Stony Point voters will decide the fate of the Patriot Hills / Letchworth golf course on November 2
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Voting issue divided town over greenlight sale to developer Raja Amar
By Tina Traster
Voters in Stony Point are divided as they head to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether or not to sell the Patriot Hills golf course and adjacent land on the former Letchworth Village property to a local developer but for the first time ever who is considering a hotel, spa, conference center and updated golf course on the underused site.
The simple yes or no referendum question on Tuesday’s ballot is: Will the city council resolution authorizing the sale of the Patriot Hills golf course and the former Letchworth Village property be approved?
But many think the question is not that simple.
“Many issues have not been resolved,” said George Potanovic Jr, chair of Stony Point’s Environmental Action Committee (SPACE). “The city signed a contract with the developers in April, but raised many potential contract amendments. The general conditions have not been fixed. That is why we are pleading for a “no”.
In April, the town of Stony Point signed a contract to sell the former Letchworth Village property and Patriot Hills golf course to Raja Amar and his team.
The developer has agreed to pay $ 6.4 million for the golf course and the adjacent 26 acres on the former Letchworth Village property. The agreement provides for payment at close as cash payment and performance bond for the design and construction of a new community center at Stony Point. The developer has been negotiating with Stony Point for three years.
Many who oppose the deal fear that Amar will not have the means to bring the project to fruition. They are worried that a new owner will buy the land and build high density housing there.
“Even if he sells the property tomorrow, you won’t be able to build high density housing there,” said supervisor Jim Monaghan. “The only way to do that would be to go to the city’s zoning council to change the zoning.
Monaghan also pointed out that Amar will also have to appear before the planning committee if he builds a hotel and conference center.
City officials said the project will benefit the city as the city loses money every year on golf course maintenance.
But those who oppose the contract dispute that the golf course is losing money. They say that except for the cost of debt service and depreciation, the golf course is profitable. Further, they argue that the 20-year, $ 25 million bond is almost paid off, and without the debt-related expenses, the course could be profitable. However, if the sale is not successful, the deferred maintenance of the 80 bunkers, greens, clubhouse and food hall will need to be refinanced or bonded as they approach the end of their useful life.
Amar, along with two other minority investors, intends to undertake the remediation and redevelopment of the former public institution as well as modernizing the golf course, clubhouse and catering facilities. The golf course will remain accessible to town residents and their guests, and active members of the volunteer firefighters and Stony Point paramedics will play for free.
But voters and an opposition movement from advocacy group Stony Point United have raised concerns over unanswered questions about the contract, particularly what would happen to the property if Amar were to buy it but then relinquish the deal. develop.
Opponents also say the contract should contain a “first right of refusal” if Amar attempts to return the property or fails to develop the property as promised. City officials have indicated they are prepared to include a clause that has yet to be negotiated.
If voters reject the sale of the golf course, the city is not legally bound by the contract.
Stony Point Town supervisor Jim Monaghan says he hopes voters will approve the sale.
In recent weeks, the issue has manifested itself on social media, in city-hosted forums and in a presentation on October 22 at the golf course.
Amar has pledged to move the underperforming seniors’ center to a newly constructed 7,500 square foot facility off the Letchworth property, but opponents fear that while this pledge is included in the contract, the details are not specific enough.
Opponents have challenged Amar’s request to the Rockland County IDA (Industrial Development Agency) for a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program, saying the city will receive no tax revenue for a decade. However, a provision for a request to IDA was included in the contract, specifying that if Amar does not obtain IDA approval, he can withdraw from the contract.
The sale aims to transform Stony Point, make it a tourist attraction and put the property back on the tax roll. Throughout negotiations with the city, the developer signaled a desire to build a luxury hotel and conference center on the site. The development team began to target large, branded hotels such as the Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons, which would give Rockland County its first five-star hotel.
“I’m putting my own money into this project,” Amar said. “It’s time we can prove that we can bring Stony Point back to life.”