The proposed expansion of Woodland Pond at New Paltz went before the Village of New Paltz Planning Board again last week, an often heated discussion between members of the board and representatives of the senior living facility. At the heart of the matter is the specificity of wording in the plans as submitted to the village, along with recreation fees and whether Woodland Pond residents would actually need them.
The Woodland Pond expansion plans include three duplex cottages, one of which has been controversial due to the definition of wetlands in a court case that stretches back around 15 years when the facility was first opened.
At a meeting in July, Woodland Pond CEO Michelle Gramoglia and Kevin Bernstein, an attorney with Syracuse-based Bond, Schoeneck & King, bristled at the facility having to pay a recreation fee for a variety of reasons, including the fee being a backup plan in the village code when a developer cannot provide adequate recreation facilities for its residents. Descried on its website as having “sprawling natural beauty,” Woodland Pond was already required to allow members of the community to use the conserved lands around the facility.
At a meeting held on Tuesday, August 2, Planning Board members agreed that there is a dearth of park land in the Village of New Paltz, and doubled down on a decision made at a previous meeting that the additional cottages at Woodland Pond would add to that need, and that the payment of a recreation fee was appropriate.
“We disagree, of course, because we don’t think 12 elderly individuals who are gonna be coming onto our community creates an additional need for parkland within the village as a whole,” said Bernstein.
Last month, Gramoglia noted that the existing rail trail network was a sufficient recreational use and there are regular bus trips to Mohonk Preserve for Woodland Pond residents and many of them “tend to stay on our campus.”
Planning Board Chairman John Litton said the age of the residents wasn’t relevant to the issue at hand.
“There’s nothing in the code about whether they’re elderly or not,” he said. “We’ve had a great discussion here, a very robust discussion. But we made a decision, and I’m sticking to that decision. If you have difficulty with that decision, then you can take up whether your contribution of the wetlands will work in lieu of the funds and payments that are required. If you have a disagreement with it, I can greatly appreciate it and you can bring that to the Village Board and talk about what needs to be negotiated so that perhaps you do not have to have the payment in lieu of the parkland by opening up that parkland. But that is a discussion for you to have with them. That’s not a discussion for you to have with us.”