Drops plans for indoor theater, 20-room inn
The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, which has plans for a new home at the former Garrison golf course that have drawn some opposition for its scope, said on Tuesday (March 29) that it would trim back.
HVSF said it is dropping a proposed 225-seat indoor theater and a 20-room inn to “narrow the scope” of its project based on feedback during three public hearings sessions held by the Philipstown Planning Board and public site visits.
In addition, the organization said it would add more greenery and trees to screen the view of its tent from Route 9 and move a planned parking lot out of a designated wetland buffer zone.
The Planning Board is in the midst of a state-mandated environmental review of the project. HVSF said it plans to formally notify the board of the revisions at its April 21 meeting.
“Our goal has always been to be good, collaborative neighbors and thoughtful, intentional land stewards,” said Davis McCallum, artistic director at HVSF, in a statement. “To everyone who offered their thoughts and opinions about the project, we are so grateful for your feedback. We heard you. Scaling back our proposal will allow us to prove our commitment over time and assure our neighbors that we are steadfast in our promise to work collaboratively as part of this community.”
Losing the indoor theater and the inn will reduce the size of newly constructed structures in the proposal by 30 percent, to 21,800 square feet; reduce water usage by 3,100 gallons per day, or 19 percent from the original plan; decrease the number of performances and duration of the season; and reduce the site’s maximum capacity by 27 percent, from 1,100 to 800, HVSF said.
HVSF had envisioned performances at the indoor theater from April to late October, and possibly in December for the holidays. Philipstown in 2005 approved a 40-room hotel and spa for The Garrison country club and golf site, but it was never built.
Removing plans for the indoor theater and hotel will reduce capacity “to a size that is truly comparable to what our operations have been at Boscobel for 35 years,” said Katie Liberman, HVSF’s managing director, in a statement. “This amendment ensures that there is no net increase of visitors in Philipstown on any given night. In fact, the new theater tent will have fewer seats than what we have had before,” which was 535.
Along with a permanent outdoor tent, HVSF’s long-term plans for the site include actors’ housing; a 1,200-square-foot visitor center and box office; outdoor pavilion; 4,000 square-foot backstage structure with dressing rooms; paths; picnic lawns; a landscape with meadows, woods, parkland and wildflower gardens; parking; and reconfigured access to Snake Hill Road and Route 9, with a possible traffic light at their intersection. It also would retain The Garrison’s restaurant and banquet hall.
If the Planning Board concludes the project will not have a negative impact on the environment, HVSF would need the Town Board to rezone the parcel for performances.
For more than 30 years, before philanthropist Chris Davis gave HVSF 98 acres of golf course land, HVSF rented the lawn at Boscobel in Garrison for its summer productions. While the Planning Board review continues, HVSF has asked Philipstown Supervisor John Van Tassel for a permit to install its seasonal tent from Boscobel for the 2022 season, which starts July 15.
Asked on Tuesday for comment on the change in HVSF’s plans, Neal Zuckerman, the chair of the Planning Board, said: “The Planning Board is committed to fulsome and transparent processes in the evaluation of applications — regardless of size — that come before it. A consistent attribute of those processes is accessible and encouraged input from the community. That is why we (a) took both Zoom and in-person comments and (b) had no time restrictions on individuals’ comments. That the HVSF has responded to the voice of the community says that the Planning Board’s processes work.”
Click to hear this post.