Town Planning Board presides at hearing on for-profit venture
A low-key public hearing last Thursday (Sept. 19) on a proposed for-profit school at the current Plumbush Inn generated questions from Philipstown Planning Board members and the public about handicapped accessibility, fire safety, and traffic and its impact on neighbors.
Manitou Properties LLC wants to turn the existing Plumbush restaurant and event center, located in a historic home just outside Cold Spring and Nelsonville, into The Manitou School, serving about 75 children from pre-school to grade 6.
Board Member Anthony Merante wondered if the building would have an internal sprinkler system.
Maria Stein-Marrison, proprietor of the planned school, said it would have fire alarms but no sprinklers. Her representative on the project, Glennon Watson, of Badey Watson Surveying & Engineering P.C., promised to look into sprinklering, including any regulations on use of sprinklers in grade schools.
Pat Sexton, another board member, questioned the lack of an elevator to the second floor, intended to house offices. “It just doesn’t seem right,” she said.
“I’d love to say we’ll put an elevator in, but that’s a big leap” and a large expense, Watson answered.
Merante sounded dissatisfied with the responses. With no sprinklering and no elevator, “that’s two strikes down, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “It’s a school.”
Although the audience of about 25 filled the hearing room – the Butterfield Library – only three individuals spoke. They focused on issues of school traffic, including implications for Moffatt Road, which borders Plumbush.
Moffatt Road resident Jim Olsen said that an additional 75 cars would be entering the area, assuming each child arrived in a family vehicle.
Watson discounted the possibility. “The probability is so remote as to be dismissed by a traffic engineer,” he said, adding that some pupils could be expected to ride on public school buses.
Gordon Casement, another neighbor of Plumbush, predicted threats on Moffatt Road to pedestrians, student cross-country team runners, bicyclists, and others from increased traffic. “My concern overall is the value of this [vehicular] flow in the morning and afternoon” and the hazards it might pose, he said.
“There will be those conflicts,” Watson acknowledged. However, he added, a school “is not a high-volume use.”
Terese Olsen criticized plans to upgrade an existing Plumbush service road to accommodate more traffic. “I can see this really getting messy,” she said of the school’s traffic situation. “I’m very concerned about this. It’s going to devalue our house a little bit. I’m not happy about that.”
The Planning Board made no decisions Thursday.