Representatives from the New York State Office of General Services and Office of Mental Health will be in Orangetown the first week of October for a meeting and to tour the Rockland Psychiatric Center site.
At Tuesday night’s Orangetown Town Council meeting, members of Wilson-Elser gave a presentation about the future of the Rockland Psychiatric Center site as the town considers how to develop the property.
Orangeown Supervisor Andy Stewart said it was discussed previously that if members couldn’t make it down to Rockland, he and possibly other councilmen would travel up to Albany to meet with officials. Chris Del Giudice, of Wilson-Elser, assured Stewart that the meeting and tour are set up.
Del Giudice also told the board that they are working on lifting an agreement from the 2003 purchase of the land that states 216 of the 348 acres must be used for municipal or recreation use by 2015. If not done by 2015, all acreage would revert to that use. Del Giudice the restriction could be extended by five years with consent from the Empire State Building Corporation board of directors, who could possibly vote on the extension at their next meeting in September.
“That’s very important to get that done because we’re not ready to designate which of the 216 acres,” said Orangetown Councilman Denis Troy.
Troy added he thought 216 acres was the right amount to designate for recreation use, and the board just doesn’t want to commit to a certain part of the land without figuring out what to do with all of it first.
Del Giudice said he thinks the next step is to come up with a plan to relay to state officials.
“The need for a plan is what we keep coming back to,” Stewart said, adding they have a few plans.
Stewart said the town has a redevelopment study from 2004 that outlines a lot of what the community wanted out of the land. He also acknowledged that at least some of that might be out of date at this point. He asked the Wilson-Elser members what the state officials could want. Robert Spolzino, of Wilson-Elser, said state officials are looking to see development.
“If you’re creating a lot of jobs, you might get a better deal and better break on cleanups and better deals on tax breaks,” Del Giudice said.
Spolzino said he thinks the town board “move forward with whatever it is the town board wants to do with property and formulate the zoning and do as much of the SEQR (environmental review) process” as it can.
Councilman Thomas Diviny said the board members need to be proactive and come up with a plan that they and the community want for the land. Councilman Paul Valentine said it’s important to have some research done before coming up with a plan so the town board members come up with a well thought out plan. Stewart added that they shouldn’t just look at the current climate of the country, but also think about the future.
“Some things can happen sooner and other things, the time might not be right for,” he said.
Diviny added they should look into capital projects that could benefit the town.