Institute for Family Health in New Paltz plans renovations


(Photo by Lauren Thomas)

A proposal to install a liquid petroleum generator as backup power for a state-of-the-art medical call center is being considered by New Paltz Town Planning Board members. Interior renovations at the Institute for Family Health, located at 279 Main Street in New Paltz, will mean that patients at more than 30 locations will actually speak to someone in New Paltz for all their health concerns, eventually including the possibility of some of those patients never actually seeing a doctor through the use of tele-medicine. During last week’s meeting Planning Board members were largely concerned about the location of propane tanks in relation to wetlands on the property, as well as whether the rooftop generator and heating units would be visible from Main Street, from which the clinic building is presently obscured by interposing buildings and trees, as well as several hundred feet of distance.

Board member Lyle Nolan, while acknowledging that using a fossil fuel for emergency backup power is standard, noted that “it’s a backward step” in terms of growing community and worldwide concerns over the use of petroleum products for energy.

The town wetlands inspector will be tasked with confirming the map that was provided before action is taken on this application.


Jane Schanberg was particularly interested in whether or not the HVAC unit to be placed on the roof will be visible from Main Street, and Matt DiDonna echoed those concerns. The two-story building itself is mostly obscured by trees and an intervening building, as it’s set several hundred feet back from the road. “It’s a long way from 299,” Nolan pointed out after discussion on that point continued for several minutes.

This should be an opportunity to require other aspects of this project to be brought up to current standards, Amanda Gotto believes. She asked about electric vehicle charging stations and bicycle spots in the parking lot. This project may not have been approved at all in its present configuration, as it includes the proverbial “sea of asphalt” in front of the structure, which is now seen as a significant impediment to pedestrian access. Gotto’s colleagues appeared skeptical that this revision should open the applicant up to making any parking lot improvements, but the question will be researched by board attorney John Ahearn.

Interior renovations are considered in a separate application which has not been presented at a Planning Board meeting.

Board members otherwise agreed to waive a tree survey as unnecessary and to classify this as a type 2 action under state environmental law.