When the Trans-Hudson project was first proposed for New Paltz in 2013, a lot of attention was focused on the amount of fill that would be trucked in to this site, a long and narrow lot between the Thruway and North Putt Corners Road with a sliver of frontage along Route 299. There’s a big hole near Route 299, and developers first proposed filling it up to street level using some 1,600 truckloads of material to be delivered over the course of two months. The amount of fill has been scaled back over the years, and as of earlier this month, the buildings on this site would be constructed seven to nine feet below street level instead. That’s prompted some Town Planning Board members to ask instead for more fill.
Consultant Justin Dates was prepared with a proposal that would lift that starting point up a bit more, to within four and seven feet of the adjacent roadway. This would bring the cubic yards of material needed to 7,000. Dates did not use the convention of converting the material into truckloads, but in 2015, Town engineer David Clouser observed that 5,000 cubic yards would require 192 trucks; that datum suggests that 269 tri-axle trucks would be required to bring in this amount of fill. This higher elevation is still lower than what Environmental Conservation Board members recommended back in 2018, when they sought to fill the site to no higher than three feet below the surrounding roads. Board members Adele Ruger and Matt DiDonna both found the higher amount of fill to be preferable. Dates and other consultants, who once argued for more fill against Planning Board members who wanted to reduce the amount trucked in for construction, are now being encouraged to go higher.
“Street level would be better for me,” said Ruger.
As for parking, there’s been an error in the applicant’s favor. Parking was calculated using the gross floor area of the buildings, but it’s actually the retail space that is used. Town engineer Andy Willingham included that news in comments about the latest site plan. Dates explained that since there’s no real opportunity to share parking — because all of the reasons to park there would be happening at the same times of day — the number of spots was kept higher.
In other news, Willingham pointed out that tree inventories now must include any of the woody beings that are at least seven inches in diameter at breast height, down from 12 inches when the inventory for this site was finally submitted.
Running the Empire State Trail around the back of the site will address some of the safety concerns at this complicated intersection, but the plans still showing drivers crossing over a pedestrian and bicycle path to enter from Route 299. Cyclists headed west would be using a six-foot dedicated lane that’s between vehicle lanes, and as such would have pavement markings rather than any kind of protective barrier. All of the Town’s emergency services are now or will soon be located just a block north of this site.
The trail is also routed through a buffer, and it took Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) members to determine that this isn’t a problem. Just because it’s now possible, though, doesn’t mean that Planning Board members must agree to the proposed route for the trail. They will get a briefing on the ZBA ruling before making any decisions of their own.