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.

In other town news

'Deplorable' Route 207 — In a letter to Hon. Carl Heastie, Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Assemblyman James Skoufis requested the appropriation of $3 million in funding to repair State Route 207 in the Village of Goshen.
“The condition of 207 is deplorable. It serves as the gateway into the Village of Goshen, the county seat of Orange, as well as the area’s downtown district,” stated Skoufis, noting that he had organized a meeting with the Acting Director of DOT Region 8 and village officials in April 2013. “Unfortunately, no action has been taken to address the condition of the road since then and it is my understanding that there are no repairs scheduled for 2015 due to fiscal constraints.”
The assemblyman added that residents and the downtown business district are suffering because of the inaction. The requisition of funds falls under the 2013-2015 Department of Transportation Capital Program Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Need for new water tank — Village board members voted in favor of seeking bids for the construction and installation of a new one million gallon water storage tank. Not only will the new tank supplement the existing village water supply system, but also, it will offer the opportunity for the existing tank to undergo required maintenance.
The board chose a glass-lined bolted steel water storage tank from types described and evaluated by the village engineer, Lanc and Tully. The board authorized Lanc and Tully to prepare specifications to advertise for project bids.
Planning board appointment — On the nomination of Mayor Kyle Roddey, Adam Boese was appointed as a member of the Village of Goshen Planning Board. Boese fills the unexpired term of Augustine DeRosa. The term, which begins immediately, expires in 2017.

“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":

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