While some activists were hoping that Village of New Paltz trustees would shoot down the North Putt retail project the way their predecessors did the Walmart project in the ‘90s — by denying a water-district extension — they did not get their wish at the December 8 Village Board meeting. It’s possible that they sensed that it would go this way, as none of the outspoken opponents of a project more than eight years in the making bothered to show up.
Tim Rogers, now mayor, was on the Town’s Planning Board when this was first proposed, and noted that when the corporate tenants were expected to be a CVS and a Five Guys, the entire project was about twice the size of what’s now proposed. Rogers only ran for mayor after not being given a new term on that board; the mayor said at this meeting that the hard questioning of the developer’s consultants was a likely reason for being tossed off at the time.
Current trustee Stana Weisburd was one of the people clamoring to scale this project back, saying in a 2017 New Paltz Times article, “We’re not saying that we want to pick which business comes here. We’re saying we want thoughtful development. We’re not opposed to development.” Now Weisburd believes that the standard of “thoughtful development” is met with a project that’s broken into four buildings closer to the roadway, along with plans to route the Empire State Trail away from this dangerous intersection and through the site instead.
Alexandra Wojcik, Rogers and Weisburd voted to approve the extension of the water district, with stipulations such as a master meter to make billing easier on village officials. Trustee Michele Zipp was the only nay vote; William Wheeler Murray was not in attendance. The project still has some hurdles to clear to secure planning approval, but this decision was the only one that was likely to have put a halt to the project altogether.
“It’s not realistic to think that that corner will never be developed at all,” said Weisburd.