Village: 'Two-building solution' doesn't exist

Village continues to support government center renovation as some residents plead for arts center


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  • A rendering of the latest renovation plans.



“Change your mind. I changed mine. It will be good for Goshen, bring people in and be put back on the tax roll.”
Kit Wallace


By Geri Corey

— The Feb. 23 village board meeting offered residents the chance to share their thoughts about selling the embattled Orange County Government Center to Gene Kaufman.

Kaufman, a New York City architect who has offered the county $5 million for the building, wants to restore it for use as an art center. But the county is currently moving forward with renovation plans supported by both the village and town.

“Change your mind," resident Kit Wallace told the village board. "I changed mine. It will be good for Goshen, bring people in and be put back on the tax roll.”

The audience applauded.

The reasons for selling the building are varied: As an historic building designed by Paul Rudolph — with many art experts around the world calling it a “masterpiece” — it should be preserved. Making Goshen an arts hub would encourage artists from New York city to move here, much like Warwick, and boost the economy. Selling the building would save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Other speakers urged village Mayor Kyle Roddey to consider the selling option.

A strong supporter of selling the government center, Salvatore LaBruna favors the “two-building solution” that would give the village both an arts center and a new government center right next door.

Roddey assured the audience that the board had diligently researched the official proposal, "inside and out," and it did not include the two-building solution.

"I’m not opposed to the arts," he said, "but I want to bring back the county building. The two-building solution was not discussed once in the legislature.”

Orange County Legislator Shannon Wong agreed.

“All the talk in the legislature is about renovating," she said. "We’ve never seen a (request) for a two-building solution. It doesn’t exist.” If the county building isn’t renovated, offices will stay scattered through the county, as they are now.

“Now the only thing available is renovation," Wong said. "There’s no conversation for a new building."

In addition, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money provided for the renovation could be lost if the county doesn’t continue with its current plan. The government center closed after Hurricane Irene flooded the building in late August 2011.

“At three and a half years, this project is taking too long to accomplish getting the building up and running," Wong said. "They're done with us."

Roddey noted that with businesses closing down in the village, Goshen needs the government center back.

Wong said she’s kept an open mind, but that overriding the county executive's veto on selling the building will only cause more delays.

“I want what can be accomplished in a timely manner,” said Wong.

See related story: "It's down to the facade": http://bit.ly/1AbkLqQ




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