Orange County News Roundup, March 23

March 23, 2016 Updated: March 23, 2016

 Secretary of Defense Visits West Point

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on March 23. He met with cadets and spoke about the opportunities and challenges these future leaders will face. During the visit he observed cadets in a lab, was briefed by staff and faculty, and participated in a fireside chat moderated by cadets. In Eisenhower Hall Carter gave brief remarks and responded to questions from cadets.

Newburgh Retail Project Stalled

The LOOP-Hudson Valley, a $150 million retail and entertainment center in the Town of Newburgh, has been put on hold over rising costs. The Times Herald-Record reported on March 13 that the Boston-based developer, The Wilder Cos., stopped the project. The retail project included stores and eateries along Route 300. Anchor stores for the site were Dick’s Sporting Goods, BJ’s Wholesale Club, ShopRite, Michaels, Chipotle, and Regal Cinema 12. Company officials say they’re going to reevaluate plans for the site before moving forward. The developers had already cleared vegetation from the nearly 130-acre property.

Goshen Schedules Hearing on Abandoned Cemetery

The Goshen Town Board will hold a public hearing on amending the town code to include a cemetery in the town. Known as Orange County Farms Burial Ground #2, the cemetery had markers from 1938 to 1947, reported The Chronicle. The hearing is scheduled for Thursday March 24. The Chronicle reported the cemetery was discovered by a Valley View employee and had been overrun by weeds and trees and groundhog holes. After a cleanup in 2015, about two dozen markers and some tombstones with inscriptions were discovered. Research discovered 116 burials on the site. The cemetery is at the bottom of a short embankment near Quarry Road.

IDA Pays $1.1 Million to Buy Out Mountco Contract for Camp LaGuardia

The Orange County Industrial Development Agency will pay Mountco Corp., based in Scarsdale, $1.1 million to cancel its contract to buy the former Camp LaGuardia homeless shelter. The 258-acre campus was derelict for nearly a decade as residents fended off plans for a 700-unit housing development. The property on the Chester side will now be developed as commercial, shovel-ready light industry sites. The Chronicle reported that Joel Mounty will accept the offer to cancel the contract granted by the county legislature in 2008. A concept site plan shows placement of site pads. The Chester planning board will rezone the residential property after a review by the county planning department and a public hearing. The action has been greeted positively by residents. The Blooming Grove town board discussed Chester’s action and stated their intention to develop their part of the property in light industrial. A solar farm has been suggested. Chester and Blooming Grove officials will continue to work together regularly in a big step toward resolving contention around Camp LaGuardia.

 State Awards Village of Monroe $200,000 to Repair Water System

State Senator William Larkin secured $200,000 for the Village of Monroe to repair its water treatment plant and to pave the Rye Hill roadway, reported the Photo-News. The State and Municipal Facilities Program (SAM) awarded funding for repairs to critical infrastructure. The village’s water comes from Lake Mombasha and half the money will update the water plant’s lagoon. “The lagoon site is deteriorating,” Mayor James Purcell told the Photo_news, “and now will be re-built.” Remaining funds will be used for paving Rye Hill Road from Stage Road to the village line.

South Blooming Grove Supports Non-Solicitation Law

South Blooming Grove residents showed their support for a proposed anti-solicitation law, reported the Photo-News. The local law, possibly the toughest in the state, would require residents to post a “No Solicitation” sign on their property which would be enforced by law enforcement. Dennis Lynch, the village’s attorney in an annexation lawsuit told the Photo-News the law protects residents from unwanted proposals to purchase their homes. Fines could be $1,000 or six months in jail. The Town of Woodbury is also considering the proposal. Rabbi Joel Loeb and members of the Monroe Committee for Peace and Harmony attended the hearing and lent their support. “We are terribly ashamed of the threats by Kiryas Joel Administrator Gedayle Szegedin,” Loeb said. Szegedin is administrator of the Village of Kiryas Joel and identified areas in Monroe, Blooming Grove, and Woodbury where residents of Kiryas Joel are seeking homes.

Joint Operation Nabs Major Heroin Dealers in Port City

A joint law enforcement operation nabbed two Port Jervis residents for possession of heroin. Darren Biccum, 34, and Carolle Ruzanski, 27, were alleged to be major drug dealers in the area, according to an announcement on the Port Jervis Police Department website. A six-week investigation by the County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney, Port Jervis police and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Group culminated in an early morning raid on March 14 armed with a “No Knock” search warrant to arrest the suspects. Officials confiscated 886 decks of heroin and powdered cocaine, prescription pills, and $1,486.00 in cash.  The suspects were alleged to be selling large quantities of heroin, typically packaged in “bricks” consisting of 50 individual bags of heroin to other dealers in Port Jervis. The defendants were allegedly distributing on average, 20-30 bricks of heroin per week, which they obtained from a sources in Pennsylvania and Paterson, NJ.

Maybrook Considers Tax Cap Override

The Maybrook Village Board agreed on March 13 to pass a local law to override the tax cap. The sentiment at the Board meeting was that to do otherwise is neither plausible nor responsible, reported the Wallkill Valley Times.  Village Trustee Jim Barnett told the Times, “It’s very difficult, very difficult to do. I don’t know how we possibly can” pass a budget with a tax increase below the tax cap. Mayor Dennis Leahy said the village tax rate is currently at $12.27 per thousand, lower than most neighboring municipalities.

Port Jervis Gets $380,000 RECAP Grant

The Regional Economic Community Action Program (RECAP) awarded Port Jervis $380,000 to allow homeowners to upgrade their residences, reported the Pike County Dispatch. RECAP will work with the city to obtain an additional $1 million to residents who need new roofing, lead remediation, structural repairs, or heating system upgrades. Mayor Kelly Decker told the Dispatch that “RECAP has been a steady presence in Port Jervis for many years and this investment in the city underscores its commitment to the improvement of living conditions for our residents.”

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