By Tina Traster
Local Officials Urge Planning Board to Reject Mall’s Expansion Without Station
Simon Property Group, owner of Woodbury Commons and the Shops at Nanuet, does not appear to be interested in the construction of a new train station at Woodbury Commons. The outlet mall owner has refused to engage in discussions about a station with public officials who are concerned about alleviating traffic in and around the mall.
Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) secured $5 million from the state’s railroad fund for a new train station at Woodbury Common. Additionally, he secured a commitment from the MTA to not only support the project, but also provide any technical expertise required to move the train station forward.
Simon plans to build two hotels, more stores and restaurants, more than 2,000 additional parking spaces in two garages, and a helipad.
Orange County Legislator Laurie Tautel, Woodbury Supervisor Frank Palermo, and Harriman Mayor Steve Welle have all joined the call for the outlet mall’s expansion to be rejected without the addition of a train station.
Skoufis says the station must be built at the same time as a Woodbury Common expansion to divert the additional traffic that would result from it.
He warned that added traffic would reduce the benefits of the $150 million interchange upgrade now being built nearby at Route 17′s Exit 131.
“The Exit 131 project is meant to provide relief to the Woodbury community and surrounding region; it is not intended to provide additional capacity for Woodbury Common,” Skoufis said, adding that a train station “could remove tens if not hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our interchange annually.”
“Our point of view has been clear and consistent as it relates to the proposed train station and its true cost as well as the associated enhancements required to make it feasible,” said David Mistretta, general manager at Woodbury Common. “Within the existing infrastructure, a train station at Woodbury Common is simply not realistic.”
Simon did not return an email seeking comment.
“In my seven years in the State Legislature, I’ve never seen such unreasonable disregard by a corporation towards its host community,” said Skoufis. “We are coming to the table with $5 million to make a train station work and Simon Properties doesn’t even have the decency to take a meeting. This ought to be a win-win-win: a win for the local community, taking untold thousands of cars off our local roads; a win for the outlet mall with a new opportunity for shoppers to conveniently get to Woodbury Common; and a win for the MTA which stands to see a significant increase in ridership.