Stony Point To Let Voters Decide Fate Of Former Letchworth Village

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Town Will Hold A Referendum On Sale Of Property On Nov. 8 Ballot

By Tina Traster

The details still need to be hashed out between the Stony Point Town Board and a developer who wants to build a mixed-used project on the former Letchworth Village property, but the town says it’s ultimately up to voters to decide whether the town-owned land should be sold.

Town Board members on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution to put the issue to a referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot. The ballot question will ask voters to authorize the town to sell the land, subject to its approval of the deal.

“We want residents to decide,” said Stony Point Town Supervisor Jim Monaghan. “We want them to know it’s up to them to decide. It’s not our property. It’s your property.”

However, town residents will likely need to wait until at least Aug. 8th before they learn the details of an expected Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which is underway between the town and a regional developer who is proposing to build a multi-faceted community-oriented mix of residential and senior units on nearly 30 acres of the town-owned and largely abandoned Letchworth Village.

In May, Glen Vetromile, managing principal of Hudson Park Group LLC, a real estate development and investment firm, presented to the town during a public meeting a flexible plan to build an estimated 450 market-rate units including townhouses, condos, multi-family, and 170 assisted and independent senior housing apartments. The project does not include retail or commercial components.

Over the past two months, the two sides have been negotiating an MOU, taking into consideration a host of details including the town’s retention of the Kirkbride building, the developer’s promise to build a recreational center, the relocation of two golf holes, traffic patterns, and other issues.

The developer plans to renovate the Kirkbride building to relocate the town justice court. The developer is proposing to build an approximately 10,000 square-foot recreation center on a town-owned parcel on the Stony Point Little League property and relocate the recreation facility now housed in Kirkbride.

The 30 acres the town plans to sell abuts Patriot Hills Golf Course to the east and is situated to the west of Knapp Road but the golf course will remain in town hands. The developer is offering to relocate and redesign the 15th and 17th holes because the land is contiguous with the proposed housing developments. No selling price has been revealed but previously the town had been planning to sell the site for roughly $3 million to Raja Amar, a Stony Point resident.

Town officials have said they support this project, pointing out that Letchworth has remained ghostly for 26 years, with decaying asbestos-laden buildings. In addition, the town in 2014 created an overlay district to encourage mixed-used developments, particularly those that propose much-needed housing.

“We are working diligently to come up with a fair contract,” said Monaghan, adding that even if residents say yes to a sale the town is not beholden to sell the land.

“It doesn’t mean the town has to sell the property,” said the supervisor.

The decision to put the issue up for a public vote comes in the wake of a failed effort by Amar to buy 26 acres along with the Patriot Hills golf course to build a luxury hotel/conference center, and to upgrade the golf course facilities with a new clubhouse. In November, Amar’s plans were defeated by a narrowly won referendum on the election ballot. Residents had organized against the plan because many believed Amar did not possess the experience to redevelop the complex site. Many expressed worry he might ultimately re-sell the property. Additionally, some citizens were concerned over the fate of the publicly run golf course.

“This is a proven developer who’s done high-end projects in the past and has a reputation for delivering a good product,” said Town Supervisor Jim Monaghan. “There is a need for this type of housing.”