By JOHN HAUGHEYWARWICK — Precursory site work on The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society's 45-acre Jehovah’s Witnesses World Headquarters project in Sterling Forest has been completed, meaning construction of the planned eight-building complex on Long Meadow Road along the Warwick-Tuxedo town line is poised to begin in earnest.
The Warwick Town Board on June 12 agreed to reduce Watchtower's town-mandated $33.103 million performance bond by a third to signify the completion of approximately one-third of the project.
Bond reduction totals $11.114 million
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Associate General Counsel Richard Moake and spokesman David C. Day, a Newfoundland attorney who has represented Jehovah Witness clients in significant Canadian religious freedom rulings, said the $11.114 million bond reduction means preliminary site work has been completed and inspected.
Day said construction will "begin soon" on the site and the project is on track to be completed "by the end of 2016."
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York - Jehovah Witnesses - purchased 253 acres in Tuxedo and Warwick along Long Meadow Road within 22,000-acre Sterling Forest State Park in 2009, including the former 50-acre International Paper plant in Tuxedo.
The Jehovahs now produce their nationally published magazine, "The Watchtower," from their Tuxedo plant and plan to move their world headquarters from Brooklyn to a site near the plant on Long Meadow Road in Warwick.
Last July, the Warwick Town Planning Board approved the Jehovah's world headquarters proposal, which calls for a 45-acre campus including an administration building, services building with kitchen, laundry, storage and infirmary; four residential buildings housing 588 one- and two-bedroom units for approximately 1,000 residents; a vehicle maintenance building; a waste-separation plant; a powerhouse/maintenance building, and a gym. Most parking will be in attached underground parking structures.
Code enforcement officer upgraded
Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton said with construction gaining momentum and bound to "take up a great deal of time," the town has added a full-time code enforcement officer to its staff to help handle the anticipated spike in the project's pace.
Sweeton said Daniel P. Gibson, a part-time town building inspector, will be retained full-time with an annual salary of $70,000 that will be paid by the impact fees generated by the project.