The plans for a new Stewart’s at the corner of Henry W. Dubois Drive and North Chestnut Street in New Paltz were approved on August 20, 2018, nearly a year ago. Neither the village’s planning board nor representatives of the company anticipated the many ways that 2020 could complicate those plans.
Two of the year’s major themes, racial equity and global pandemic, resulted in the village planning board being asked to modify that approval at its July 21 meeting. The company has agreed to extend time for the construction of a traffic light, as well as time to decide how to handle a long-empty house at 5 Broadhead Avenue on the same lot that’s of historic significance because one of the village’s most prominent black builders constructed it.
The traffic light wasn’t a condition of the original approval. In March, however, it and related crosswalks were added at that intersection. The Empire State Trail’s bicycle leg through the village comes through here, and state transportation officials wanted a light.
That decision was made just before the shutdowns sweeping the globe in response to the coronavirus pandemic reached American shores, disrupting supply chains and drying up governmental treasuries along the way. Design plans for the intersection have stalled. There’s an estimated five-month wait for traffic-light poles. The building inspector’s temporary certificate of occupancy will expire August 3 of next year unless extended for “good cause.” The permanent certificate will not be issued without the light and pedestrian crossings in place.
The vacant home at 5 Broadhead appeared destined for destruction until former planning board chair John Oleske started clamoring for better preservation of black history in the village. The structure built by Jacob Wynkoop was one of a number of houses he’d made for black residents at a time when they largely had a separate community within the village limits. Few examples of his work remain, and village trustees would like to see this one preserved despite its seemingly poor condition.
While company officials are willing to hand the property over, the mechanism for doing that will depend on the nature of proposals to salvage it, A request for proposals is still being worked out. A 60-day time frame has now been extended to six months.
No other substantive changes to the conditions or plans were made as part of this modification.