Skoufis: Woodbury Common turns its back on $5 million in funding for new train station

Harriman. Local officials join the call urging planning board to reject mall's expansion without station.

17 Oct 2019 | 02:13

Earlier this year, Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) secured $5 million from the state's railroad fund for a new train station at Woodbury Common.

Additionally, he secured a commitment from the MTA to not only support the project, but also provide any technical expertise required to move the train station forward.

But in a press release issued Thursday morning Oct. 7, Skoufis said Simon Properties, the company that owns the outlet mall, has refused so much as a meeting to discuss the construction of a new train station, instead choosing to walk away from both $5 million and an opportunity to further alleviate traffic in the local community. Simon Properties has ignored repeated requests, dating back to May 13 to meet with MTA Chairman Pat Foye, Skoufis, and local officials, according to the press release.

“In my seven years in the State Legislature, I've never seen such unreasonable disregard by a corporation towards its host community," Skoufis said. "We are coming to the table with $5 million to make a train station work and Simon Properties doesn't even have the decency to take a meeting. This ought to be a win-win-win: a win for the local community, taking untold thousands of cars off our local roads; a win for the outlet mall with a new opportunity for shoppers to conveniently get to Woodbury Common; and a win for the MTA which stands to see a significant increase in ridership. Simon Properties' attitude, which comes on the heels of a $150 million state investment to reconfigure the Exit 131 interchange that has become clogged with traffic to and from the outlet mall, is both childish and illogical.

"I am reiterating my call from December for the Woodbury Planning Board to reject any application from the mall to expand that does not include a new train station," the state senator added.

The Photo News reached out to Focus Media, the public relations firm that represents Simon Properties in this matter for comment, but the deadline passed for this week's paper before a statement could be issue. This story will be followed.

Meanwhile, County Legislator Laurie Tautel, Woodbury Supervisor Frank Palermo and Harriman Mayor Steve Welle have all joined the call for the outlet mall's expansion to be rejected without the addition of a train station.

Tautel said: “Who in their right mind walks away from $5 million without even so much as a meeting? Simon Properties needs to grow up, recognize the rare opportunity that is before them, and work to advance a new train station. After $150 million has gone into relieving traffic in the Woodbury and Harriman area, I echo Senator Skoufis’ call that the planning board ought to unequivocally reject any expansion at the outlet mall without this important project.”

Palermo said: “I am beyond sorely disappointed in Simon Properties for turning its back on our community. Senator Skoufis, who always looks out for Woodbury, managed to secure $5 million to help make the new train station a reality - and the outlet mall won't even come to the table. I recently urged Simon Properties to meet with us only to have my request fall on deaf ears, too. The planning board should draw a line in the sand and demand that a train station be part of any new expansion at Woodbury Common.”

Welle said: “Simon Properties is out of control and it’s long past time we declared enough is enough. A new train station in Woodbury Common would be a game changer for our local community and Simon Properties’ refusal to move forward – despite $5 million in state funding secured by Senator Skoufis – is incomprehensible. Any application by Woodbury Common to expand even further should be rejected by local elected officials, rejected by the community, and rejected by the planning board.”

Skoufis said the $5 million in funding is still available and it is not too late for Simon Properties to come to the table and move forward with the train station.