By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO March 16, 2001 Yesterday, the Sullivan County Legislatures Public Works Committee held a special meeting regarding the proposed Welcome Center site.
The site, between Exits 11 and 112 off Route 17 in the Town of Mamakating, was chosen at the last committee meeting the previous week. However, due to a public outcry at several meetings this past week, the resolution was tabled yesterday by the legislature at its monthly meeting following the committee meeting.
Yesterdays committee meeting was particularly intense. Due to a large turnout, the meeting was moved to the legislative chambers. Mamakating Supervisor Mary Barbuti and other town residents were vocal in their opposition to the site, and they made their point for nearly an hour through heated statements about potential problems with the 111/112 site.
Committee Chair Rodney Gaebel said yesterday that the motion goes back to the committee now, and all of the original site choices will be revisited.
The proposed site at Exit 113 (Route 209 and Wurtsboro) was continously brought up to be the choice of locals. The main reason given was that the state may put a Park and Ride station there. The committee was asked to make the center a part of that initiative, which is under consideration.
Legislator Steven Kurlander asked that both the towns of Thompson and Mamakating be involved in the discussions this time around, and Gaebel assured him that they would be, adding that everyone who wanted to comment would be heard.
The Welcome Center is part of the states plan for more rest areas, and one is required in the general vicinity of eastern Sullivan County. The project is a partnership between the county and the state Department of Transportation (DOT) Regions 8 and 9. DOT has $4M set aside for the project. The county has a $475,000 grant ready, as well, though any additional costs would be born by the county.