Closing the most historic section of Huguenot Street in New Paltz to vehicular traffic is an idea gaining momentum. Attorneys representing the village and Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) are presently working out the details of a maintenance agreement, according to Mayor Tim Rogers. The street would be closed off from Broadhead Avenue to North Front Street by means of a chain strung across at each end. Those chains would likely be mounted on sections of an old utility pole, sunk into the ground, and could be removed to allow for emergency access.
Rogers said that village workers would install the barriers according to the tentative agreement, but maintenance of the roadway would otherwise fall to HHS staff or contractors.
In addition to allowing for more all-street programming in the historic district, the closure will also protect the stone houses. Constant traffic has taken its toll on foundations of some of the stone houses; the Jean Hasbrouck House needed half-a-million dollars’ worth of repairs, and the Lefever House is now showing damage. It will also permanently prevent drivers from driving around the stone monument at North Front Street.
Schneider said that with the street closed, it will be possible to undertake additional preservation work, such as regrading around the most vulnerable buildings. HHS board members are also considering permeable paving stones to replace the asphalt at some point in the future.
While it’s not yet possible to close more of Huguenot Street without cutting off access to some properties, neighbors are supportive of it happening from time to time. Schneider said that some of them had requested closing more of the road during the popular trick-or-treating event, to ensure safety for little ones wandering to those nearby homes.
Rogers is inviting members of the public to offer feedback on the planned closure at the November 30 village board meeting, or prior via e-mail.