This statement was published on the Village Of Babylon Facebook page Friday, April 19th. It’s a good statement and I encourage you to read the whole thing, but I have a couple of notes and comments.
First, it seems that the report in today’s earlier article about the Babylon Courtyard is accurate. The proposal includes 8 retail shops, 30 apartments and a hotel with 70 rooms. Wow.
While this proposal is a huge project for the Village with serious potential impacts on traffic, parking, school attendance, EMS response, fire protection and quality of life for the immediate area and the Village as a whole, no formal plans have been submitted to the Village yet. The April 16th meeting was informational in nature. As with a lot of negotiations, it’s not unlikely that the group behind this project is asking for everything they might want with the expectation that the final plan will be more modest.
I would like to discuss something else the Mayor talked about. As he correctly notes, these sessions are open to the public and posted on the Village website. While this is true, the calendar is posted in the footer of the site as a Word document. The only thing noted for the date is “Board Of Trustees Work Session 4PM”. There’s nothing to indicate what might be discussed at this session or that it is open to the public.
I realize that there are limitations due to the Village’s clunky, old website (and that is a topic for another day), but there’s no reason that public meetings, work sessions and hearings couldn’t be posted as events on the Village’s well-trafficked Facebook page.
Good afternoon, Babylon Village residents: Signs of spring slowly arriving can be seen throughout our Village and I do hope this season is one of good health and plenty of enjoyment for you and your family!
In order to keep our Village residents accurately informed and updated on “happenings” around our Village, projects we are looking to accomplish, events, and of course, answer any questions or concerns, an additional avenue of communication was added. “Coffee and Conversation with the Mayor” was initiated over a year ago, and might I add, has been a terrific success where “conversation” and accurate information is exchanged, suggestions are given and in an informal setting, not a Village board meeting. I would like to thank all our Village residents who have attended these quarterly “coffee meetings,” for their suggestions, questions and concerns.
In our most recent “coffee meetings,”
November, 2018 and February, 2019, the priorities that I wished to address in those meetings to update our Village residents was distributed at the sign in table. The Babylon Courtyard (known as “hotel”), was on the agenda. At both of those meetings, I mentioned to all residents attending that there was no additional information to report. Formal plans were not submitted by the developer. The only meeting was a community meeting that the proposed developer hosted as an outreach to the community.
The Village Board of Trustees meets every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month (except August and December). On the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of every month, there is a “work session” with the Board of Trustees. Upcoming improvements are discussed, updates are given on Trustees responsibilities, and at times, groups/organizations will be scheduled to meet the Trustees for an INFORMATIONAL only meeting regarding thoughts on an upcoming project or event. All Village residents are welcomed to attend both the Village Board of Trustee meetings as well as all work sessions.
Prior to the Village Board of Trustees meetings (which is at 8:00 pm), there is also an additional work session in the upper level conference room at 7:00 pm, and again, all Village residents are welcome to attend (only a scheduled public hearing would delay the work session).
On Tuesday, April 16th, 2019 at a scheduled work session, the developers of the Babylon Courtyard (“hotel”) were in attendance at this work session, which, once again, is open to all Village residents. Everyone was clearly informed that the meeting was an INFORMATIONAL meeting only.
The developer showed site plans, renditions of a proposed courtyard with 8 retail shops, 30 apartments (20 -2 bedroom units and 10 -1 bedroom units) and a hotel with 70 rooms. There would be an “amphitheater-like” area to sit and enjoy the plantings, fountain and outdoors. The hotel would also have a fitness/spa and meeting room. Again, this was just an informational meeting only.
There was plenty of discussion, questions and concerns raised. The developers have executed contracts on an additional parcel of property adjacent to where the proposed “hotel” would be located to suit parking needs. Both contracts were executed as per the developers with a “subject to” clause, that would release them from contracts should the proposed project not come to fruition. The contract on the adjacent property was of the developers own accord.
Ideas were also shared about parking and with a proposed idea of exchanging the George Street lot for the lot behind the adjacent building the developers signed contracts on, eliminating concerns on valet parking service. Discussion was also on the benefits and value to our overall downtown, our residents who have guests visiting for a family function or an event as well as some of the disadvantages and concerns of this project and its impact. Again, NO formal plans have been submitted. This was an informational meeting only.
As much as there are different opinions throughout our Village regarding this project, this is not a project that happens overnight, nor within a few months. Environmental studies and traffic studies would need to be completed (which would be the next step with formal filing of plans), a change in zoning would need to be approved, meetings with the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Architectural Review Board and a formal meeting of the Village Board of Trustees would need to take place. All of which will be available for our Village residents to attend and have questions answered and express their opinions. Included in this process would be a public hearing as well.
All of our Board meetings and work sessions are advertised with a yearly and monthly calendar schedule on our website: villageofbabylony.gov, in the Beacon newspaper, and on our Village of Babylon Facebook page. All Village residents are welcome to attend every meeting.
This is an extremely important proposed project and I can assure all our residents that all the time needed to be given on behalf of all our boards and the Village Board of Trustees will be given as well as having input from our Village residents. Having a proposed project of this magnitude is not simply just “done.”
As with every application filed in the Village of Babylon, steps need to be taken and the process needs to be followed in its entirety, for the safety of our Village residents, community and the continued well being of Babylon Village.
Once again, I will keep our residents informed on this proposed project and others as the information updates, and I cordially invite all our residents to attend our upcoming ‘Coffee and Conversation with the Mayor” for complete and ACCURATE information.
The next “coffee meeting” is scheduled for Saturday, May 11th at 10:00 am in Babylon Village Hall.
Please always feel free to contact me at (631) 669-1212. I wish all our Village residents and guests a safe and enjoyable Passover and Happy Easter!