Board also hears plan for mobile food pantry

The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival will have to apply to the Philipstown Town Board for special events under revisions to a proposed law switching its Route 9 property’s principal use from a golf course to a theater complex. 

The board approved during a workshop on Thursday (Feb. 8) changes that Supervisor John Van Tassel first proposed on Feb. 1, during the continuation of a public hearing. The changes affect the proposed rezoning of the 98 acres the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (HVSF) owns at the former Garrison Golf Course. 

Until the Town Board approves the new zoning, the Planning Board cannot continue reviewing HVSF’s application to construct an open-air theater, performer housing and other amenities.

The present zoning requires that organizers of special events obtain a permit from the supervisor, which HVSF did each year it operated at Boscobel in Garrison with a seasonal tent. Board members voted unanimously to require that HVSF instead apply to the board for its permits and provide additional information, such as hours of operation, anticipated number of guests and whether light and noise levels for the special event would exceed those of performances and other permitted uses.

The Town Board also voted to add language clarifying that the artist apartments will be primarily for “temporary short-term housing,” with the stipulation that they not be used as a primary residence for more than nine consecutive months. 

Under the draft changes, which the board reviewed during its Thursday (Feb. 8) workshop, HVSF would be allowed to rent the apartments to guests but for no longer than a month. The board also defined “minor” structures, which can be overseen by the town’s zoning administrative officer without going through the Planning Board, to also be “non-residential” to ensure they are not used as lodging. 

“We have listened and we have made some changes to the law that we think will ensure use of the property and will also ensure the safety of the community and the well-being of the community,” said Van Tassel on Thursday.

The board will continue the public hearing on March 7.

In other business …

■ Philipstown is still trying to find a leak in the pipes sending water to homes in the Garrison Landing Water District as the town prepares to bore under Route 9D to connect a well that would replace trucked-in water. Van Tassel said Feb. 1 that the town thought it located the leak outside 77 Lower Station Road but an excavation failed to find one.

The search is complicated because, to fix a previous leak in a section of steel pipe, a crew inserted a plastic tube inside it. “So it could be leaking up there but it doesn’t come out of the steel sleeve until it finds a hole in the steel,” he said. “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.”

■ Ruby Koch-Fienberg, the agricultural and food systems coordinator Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County, said during the Feb. 1 meeting that it expects a mobile food pantry to be in place by the spring. The pantry was one of ideas born from a community needs assessment undertaken with $15,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. Cornell Cooperative is working with the Philipstown Food Pantry to identify a location where the mobile food pantry can park and distribute free eggs, meats, milk and produce.

Koch-Fienberg noted that more than 3,000 free, ready-to-go meals have been distributed since 2022 from a freezer at the senior center in Cold Spring. The Town Board voted to spend $3,200 left over from the ARPA appropriation to promote the frozen meals and the mobile food pantry.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

The Peekskill resident is a former reporter for the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, where he covered Sullivan County and later Newburgh. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Morgan State University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: General.

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