivision and the project as a whole drew about two dozen people to the planning board meeting last week.
The plan includes the 86-unit Holiday Inn and a 4500 square-foot restaurant. Off-site road and access improvements are also included. The cost of materials for those would be borne by the applicant, Saugerties, NY Development Limited Partnership, and labor would be supplied by the Town of Saugerties. Work on the project could begin this spring, said engineer Khattar Elmassalemah.
The hotel complex would employ about 25 people, engineer Richard Praetorius said.
In response to questions about water and sewer provisions, Elmassalemah explained that sewage would be handled by the town, with effluent running through an existing pipe under the Thruway. Water would be provided by the village.
Larry Bigando questioned the entry off Old Route 32, which he said was too narrow to handle the anticipated traffic. He asked whether there were plans to widen that road, a short spur off Route 32 that runs behind the Sunoco gas station. “In ski season, every Sunday night when the skiers are coming out of Belleayre and out of Wyndham, we get accidents on the Thruway. You start adding all this other traffic, people coming in and out, and it’s not very good eyesight coming out of the south end of Old 32, that’s going to mean more problems.”
Planning board consultant Dan Shuster said that the New York State Department of Transportation had commented on the intersection of Old Route 32 and Route 32, and was likely to require improvements.
Elmassalemah agreed that improvements are planned for the intersections, but not for the widening of Old Route 32. “We are still working with DOT on it,” he said.
Bigando said he was also concerned about exterior lighting. Elmassalemah contended the lighting would not be a problem at that distance. Mike Moriello, the developer’s attorney, added that the lighting was all directed downward.
In response to Bigando’s question, planning board chairman Howard Post said there would be an indoor pool. Finally, Bigando asked about stormwater runoff. Elmassalemah said the water would run into retention ponds and be released gradually.
Marlane Barbier reiterated Bigando’s concern that Old Route 32 was dangerous. Praetorius acknowledged the poor condition of the road and the intersections with Route 32 and said the developer has agreed to pay for the engineering and materials needed for an upgrade to the road. The Saugerties highway department would do the work.
Following the question period, Historic Preservation Commission member Barry Benepe made a statement on behalf of the commission. He noted that a previous plan, submitted some four years ago, had placed the hotel directly behind the historic Wynkoop House. “I’m glad that they moved the hotel far enough away from the Wynkoop House to reduce the impact,” he said. The commission was also concerned about the size of the hotel, which is in sharp contrast to the historic house.
While the entire commission has not seen the most recent design for the building, which was distributed for the board at the meeting Tuesday, Benepe approved. “I think it looks great,” he said. “It has a finesse to it, a formality, a calmness — a big improvement over what came to us.” However, Benepe distributed pictures of buildings that he thought might work well with the proposed Holiday Inn.
One of the commission’s main concerns is the lack of a buffer between the proposed hotel building and the Wynkoop House site, Benepe said. “Cars are parked right on the edge of the Wynkoop site. There should be a buffer, and there should be heavy, green screening because this is a heavily wooded area. That quality should be felt. We shouldn’t depend on Wynkoop’s site itself to provide that screen.”
Benepe noted the development in the area, as well as the potential for development of the Winston Farm. He wanted the planning board to be sensitive to the possibility that the Route 32 corridor “could become a center, and the architects doing this key location for you to look at it as a planning board. It’s the beginning of an evolution of a sub-center of Saugerties, I think. This first step should be artfully done. Remember also that Saugerties is now embarked on what’s called Complete Streets, and bicycling and walking are to get treatment equal to driving. When people come to this hotel, when they get up in the morning, they might want to walk somewhere. Why not take this site and make it interesting to walk out to the other stores. Would it be possible to walk even into the village?”
“There is a walking path, and sidewalks that lead all the way to Old Route 32, so they can walk,” responded Post. There is a band of screening between the parking lot and the hotel, Elmassalemah pointed out.
Summing up, Post said the board has been working on the project for seven months, and has considered the issues that were raised at the meeting. “If you look at the computer-generated drawings,” he said, “it’s a very good plan. You’ll be able to see very little of the building itself. I want everyone to know that we have considered these things.”