By Buffy Calvert
On Monday and Tuesday, February 12th and 13th, both the Town Planning Board and the Town Board held exciting meetings.
ANDEL INN: A NEW LIFE? PROPOSAL to the ANDES TOWN PLANNING BOARD
After the Planning Board approved an unopposed subdivision on Skunk Hollow, Frank Winkler, Chair, opened the floor to Jim Thomson of Delaware County’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and Ray Pucci, Chairman of the County Chamber of Commerce and the Catskill Development Foundation. IDA is in the process of buying the Andel Inn and the surrounding 3.9 acres of land on Route 28 for $310,000. They plan to lease it to the Catskill Development Foundation. Their primary tenant will be a store under the direction of Nicole Day Gray marketing homegrown produce as well as meats and goods that will be prepared in an USDA approved community kitchen on the lower floor.
They will also have aging rooms for local cheeses, beverages, and charcuterie (sausage, salami, etc.), classrooms to teach food safety and space for pop-up trial restaurants and caterers’ tasting menus.
They envision an agricultural business incubator not, they emphasized, for private use. They plan to start with the shop and a visitor’s center in the bar area run by the Chamber to showcase nearby farm stands and restaurants that feature local foodstuffs, as well as the shared kitchen space, and then phase in the fermenting rooms as feasible.
Thomson, Pucci and Day Gray all extolled the current owners Harold and Linda Cole’s fastidious care of the facility. “Move-in condition.” “You could cook there today!” “The plates gleam!”
The proposal was well-received by the Planning Board and also by Supervisor Bud Gladstone who was in attendance. Two concerns were raised: Chairman Winkler noted that since the buyer was a non-profit corporation, the property (currently assessed for $400,000) would be removed from the Town tax rolls. Audience member Susan Dey questioned how local businesses who may struggle to pay taxes and are equally community-minded would feel about that. Planning Board Member, Art Reed, asked Day Gray how much profit her shop makes. The figures are not yet available. Your reporter followed up with, “Where will the profits of the new shop go?” Pucci answered that when the Foundation currently makes a profit on an event (e.g. the Dairy Fest), they donate the profits to local nonprofits.
A Public Hearing on the transformation of the Andel Inn into a Business Incubator for local agriculture will be held Monday, March 12th, at 7:30 in the Town Hall.
The last item was the Planning Board’s response to the proposed Historic Preservation Law scheduled for a Public Hearing the next day. See report of the Town Board meeting for that.
TOWN BOARD: TWO PUBLIC HEARINGS, BACK TO BACK, DRAW STANDING ROOM ONLY CROWD
FIRST HEARING: CAN THE DEPUTY HIGHWAY SUPERINTENDENT HAIL FROM BOVINA?
Must the Deputy Highway Superintendent be an Andes Resident? With the full complement of Town Councilors present (Hall, Moshier, Cole, and Gabriel), as well as Highway Superintendent John Bouton, Supervisor Bud Gladstone presented the question: Bouton wants to appoint Roger Robson as Deputy Superintendent. Robson, a former Highway Superintendent of Bovina, has been working for our highway department for over 10 years. He is a Bovina resident but Bouton thinks he is the most qualified member of the department for the job.
Gladstone read an opinion from the Society for History and Culture, on whom they have already called from time to time. “An additional layer of regulation…does not seem necessary when its main purposes are accomplished elsewhere.”
This sparked a lively discussion. Gladstone addressed the vigorous use of existing law by noting that Code Enforcement Officer Artie Short’s letter to the management of an historic building that shows signs of deterioration had elicited promises of prompt repairs. Joanne Callahan opposed scapegoating one manager of one building in particular. She and others also questioned fining lower-income homeowners who are struggling to keep their places up. Deborah Schneider affirmed that enforcement should be “across the board” and be flexible for hardship cases.
Skip Parcell, who has restored buildings on Nantucket and in Key West, warned that setting sharp, picky, “historic criteria” is to “go down a dark road” which will discourage builders from buying and restoring old homes. Appreciative murmurs of applause greeted his work on the Delaware House on Delaware Avenue.
This reporter, who owns an historic house and is on the Board of Trustees of another, the Andes Public Library, affirmed that in her many dealings with the Planning Board and the NYS Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), she has found them to be reasonable, helpful and, she assured Skip, “not picky.”
During the regular meeting of the Town Board, Thomson, Pucci and Day Gray presented their Andel Inn Plans to an enthusiastic audience. It is interesting, that although there were a number of small local business owners and the Town Fathers present, no one raised the issue of the property falling off the tax rolls.~