Inclusive Washingtonville Playground Update

Parks are now open, and that will soon include the Greater Washingtonville Lions Club’s support for a fantastic inclusive playground at the existing playground at Memorial Park (Ahern Blvd. and Washingtonville Blvd.).

Some of the equipment is scheduled to arrive by the end of April, and other equipment will be added as soon as state funding is released.  Expectations are that Musical Instruments will be installed this month, and swings have been ordered.

Bricks can still be purchased to help the project grow, so if you want to help this dream come true you can visit: www.bricksrus.com/donorsite/washingtonvillelions

Goosepond State Park Put On State Tax Roll Benefitting Chester and Blooming Grove

Senator James Skoufis announced that he secured a provision in the 2021-2022 State Budget requiring the state to permanently pay property taxes on Goosepond Mountain State Park to the towns of Chester and Blooming Grove. Currently, the state pays taxes on every park under the jurisdiction of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission – except Goosepond Mountain State Park. Upon discovering this omission, then-Assemblyman Skoufis introduced a bill to correct the situation in 2017.

Revising the park’s real property tax status results in approximately $100,000 in new annual revenue for the impacted communities. “One of my top priorities going into state budget negotiations this year was to provide local municipalities and residents with common-sense tax relief, and that’s exactly what this provision does for Chester and Blooming Grove,” said Senator Skoufis“Simply put, Chester and Blooming Grove have been shortchanged by the state and local taxpayers have been forced to wrongly make up the difference in order to properly fund our local governments. That unfairness ends now. Not only does it make sense in a post-COVID economy to provide this financial support, but it is also a matter of equity, and I’m delighted that these municipalities and taxpayers will receive significant annual revenue through this provision.”

Chester Town Councilman Tom Becker said“I thank Senator Skoufis for working diligently throughout his years to get this across the finish line. By receiving tax payments from the state on Goosepond, this will alleviate some of the town’s financial burden while protecting the taxpayers” 

Senator Skoufis said he plans to make additional budget and funding-related announcements in the coming weeks. 

TRASH WARS!

Local municipalities are suffering a deluge of trash while people do Spring cleaning, especially since many residents have spent more time at home, and apparently did some project cleanup.  Photographer,equestrian and hiker Margaret Stahl was horrified when she went to Gonzaga Park at the intersection of Mountain and Seven Springs Road.  It sits at the border of Monroe and Town of Palm, but is also near the border of Blooming Grove.   Towns and in fact, Orange County as a whole,  have experienced a strong upsurge in tourism over the past year, and especially to the major parklands in the Eastern quadrant (Goosepond, Gonzaga, Schunnemunk Mountain Trails, Black Rock Forest and the Highlands Trail and Long Path) where the hiking trails eventually connect with the Appalachian Trail that runs from Maine to Georgia.  Imagine tourists coming up from New York City to the first entrance near Schunnemunk, which is Gonzaga Park, and seeing this half mile trail of garbage strewn as if a train full of dumpsters toppled over.  Residents joined with each other and sent pictures and e-mails to County Exec, Steve Neuhaus and calls to Monroe Supervisor Tony Cardone and Blooming Grove Supervisor Rob Jeroloman.  While it is not in Blooming Grove, there are many hikers that frequent those trails and invite friends to go along with them.  There have also been issues in Blooming Grove to the extent that  they are just finishing a new and more restrictive code.  It appears that many residents in the area still think there are mass trash pick-ups in the area every Spring. There are NO mass pickups in some towns, NO discarded TV pickup, and most trash haulers only pick up one large item at a time.  The result is that as Spring blooms and the area becomes beautiful, it is overshadowed by the ugly mess along numerous roads.  But none approach the  disgusting half-mile mess along Seven Springs  directly across from the Gonzaga entrance. 

Margaret Stahl said she is encouraged by the response of local officials. Other residents following the story agreed.  Monroe Supervisor, Tony Cardone,  had the following to say:

“ The Town of Monroe taxpayer has foot the bill for this cleanup 3 times since 2017. Two times at taxpayer expense and the last time with the assistance of KJ DPW. In addition there have been 2 other cleanups in the area, at the expense of the Towns Trash provider, Marangi Construction. While our entire Town Board is frustrated by this, we all agree that this cost cannot continually entirely fall on the Town of Monroe Taxpayer. Secondly, the homeowner was issued violations early yesterday morning by the Town of Monroe Building Inspector who has been on top of this continually. It can end up in court or the land owner can clean the area up. Third, the last cleanup was approx. $700. This one will most certainly run between $1,500 and $2,000. Fourth, this is NOT political. It is about accepting responsibility and working with the communities that surround others.  Finally, the Town of Monroe, our Highway Dept. and our staff have not ignored this and will continue to try to work through this so the Town of Monroe taxpayer is not burdened with the continued cleanup cost.”

Spring cleanups are planned in many of our towns and villages this month, especially since this is Earth Month.  Whether the towns involved or the county puts up new video cams (earlier ones were broken) and trooper surveillance, and/or a large sign with warnings of high fines for dumping,  this very long stretch of every kind of trash imaginable will likely not be tolerated any more.  Residents are already making plans for protests if necessary.

Blooming Grove Warehouse Plan Inches Forward

By Edie Johnson

Plans for a massive 750,000 sq. ft.  “SF LLC Craigville Warehouse” put forward by applicant Sol Feder had a second major review by Blooming Grove’s Town Board at their first April meeting. Located on former farmland, meadow and marsh adjacent to the Route 17 Oxford Depot Exit, professionals for the applicant addressed a rather lengthy list of issues that had come up during its first review.

The most notable change was that a hotel that had just been added to the plan has now been removed. Other discussion on the project, which has been somewhat controversial in the community, addressed traffic, parking, its 3-story layout, and potential impacts on the Heritage Trail which is within view of the site.  The engineer for the applicant, Mike Morganti,  described potential buffering of the view with a row of trees that he said would grow from 30 to 50 ft. tall. Board members requested that in addition to the renderings provided that show several points of possible visual impact, they want board members to be able to actually walk the trail, with balloons marking the building corners and height. Town Planner, Bonnie Franson agreed, and asked for a list of studies, consultants and the like and to make sure everyone is copied on any communication. Her previous questions and reviews of the many outstanding issues are detailed in a report. Councilman Steven Amante queried whether the vast area for parking might enable some space for vehicles of those using the Heritage Trail.  The applicant’s professionals agreed that would be a good option, especially since current town code requires much more parking spaces than are actually needed.  While they expect about 300 employees (which could provide local jobs), there is a current estimate of 687 parking spaces. Town code, they suggested does not really fit the project, and they used a currently popular calculation manual that came up with the number, so these parking figures are not at all definite.  There is potential to bring that number considerably lower, to be more in line with site use rather than code that was written to fit projects being developed about 15 years ago. The also were generally agreeable to set up what is known as “Shadow” or “Banked” parking spaces for the future, with a much lower actual number of spaces.  Plans for the interior space were also clarified, in that open space is not planned to be rented, rather to be used primarily for supervisory personnel, lunchrooms, and rest rooms.

The next major issue discussed was traffic routes.  This applicant plans to work with the trucking companies that would be using the warehouse, and emphasize the importance of using the most direct routes, which are the Oxford Depot coming north from the City, and leaving back to New York City via the Chester exit along Route on 17M. Fewer trucks are expected to come southward from the Interstate or West, but those that do will be routed to the Chester Interchange and from there to 17M.  A major issue will be whether the New York Department of Transportation agrees to upgrade the status of the section of 17M between Oxford Depot and the exit, because it is not currently “designated” for trucks that are “53 and larger”. The deciding factor will be weight limit if there are any bridges on the route and any roadway that might be too narrow for two trucks to pass.  Truckers will be told NOT to use Craigville Road going west unless there is a stated emergency.

Lastly, one house on the site actually has property that straddles the Heritage Trail and would have to either have a lot line change or be subdivided.

Councilman Amante, who is the Ward Rep for the site, wanted to know what would be done with the large amount of earth that would be moved during buildout.  The applicant plans to move it within the site and not by local roads, generally moving extra soil at the top to some lower areas. Amante added that he was glad to see that exiting would consist of only 2 right turns, and will not cross Route 17M, which will be safer for those enjoying Goosepond State Park. Councilman George Doering spoke of concerns over water usage. The plan is for a well that would pump approximately 4,500 gallons/day (about equal to ten 4-bedroom homes). Councilperson Sonia Ayala wanted to make sure that Chester and Monroe are included in discussion of the transportation plans, and is concerned about the planned 11 pm closing time, as well as potential light pollution that needs to be deflected. Councilman Tom DeVinko expressed concern over drainage and runoff that will be created with the large roof.  He also wants to know whether there are plans for a sprinkler system. Councilperson Cathy Acevedo added concerns of air quality and hours of operation along with water.

So far, The primary objections to the project from the community following its progress are 1. Its massive size 2. Its proximity to some nearby homes 3. Late hours of operation 4. Potential light and exhaust pollution and noise. Some, however, say they prefer it to yet another housing development that would increase school taxes.

Supervisor Rob Jeroloman said he will not take a firm position about the value of the project until all of the related studies have been completed.

Newburgh Hook Elite Boxing Wins National Gold

In Louisiana where the National Boxing National Championships were held last week, Newburgh’s Hook Elite Boxing Ministries Club won several championships. Five got gold, and two got silver.  And not only did  “KK” (Kanayharae Pascual) win a gold medal, she is the #1 Girls Boxing Champ in the country.

Down but not out over the past year,  the Newburgh Hook Elite boxers faced some very serious obstacles.  In addition to the COVID-19 virus, they almost lost their schooling gym. But these are winners, and were not about to give up.  After getting an extension to work out while looking for a new place, they worked their hearts out. And as part of not just being a boxing club but also a ministries club, they are not just taught to fight.  They learn cooperation, fairness and scriptual values which their main coach, Leonard Lee, considers an integral part of them maturing not just as boxers but as human beings.

This group of young people has risen above the worst of big city crime into the best that the City of Newburgh is striving for as it restores its glory of the past as a major seaport and tourist destination  They are all exceptional young people. For example K, or “KK” as she is known, is the pride and joy of her grandmother, Natasha Dennis, who tells me that not only is KK a boxer, she also is a positive activist for Newburgh with Nu-life. She volunteers at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center and is also a singer.

Coach Leonard Lee had this to say about his boxing team:

“They say that boxing is the dirtiest and most crooked sport in sports, but in saying that I am still and will probably be a boxing coach and fan until my dying day. I live in a town called Newburgh, New York and I run a boxing club call the Hook Elite Boxing Ministry where I teach and mentor young kids how to box and on doing so this helps keeps kids off of the mean streets of Newburgh. Newburgh is a place where crime is widespread, where children are often in trouble. So as I strive to teach boxing and to keep and pull kids off the mean streets of Newburgh. I teach them how to box and in doing so we travel, we compete with many different boxing clubs, we compete in many different tournaments, we go worldwide and we fellowship with many different people, and as we do this, this helps give these kids discipline responsibility and a much better attitude toward life “

STATEMENT FROM ASSEMBLYMAN COLIN SCHMITT OPPOSING FREE CASH FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

Washingtonville, NY — Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt (R,C,I,LBT,SAM-New Windsor) released the following statement upon voting NO on the NY State “Excluded Workers” fund:

Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt stated, “Today New York taxpayers faced the realities of one-party control of state government. Andrew Cuomo and the Democrat majorities forced through $2.1 billion in taxpayer-funded cash payments to illegal immigrants, with up to $15,600 in taxpayer funds being given to each individual illegal immigrant. In the middle of a global health crisis with people unemployed and struggling to make ends meet, this is a slap in the face to our hardworking taxpayers across the state. This $2.1 billion taxpayer-funded boondoggle not only gives free cash to illegal immigrants and is a direct affront to our taxpayers, but also serves as an immigration pull factor and will directly exacerbate the ongoing immigration crisis at our southern border. I voted NO, and this just highlights the urgent need for checks and balances in government both in New York and at the Federal level.”

Assemblyman Colin Schmitt Announces Bid For Congress

To a crowd of about 50 people at the Montgomery Village Hall, Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (Assembly District 99) , a republican, declared his run for Congressional Seat 18 and said it is likely to be one of the most important races in the country next Fall. Indeed, with the balance running tie-breakingly close it will be an important race. Crediting his early start at the nursery school right next door to the announcement, and a healthy local Hudson Valley upbringing, he nodded to his mom (proudly sporting a Women for Schmitt sign), while standing next to his wife, Nikki. Schmitt touted his record as bipartisan in a divided country, and the hard work he has put into public service his entire life, including his service and recent promotion to Sergeant in the National Guard. He has obtained numerous grants for local communities during his 2 terms and served at the Javits Center, getting it ready for possible Covid-19 virus overflow, and throughout the region helping prepare residents for Covid-19 care by delivering masks and antiseptic sanitizer, restocking food pantries, and delivering meals to seniors.

Present for the announcement were area supervisors, mayors, legislators, and servicemen as well as several dozen area citizens.

Schmitt will be running against democrat Sean Patrick Maloney, who has held the District 18 seat since 2013.

Washingtonville Ice Hockey Club Celebrates Their Seniors

On Friday 3/19, WIHC honored nine of their Seniors ahead of the last home Varsity game of regular season.  Each player was recognized singly and with their families.  The Club, better known as the Wizards, includes players from the Washingtonville, Warwick, Goshen and surrounding area school districts.  The team went on to beat Orange County West (OCW) by a score of 4-3 and will now face them again in the Finals scheduled for the weekend of 4/9.  Special thanks to Mike Leahy of Ice Time for his assistance with this event and. Washingtonville hockey supporters are wishing  all the best to their team in the Championship Round and beyond.

Caption 1 -All 9 seniors left to right:

Luc Boudreau (WVHS), Nolan Sheeran (WHS), Robert Krafft (WHS), Zach Den Bleyker (WHS), Robbie Cann (WVHS), Shane Lawlor (AHS), John Rufrano (WVHS), Daniel Hewitt (WHS), and Mark Ferry (WVHS)

Caption 2 – Washingtonville High School Seniors, names from left to right are:

Zach Den Bleyker, Robert Krafft, Daniel Hewitt, and Nolan Sheeran

Newburgh HookElite Boxing Wins Big!

Look who were stars, winning as National Boxing Champs!

Hookelite Boxing Ministry so far has 4 National Champions at this weeks National competition. They are:  Ja Ja, Kimberly, Natalie (and not shown, Nationals Champ King ja).

The finals are continuing as we go to press, so look for some more Newburgh Champs next week.

NFA Goldbacks Trounce Pine Bush

NFA Goldbacks Trounce Pine Bush

In school football,  the Newburgh Free Academy JV Goldbacks  played against Pine Bush and ended with a final score of 28-0 with Newburgh coming out ahead.  The Goldback Quarterback, #2, is Ji’Shawn Hall.  Touchdowns were made by #1, #9 and #20.  Jayson Johnson, #9, made his first ever touchdown.

(Photos by Melissa Winfield Corbett)