Opinions vary on the Y’s proposed second egress

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By Nancy Kriz

— Village of Monroe officials say they are continuing to review the plans and reports from the South Orange Family YMCA for a proposed second egress - a requirement of the village’s own planning board - which is needed in order for it continue with its $ 2.1 million expansion which includes a community pool.

Branch Executive Director Ross Miceli, who attended Tuesday’s board meeting, said Mayor Neil Dwyer told meeting goers the board is doing its homework about the proposal. Miceli added Dwyer said he and the trustees had received the invitation of Y Board Chair Kevin Preston to visit the Y to have further discussions.

“I formally invited Mayor Dwyer and the village board and asked them to give us the opportunity to address their concerns in detail, so we can work together and help ease their concerns,” said Miceli. “They acknowledged that they received Kevin Preston’s letter. Mr. Dwyer said he is open to a meeting, but, at this time, to please give him time to continue educating the board as well as himself.”

Also speaking at that meeting, said Miceli, was Town of Monroe Councilman Mike McGinn, who is also a Y member. Miceli said McGinn told the board that it needed to help the Y because it offers a great deal of services to the village and town.

Make it a four-way lightFormer Mayor John Karl also spoke at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I hope it comes to fruition,” Karl told The Photo News on Wednesday night. “There is a light that is to be installed at the interaction of 17M and Gilbert Street Extension by the developer building Smith Farm. Make sure this traffic light is a four-way light, versus a three-way light. The four-way light would be there in the event that Gilbert Street Extension is opened.”

Karl said when the development was being reviewed by the Planning Board, the board didn’t say “what kind” of light was needed there.

“They (the village) might want to use the money that the developer already has in escrow for that intersection improvement and make sure that a four way light, versus a three way light, is part of that,” Karl said. “That intersection should also be improved so there’s turning lanes. There’s stuff that needs to be looked at.”

Karl added if the traffic light is installed as a three-way light, the parking lot at Wally’s Ice Cream would have to be closed off.

“The small parking area he’s (owner Peter DeLeo) using to the right (of the ice cream building) encroaches onto Gilbert Street Extension,” Karl said. “They’re (the DOT) going to have to close that off and ‘curb it up’ because it (the parking lot opening) comes right out into that intersection where the traffic light would go. There would be no means for people to pull out without going into that intersection. That’s a hazard. He’s better off working with everyone.”

Wally’s Ice Cream owner weighs inIn a recent letter to YMCA of Middletown CEO Ira Besdansky, published in The Photo News, DeLeo said he rescinded his support of the proposal for safety reasons.

“Cars going through my parking lot and across the Heritage Trail where children are playing on my property and people are using the trail for recreational purposes could have tragic outcomes,” he wrote. “As much as I can appreciate the Y wanting to expand the facility to better serve the community, it does not seem the safety and traffic increase of Monroe is your primary concern.”

On Wednesday night, DeLeo - who acknowledged a portion of his parking lot encroaches onto the property proposed for the egress - said hadn’t seen the plans in great detail and didn’t “want to speak out of turn.”

“You have to take in all the factors,” DeLeo said. “Realistically, it’s human nature. People will use it as a cut though. If you are parked in my lot by the deck, and the light at the intersection is red, it becomes a parking lot that you can’t get in and out of anymore. If someone gets injured, would this be worth it? We would be the part of town that everyone wants to avoid.”

DeLeo said it might not have been the best business decision for the Y to be in the location it is in, knowing at some point it would need a second entrance.

But, he stressed: “I have the utmost respect for the Y. I get the whole expansion thing. I respect what they do for the community.”

And, DeLeo added: “Would I be willing to sit down and see what they have? Yes. I’m willing to talk to anybody. I would be more than happy to take a look at anything to see if there’s a happy medium to be met.”

‘The Y has become part of the community’Karl said he hopes the board approves the proposed plan.

“The Y has become part of our community,” he said. “It’s a place for families and individuals to go. What community would not want to have a Y in it, would be my question to anyone. If people know there’s a community Y, that’s a big plus.”

Karl also stressed it’s best for people to start talking to each other.

“All the consultants, the planning board, the state DOT, the county, they all have given their blessing to this,” said Karl. “I go to board meetings. I’ve heard this (the second egress proposal) discussed at board meetings. There are three people that have sitting on that board for quite some time. This isn’t something new.”

Karl encouraged both groups to get together and talk.

“Everybody’s got to work together,” he said. “It comes down to communication. Let’s get that intersection improved, let’s get the light in there and let’s make it safe.”

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