Developer Loses Skirmish Over Continental Commons

Continental Commons

A rendering of the north end of the proposed Continental Commons development, with the hotel at left, a visitors' center at center and the existing Safeway gas station at right.

Fishkill rejects water-sewer links to proposed complex

After months of consideration, the Fishkill Town Board last week rejected extension of water and sewer lines to Continental Commons, a shopping-restaurant-hotel complex proposed for 10.5 acres in what once served as the epicenter of a Revolutionary War supply depot.

Although critics of the project have cited historical and environmental reasons for their opposition, the Town Board based its Sept. 16 decision on technical and legal considerations, as its lawyer had advised. 

The site, once part of the Fishkill Supply Depot, sits across the highway from the Dutchess Mall and across Snook Road from the Van Wyck Homestead, a Continental Army headquarters from 1776 to 1783. Also known as Crossroads, it includes a cemetery that historical preservation advocates believe includes Revolutionary War dead, although others, including the site owner, developer Domenico Broccoli, disagree. 

Broccoli has pledged to protect the graveyard. Around it he hopes to construct a 2.5-story, 90-room hotel; 5,000 square feet of restaurant space; 16,000 square feet of retail; and a 720-square-foot visitor’s center, along with parking lots and walkways, all designed to replicate a colonial village. 

To proceed, he wants the local water and sewer district extended to the property. The project would draw drinking water from Fishkill while sending its sewage and wastewater to Beacon’s treatment plant.

The Fishkill Town Board reviewed the water-sewer extension proposal in 2019 and was on the verge of approving it but lacked a quorum at a Dec. 18 meeting. Subsequent legal maneuvering prevented action by the lame-duck board, and in January, the board changed from majority Republican to majority Democrat.

Early this year, led by the newly elected supervisor, Ozzy Albra, the reconstituted board began scrutinizing Broccoli’s application and held further public hearing sessions, which led to last week’s decision.

Albra, whom Broccoli sued for thwarting an eleventh-hour vote on Dec. 30 by the former board, abstained from the Sept. 16 vote. Town Board Members Kenya Gadsden, Jacqueline Bardini and Louise Daniele voted against the sewer-water expansion. Ori Brachfeld, the lone Republican, was absent.

The developer said he would preserve a memorial site on the property created by the Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot. (File photo)

The developer said he would preserve a memorial site on the property created by the Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot. (File photo)

In a lengthy resolution, the board stated that “it is not in the public interest” to approve the water system because, among other issues, an existing water main and sewer pipe were never approved by the Dutchess County Department of Health. According to the board, the county has said that “a lot of unknowns need to be answered.” 

Before the vote, the board heard further public comment. 

Theresa Kraft, Beacon’s co-historian and a member of the nonprofit Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot, which opposes the project, noted that Beacon “is struggling with overdevelopment and water and sewer issues,” and that pumping water out of one area can affect supplies in neighboring communities. 

“In the grand scheme of things,” she said, “all water flows from Mother Earth, and she is feeling the pressure of being tapped out.” 

Keith Riley, a Carmel public school teacher and Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot trustee, said that “with the amount of development in this area, we’re really pushing capacity in terms of climate change, in terms of the stress we’re putting on the environment. We have to put on the brakes.”

Jaime Machado, whose architectural firm designed Continental Commons, said Broccoli’s project generates “talk about not enough water,” yet a development at the former Texaco research campus just outside Beacon might have 70,000 homes or at least, “several thousand,” like a whole “little town or village” — a possibility that seemed to astound those listening.  

The Texaco site “is another development citizens of Fishkill are very concerned about,” Albra responded.

Stephen Riccardulli, Continental Commons’ attorney, promised a lawsuit to overturn the water-sewer denials.

Broccoli said on Tuesday (Sept. 22) that he was “disappointed but not surprised” by the Town Board’s stance. “This board ignored the well-documented facts that there is more than enough capacity to support both the water and sewer extensions,” he said. He termed the vote “nothing more than a way to pay back a political favor to the Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot for their support during a contentious election last year.” He predicted he would prevail in court.

4 thoughts on “Developer Loses Skirmish Over Continental Commons

  1. What I don’t understand about this project is why the developer does not make use of the parking, water and sewer infrastructure already in place across Route 9. What is the appeal of a new development that overlooks a crumbling, derelict mall? None. Why not just tear the old mall down and build there? Doing so would improve and uplift the entire area without the necessity of tearing out all the wooded areas shading the site and the historic cemetery. It seems the path of least resistance which would ultimately push Mr. Broccoli from a Fishkill nemesis to a local hero for removing an eyesore.

    • Well put, Lynn. It would do Fishkill (and a lot of communities) a great deal of good to create an inventory of abandoned properties to prioritize for redevelopment. Clean up those areas first, and preserve the natural spaces.

  2. The site, is part of the Fishkill Supply Depot as listed and defined in the National Register of Historic places and sits across the highway from the Dutchess Mall and across Snook Road from the Van Wyck Homestead, a Continental Army headquarters from 1776 to 1783. It includes a cemetery and archeological resources which historical preservation advocates believe includes Revolutionary War dead also existing and potential man-made structures which have not been thoroughly examined to determine their function in the operation of the Supply Depot. Although others including the site owner developer Domenico Broccoli may disagree, there is ample evidence in the historical record indicating that within the National Register Site and within the Continental Commons site , there could have been huts, barracks, storehouse, hospital, and smith shops. There may be speculation by advocates for a thorough examination of the known resources but no more than the speculation on behalf of the developer that no such resources exist. A thorough Phase III examination of all the recorded and physical archeological evidence has not been completed justifying the disposition of the Continental Commons site.

  3. In the past, under various administrations, the Town of Fishkill, a deeply historic and naturally beautiful Hudson Highlands municipality that borders Cold Spring and Beacon, has been besieged by development and ruthlessly fragmented by sheer lack of planning and vision.

    The new Fishkill administration, under the leadership of Supervisor Ozzy Albra, seeks to remedy past mistakes and set the stage for a new chapter. With an understanding and conviction not seen for likely 75 years, this administration recognizes the finite environmental resources and cultural heritage at risk and in profound need of protections.

    With this leadership and an impressive roster of council members now in place, I’m looking forward to a brighter future for Fishkill. It’s long overdue. And the positivity to come will resonate well with surrounding communities.