As Crossroads 312 Public Hearing Approaches, Opinions Sharply Divided
Ahead of a highly anticipated public hearing focused on the proposed Crossroads 312 project, the developers for the plan are taking a proactive approach in hopes of swaying public opinion, while residents who oppose the project are working just as hard to win in the court of the community’s opinion.
According to a press release sent out by the Crossroads 312 development team, the plan to create 143,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space with a 100- room hotel situated on 50 acres of land between NYS Route 312 and Interstate 84 has widespread support in the Town of Southeast and would create hundreds of new good jobs.
In an opinion poll “independently and scientifically” conducted, according to a press release sent out by the Crossroads 312 group, 81 percent of 300 Southeast residents surveyed support the development “after being educated on the project’s job creation and type of the jobs that would be created.”
A petition in support of the project has garnered 261 signatures as of Monday morning.
In a separate press release sent out a couple weeks ago, developers touted that the project would create 700 jobs, including 391 full-time jobs, 158 part-time jobs and 150 construction jobs. Besides construction, those jobs would range from retail, restaurant, and hospitality, according the release.
The Putnam Examiner requested an
interview with developers of Crossroads 312, but instead a statement from the attorney for the project, Richard O’Rourke was sent, pointing out the average taxpayer could save about $900, but not addressing concerns voiced by those who oppose the development.
“As a longtime resident and taxpayer, I am aware of working families, seniors and businesses that are struggling in Putnam. Perfectly located immediately across from the I-84 interchange, Crossroads 312 will deliver not only a place to shop, dine and lodge, but provide hundreds of jobs, from a much-needed hotel, to restaurants and retail,” O’Rourke said. “These are good paying, long term opportunities for employment from construction through full and part time jobs across numerous industries. According to educated
projections, the project will bring millions of dollars to the community and save the average Southeast taxpayer nearly $900.”
A group of Southeast residents has also been active in spreading its opinion, but in this case opposing Crossroads 312.
For instance, Concerned Residents of Southeast is pushing a petition that demands the zoning stay the same.
In order to go forward with the project, a zoning change—from Rural Commercial to Highway Commercial—is required to be made by the Southeast town board. A public hearing on the proposed change is set for this Thursday at 7 p.m. at Southeast’s town hall.
As of Sunday night, 281 residents have signed the online petition.
“I believe the current zoning on The Crossroads 312 Project as RC (Rural Commercial) will maintain the character of the Town of Southeast and still provide economic opportunities for the residents,” part of the petition reads. “If the Crossroads 312 Project is given a zoning change it will set a dangerous precedent and change the quality of life in our town.”
Along with Concerned Residents of Southeast, Putnam County Residents’ Coalition and Southeast Residents for Responsible Development have placed print advertisements in local papers (including this one) voicing its problems with the proposed project.
One resident against the project, Steve Mattson, a 13-year resident of Southeast, said he moved to Putnam County to get away from “crowding, traffic, that type of thing.”
“I kind of see living in Putnam as kind of living in a park,” Mattson said. “Some people think it’s going to help with our tax burden but they’re fooling themselves. If development equaled lessening your tax bill then Long Island, northern New Jersey, and New York City would be the cheapest places tax wise and they’re certainly not.”
Mattson, who is active in the community, doesn’t believe more than 80 percent of town residents support the project, as indicated by the numbers revealed by the developers.
“You can ask a question in a way to affect the outcome of the answer,” Mattson said.
During a Southeast town board meeting last month, councilmembers Edwin Alvarez, Bob Cullen, and Liz Hudak voted to adopt the Final Environmental Impact Statement that was a huge step forward for the proposed project. Supervisor Tony Hay and Councilwoman Lynne Eckardt voted against it, expressing doubt over the number of quality of life jobs actually created, the increased traffic, and visibility pollution from the project.