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#17101 - 11/08/05 05:24 PM to preserve or not to preserve
sputko Offline

Registered: 11/08/05
Posts: 1
With the proposed development of 350 homes on the Awosting Reserve, Gardiner was confronted with an unprecedented dilemma in regards to what is the proper use of such a large tract of contiguous and exquisite land occupying some 2500 acres in the Shawangunk Mountains. The results are still a point of controversy, heated debates and confusion for many of the residents of Gardiner as well as many who live outside the borders of our town.

Now with the rumors of a possible purchase of much of this land by the Trust for Public Lands which by their own admission would then be given to Minnewaska State Park a new dilemma may be looming on the horizon. For three decades the state has wanted a new entrance to the park in the town of Gardiner. That proposal would have created new access to the State Park off of Beecher Hill Road. Lands would have been acquired by eminent domain but lack of available state funds at that time brought this proposal to an end. Later in the 80’s once again the State made an attempt by eminent domain to acquire much of the Awosting Reserve to create an entrance to the park for both cars and buses. The proposed access would have been off Aumick Road, going up Campfire Road culminating with a large parking lot and a Bus Depot to facilitate access to the park for people without cars coming from out of town. Once again at the last minute funds were not available for a purchase and the idea was shelved for some possible future opportunity.

If you recall, one of the major objections with the Chaffin and Light proposed development was the amount of traffic that would result from the presence of hundreds of homes on the “Ridge”. Our serene country lanes would possibly be no more as these routes would be the only way of ingress and egress for residents on the mountain. A park entrance in this part of Gardiner would realize the worst case scenario envisioned from a major development and then some. Hundreds and hundreds of motor vehicles would have to use Aumick Road, Lake Road, Beecher Hill Road, Decker Road, North Mountain Road and South Mountain Road in order to access the new park entrance. Add buses to this picture and for us humans who live in this area, our worst nightmare may have just been realized.

And while we are at it, what about the environmental impact on the state owned lands and parts of the Awosting Reserve contiguous to these lands that up till now have been too remote for most hikers, except for the most passionate and argue ably most sensitive to the flora and fauna that inhabit this region of the Gunks.

Areas that once provided true natural serenity and freedom for the life forms that have an indisputable right to call these lands home may find more and more frequent intrusions into their domain by those that by sheer fact of number and ease of access, may not represent the standards necessary to prevent a slow but irreversible erosion of this part of the Ridge and beyond into the interior lands. Clearly the biodiversity of this environment will be put under unnecessary and potentially harmful stress with little recourse once the die has been cast. In addition, any changes to the land concerning buildings, parking lots, roads and lightning would no longer be under the jurisdiction of our town zoning laws since it would be under the jurisdiction of the State of New York.

And yet the greatest irony of this all is that a potential solution has been offered and discussed with Town board members and other significant entities for over two years with unfortunately no success as of yet.

The pressure for rezoning if still necessary could be approached in a more equitable fashion if the issue of the Awosting Reserve was resolved once and for all, giving relief to many of the property owners who have become suspect in the eyes of many “environmentalists” simply because their lands fall into the AR-200 zone with no consideration of their past stewardship of these lands.

In my discussions with Conservancy Partners who are the original members of Awosting Reserve prior to Chaffin and Light’s involvement, I have heard suggested that building approximately 50 homes or less on the lower lands and creating a preserve under a land trust of approximately 1400 acres of the upper lands adjacent to Minnewaska State Park to be deemed forever wild would be an acceptable, viable and welcomed plan.

Maybe it’s time we stop to consider the wisdom of a great teacher from the Near East that warned of the dangers of extremes and expounded on the virtues of the Middle Path.

Respectfully and sincerely,

Stan Putko, Gardiner

#17102 - 11/08/05 09:45 PM Re: to preserve or not to preserve [Re: sputko]
Smike Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/01/01
Posts: 3143
Loc: in your backyard
Later in the 80’s once again the State made an attempt by eminent domain to acquire much of the Awosting Reserve to create an entrance to the park for both cars and buses.

Does anyone have any factual evidence that supports the notion that the PIPC is seeking or has the same improvement plan on the books currently, or has decided on other alternatives?

#17103 - 11/08/05 09:48 PM Re: to preserve or not to preserve [Re: Smike]
dalguard Offline

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1515
Loc: CT
The better question is, is there anything in the current proposal that would prevent them from deciding to do this at any time? That is, are any restrictions being placed on the land and how it can be used? There's no guarantee that the state would be a better landowner than anyone else. They build big ugly monstrosities too.

#17104 - 11/09/05 02:01 PM Re: to preserve or not to preserve [Re: dalguard]
RangerRob Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/06/00
Posts: 3765
Loc: Ulster County, NY
PIPC people.....PIPC. Get your facts straight. setting aside 1400 acres as forever wild is actually impossible. That land would have to be purchased and designated as Forest Preserve. PIPC can't do that. more than 99% of Forest Preserve falls within the Catskill and Adirondack "blue lines". As for the park entrance in Gardiner..I have heard nothing about this except from this website. I wouldn't put anything past them, but I seriously doubt it. The park has increased in size and in taking over Sam's Point Preserve they will gain another 5,000 acres, making 18,000 acres or so. They have had no increase in budget, or staffing. Actually staff has decreased. For Christs sake, they can't even afford to get electricity into the Park after the 03 ice the hell are they gonna build and maintain a seperate park entrance??? I too would like to see where these facts are coming from.

#17105 - 11/09/05 06:18 PM Re: to preserve or not to preserve [Re: RangerRob]
pda Offline

Registered: 08/30/01
Posts: 623
Loc: Bergen County NJ
Entrance at Sam's Point makes sense - Ice Caves and all that. Entrance in Gardiner would not be that desirable, since it is far from the Minnewaska Park features that people want to visit - the lake, ice caves, etc etc. Seems an unlikely location to develop.

#17106 - 11/09/05 08:52 PM Re: to preserve or not to preserve [Re: pda]
Smike Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/01/01
Posts: 3143
Loc: in your backyard
Entrance in Gardiner would not be that desirable,

Sure it would, that way I wouldn't have to swerve around all the cars on my way home on 44/55 waiting to pay to get in. That’s a good reason

#17107 - 11/10/05 04:59 AM Re: to preserve or not to preserve [Re: Smike]
yorick Offline
old hand

Registered: 11/15/02
Posts: 1041
Loc: hamlet\'s hand
PIPC is required to follow extensive guidelines for the management of its parks under the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), which was updated in 2003, and which REQUIRES public comment and SEQRs for any proposed development in its parks, just like private development: (If that doesn't work, try the PIPC Site Map and look for SCORP under the Inside our Agency heading).

Much has changed in the twenty or thirty years since the discussion of a trailhead was floated for Awosting. As Rob suggested, Sam's Point will likely become the next primary entrance in Minnewaska's expansion, where the infrastructure already exists, and its natural features are far more inviting than Awostings. What is attractive about Awosting primarily is its unfragmented habitat (at least it was until Mr. Bradley began clearing roads). It's not a parcel containing blue-ribbon views, except perhaps for the area between Mud Pond and Verkeerderkill Falls, though it does contain several waterfalls (is Mr. Bradley's house not set beside one of them?). With improvements, it can certainly get you to the views above the Dwaar Kill and Palmagat, but I suspect after all of the scrutiny that has been and will continue to be focused there, PIPC must proceed very carefully should they choose to make improvements: indeed, SCORP invites extensive scrutiny.

Shevchenko was incorporated into the park last year, a parcel on the western ridge nearly as large as Awosting which had been discussed as another potential Minnewaska entrance; to date, no improvements have been proposed for this tract. Ditto for the entrance to Stony Kill Falls. The DEC acquired the 4,000 acre Witch's Hole above Napanoch Prison a couple of years ago, and nothing's been done to improve access there - a very long hike in north via the Smiley Road from Ellenville or southwest via the Smiley Road from Minnewaska.

What I'm suggesting here is that with over 6,000 protected acres added to the ridge in the past several years, the pattern has been for ridge managers TO DO NOTHING to improve access nor demonstrably increase the number of visitors to the ridge via these new parcels. Awosting may be more attractive for access because it flanks the busier eastern front. But again as Rob has suggested, neither capitol improvements nor the impetus to increase access to the ridge have been in the offing by ridge managers on these large, semi-wild parcels, except at Sam's Point.

If anyone wishes for Awosting to remain undeveloped like these other semi-wild parcels, I would suggest contacting PIPC should this deal move to closing.
Shongum ain\'t Indian,
it\'s Shawank-unk.


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