After months of discussion at the Saugerties town planning board, neighbors of the proposed Agawan Restaurant and Campground in Glasco got to express their views. About 30 nearby residents raised questions of noise, traffic, stress on the water supply, and potential pollution. Most urged the planners to reject the proposal.
In addition to the 120-seat restaurant and 60 cabins, the facility proposes garden areas for growing food for the restaurant, an artists’ studio and possibly a horseback riding stable. The project would be built on an 82-acre property abutting the Hudson River off Liberty St. behind the Glasco Firehouse.
The hearing was the second for the project, After the first, the proposed map was redrawn to take the neighbors’ concerns into account. Some of the changes proposed to meet the neighbors’ objections became points of contention.
A short roadway connecting Route 32 with the proposed resort’s internal road was originally limited to emergency traffic. Some residents said it would make sense to use it as a second entrance to the property. At the time the state Department of Transportation said this would not be feasible. Engineer Bruce Utter said further discussion and the results of a traffic study led to state permission to allow use of the entrance, but limited to right turns only.
Water supply was a concern. Some hydrants in Glasco cannot be used for firefighting because of poor water pressure, David Morrow noted. Utter said these areas are south of the proposed project, and said that the project would actually upgrade the water service. Morrow countered that a study that looked good on paper may not reflect reality.
Marilyn Freeman said the proposed facility was not compatible with the residential character of Glasco. “People who bought homes there, they want to raise their children in a quiet residential area,” she said. “This venue would not be quiet.”
Freeman questioned the timing of the January traffic study, when summer visitors, holiday traffic and vacationers would not be a factor. Utter noted that school would be in session, generating extra traffic that would not be present in summer. Freeman suggested that hiking trails, ballfields or picnic areas would be more compatible with the surroundings.
While agreeing that traffic on Route 32 was heavy and the road dangerous, Alicia Cafaldo said she was glad to see a productive use for the vacant property. She would welcome a good restaurant in the neighborhood, she said. As a close neighbor, Cafaldo said she would hope there would be some barrier between the proposed resort and Route 32.
Utter said the developers were proposing a heavy barrier of trees. The owners want to be part of the community, he said, and people from the community who patronize the restaurant would be welcome to use the trails.
Joe Fabiano asked whether developers had taken into account the archaeological sites on the property. Utter said there have been studies, and some sites have been identified. The plans take these into account.
“Unfortunately, that entire property is not public land,” he said. “It’s zoned high density, so your alternative is, if you’re thinking about traffic, is 400 units of housing. It’s not zoned agricultural, which would be nice, or recreational. This is the reality.”
Ted Miller, who now lives in Florida but grew up in Glasco, said traffic was far worse than it had been when he was last here more than two years ago, despite a traffic study that showed a reduction in traffic. He suggested that the Catskill resort area would be a more appropriate place for the restaurant complex. Or a similar location. He suggested that a project geared to the needs of the people living in Glasco would be more appropriate than one that would draw people from out of the area. Miller speculated that the town would have to hire more police to respond to complaints of noise from the project.
Tom Francello, a former member of the planning board, wanted all the roadways within the property paved to ensure safe passage for fire trucks. He also recommended the board requiring consider a security fence, and that road details be included in any approval to ensure future owners would be bound by them.
Francello suggested the project use natural gas rather than propane. Utter said that decision has not yet been made, Natural gas would be far more expensive.
The board took no action following the hearing.