Friday, March 20, 2009
Possible Compromise for Old Guinan's Building?
At last night's Philipstown Planning Board meeting, a public hearing was held, which included discussion on the new site plan approval for the old Guinan's building at #7 Garrison's Landing.
The architect for the Garrison Station Plaza, which owns the building, presented his drawings and elaborated a bit more on last month's proposal, adding that the GSP was considering investing in an energy efficient geothermal heating and cooling system for the property. (This technology uses heat generated from the earth versus fossil fuels.) Currently the plans are to convert the space into residences and an office.
However, there was a robust appeal from the public at the meeting to include some sort of a public space (ie, cafe) in the new plans. The question also was raised about whether the Guinan's building qualifies as a "historic property," which could affect rules around its change of use and structural alterations.
There was also discussion about whether the GSP's current plans are in keeping with the Philipstown Comprehensive Plan. Two members of the community, Christine Ashburn and Barbara Feldt, presented the board with results of a petition with 1086 signatures asking the GSP to please retain some portion of the building to serve the residents, commuters, Garrison Arts Center patrons, West Point cadets and tourists who pass through at this critical juncture by the train stop. And two residents, Shelley Boris of Fresh Company catering and Mary Ellen Yannitelli expressed interest in exploring business opportunities to serve the community at the space. Hank Osborn, a member of the Garrison Station Plaza board, reiterated his dissent with the organization's current plans while emphasizing how much he valued his ability to serve the on the GSP board.
After listening, the Philipstown Planning Board decided to solicit more public comment. A couple of members said they couldn't support the building's "change of use" as currently outlined and encouraged the GSP to reevaluate and see if some sort of compromise might be reached to include a public meeting space.
Hopefully, with some thoughtful dialogue, the end result can be a win-win for everyone, including our neighbors on the Garrison Station Plaza board. The goal is fostering community and preservation of what makes this town so unique -- and that indeed was the original goal of Garrison Station Plaza and its majority owner, the not-for-profit Garrison Landing Association, as outlined by its founders in the late 1960s.
Photo by Gwendolyn Bounds. All rights reserved.