TOWN OF BETHEL, NY — It is a problem that many communities would welcome. Since the opening of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the rebirth of Kauneonga Lake has been so successful that parking issues now surface on summer nights because of all the cars.
At the town meeting on July 24, Spenser Cutler, an employee of the Fat Lady Café, asked the town board to persuade the town constables to stop giving parking tickets to patrons who park outside the town businesses. He said there is one spot in particular where people “either have to park on the sidewalk or over the white line,” which puts them in violation of the parking regulation, and has resulted in the issuance of parking tickets.
“It’s a problem,” he said, “because let’s say people are coming up from the city and they want to spend $100 on dinner; now they have to spend an extra $100 on a ticket.”
Council member Denise Frangipane said it’s dangerous when vehicles park in that area, and the alternative to ticketing might be to prohibit parking altogether in what she said were the two parking spots in question. She added this would require action on the part of the county, because the parking spots are located on a county road.
Earlier, Frangipane said there is adequate municipal parking in the hamlet, but the town could work on making the public more aware of the municipal parking, and how to get from the parking area to the businesses.
Conservation easement for former Smallwood golf vourse
Also at the meeting, supervisor Dan Sturm announced that county officials have signed off on a conservation easement for 125 acres of the 200 acres known locally as the former Smallwood golf course. There should be a closing on the easement, which will be administered by the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, sometime in August.
Frangipane said the occasion would be marked by a ribbon cutting and a hike through the property, which will be open to the public for use.
The property has long been the subject of controversy in the town. A developer named Robert Van Zandt from Yonkers owned the parcel in 2007 and sought permission from the town to build 200 townhouses, but was denied.
Later, with much prodding from the group Preserve Smallwood Country Life and others such as the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and as part of a town-wide zoning update, the town changed the zoning of the parcel from one that would have allowed homes on one-acre lots, to one that would require a minimum of three acres.
Van Zandt sued the town over the zoning change but lost the case both in Supreme Court and Appellate Court. He then stopped paying taxes and the county foreclosed. The county later sold the property to the Bethel Local Development Corporation.
In September 2011, according to the New York Daily News, Van Zandt was discovered dead in his pool at his home in Scarsdale with a bullet wound in his head.
It’s not yet clear what the future will hold for the 75 acres that may be developed.