Road Expansion Hopes to Generate Commerce

Ground will be broken in fall of 2014 on a $2.4 million construction project along South Putt Corners Road to Main Street that could ultimately facilitate business expansion in the area, Deputy Mayor Rebecca Rotzler said.

Rotzler said the project, mainly funded through New York State Department of Transportation’s Traffic Improvement Program (TIP) with about $120,000 covered by Ulster County, includes the creation of six-foot-wide shoulders and turning lanes on Route 32 and into New Paltz High School.

Rotzler said the improvements will provide opportunities to expand the area’s outdoor recreational facilities, as the increase in shoulders and bike lanes improves the safety of the area.

“The project has been under discussion for a good number of years in recognition of the fact that having our high school accessible by a long road without shoulders presents a great danger to students who walk or bike to school,” Rotzler said.

In addition to those safety factors, Rotzler said the project will improve the maneuvering of safety vehicles as the police department is located in the area.

Former School Board President Don Kerr is the leader of a group of citizens “from diverse backgrounds” looking to put in place the infrastructure that would bring business expansion to the area. The group — made up of republican, democrat, green and independent party members -— hopes the growth will alleviate the pressure on New Paltz tax-payers, Kerr said.

“When republicans, democrats, greens and independents come together, it’s rare,” Kerr said. “We just want to make damn sure the task comes to fruition.”

Kerr said the ideal businesses would be “mid-sized” and “in line with the community’s standards” and that the larger scale corporations, similar to Walmart, would not make it past the planning board.

“We don’t have bigger businesses in New Paltz and never will. We’re mostly small mom-and-pop shops,” Kerr said. “But since 16 percent of people are paying 100 percent of the taxes, we need this expansion to bring in the tax dollars.”

Kerr said the expansion could include businesses like a drive-in movie theater or a performing arts center to stimulate the commerce in the area and bring in additional tax money.

“It’s one practical thing we [as a community] can agree on,” Kerr said. “We need a source of tax revenue to ensure I can live in my house and my neighbor can live in his house well into our old age.”