NEW WINDSOR — About 50 people gathered here Saturday to help the town forge its future and preserve its past.
But the group wasn't working in the dark. Members used a 45-page concept plan, developed by graduate students at George Washington University in the District of Columbia after a three-month study of town problems and potential.
New Windsor Citizens Action Project (NEWCAP), an area group that has been active on growth and environmental issues, used a $3,000 county grant to pay for the study, which focused on transportation and development.
J. Christopher Batten, a planning consultant who has worked with NEWCAP for about a year, said the organization is wrestling with how to integrate development and preserve natural resources.
"The town has seen very little development in the past 100 years," he said. "That will change significantly within the next five to 10 years, when the size of New Windsor could double."
He said residents shouldn't fear development but should study well-planned development and put those plans to work here. He urged residents to set goals that would best serve the most members of the community.
"The beauty of the landscape, the way the town is nestled into it and the architectural charm would be difficult to duplicate," he said. "You don'twant to lose any of it."
Robert D. Rivers, one of the student planners who worked on the study, said the town "should maximize the benefits of its natural resources while maintaining its agricultural land and enhancing the potential of its scenic views."
Steven C. Horn, county planner for the town, called the study an "excellent planning document with ideas worth further consideration."
"We should usethe students' efforts as a catalyst for the revision process," he said.
The existing county plan, adopted in 1981, is due for revisionthis year.
Transportation issues dominated the five-hour session.
Horn said the narrow streets cannot handle the increased truck traffic on the state highways running through town.
One planner counted 500 trucks turning from Main Street on to Route 75 in 12 hours.
As an interim solution, the state plans to tear down a house at that intersection and widen the road. Planners said a bypass is the only real solution.
"The town needs to ask the state for a bypass between Routes 75 and 31, where 80 percent of the truck traffic is concentrated," Horn said.
He said the town also needs to plan for additional commercial space and cited problems in relocating the only pharmacy within the town.
He also said the success of the county's land preservation here is starting to block areas from future development.
The plan also recommended use of the New Windsor Middle School as a civic center once a replacement school is built. Vernon F. SmithJr., director of School Support Services, told participants the school is "the most obsolete educational facility in the county."
He said he planned to speak to the state Board of Public Works Feb. 27, seeking approval for construction to begin in July 1992. By 1996, the old building could be declared a surplus facility.
The planners concluded that the town "reflects a complex pattern of problems and potentials, but the potentials far outweigh the collective burden of theproblems."
Doris Pierce, chairperson of NEWCAP's Rural Planning Committee, said she hoped the plan would not be filed away and forgotten.