Red Hook pitches plan for expanding rec facilities

Red Hook is moving forward with plans for a major expansion of its existing recreation facilities.

At the town board’s Feb. 27 meeting, Brandee Nelson of Crawford and Associates, the town’s engineering firm, presented the plans and board members voted to move forward with the SEQR review and act as lead agency in the process. They also scheduled a public hearing on the master plan for the town board’s April 9 meeting at 8pm.

The proposed park, on a 28.4-acre parcel that used to be a farm, will be situated on the west side of Linden Avenue, directly across from the existing Rec Park. The land was acquired by the town late in 2007 for $425,000, according to Supervisor Sue Crane.

“This is a master plan that’s been underway for that property almost since we bought it and we’re inching our way through this,” Crane said, adding, “It’s beautiful land, it’s got beautiful views. We believe that it’s going to be a real asset; it is a real asset to the town already.”

The plan calls for four soccer fields, two baseball fields and a pavilion for picnics and events.

“Generally, we’re talking about unlit sports fields, operations from dawn to dusk, that sort of thing. So, it’ll help facilitate more of the town’s recreation program and provide a really nice amenity,” Nelson said.

Extensive walking trails run throughout the park and connect on the north side with Aspinwall Road in the neighboring development and with Linden Ave on the east, providing a link to the road to the existing Rec Park. In addition, an “unneeded” .58 acre parcel will be transferred to the town from the water district to connect Aspinwall Road and the new park via existing biking trails in the neighborhood.

The main entrance will be on Linden Avenue in the northeast corner of property and will lead to a parking area for 118 vehicles. The pavilion is planned just south of the parking lot, complete with an ADA compliant restroom and a snack bar.

The park includes 2.4 acres of federally regulated wetlands. The smallest, at .17 acres, will be graded into a soccer field. But the larger two, which are close together and situated in the western portion of the property, will be protected and incorporated into the design of the park.

According to Nelson, Michael Nowicke, a biologist from Ecological Solutions, is working with the recreation department to do wetland delineation work and to plan how to mitigate the impacts to the small wetland by protecting the larger two. No sensitive species have been found on the property to date.

John Kuhn, Red Hook’s park facilities and program director, said, “We’re very happy with the design, what we’d like to have now is some funds to move ahead.”

According to Doug Strawinski, chair of the town’s Recreation Commission, the town has applied for a community development block grant to fund aspects of the project three years in a row, and has been rejected each time. At the Feb. 27 meeting, Crane said she would be meeting with a representative from the block grant committee to discuss the town’s previous applications, in hopes that the meeting would help “tighten up” the town’s application.

“We will continue pursuing money to get a line of water from the east side of Linden Avenue under the road to the west park and then we’ll be able to establish the fountains, the drinking fountains, and the bathrooms and the… sprinkler systems in the fields,” Crane said.

Nelson said that the SEQR process “will facilitate pursuing funds for starting to put in the infrastructure and pursuing the actual development of the [park].”

Town attorney Christine Chale told the board that while the park is a permitted use in that district, it is still subject to site plan approval. She noted that in conjunction with the SEQR review, the board would need to consider whether Red Hook zoning laws apply to the project.

While no variances have been identified yet, the town will need permits from Dutchess County Department of Health for the septic and water lines, from the state Department of Conservation for stormwater permits, and from the federal Army Corps of Engineers for the wetlands, according to Chale.

Both Strawinski and Crane could not give The Observer an estimate for the cost of the project, saying more planning and permitting needs to be done before they know the cost.

“Unfortunately, with Hurricane Irene, we had to fix a lot of things. We finally got reimbursed on some of that, but it took some of our capital money to get the fields back in order and that kind of thing. So we don’t have as much money as we used to. So, once again, we’ll just have to try our best to do what we can with what we got,” Strawinski told The Observer.

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