Pond Hill residents speak out about possibility of through road

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:48

    WARWICK-The Planning Board meeting was cancelled but that didn't stop nearly 60 residents of the Pond Hill area of Warwick to voice their opposition last Thursday to a road connecting West Street to Grand Street and going straight through their neighborhood. Anne Prial, a 13-year resident of Pond Hill Estates, helped to organize the protest last week. "The road started out as a 14-foot wide gravel and grass emergency access road," Prial said. "Then it grew to a 24-foot wide emergency access road. Now it is a 24-foot wide paved access road. We oppose this. And, since we are not allowed to speak yet at the meetings, we will let our signs do the talking." In the past, Jonah Mandelbaum, who is the developer of the project, has said he has no plans to make this a through road. However, the Planning Board has made Prial and her neighbors nervous because they have referred to the road as a through road. "The Planning Board chairman (George Aulen) has said making this a through street makes good planning sense," said Prial. "That worries me most." It was the fire and ambulance district that suggested making the road wider, from 14 to 24 feet, during discussions on the draft environmental impact statement phase of the project. The Planning Board decided to pave the road because it is difficult to keep a gravel road clear during the winter. "We are not opposed to building this development," said Karen DeVora, a 25-year resident of Marie Place in the Pond Hill neighborhood. "I am opposed to them ruining our neighborhood for theirs. It will kill our neighborhood." That has been the attitude since this project began more than five years ago, when Mandelbaum said he wanted to buy the 16-acre property across from Devon Woods, his 70-unit senior citizen apartment complex, in order to build another senior complex. Residents said they were not opposed to building the complex; they were opposed to continuing the road in their development through to Grand Street. The property is located mostly in the town but is surrounded by the village. Mandelbaum would ask the village to annex the property from the town, change the zoning to Senior Citizen Multiple Residence, and build a handicap accessible two-story development. The project is called Liberty Green and will house up to 250 senior citizen apartments. The village Planning Board has had several work sessions with Mandelbaum, accepting the draft environmental impact statement more than a year ago. Since then, Mandelbaum has been working on the final environmental impact statement. The FEIS was submitted twice and revisions have been made. The Planning Board still needs to discuss one of the biggest issues with this development - traffic. The Planning Board still has a ways to go before accepting the FEIS. Then the board will hold a public hearing where residents may put their signs down and speak. "We have a nice, safe neighborhood," added DeVora. "This will kill it. We don't want our street to become another Forester Avenue."