New Paltz officials want Mohonk Preserve to delay Butterville Rd. parking ban

Last week, a public information session was held to discuss public accessibility to Mohonk Preserve via parking on Butterville Road. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Once the foothills of the Shawangunks are fully incorporated into the Mohonk Preserve, there’s going to be 100 new spaces in which to park one’s motor vehicle while enjoying those lands. The opening of the foothills and the completion of the River-to-Ridge trail are expected to only increase interest in accessing these iconic view sheds, and those new parking spaces are expected to reduce parking impacts on Lenape Lane and Pine Road the way earlier development helped get rid of parking along routes 44/55. There’s a plan to stop the visitor parking on Lenape Lane altogether, but the question is whether that should be put into place now, to protect town roads being damaged by the excessive use, or wait until the new trail heads are open, which won’t be until at least sometime in 2018.

At an informational meeting held on November 2, the overwhelming opinion heard by Preserve leaders and town council members was, “wait.”

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The construction of an 80-car lot by the Testimonial Gatehouse and another 20 spaces near Humpo Marsh should be enough to accommodate the additional people coming to the foothills, planning board members decided when they granted approval to this project, but parking on Lenape would likely become even more attractive. For one thing, it’s free. The road is also closer to the beauty shots than the parking area, which is a benefit to anyone with impaired mobility.

What’s planned to eliminate the residential parking are low guide rails made in a rustic style, installed six feet from the white line at the road’s shoulder. That’s not enough to get a car completely off the road surface, opening the door to a ticket for trying. While

Preserve officials liked the idea of retaining some handicapped spots there, making that change to their plans could be challenging. That’s because the site plan formed the basis of a conservation easement — which executive director Glenn Hoagland described as a “draconian covenant” — now held at the state level, alterations to which would require both time and money. Preserve board member gently noted that $500,000 had been spent just to obtain the present approvals, and considerably more must be raised for construction.

The final plan will be developed jointly by Preserve and town officials.

There are 3 comments

  1. UpstateGuy

    The homeowners definitely prefer the no-parking on our local streets. Can’t wait for the new parking lot to be completed, it will help US enjoy OUR viewshed, instead of looking at strangers cars parked in the mud. As for mobility issues, as someone who sees every car park and every person get out and walk around…there is virtually NO mobility challenge bu the current users of our neighborhood.

    1. Remy

      I can appreciate your position, if I lived nearby I would probably feel the same. However, it has always been like that and you most likely moved into your home with the situation “as is.” People have been parking like that my whole life and I am 58. I think these proposed changes tend to take away the freedom and feel of an open landscape we all enjoy. Years ago they took away the parking on 44/55 on the hairpin turn to the Trapps bridge, now they have a moronic stop sign on 299 close by Lenape. Enjoying the outdoors is becoming compartmentalized and idiot proof. Just my opinion but the area is changing in a negative way.

  2. Funkie Gunkie

    This article completely misses the point. Ecotourism so close to such a major metropolitan city does not mix well with conservation and preservation. “If you build it they will come,” as its said. As in the past and concurrently the parking lots fill up at 10 AM and people start parking wherever they feel like, sometimes on private property. The staff drives by these cars several times a day and does absolutely nothing to curb this problem. There are more parking spaces at the Mohonk Preserve then at Minnewaska State Park with the latter holding five times the acreage.

    Nation Park systems worldwide do studies to determine the carrying capacity of a park and ecosystem. The Mohonk Preserve does not conduct any such studies because they will find that they are not protecting or conserving anything. Through expensive marketing techniques like junk mailings soliciting donations and memberships, Annual Gala events at expensive Manhattan venues, consultants getting paid to solve internal management issues, and paid radio advertisements, the Mohonk Preserve continues to invite people from far and near. By religiously commuting here for recreation, driving expensive SUVs, consuming more fuel while polluting the air, and adding to the already horrible traffic in town, the weekend starts on Thursday afternoon and stretches through Sunday and Monday (when a holiday is in effect). Ecotourism takes precedent over conservation and preservation and more money is always needed to further their expansion. The viewshed is always expanding and so is the local governmental interference by advocating re-zoning of the surrounding land and further eroding private property rights.

    All of their parking lots overflow onto town roads all the time and in the winter some of them never get opened because they will not plow them but people park there anyway (in the street).

    Currently a very expensive ($40,000) consultant was hired to solve the problem of poor moral and discontentment by the staff. Poor pay and demanding work days are the norm as rangers get paid $12.50/hour and are on call until evening hours in case someone gets hurt or lost. Benefits that are promised to staff get reneged and staff is confused as to what is really expected at this kind of pay rate.

    The Mohonk Preserve is short on money but the executive director gets paid $170,000 plus benefits and perks. This organization is a not for profit real estate monopoly invented by the Mohonk Mountain House to control the buffers and all the valuable real estate around this Fortune 500 Hotel and Spa. When it was created the Mountain House promised the Preserve would pay taxes to the town. To this day no taxes have ever been paid. When the New Paltz accessor decided to re-evaluate not for profits across the board, especially land trusts, she ultimately resigned from her position according to the New Paltz Times.

    http://www.dailyfreeman.com/general-news/20140529/new-paltz-could-strip-open-space-institute-mohonk-preserve-of-property-tax-exemptions
    https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2015/03/04/paul-brown-everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-assessments-real-estate-taxes-and-more/

    Around 40% of New Paltz tax revenue is exempt as not for profit. This year taxes went up over 8%.

    The Town of New Paltz Planning Board ignored the two traffic studies that highlighted the traffic issues along State Route 299.

    OSI donated the campground to Palisades Intertate Park Commission so they could circumvent the local Gardiner Plannning Board regarding all potential impacts both large and small and to avoid the cost of SEQRA requirements.

    OSI also built the MP visitors center before donating the land to the MP because Mohonk isn’t allowed to build on lands that hold conservation easements.

    At the Mohonk Preserve prices increased this year to $15/person for a walk and $20/person for biking, climbing, horseback riding. You can run in a $450 race if your rich enough also! In Minnewaska State Park you can bring a carload of people for $10. This is absurd!

    Lawsuits and stealing land from their neighbors is their Modus Operandi of these land trusts. Ten actions in court with one land owner (www.mohonk.info) and several others with bordering neighbors. An insurance slush fund (Terra Firma) was created so they didn’t have to pay for the lawsuits they themselves created.

    All in all, the Mohonk Preserve and their partners (Shawangunk Conservancy and Open Space Institute) do not care much about the communities they own land in or the neighbors. So don’t believe for one second that they care about parking issues and traffic.

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