The Town of Clarkstown hosted the first of two community meetings to discuss the town’s comprehensive plan for Nanuet and the area around Route 59 Thursday night at Nanuet High School.
The town’s comprehensive plan was adopted in 2009 and more recently the town hired consultants Cambridge Systematics to conduct a corridor study of Route 59. More than 50 local residents were at Thursday’s meeting, along with Clarkstown Town Supervisor Alex Gromack, Councilwomen Shirley Lasker and Stephanie Hausner, Principal Town Planner Joe Simoes and representatives from Cambridge Systematics.
The second meeting is Saturday May 18th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the high school auditorium.
“This is really important because it’s about the future of Nanuet,” Lasker said.
“You’re here to really give us what you want to see done in Nanuet. This is your opportunity to make your hamlet be the hamlet you want it to be, and fit your needs.”
Part of the project and study will be looking into rezoning in Nanuet, something Simoes said came up frequently when speaking to various local business owners.
“We do have quite a lot of commercial development,” he said. “A good portion of the commercial development in the county is in Clarkstown, and we heard a lot from business owners and property owners about redevelopment. Our zoning is dating from the ‘60s. A lot of it didn’t make any sense to a lot of the property owners anymore, and we realize we needed to do something about it.”
Simoes and Chris Titze of Cambridge Systematics spoke to the group for a little more than hour Thursday night to open the meeting. They discussed the current zoning and what areas they’re currently looking into. They also took questions from the crowd, and a few residents brought up areas with traffic issues.
Mark Boyle, a member of the Nanuet Chamber of Commerce, stood up and spoke to the group about the importance of the meeting and reminded them that the real objective of the night was to hear out the public on what they want to see done in Nanuet.
“We’re not silly, thinking it’s going to happen overnight, but if we don’t start thinking about the longterm, it’s not going to happen,” he said. “We’ve got to think big. We’ve had some discussions about signage and about awnings and that type of stuff. That’s all great, but the reality is to bring Nanuet to where it can be.”
Boyle said in talking with developers, he’s received positive word on Nanuet’s possibilities going forward.
“We have something very different,” he said. “We have a train station. We have transportation, and that is what’s setting us apart. Now is the time to get action. Now is the time to get ourselves together, and we can truly make a difference here in Nanuet.”
The group broke off into smaller breakout sessions each with a representative from Cambridge leading discussions about the current state of Route 59 and Middletown Road, plus what people would like to see done in those areas and nearby.
One group spoke about making Middletown Road, specifically the part heading into Nanuet from Pearl River, more commercial. The same group was also excited by the idea of using gateway treatments, which are displays of the name of that specific town, hamlet or village. They can simply be signs or something like a small waterfall or fountain.
“It’s something that lets you know you’re someplace,” said Chris Lamm, of Cambridge.
The group thought the gateway treatment could help bring traffic off Route 59 to see the other businesses in Nanuet, especially one place on the corner of Middletown and 59 right near the Shops at Nanuet.
In the breakout session, Boyle said it’s important to remember that redevelopment shouldn’t compete with the incoming Shops at Nanuet. Instead, they should work together to build up Nanuet.
One group talked about the possibility of bringing in condos or rentals to try and make Nanuet more affordable for younger residents. The key to many in that group was revamping the area near the train station. That area, most agreed, is where the center of the hamlet should be.
When the group of six discussed some negatives of Nanuet, they all agreed Nanuet doesn’t have a real hamlet center. They said the hamlet also doesn’t have many community events, and creating more of a central location within the hamlet could give space for more events, whether a farmers’ market, fair or something else.
Some other issues with Nanuet brought up during breakout sessions were certain areas have little parking while others areas have an abundance, there’s no character, there’s no design continuity and the traffic lights on Route 59 aren’t synched up or sophisticated. In praise of Nanuet, residents said it’s safe, the schools are good and it’s centrally located within the county.
To end the breakout session, groups created a list of five keys to improving Nanuet. One group’s keys were:
- zone to development
- think big
- involve the businesses
- create an identity
- make sure the community is happy, including the schools