The 56th student senate met on Wednesday, Dec. 4 to discuss Park Point and the results of the Senate-composed drug survey.
The meeting opened with Dan Torres, recently elected to New Paltz Town Council, introducing himself to the student senate and opening up a line of communication that he hopes will be used to form a stronger connection between the town and student body.
Fourth-year student Kenny Satterlee presented the senate with a website he created, newpaltzoffcampushousing.wordpress.com, in order to gain support and a possible endorsement. The website offers off campus students a place to voice their testimony about their off-campus housing in order for other students to make better decisions when choosing where to live. The website also includes specifics about landlords and renting laws.
“It’s a project that can build upon itself and continue to work for students in the future,” Satterlee said.
The website was met with positive reaction from the senate, and they are looking to endorse the project and create a statement of endorsement to be placed on the website sometime within the next semester.
Village of New Paltz Trustee Ariana Basco presented the senate with apprehensions voiced from attendees at the most recent Park Point housing meeting on Nov. 25 at the town hall. As a prospective housing complex catered toward transfers, commuters and faculties, Basco expressed multiple concerns she urged the senate to take into consideration before developing a formal opinion to the proposed project. Concerns included the building company Wilmorite filing the property a PILOT, which would allow the complex to not have to pay taxes.
“Seventy-four percent of properties in New Paltz are non-taxable entities,” Basco said. “There is already a large burden of taxes placed on property owners that do pay taxes.”
Basco stressed that Park Point would only increase those taxes.
Another issue was the cost of staying in the “luxury” facility, where Basco said the average amount a student or faculty member would pay is $775, adding this is more than most renters pay to live in New Paltz and that statistics show the average faculty member would not be able to afford to stay there.
Other issues included the worry of transportation for residents from Park Point into town and the lack of police accountability for patrolling and securing the area.
Student Association (SA) Vice President Zachary Rousseas asked if the planned use of natural gas at Park Point, as opposed to green energy, could be changed. Basco said if changes were to be made, they would be done by advocating for such changes to the town planning board.
Senators Annie Courtens and Rebecca Berlin restated some of the issues brought up by Basco, and urged the E-board to include building standards, student opinion and keeping costs low when writing their formal opinion on Park Point, which will be written Friday.
Responses to the senate-created drug survey were revealed to the senate by Tejada. Ten percent of the student population took the survey. Seventy-two percent said they have used of both alcohol and marijuana at some point during college, with varying responses to how often. Sixty-one percent of them said they have not used any other drugs besides alcohol or marijuana. The majority of students interviewed feel comfortable using marijuana is residence halls. For 79.9 percent of students, a verbal warning was considered adequate for a student’s first marijuana offense.
Senate will reconvene next semester.
By Abbott Brant