Last call for comments on Esopus master plan

Esopus Meadows Lighthouse. (Photo by Will Dendis.)

Next Wednesday, March 6, at 7 p.m., Town of Esopus will be hosting a reception for the public on the launch of its new master plan. The meeting will be held at Town Hall, 284 Broadway, in Ulster Park. Town supervisor Shannon Harris said the three-year initiative has been fast-tracked into one, funded by seed money of $60,000, which will hopefully be augmented by additional grants. Following up the hiring of a planning consultancy, the gathering of data, multiple public forums, focus groups, a survey, and a social media campaign, the town will now present to the public “our vision and our direction. Did we get it right? We want to get feedback on the research we’ve been doing before we finalize our master plan,” said Harris. “There are judgments that need to be made, and also we need volunteers to work hand in hand with the town and businesses and will be starting to organize ourselves into committees.” The reception will be the final opportunity for the public to provide its input.

Harris said the plan focuses on a number of themes, of which the primary one is more waterfront development of recreational opportunities. “We have more shoreline on the Hudson River than any other town but there is very limited public access,” she said. The plan also encourages more tourism, agri-business and light industry, plus “we discovered we have a tight housing market.” The plan also represents a response to climate change (“We are a Climate Smart Community,” noted Harris): the Town of Esopus has already embarked on two capital improvement projects addressing storm-water infrastructure. It is installing a community solar project on the town landfill developed by BQ Energy and will be selling credits to residents and businesses. The town also ramping up its efforts to encourage citizens to install solar on their roofs and plans to install charging stations for electric cars.

The plan also creates different zones for development, with denser projects clustered near existing hamlets, and it lays out design guidelines. It also seeks to encourage the craft beverage industry and micro farms as well as ensure agri-tourism businesses are not overly burdened by regulations.

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Drafts of the plan are available for public review and commentary at the Esopus Town Hall Clerk’s office, the Esopus Library, at 128 Canal Street, Port Ewen, and the Robert Graves School, 345 Mountain Ave., Port Ewen. The plan can also be viewed online at www.Esopus.com/master-plan. Residents can make their comments at the meeting on March 6, by email (Outreach@Esopus.com) or by calling Sean Brandt at (845) 339-1811, ext. 107.