Skoufis: 'If there are no approvals, there’s no project'

04 Jul 2019 | 05:27

    The Photo News asked State Sen. James Skoufis to respond to Annie McGuinness' concerns regarding development in Woodbury:
    With any project, it’s important to weigh all the pros and cons - and, importantly, deal with facts. While a potential project at Nepera will come with some challenges, the benefits, I believe, far outweigh any negatives:
    • Successfully required the project to be sited at the old Nepera Chemical Plant, a contaminated, blighted property that has been reduced to rubble for the better part of a decade. The company has agreed to clean up this property and put it back on the tax rolls.
    • No tax breaks, meaning substantial property taxes paid to Monroe-Woodbury schools, the Town of Woodbury and Villages of Woodbury and Harriman. Right now, the property pays next to nothing in taxes.
    • Estimated $100 million capital project to build the facility and significant construction employment.
    • Approximately 400 permanent, good-paying, union jobs.
    • Over $1.2 million in annual state aid to the host communities to fully offset - and then some - the cost of municipal services associated with the project such as fire and police.
    There is also a fundamental distinction between an expansion at the outlet mall and a potential project at Nepera: the Nepera site is on the opposite side of the Thruway, meaning there will be very limited intermingling with Woodbury Common congestion, because the outlet mall congestion is concentrated between the mall and the Thruway entrance.
    Anyone that takes the Thruway or Route 17 to the Nepera site will turn in the opposite direction from the mall. In addition to cleaning up the contaminated property, which I’m not sure would happen otherwise, the site’s location on the south side of the Thruway was one of the primary reasons the site was chosen.
    Furthermore, the planning board can, and should, require a new turn lane and any other road improvements as-needed for the Nepera site, which stands in stark contrast to the local board’s ability to require any further road improvements as part of the mall’s expansion given the $150 million interchange upgrade already taking place.
    That’s why I’ve requested the planning board require a train station in the mall as a condition for approval.
    On that issue, stakeholders and I are also making progress on establishing a train station at Woodbury Common which I continue to believe is a game changer and would take many cars off Route 32 between the Thruway and the outlet mall.
    Lastly, any characterization of “strong arming” a project is just flat-out false. This potential project has been out in the newspapers and public since April, all three relevant local governments, via liaisons, have been apprised of the potential project since April, and, most importantly, this project - like any other - is subject to local approvals.
    If there are no approvals, there’s no project.
    In addition to moving through the normal local approval process, Resorts World must hold public information sessions - which they will - to answer the community’s questions and concerns. Let’s get the facts and develop informed opinions.
    I grew up in Woodbury and am always looking out for its best interests. I’ve gone to the mat for our town and that will always continue.