The city of Cortlandt takes a further step towards achieving commercial and recreational development around the Verplanck’s career when he heard proposals from a team of architects at a recent meeting.
The 99-acre parcel of land, which includes the 31-acre flooded quarry, was acquired by the City of With Edison in 2016. Four years later, the impending closure of Indian tipand the resulting loss of jobs and tax revenue, prompted the federal government to award Cortlandt a $3.2 million grant, which was used to kick-start career development.
As it did in response to Indian Point’s closure, the city formed a committee, made up of local officials and residents, to discuss plans for the future. One of the committee’s first tasks was to evaluate proposals from three potential tenants – an indoor sports ground known as Location Cortlandt, Merchant’s Daughter hard cider mill, and Brownstone outdoor adventure park.
The Brownstone facility, which would have been located on the west side of the quarry and offered experiences such as ziplining and cliff climbing, was not approved. Municipal supervisor and chairman of the committee Richard Becker agree with the decision.
“It was too commercially focused and brought in people from outside the region,” Becker said. He thinks that for many it would be a one-stop destination and not something people would revisit.
The committee is leaning towards the creation of a municipal recreation area in the same location, which guests could use at little or no cost, similar to Charles Cook swimming pool.
According to KG&D Architects, who presented a preliminary plan to the committee, there are between four and six lots on the property that could be leased to commercial tenants. The goal is to create a hybrid of rented private spaces and public spaces.
“It really should look like a park, with clearly defined distinct uses, not a city street,” the KG&D president said. Russell Davidson.
Part of the plan presented by KG&D includes a three-acre park in the southwest corner of the property, with nearby access white beach. The beach itself could potentially house a marina or water taxi service.
local resident Michelle Piccolo Hill raised the possibility of preserving and repurposing several partially submerged buildings along the west side of the quarry, as well as a group of concrete silos adjacent to the potential location of Merchant’s Daughter.
“You just can’t get these things back,” Piccolo-Hill said. “There are too many beautiful old places being destroyed with the immediate thought of ‘Let’s do this quickly and cheaply’.”
Becker agreed and pointed out that the proximity Kino Saito arts center, whose president Mikiko Ino also sits on the quarry committee, has proposed integrating the silos into a sculpture garden.
KG&D’s Davidson said while converting partially submerged buildings into usable commercial spaces presents many challenges, they could be used to create docks for the recreation area.
The plan is not without some detractors. committee member Christopher Vargo expressed disapproval of career plans, which include concerns about infrastructure and traffic. He claims that any tax revenue or rent payment to the City would be offset by maintenance costs.
“The idea is a loser/loser for the people of Verplanck,” says Vargo. “If it’s popular, the traffic will be terrible, and if it fails, we’re stuck with empty buildings for the city to maintain.”
The next step for the committee is to hear from a team of engineering consultants to begin addressing infrastructure issues such as lighting, water lines, septic systems and irrigation.
Becker reminded participants throughout the meeting that nothing is set in stone and the process is flexible. Each component of the development must go through the usual planning board process and will operate on its own schedule.
“It’s not Disneyland,” Becker said. “It doesn’t have to open all of a sudden.”
Christian Larson, who lives in Peekskill, is editor of River Journal North, and host of his RiverTalk podcast. He is also an event organizer. Visit it > capngoodtimes.com.