MAMAKATING – Developer Shalom Lamm was back in the limelight at the recent Town of Mamakating planning board meeting with presentations about two major projects that have been temporarily on hold, but that he now hopes to move forward with. The proposals for both projects were reviewed and strongly opposed by the Basha Kill Area Association when they were first introduced.
The first project is the proposed Commerce Park at the Wurtsboro Airport. In his slide presentation, Lamm noted that many small, local airports have been abandoned and closed. He proclaimed his determination to preserve the historical airport at Wurtsboro, even though it is not economically viable and cannot survive on its own. As an antidote, Lamm is proposing to put in four buildings to serve as warehouses, distribution centers and offices "in a campus-like setting" on the property adjacent to the active airport. Although studies for the environmental impact statement are still not complete, Lamm is confident that the proposed Commerce Park will make the Wurtsboro Airport "financially sound in perpetuity."
Members of the BKAA present at the meeting were not reassured, however. No information was forthcoming on what, exactly, was to be stored in these warehouses, and what would be their impact, located in close proximity to the D&H Canal and to the headwaters of the Basha Kill wetlands.
The second and more controversial of Lamm's projects, known as Seven Peaks, involves the development of 653 acres on the Shawangunk Ridge, approximately 4,000 feet east of the Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement prepared for this project in 2010 was strongly criticized on a number of grounds, and the revised EIS will address some of these concerns. The major change is that the 125-room hotel proposed in the original plans has been eliminated, thereby reducing some of the water and traffic problems, as well as alleviating some of the ecological damage. Plans remain to initially build 49 luxury homes on lots of at least five acres each, and other smaller housing units will go up later. The reduced footprint of the revised plans allows for the area identified as a habitat of the inland barren buck moth to remain untouched. The New York Natural Heritage Program lists this moth as "Critically Imperiled." After his presentation, Lamm sought out BKAA President Paula Medley to ask her response to the revised plans for Seven Peaks. She replied that some of the changes sounded good, but that her organization would really prefer to see nothing at all built on the ridge. Any construction there cannot help but disrupt the beautiful but delicate ecosystem, which is New York State's number one priority for conservation.
"Historically, millions of dollars have been spent to maintain a greenway corridor from High Point, NJ to Rosendale, NY," said Medley, who added that the myriad state and grassroots organizations that have contributed to this effort envision a continuous hiking trail open to the public along the Shawangunk Ridge, which the Nature Conservancy describes as "one of Earth's Last Great Places."
A new proposal presented at the planning board meeting is for a multi-family dwelling complex. The "Whispering Pines" adult community would be built on 15 acres off of Roosa Gap Road and would consist of a 2-story H-shaped building comprising 48 one- or two-bedroom units. Recreation facilities are also part of the preliminary plans. Its developer must do a marketing study as well as a detailed analysis of water and sewage in order to proceed with his plans, which are in the very initial stages.