Town supervisor Fred Costello opened the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce business breakfast meeting at Diamond Mills last week by describing Saugerties as an exciting place with a booming economy. The potential development of the Winston Farm, the location of the Woodstock 1994 music festival, was an important part of that optimism, but certainly not the only part.
“Our economy is booming in a way that is unprecedented since IBM left,” Costello said. “We’re diverse, and we have a broad menu of job opportunities. We have become a leader in the hospitality industry. We’re being discovered by people who are looking for an ideal place to spend a vacation, and at the same time we’re being redefined as a place where people want to bring their businesses, operate their businesses and grow their businesses.”
Costello cited the expansion of technology companies like Ceres Technology and Elna Magnetics, as well as an upgrade at the Holiday Inn and a robust short-term rental market.
The annual Sawyer Motors Car Show and the Garlic Festival draw many thousands of people. Major sports events drew large numbers of spectators to Saugerties.
The town now has a budding film industry, as well as an innovative new ownership of the Orpheum Theater.
Costello believes that the proposed development at Winston Farm will bring further expansion to the town’s economy.
Costello described the families that have owned Winston Farm through the generations — the Wynkoop farm family, followed by the Winston family. J.O. Winston headed the company that played a large part in the construction of the Ashokan dam and other major construction in the area.
Winston also raised cattle on the farm.
His ownership was followed by that of the Schaller family, which sold it to businessmen Mullen, Richers and Montano in 2020.
Past proposals for Winston Farm had come and gone. While a proposal to locate Ulster Community College there would have been an ideal fit for the property, others, such as for a county landfill and a casino, would not have worked out well.
Winston Farm was a beautiful property, Costello said, and its location was perfect. “Eight hundred acres just off the Thruway. The local businessmen who bought the property have a large vision,” Costello said. “They agree that a lot of housing and a small commercial area is not the highest and best use for that property. They are seeking to rezone the property to a planned development zone. The zoning could be written to protect the aquifer, maximize recreational space, and preserve open spaces.”