By Michael Turton
Number seven Garrison Landing moved to the next-to-final step prior to being converted into offices. At its Sept. 16, 2010 meeting, the Planning Board directed consultant Ron Gainer to prepare a resolution approving the new plans for the property, contingent only upon his review of Part 3 of the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) required by New York State. The building, better known simply as Guinans, had served as a pub, deli and meeting place for residents of Garrison for nearly 50-years. It closed in January 2008 and the property is owned by Garrison Station Plaza Inc.
Consideration of the plans for the former pub was listed as the ninth and last item on the Sept. 16 agenda. At the start of the meeting, however, Planning Board Chair Ande Merante moved the project to the top of the list and Glen Watson of Badey and Watson Surveyors and Engineers outlined the plans for conversion of the building to offices. The Board’s printed agenda states that “Items may not always be called in order.” That footnote did little to appease Mary Ellen Yanitelli, the Garrison resident who has attempted to raise funds that would have seen the building used as a cafe and pub. Merante told Philipstown.info that the Garrison Station Plaza project was moved up because of “a very full agenda.” Watson also addressed the next two proposals on that agenda after his presentation regarding number seven Garrison Landing.
Ms. Yannitelli had submitted a letter to the Planning Board outlining her concerns with Part 2 of the EAF. Her objections center on responses given on the completed form indicating that the proposed project would not “affect the character of the existing community” and that there would not be “public controversy related to potential adverse environment impacts.” At a Planning Board meeting last year numerous residents had spoken passionately in opposition to concept of converting the building to offices while supporting its use as a cafe or pub that would serve residents and visitors to the area.
Yannitelli and others in opposition to the office project arrived part way through the meeting only to learn that the matter had already been dealt with. Among those who missed Watson’s presentation was Del Karlen, president of Garrison Station Plaza Inc. Yannitelli’s letter was not considered.
Merante pointed out that the public hearing on the project had already been closed, which meant that public comment would no longer be considered. He also said that Yanitelli’s letter arrived too late to be considered at last week’s meeting and that such correspondence must be received ten days prior to a meeting. Yanitelli sent her comments by email on Sept. 15 and delivered a hard copy to the town hall on Sept. 16, the day before the meeting. “We really don’t have much left to discuss on this” Merante said.
In an email to Philipstown.info Yannitelli said “…I knew this wasn’t a public hearing & I couldn’t speak… I let the public know too and still some came just to try and see what transpired and quite a few were disappointed they missed (the presentation).”
Last year, after the public had voiced strong opposition to the proposed office project, the Planning Board asked Garrison Station Plaza Inc. to consider plans more in keeping with what the public wanted. Negotiations took place and Garrison Station Plaza Inc agreed that if funds could be raised to provide the additional $300,000 required to upgrade the building to serve as a cafe such a use could be implemented.
Yannitelli began a fund raising campaign and an anonymous donor agreed to provide up to $150,000 in matching funds. The public drive, however, only generated only $40,000 in pledges. In his presentation last week Watson said that the proponents of a cafe and pub had been given more than a year to raise the funds required and that a project of that nature could still be considered if a viable plan was presented. Otherwise he said, Garrison Station Plaza Inc would proceed with its proposal to convert the building to offices.
To view the engineering report prepared by David Clouser & Associates, commenting upon the Wetland Crossing Permit Application, click this link. Engineering Study – Jordan FNL Rpt 20100909