June 8, 2023

The previous New Paltz College District workplace. (Picture by Lauren Thomas)

Although they mentioned they continue to be open to different choices, the New Paltz Central College District’s Board of Schooling voted 5-1 in favor of demolishing their former administrative constructing on the nook of Major Road and South Manheim Boulevard. 

The district left the now-dilapidated blue home round 15 years in the past, first renting area for six years on Henry W. DuBois Drive earlier than taking over residence in 2016 at Lenape Elementary College at1 Eugene L. Brown Drive, area previously utilized by Ulster BOCES. 

The previous administrative headquarters have been deserted for a similar cause it’s confirmed tough to promote ever since: It’s riddled with asbestos. 

“It really wasn’t deferred upkeep or inattentiveness on the a part of the district that introduced the constructing into the situation that it was in,” mentioned former trustee Steve Greenfield throughout a gathering of the Board of Schooling held on Wednesday, Might 4. “It was its unique poisonous state that required it to be vacated.”

The constructing, with its acquainted message board on the entrance garden, has since been used primarily by a development supervisor for the Palombo Group through the district’s complete $52.9 million capital venture, accredited by voters in 2014. In accordance with district officers, the Palombo Group shored up the inside areas making the area usable through the renovation venture, however critically not a long-term answer. 

College officers lately rekindled a dialogue about what to do with the vacant blue home, which is definitely two residential buildings related by a passage. In accordance with a report by CPL, a nationwide architectural and engineering agency engaged by the district to make suggestions for the way forward for the previous administrative headquarters, the supplies used within the buildings date them to between 70-100 years previous, with the age of the connecting hall unknown. 

CPL concluded that repairing and renovating the constructing as-is would value round $2,472,614, whereas demolition and both increasing the adjoining New Paltz Center College parking zone or restoring the world with landscaping would vary between $400,000-475,000. In addition they pressured that kicking the proverbial can down the highway can be inadvisable. 

“If the constructing continues to be left unoccupied and in its present state, the property will endure additional deterioration and will turn out to be a neighborhood nuisance,” learn the CPL report. “Given there isn’t a quick use to the district and based mostly on the prices outlined above, we’d suggest demolition of the constructing.” 

Renovating the constructing

Village of New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers this week advised that the $2.5 renovation prices within the CPL examine didn’t consider the potential of utilizing New York State Schooling Division (NYSED) constructing support, which covers a good portion of all eligible college district services tasks. 

Rogers additionally questioned different parts of the CPL estimate. 

“The $2.5 million estimate included $285,962 for simply heating and cooling warmth pumps (mini splits),” Rogers mentioned. “The biggest installer of mini splits in Central Hudson’s area defined to me that the price, together with prevailing wage, is prone to be considerably lower than $50,000 for the whole constructing.The Village of New Paltz put in quite a few mini splits all through Village Corridor in 2021 and it value taxpayers lower than $40,000 utilizing at the moment’s pricing.”

Whereas trustees — save for Brian Cournoyer, who voted towards demolition — agreed with CPL’s evaluation, others didn’t. In the course of the public remark interval, board president Johanna Herget learn a letter from Melissa Rock, an affiliate professor within the Division of Geography at SUNY New Paltz, who advised that ought to the district demolish the constructing, it ought to take into account repurposing the land as an out of doors studying area for district college students. That concept was dismissed by board member Teresa Thompson, who advised its location at a busy intersection made that choice lower than best. 

Herget additionally learn a letter from Thomas Olsen, chair of the Design Evaluation Board and Historic Preservation Fee of the Village of New Paltz, who mentioned that whereas a 2014 examine of the property deduced that it didn’t advantage the excellence of an historic property, “we did attain a consensus that the constructing does have a major place within the new coverage’s historical past and can be nicely served by being renovated for contemporary customers.”

“The present construction anchors a extremely seen part of Major and Manheim,” learn Olsen’s letter. “And if renovated, it will actually show engaging for any variety of companies, workplaces, or nonprofit makes use of.”

However trustees mentioned the district has tried to promote the property for over a decade, however hadn’t gotten wherever. 

“We’ve tried to promote it,” Thompson mentioned. “We did ship out an RFP (request for proposals), we bought one response again…nevertheless it was denied for, I consider, numerous causes.”

However college officers mentioned that the declining scholar inhabitants meant it was unlikely that they’d have a use for the constructing or the property sooner or later. 

“I simply don’t assume it’s wanted for something proper now,” mentioned Thompson.“I’d’ve beloved to do away with the south half and the connector and hold the north half and make it an artwork gallery, however we are able to try this at the highschool. An LGBTQ heart for the scholars, we are able to try this…Now we have room on the center college. Now we have room in highschool for that.”

Fellow trustee Heather O’Donnell agreed. 

“Within the 13 years I’ve been a mum or dad within the district, the district hasn’t finished something with it,” O’Donnell mentioned.“So clearly there’s no want for it.”

Roundabout dialogue

In the course of the public remark interval, Greenfield advised an choice that intrigued the board: Asking the Division of Transportation to think about using the property to create a roundabout. 

“They’re a really efficient, confirmed system of transferring visitors and of accelerating pedestrian and motorist security,” mentioned Greenfield, who famous that the concept had first been proposed almost twenty years in the past throughout his time on the College Board. “It might finish the one greatest bottleneck in all of New Paltz, together with for varsity workers, college buses (and) dad and mom dropping off their youngsters.”

College Board Vice-President Matthew Williams mentioned {that a} roundabout may assist get rid of the damaging use of the New Paltz Center College parking zone as a shortcut between Major and South Manheim. 

“My daughter does a basketball clinic within the night on the center college, and oftentimes I sit parked in that parking zone,” Williams mentioned. “And if I had a nickel for each automotive that’s chopping by way of that parking zone to dodge that mild…They only fly by way of that place. It’s simply such a brutal intersection.”

NPCSD Superintendent Stephen Gratto advised that if trustees wished to look into the roundabout concept, he would attain out to Mayor Rogers after which the Division of Transportation. 

“I feel now we have an obligation to the village to do one thing good with that area,” Gratto mentioned.“I feel one of many issues…is that if the constructing went away, we’d have an enormous ugly parking zone. And I feel that isn’t proper. I feel, no matter resolution you make, when you determine to do away with it, I feel it’s worthwhile to be ready to do one thing with it in order that we do good issues for the Village of New Paltz. If we beautify the world, we make it higher than it’s now, we’re not simply placing up a parking zone.”

Mayor Rogers mentioned the College Board didn’t brazenly take into account a proposal from the village that the municipality would tackle the insurance coverage accountability for the constructing, pursue grants and different fundraising to revive the property, and discover a appropriate academic or group use. 

“The Board of Ed emailed affirmation they obtained the proposal, however didn’t reply to the proposal and voted final evening to pursue demo for (round) $500,000…that could possibly be used to pay for employees,” Rogers mentioned. 

The vote to demolish was accredited with the stipulation that the district will comply with up with the DOT to gauge their curiosity in a roundabout, however Rogers mentioned that because the Ulster County Transportation Council’s long-term plan, up to date each 5 years, doesn’t embrace any dialogue of visitors circles for Major Road in New Paltz, he wasn’t satisfied they’d go for this selection. 

Rogers famous that the brand new visitors circle on Broadway within the Metropolis of Kingston value round $9 million, with one other $2.5 million spent to deal with water, sewer and stormwater points. 

“It’s higher for autos for certain however they get complaints from cyclists and pedestrians, particularly re: ADA (People with Disabilities Act),” Rogers mentioned. “Looks as if a visitors circle is unlikely and would make issues robust for a walkable Major Road (the Empire State Path) and village college students strolling to high school.”

Rogers added that if the DOT was prepared to spend an analogous sum of money within the Village of New Paltz, he’d prefer to see it go elsewhere. 

“If we had a magic wand and will encourage the NYS DOT to spend $10 million on their NYS Freeway (Route 299/Major Road), I’d suggest prioritizing sidewalk security and ADA compliance,” Rogers mentioned. 

It doesn’t matter what occurs subsequent, the previous blue constructing isn’t going away anytime quickly. Whereas trustees hoped that the demolition could possibly be undertaken this summer season, district officers mentioned it will most definitely have to attend till the summer season of 2024. 

The publish New Paltz BOE votes to demolish former district workplace, will ask DOT to think about creating a roundabout first appeared on Hudson Valley One.