Cinema Proposal Reaches Planning Board

The proposed Water Street Cinema proposal was reviewed by the New Paltz planning board.
The proposed Water Street Cinema proposal was reviewed by the New Paltz planning board.

Town residents Howard Sachar and Chuck Silver are continuing work on their potential art-house cinema and have recently gone before the New Paltz planning board to discuss their proposal.

Sachar said he and Silver submitted their current plan to the board in February and the board expressed positive views about the idea of having an art-house cinema in downtown New Paltz.

“The overall reaction we have consistently received from the board and others in the community is that this could be an exciting addition to the village,” Sachar said.

While board members and residents of New Paltz have expressed support for the cinema, they also discussed how the cinema may impact merchants, residents and

Maurice Weitman, planning board chairman, said the board has expressed concern with the issuance of a Special Use Permit and issues that involve traffic, parking and storm water retention.

Sachar said the board asked them to conduct a study which would examine the potential effect on traffic flow and parking in the area surrounding the proposed site. He said at the planning board meeting on March 20, the scope of the study was agreed upon and is expected to begin within the next month.

“The proposed Water Street Cinema is a relatively complex project in the Gateway District of the Village,” Sachar said. “The board showed a willingness to work with us in finding solutions for issues that may arise.”

In addition to the possible effect on traffic flow, Sachar said the current plan would also reduce space for housing. An existing two-family dwelling at 12 Main St. will be converted into commercial use developing a cafe and offices for the cinema.

Weitman said in regard to reducing housing there may be no legal requirement that they provide replacements for housing units converted to other uses but it will be one of the factors considered by the board during their evaluation of the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

Sachar said the cinema will be a “not-for-profit community-focused mission-driven art-house cinema.”

Their intention is to become a 501(c)(3) corporation and in order to attain this status they must receive approvals from both state and federal agencies.

Sachar and Silver said the planning board won’t be their last stop in trying to develop 12 Main St.

“Beyond the specific needs of the cinema, we hope to collaborate with the village on ways to gain greater utility from existing parking such as encouraging more bicycling, walking and the use of public transportation,” Sachar said. “We think that these are all important in increasing the vitality of the Gateway district and New Paltz as a whole.”