By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO June 12, 2001 The proposed county welcome center on Route 17 generated sometimes fierce debate at the county level during its months-long formulation, but now it appears the project may be dead.
The center, which would be funded greatly by the state DOT, was narrowed down to two sites between exit 111 and exit 112 and near exit 114. The Legislature initially chose an area by exits 111 and 112.
However, that action led to an outcry from those Town of Mamakating residents who lived nearby. They came to a Public Works Committee meeting to complain about the proposed site, but after listening to several speak out, including Town Supervisor Mary Barbuti, the legislators decided to pursue the site at exits 111 and 112.
On Thursday, June 7, at the Public Works meeting, Chair Rodney Gaebel asked legislators what they wanted to do. He suggested having DPW do a further study of Exit 114 and get a better idea of exactly how much the project would cost. (What is unknown is how much drilling would be required into the side of a cliff, which would be a determining factor in the costs.)
Legislator Bob Kunis requested that other sites be explored, but Gaebel replied that all sites had been explored and 114 was all that was left. Kunis disagreed and asked that a real estate agent be hired to check out properties in the area. Kunis asked the issue to be tabled but received no support.
Gaebel called for a vote for further study on Exit 114. Gaebel, Rusty Pomeroy, and Leni Binder voted in favor of it. Kunis, Jodi Goodman, and Kathleen LaBuda voted against it. Gordon MacKinnon was absent from the meeting, and one position from District 9 is currently vacant.
A tie means that the vote did pass, but Gaebel referred to it as a "dead issue" unless it is brought up again.