Rosendale NY, Hotel & Spa Project Poised to Move Forward

May 23, 2013 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
(Rosendale, NY) After over five years of review, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has accepted the Williams Lake Project's Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) as complete. The acceptance of the more than 500 page FEIS triggers a 30-day time-frame during which the DEC, lead agency to the coordinated environmental review process, must complete the SEQR Findings document.

The Findings conclude the SEQR process and allow the developer, Hudson River Valley Resorts, LLC to move forward with local approvals, demolition and then construction, which could occur as soon as Spring 2014. Known as the Williams Lake Project (WLP), the new resort will include a modern, high-performance Resort, Spa and Housing Development on about 70 acres of the 779-acre property.

"I'm very happy that the DEC has accepted the Williams Lake Project's final FEIS," said Town of Rosendale Supervisor Jeanne Walsh. "The majority of the town board and I are eager to move forward with the next steps to make the project a reality. It remains my opinion that this project will be of great economic benefit to the town of Rosendale, and that the FEIS demonstrates that the project can be developed in an environmentally responsible manner".

The coordinated environmental review has been overseen by the DEC and has involved multiple agencies ranging from the Army Corps of Engineers, the US Department of Fish and Wildlife and multiple state, county and local agencies. The Rosendale Town Board, Planning Board, Environmental Commission and local community groups have worked collaboratively with the development company and the DEC throughout the process.

The accepted FEIS document minimizes and mitigates potential negative impacts to the environment while securing positive benefits for the community. The Town of Rosendale will issue its own SEQR Findings that will secure commitments regarding local concerns such as keeping jobs local to Rosendale and the surrounding communities.

Some of the more significant changes and improvements made to the project include: a 10% reduction in the number of market rate housing units, the addition of 12 workforce housing units, enhanced public access through the reconnection of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail through the property, and the addition of 104 acres of land in 'forever wild' status, to be managed by the Rondout Esopus Land Conservancy. With this addition, the total lands under conservation easement will increase to 515 acres of the 779-acre development parcel. The additional 104 acres are a part of the net conservation benefit provided by the developer to further protect the habitat of the endangered Indiana Bat, which hibernates on the property.

The Williams Lake Project is grateful for the support and assistance provided by community members and elected officials. Special thanks to elected officials go out to former Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Congressman Chris Gibson, State Senator John Bonacic, State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, County Executive Michael Hein, County Comptroller Elliot Auerbach, Town of Rosendale Supervisor Jeanne Walsh, and Town of Rochester Supervisor Carl Chipman.

"After five years of good-faith collaboration with all parties involved, we are very pleased to be able to look to the future and begin planning events such as the opening of the Rail Trail and the construction of the new resort. Though it took longer than we had hoped, we believe that with the help of all involved we ended up with a better project", said Project Manager Tim Allred.

Although there has been some opposition to the Williams Lake Project, there are many looking forward to the economic benefits the project offers to both Rosendale and the County at large. "It's been my feeling all along that the opinions of both the watchdog groups and supporters of the project have informed the process in valuable ways", said Brian Cafferty, the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Williams Lake Project.

Once the DEC has issued its findings, the Rosendale Town Board will be scheduling two public hearings. Once ratified by the Rosendale Town Board, the Williams Lake Project can proceed with their site plan review before the Rosendale Planning Board. The Williams Lake Project expects to begin demolition in fall 2013 and construction as early as spring of 2014.

The development will affect approximately 66.13 acres contained within the approximately 368 acres area in the southern portion of the site; the approximately 411-acre northern portion of the property is already under a conservation easement and will remain undeveloped. The project is located Williams Lake Road and Binnewater Road, Town of Rosendale, Ulster County.