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Orangetown Seeking State Aid to Market RPC Property

Orangetown officials met with representatives of the Empire State Development Corporation and other state organizations to discuss the future of the Rockland Psychiatric Center property in Orangeburg.

Orangetown took another step toward the redevelopment of the Rockland Psychiatric Center Property Monday.

Supervisor Andy Stewart, Councilman Tom Diviny and other town officials met with representatives of New York's Empire State Development and other state organizations to discuss the redevelopment and take a tour of the RPC land in Orangeburg.

Empire State Development could provide resources and help market RPC to developers, saving Orangetown money and improving the chances of bringing in the best possible developers.

"The hope is that Empire State Development will invest in the planning and marketing process and help coordinate the town's access to resources for remediation and distribution of RFP's (Request for Proposals) to prospective investors," Stewart said. "It could save us a lot of money and give us access.

"When we were talking to consultants, they were talking about anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 for market analysis and planning services and that would have been prior to an RFP. The value of Empire State Development's involvement is significant."

Stewart said he expects to speak follow up with Empire State Development next week and hopes to learn more about what aid the agency will provide then. In addition to information gathered through Monday's meeting and tour, the town provided paperwork regarding the land, including the recently revised plan for redevelopment. 

"Now that they've gotten their feet wet, we'll have a conversation in about a week or so and see what kind of relationship we're going to have," Stewart said.

Stewart announced last week that there will be a public meeting to discuss RPC from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. tonight at town hall, immediately preceding the town board meeting at 7:30 p.m. He stressed the importance of keeping the public involved, adding that one of the things Empire State Development officials asked about was the community support for the redevelopment project.

"It's one reason I revised the plan and why we're meeting (Tuesday), to continue to have this process where people can realize what opportunities are there and what the limitations are," Stewart said. "They don't want to waste their time with a town that doesn't have a plan. That's why it was really important to revise that plan and make it the subject of a town board dialogue."

The town board voted to adopt the revised plan last month, approximately 10 years after the town closed on the purchase of the 548 acres in Orangeburg. The original plan was created in 2004. The new one updated old information and provided parameters for the redevelopment. A copy of the plan is attached to this report.

Stewart said that Monday's meeting could not take place until the revised plan was in place. The meeting also served to foster communication among departments of the state government. Officials from the Office of Mental Health, which still controls part of RPC, and the Office of General Services, also took part, along with Orangetown Attorney John Edwards, Finance Director Jeff Bencik, Building Dept. Director John Giardello and Director of Special Projects Suzanne Barclay.

"Part of what we did is get one part of the state talking with another part about what Orangetown's goals are," Stewart said.

Empire State Development could also play a key role in marketing the property.

"They are the ones, for businesses that want to locate or expand in New York, they are the ones who get the phone call," Stewart said. "The site is of local interest, but it has regional, national and potentially even global interest as well. To get the maximum exposure to the commercial broker world, it would help to have Empire State promoting it along with our local realtors."

Stewart said that part of the function of an RFP once Orangetown gets to that point is to gain a true measure of the market value of the property, including the large section full of buildings that are out of use and likely would be torn down. 

"The town doesn't want to sell off the green areas without solving the problem of remediation," Stewart said. "We don't know what the value is to commercial developers. 

"Somebody is going to propose big box retail. We're not excited about that. Somebody will propose a lot of houses. We're not excited about that, something that would have a tremendous impact on the Pearl River School District."

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