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Press Release: From Citizens for Tom Basile

Senate Candidate urges State Government to acquire property,
expand Schunnemunk State Park

Acquisition would preserve natural viewshed, protect important component of region’s ecotourism from development

BLOOMING GROVE, NY – To address longstanding uncertainty about the fate of land in the iconic Schunnemunk Mountain view-shed and promote sustainable development, Senate candidate Tom Basile is urging the State of New York to purchase the controversial Lake Anne property adjacent to the existing parkland in the Village of South Blooming Grove.

Schunnemunk Mountain, a staple of Orange County’s ecotourism, is the location of rare rock formations called Megaliths frequented by hikers and climbers from across the Northeast. Schunnemunk is geologically unique from other mountains in the Hudson Highlands, consisting of sedimentary rock deposits including conglomerate. The 3000 acre park draws thousands of visitors per year the area.

“We need to preserve our natural resources. Schunnemunk is beloved by residents and visitors for its unique environment. The future of this property has been debated for years. Creating certainty about the property’s future will help local officials and all area homeowners plan for the future,” said Basile who is endorsed by long-serving Senator Bill Larkin. He also served in the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation during the Pataki Administration.

Section 11-9 of the Town of Blooming Grove Master Plan states that viewsheds from a number of locations in the town “deserve additional protection…[and] development within these viewsheds should be required to minimize clearing of natural vegetation and site any proposed buildings or structures in a way that minimizes visual impact.” Additionally, several threatened or endangered species also in the area, according to DEC, are found along Schunnemunk Mountain.

“All residents of South Blooming Grove and the surrounding area would benefit from this land remaining preserved rather than being used to double the size of the village. Having the state assume control of the property would protect property owners’ investments in the community,” said Basile.

Over the last two decades, several investors have looked to develop the nearly more than 850 acre property adjacent to Schunnemunk State Park. Current, public proposals would place as many as 1200 residences next to the mountain nearly doubling the population of the village. “That is not sustainable growth,” says Basile. “There are significant concerns about traffic through existing residential areas, water resources and the impact on schools and infrastructure.”

Basile says that expanding the existing parkland means also the potential of creating new recreation, agri-tourism, and environmental education opportunities for visitors and residents of Orange County. A recently-released report by SUNY New Paltz and the Regional Plan Association confirms the net economic benefits of land preservation in our area.

“People aren’t going to come here to hike this beautiful mountain to look out at a massive residential subdivision right next to it,” said Basile. “This is a common sense solution to a long-standing concern for the people in Blooming Grove and surrounding towns. The State has made investments in land preservation in the Hudson Valley and that should be continued with this important acquisition.”

Given the current condition of the property, development status, and other factors impacting the value of the land initial cost estimates range from $10,000 – $15,000 per acre. Basile would also support legislation that would require the state to pay taxes on the property as it does to other municipalities that are home to state parks in the region.


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