With approval from the Saugerties village planning board, the Arm-of-the-Sea Theater will be able to convert property it owns behind The Mill senior housing building into a science, arts, and performing arts center. After a brief public hearing at which three people spoke in favor of an amendment to the Saugerties village zoning law, the village board at its September 5 meeting unanimously approved a move to make performing arts centers a permissible use in the waterfront development district as long as a special-use permit is issued by the village zoning board.
The traveling puppet theater troupe has been presenting shows at Tina Chorvas Park for 15 summers, according to troop director Patrick Wadden. Earlier this year, Wadden came before village planners with a design for the property contiguous to the Esopus Creek that would include workspace, administrative office, a science-learning center, as well as a performing art center for performances on a regular basis.
Former village trustee and Saugerties Lighthouse keeper Patrick Landewe said such a use would be compatible with how planners originally wanted to see the waterfront district developed with museums and art galleries. “This would revitalize the waterfront,” Landewe said.
Rae Stang, owner of Lucky Chocolates and a proponent of making the village more of an arts center and tourist attraction, also supported the move. Stang said plans to clean up what many see as a dangerous site once home to a brick factory was an improvement. The place has become a hangout for local teens.
“There is a lack of performance venues in Saugerties,” said Suzanne Myers, a local resident.
Trustee Jeannine Mayer spoke in favor, saying the theater group’s plans were a wonderful idea. She said the venue would add to the village’s art culture, something that was needed.