Copake plan dreams up a better hamlet center

COPAKE—This town now has a plan for developing and improving the hamlet with its heart at the War Memorial Clock at the juncture of Main and Church streets, County Route 7A and Empire Road.

But does that mean that the hamlet will ever actually look like the dream-world renderings?

The answer is a definite… maybe.

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Where am I? The Copake hamlet looks different these days with the demolition of the Holsapple House, a/k/a King’s Steak House, a/k/a JJ’s Pizza House that once stood just south of the clock, to make way for the Copake Sports Bar coming sometime in early 2016. Photo by Christopher Quinby

The Town Board adopted the Copake Hamlet Design and Development Plan at its November 12 meeting. Supervisor Jeff Nayer, Councilwomen Jeanne Mettler, Terry Sullivan and Kelly Miller-Simmons all voted in favor, Councilwoman Susan Winchell-Sweeney was absent, stuck somewhere in traffic en route to the meeting.

Copake Hamlet Revitalization Task Force Chair Roberta Roll could not make it to the meeting, but Councilwoman Mettler read remarks into the record prepared by Ms. Roll.

The task force spearheaded the plan. Realizing the necessity of a bona fide hamlet plan to its future success, the task force secured $14,000 in grants to use toward hiring a hamlet planner and the Town Board agreed to kick in the additional $20,000 needed in this year’s budget. Following a two-day Copake-By-Design workshop in May at which residents helped create a community vision for the growth and revitalization of the hamlet, the plan was honed and finalized.

In presenting the final draft of the 71-page Recommendations Plan, Ms. Roll said it “is the culmination of a 10-month process of collaboration between the Task Force, the Town Board, the citizens of the Town and the expert skills of our planners, PLACE Alliance and River Street Planning and Development.

“This plan makes recommendations for the design and development of the hamlet which will create a walkable, vibrant, safe, as well as visually aesthetic and attractive community. It will enhance the existing buildings, upgrade infrastructure and draw new business, enterprises and people into the hamlet.

“The plan presents both short-term and long-term recommendations which can be realistically implemented over time. It is a major accomplishment in the ongoing revitalization process of the hamlet and will enable the town to apply for funding for projects important and appropriate for the development and stability of the hamlet.”

In closing, she asked the Town Board to adopt the plan, noting “We believe it provides a dynamic framework for the revitalization of the hamlet.”

In making the motion to adopt the plan, Ms. Mettler said the board would be “endorsing the plan as a concept.”

Mr. Nayer said, “It’s a visionary conceptual plan, it does not mean the hamlet is going to look like this, but it could. It’s here to give us guidelines. We’re not committing ourselves to any particular thing in the plan, but… having it gives us the ability to make grant applications.”

In related actions, among the board’s approvals that evening were two resolutions both requesting the introduction of legislation in the New York State Legislature designating the Bash Bish Brook and the Roeliff Jansen Kill as inland waterways.

Councilwoman Mettler explained that the Hamlet Task Force was advised by the hamlet planners that the one thing the town could do to make itself “both eligible and more competitive for grant money was to pursue a designation of Inland Waterway for both the Roeliff Jansen Kill and the Bash Bish Brook. Both streams flow around and sometimes into the hamlet, she said.

Communities in the state “which are adjacent to bodies of water designated as inland waterways are eligible to participate in New York Coastal and Inland Waterways programs. New York State offers a grant program funded through the Environmental Protection Fund which assists communities in developing and implementing local waterfront revitalization programs. These initiatives can be invaluable in enhancing and revitalizing the area and fostering the beneficial use of the waterfront,” she said.

Following the Town Board’s passage of resolutions requesting that the state legislature pass laws designating each of these streams, the resolutions are sent along with a letter from Supervisor Nayer to Senator Kathleen Marchione (R-43rd) and Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-106th) asking them to sponsor this legislation.

Ms. Mettler said she had been in touch with both legislators’ offices and they are willing to support this legislation.

In other business, the board:

*Accepted with regret the resignation of Bridget Roberts, who has organized and supervised the town’s summer recreation program for several years

*Agreed to allow the Copake Parks and Recreation Commission to spend $600 on “elf stuff” in connection with the Copake Holiday Light Parade scheduled for December 12. When the parade culminates at the park, youngsters have a meet-and-greet with Santa and his elves hand out goodies.

To contact Diane Valden email

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