A plan to resurrect a gas station that’s been dormant for decades has prompted concerns about traffic safety. Times have changed in Woodstock since town justice Rudi Baumgarten operated the station and held court there close to a half-century ago when Route 28 was a two-lane road.
The new proposal has been on the drawing boards for several years, but Covid kept it on the back burner. Plans call for a 2400-square-foot convenience store and eight pumps, reduced from a previous proposal.
Traffic engineer Starke Hipp of Creighton Manning presented a traffic study revised to account for the Ashokan rail-trail.
Addressing concerns about people making left turns from Route 28 into the site, Taylor Peters of the law firm Cuddy & Feder, representing the owner, said Stewart’s will get the bulk of traffic heading west, while the proposed station will pick up eastbound traffic. “We’re actually going to hopefully improve the condition of people that may be illegally turning left into Stewart’s or doing other bad movements in the area,” Peters said.
Planning board vice-chair Judith Kerman noted a lot has changed, including traffic density, since Stewart’s opened. “The fact that was appropriate then doesn’t mean this is necessarily appropriate now,” Kerman said.
Planning board member John LaValle didn’t think equating the new proposal to Stewart’s was beneficial because this was a different parcel with a very different roadway configuration. “And it comes to the fact that the traffic patterns, all of us live here,” he said. “We see what happens on Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoon would be a boon for you because that’s the way the traffic is headed back to the city.”
Kerman described how the situation at the intersection can become dangerous. “Having sat at the Zena Road light and watched somebody blow through the red light when I would have been out in that thing, if I hadn’t seen him coming …” she said.
“That’s one of the spots where a lane on Route 28 could get backed up, in theory,” town planning consultant Matt Rudikoff said. There were already traffic complications presented by the rail-trail and left turns onto Route 28 being prohibited, Rudikoff added.
“Everybody heading out of the rail-trail heading west on 28 has to make a right-hand turn to turn away from where they’re going and go onto Basin Road, get through the intersection where the gas station is, and not have it back up in a way that really doesn’t make a lot of sense for a community,” the planning consultant added.
Chair Peter Cross and vice-chair Kerman favored exploring access to the site from Basin Road rather than Route 28, but even that would not be easy.
“Basically, I think from 28 to Basin Road, we have twelve feet of height difference, so what we’re constrained with is at the pumps itself is being able to keep a ADA-compliant pump at teo percent,” Cross said. “And then everywhere else as well across parking, we’re trying to do a maximum of five. So that really kind of constrains the site a little bit to make the basin entrance at about seven to eight percent.”
The board needed to look out for people’s health, safety and welfare when considering application, Cross said. He drew a vivid verbal picture. “I think you have to take into consideration and realize that that’s a hill coming down, and there’s a traffic light in the middle of that hill. When that light turns green, people step on the pedal and go for it,” he said.