New Paltz delays decision on theatre proposal

Pictured is the proposed site for the black box Denizen Theater. The site is located just north and adjacent to the upper parking lot at Water Street Market. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

New Paltz Village planning Board members appeared again poised to approve the Denizen black-box theater plan at their November 9 meeting, but made so many changes to the resolution at the table that it was decided to hold off voting until members could review a cleaned-up copy. The 50-70-seat venue would be located above Water Street Market at 12 Main Street in New Paltz. Much of last week’s discussion focused on parking, with board chairman Michael Zierler at one point trying to get the conversation back on track by imagining that parking was instead on another planet.

What makes parking for this theater tricky in board members’ eyes is not the number of spots needed, but the fact that none of them are on the same property. That’s without even considering additional spaces made available at Rock & Snow, which members did not include in their calculations because the offer is for a specific period of time, and not in perpetuity.

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Board members seemed particularly concerned with the likelihood that there would not be enough spots from time to time. The fact that the parking is at Water Street Market, a different property with a common ownership, seemed to confound them at times. “Try to imagine it’s a parking lot on Mars,” Zierler suggested at one point, albeit still serving the needs of the theater. It matters because although there’s an easement allowing access across another property to Wurts Avenue, the plans won’t allow that easement to be used for theater operations, such as deliveries and customer access. More general access for snow plowing and maintenance, for example, would not be affected.

The notion of monitoring the actual parking needs for the next year had been a condition from the get-go, but members ultimately struck it because they couldn’t identify a methodology to connect parking variations with the theater specifically.

Restricting hours was the original deal-breaker on this project, and there remained some discomfort in not doing so. Board attorney Richard Golden reaffirmed that such restrictions couldn’t be imposed without a stronger justification, although village board members could theoretically pass a law restricting hours of certain classes of businesses.

The New Paltz Village Planning Board will meet again on Tuesday, November 21 at 7 p.m.

There is one comment

  1. Danica M.

    A Performing Arts venue in a Downtown area that has many restaurants, wine bars, and other
    locations that would benefit dramatically from having before and after dinner theatre guests.
    This proposal is a no-brainer. Approve it. The local business community will thank you 50x over. (Of course, that’s unless folks just want it in an outskirts part of town where no one will do
    anything but get out of their car, go inside, get back in their car and leave.) It’s still a no brainter. Approve it. We also have municipal parking spots not far that people will use; not mention the data on those who’d attend most likely would be walking to and from events here because they either attend SUNY, live in the main part of town, or if we can be smart – would be staying at the new proposed hotel downtown. But that’s just me – continue to make Downtown New Paltz a desireable, pedestrian-centric, prosperous town that benefits our residents with a diversity of events and activities; supports the arts; and supports business owners as I stated. Approve it.

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