Notes from the Gardiner Town Hall (8/18/21)

Perilous Benton Corners in Gardiner won’t get stoplight before 2022

Since the death there in June of a local firefighter, residents of Gardiner and surrounding communities have been begging the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) to install a traffic light at Benton Corners, the intersection of Bruynswick Road (County Route 7) and Route 44/55. Many local officials have also joined in the campaign, citing traffic studies showing that the site is the most dangerous intersection of two two-lane roads in the entire county. Now it appears that some relief from the perils of passing through that intersection is finally on the way – although state bureaucracy is slowing down the process.

According to Gardiner town supervisor Marybeth Majestic, a meeting with DOT regional representatives was held in Poughkeepsie on August 2. Also in attendance were deputy supervisor Laura Walls and several Ulster County officials, including Planning Department director Dennis Doyle, a Department of Public Works representative and members of the Ulster County Transportation Council and the Regional Traffic Safety Group.

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Majestic told the Gardiner Town Board on August 10 that the DOT had promised to include funding for a traffic light at Benton Corners in the “next available signal contract,” but the earliest this would take place would be sometime in 2022. As a short-term measure, state officials said that they had installed a second stop sign at the intersection, on the northbound side of Bruynswick Road.

Most of the collisions at the intersection, however, have occurred when fast-moving traffic on 44/55 – especially eastbound, where there are poor sightlines for cars coming down from the Shawangunk Ridge – struck northbound vehicles that had already obeyed the stop sign on Bruynswick and were attempting to cross the intersection. To date, there are still no stop signs on 44/55, nor warning signs that drivers on that road are approaching a crossroads.

Majestic indicated that the state DOT would take an interim measure in the form of “flashing signal beacons by spring on 44/55.” This timeline seems unlikely to pacify long-suffering residents, who are demanding red lights in all directions. “The town and county will try to find a way to push the schedule,” the supervisor said.

Gardiner STR law hearing set for September 14

The Gardiner Town Board will hold a public hearing on an updated draft of its proposed local law regulating short-term rentals (STRs) at its September 14 meeting. An earlier draft of the new law met with furious opposition from the town’s STR operators when it was first aired in February. Board members have devoted considerable time since then to considering their objections and retooling the proposed legislation.

A link to the latest version of the STR law, incorporating the new language, is accessible on the town website at www.townofgardiner.org. The public hearing is set to begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 14 at Town Hall. Residents wishing to comment may attend the meeting in person, participate via Zoom or e-mail their comments to the town clerk in advance of the meeting.