'An unacceptable consequence'

04 Jul 2019 | 05:27

    An open letter to state Sen. James Skoufis:
    I am writing in regards to your letter dated Dec. 8, 2018, addressed to the Woodbury Planning Board.
    Your letter states: “Woodbury is undergoing a long-awaited $150 million transformation at its Exit 131/Routes 6-17-32-87 interchange, a project necessitated by the outlet mall – and its 13 million annual visitors – outgrowing the surrounding infrastructure.
    "The Exit 131 project is meant to provide relief to the Woodbury community and surrounding region; it is not intended to provide additional capacity for Woodbury Common.
    "The additional traffic associated with an expansion such as the one being proposed – 2,000 more parking spaces, new shops and amenities such as a spa and hotels – would significantly reduce the interchange upgrade's benefit to local residents, an unacceptable consequence.
    "I believe it is essential that this Planning Board make Woodbury Common's application contingent on additional improvements to our infrastructure, namely a Metro-North station at the outlet mall. A new station would remove tens if not hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our interchange annually.
    "While there was some noise made about a station earlier this year by the Governor and others, little progress was made. Metro-North pointed at Woodbury Common to pay; Woodbury Common wanted Metro-North to shoulder much of the cost.
    "Given the Exit 131 upgrade's extraordinary public investment in our infrastructure, I encourage this Planning Board to require Woodbury Common to advance a new Metro-North station as part of their application. The station’s opening should coincide with the expansion’s completion.
    "Furthermore, trains must not be allowed to stop at this station during the A.M. (outbound) or P.M. (inbound) rush hour so as to prevent longer commutes for riders further up the Port Jervis rail line. I am committed to working with the MTA on train scheduling and mid-day frequency just as I began to do earlier this year when the project was under discussion.
    "While additional traffic is the overwhelming concern, I also raise objections to the proposed helipad, an element of the application that does not fit with the character of Woodbury's community - even within the outlet mall's busy confines. If a helipad is permitted, it should only be permitted for medical evacuations. Commercial or private helicopters flying into and out of Woodbury Common is an over-the-top and undesirable prospect for the people who live in the surrounding area.
    "It is of paramount importance that Woodbury Common and the Woodbury community affirm a relationship built upon mutual respect. Local residents and I appreciate the outlet mall’s economic benefits, including significant property and sales tax revenues as well as employment opportunities.
    "As they pursue another expansion, however, it is incumbent upon Woodbury Common to respect our desire for substantial relief from the congestion caused by 13 million annual visitors descending upon a community of 11,000 residents.
    "Any further expansion must be accompanied by a new Metro-North train station so as to not diminish the benefits derived from the Exit 131 project."
    After reading this letter, I am perplexed as to why you’re strong-arming your old community into accepting this VLT license despite your position (six months ago) on traffic issues and congestion associated with expansion in Woodbury, as well as the “fitting with the character of our area.”
    While the proposed gaming site is not in Woodbury Common, it is located less than a mile away.
    Any insight would be helpful.
    Annie McGuinness
    Central Valley