There's no plan - yet

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:09

    Officials say Woodbury Common Premium Outlet outlet expansion plan is only in informal, conceptual stages CENTRAL VALLEY — Officials representing the Woodbury Common Premium Outlet center in Central Valley and Village of Woodbury caution that recent reports of major expansion plans are premature. While Village of Woodbury Mayor Michael Queenan said he’s attended informal, conceptual meetings, no documents have been submitted to the village’s Planning Board. He guaranteed once that happens, planning board officials will undertake a thorough review of the application. “Nothing formal has been formally presented,” said Queenan. “I did attend a meeting (about this) tying into emergency services. They’re (outlet officials) looking to make big improvements at it relates to traffic. That’s the big issue everyone has. I believe when they’re ready, they will submit it (the proposed plan). ” Woodbury Common Premium Outlets is part of Premium Outlets - the outlet division of Simon Property Group based in Indianapolis, Ind. In a statement, Simon Property Group said the plan, which is primarily a renovation program, is currently in its infancy stage. “We are currently reviewing means to enhance the shopping experience for our valued consumers,” the statement said. “The plan that was discussed in the Times Herald Record article is a conceptual version that has not yet been finalized. It is still in preliminary planning stages and we are currently working to refine it, and therefore have not filed a new application with the Village of Woodbury.” Until the specifics and cost of the plan are finalized and submitted to the village planning board, officials declined to discuss to offer any particulars. By law, the village — versus Town of Woodbury — has jurisdiction over the Planning Board, according to Town of Woodbury Supervisor John Burke. “I haven’t seen anything myself,” said Burke. “But I’ve read they’re talking about 800 to 900 additional parking spaces. What goes in has to come out. When that many cars go in, that means they all have to come out onto Route 32 and that’s an issue. I’m sure the village planning board is well-aware of the issues and they’ll do their due diligence.” Queenan equally knows traffic is a big problem and understands that motorists travelling along Route 32 area on weekends and during peak holiday shopping times of the year will be quick to agree. “If they’re trying to improve traffic flow, that’s a good thing,” said Queenan. “They realize there is a traffic problem. I know they were talking about adding more parking, reconfiguring traffic, moving the food court, and upgrading the sidewalks. It’s been bad for 25 years and they haven’t made any major improvements.” Both Queenan and outlet officials said the Town of Woodbury previously approved the 60,000 square feet of added store space as part of a 330,000-square-foot expansion that was authorized in 1997 but never acted upon. That approval was given prior to the village’s formation, when the town handled planning board responsibilities. That would bring the outlet’s square footage to more than 900,000 square feet. “These will include storefront, roof and 'hardscape’ renovation, new landscaping and site amenities and more,” the Simon Property Group statement said. “We want to enhance our customer services and related facilities to provide them with the information and services they need. The plan is primarily a renovation program, but it does include a small amount of previously approved square footage that would bring some additional infill to the project. However, the main focus is to elevate the look, feel and functionality of the center.” Need for more police services Police officials who have seen the conceptual plan said there will be a need for additional police services, assuming the plan is approved. “Whenever you increase retail, you increase the need for police services,” said Woodbury Police Chief Robert Kwiatkowski whose department has a satellite office in the mall’s Tower Building. Simon Property Group spokesperson Bill Madden said the outlet group pays for police protection, which includes Town of Woodbury police officers and Orange County Deputy Sheriffs on the property. Outside the complex, it also pays for New York State troopers to provide traffic control and flow on Route 32 and assist inside the center when necessary, Madden said. Simon Property Group said it is planning to improve the traffic flow within the center in coordination with the forthcoming New York State Department of Transportation’s planned Route 32 Interchange and exit from Route 17, the future Interstate 86. “We do not have a time line to announce yet,” said the statement. However, Kwiatkowski said the proposed traffic plans involve Routes 6 and 17 as well as the “future” Interstate 86 (Route 17) and Interstate 87/New York State intersections and would eliminate traffic lights to improve the flow of traffic. Queenan said the current plan is for work to begin in 2013 and will be in two phases. The second phase is scheduled to begin in 2015. Yet, he added with New York State’s budget woes, he’s not sure if those dates are accurate anymore. Simon Property Group officials said the project will generate increased annual property tax revenue for Orange County, Town of Woodbury, Village of Woodbury and the Monroe-Woodbury School District along with additional sales tax revenues for local municipalities, the county and state. And that’s something Burke and Queenan also felt would also happen. “We’d maybe see more in taxes for the town, the state, the county and perhaps the school district,” said Burke. “There’s a lot of pluses and minuses (with this project.)” Queenan was more vocal, noting that the project could create 400 construction jobs and add 350 to 400 permanent ones at the new stores. “If the Commons is there or not makes no difference to me,” he said. “But it is a huge economic elephant. It puts money into the local economy, into Orange County’s budget. There’s also a potential benefit to the school district. There’s probably 4,000 people in the area who work here. If it wasn’t there, from a practical stand point, Orange County and this area would be depressed.” But he reminded area residents that the Planning Board is waiting to hear from Simon Property Group officials. “Nothing is definite yet,” added Queenan. “There’s a lot of benefits and a lot of big problems, notably traffic. But if we can make it work, then it’s a win-win for everybody.”