Village of new Paltz officials have been asked to take another look at the community food refrigerator idea, because it’s going to need a different location if it’s going to come into being. Mariabella Rivera-Todaro has been spearheading the vision of a secure location where residents can donate or pick up food through the nonprofit Millions of Butterflies. Rivera-Todaro quickly got support from Village officials in the form of a waiver of the building permit fee; the permit would cover the construction of a shelter and electrical wiring for a refrigerator, rated for outdoor use, which could be locked when unattended. However, permission to use that site on the red barn behind Snugs and Rock and Snow ultimately fell through, and now Rivera-Todaro and other activists would like to see this project installed at Hasbrouck Park, hooking into the power available in the shed at the corner of Tricor and Mohonk avenues. Volunteers would lock and unlock the refrigerator, maintain it, clean it out and clean up any refuse that accumulates nearby.
A number of people spoke in support of the food refrigerator idea generally, as well as siting it in Hasbrouck Park. What gave Mayor Tim Rogers pause, however, was that Hasbrouck Park might not be as good a location as Rivera-Todaro and others believe. It’s true that the land’s ownership is very unlikely to change, that it’s a location convenient to both downtown and the college campus, and that the park’s lighting and periodic police patrols makes it safe. However, the Mayor explained that the site is often inaccessible due to snow during the winter and that that corner of the park tends to be very wet at other times. Instead, Rogers offered to confer with Bleu Terwilliger, the Public Works Superintendent, about finding a spot near Village Hall across the street. This would offer the same advantages, while avoiding those weather issues the Mayor flagged as problems. Volunteers appeared pleased with that alternative.
Rogers raised other questions that will be relevant for siting this on any Village property, such as the expected electricity cost and the dimensions of the shelter. Details about the legal status of Millions of Butterflies will have to be furnished. Rivera-Todaro was asked to provide the refrigerator model number to ensure that it will perform as expected.