VALLEY COTTAGE, N.Y. -- Rarely does a public meeting attract 150 people who show solidarity for a proposal, but preserving 30 acres adjoining Hook Mountain is a no-brainer.
Ben Weiland, project manager at the Trust for Public Land, said Thursday night at a town-hall-style meeting at Valley Cottage Library hosted by Senator David Carlucci that 30 acres of the Marydell Property in Upper Nyack is under contract to be purchased for $3.1 million. Annexing the land would connect the Long Path with Hook Mountain and Nyack Beach State Park.
"To date, we have commitments from funders, but they still have to kick the tires to make sure they're certain about their commitment," said Weiland.
Commitments from prospective funders for the $1 million needed to go forward include the Town of Clarkstown, Village of Upper Nyack, the Durst Organization, the Open Space Institute and Mid Hudson Regional Economic Development Council. The state will kick in the rest.
The Sisters of Marydell, who will retain nine acres for their ministry, are working with the Trust for Public Land to transfer ownership of property. The Trust for Public Land would then transfer ownership to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The Marydell land, which includes a series of buildings, will have a conservation easement on it.
"We hope to close by the end of 2016," said Weiland.
Jim Hall, executive director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, said the public should be grateful to the Sisters for leaving this legacy. He said the annexed space will be used for passive recreation.
The land purchase is not only a coup for preservation, it is a boon for taxpayers because the state will pay taxes on the 30 acres.
The only issue among residents that seemed to stir concern was parking.
Hall said there would be 10 to 15 parking spaces along the western edge of the property near 9W off Midland Avenue. Residents expressed concern that more parking in Upper Nyack would create congestion.
“We, the Sisters, consider ourselves blessed to have lived here for almost a century," said Sister Veronica Mendez, President of the Sisters of our Lady of Christine Doctrine. "We are grateful for all that has been and we pray this property will continue blessing many others in perpetuity,”
From 1925 to 1988, the property was a girls' summer camp. In 1990, it was reincarnated as the Marydell Faith and Life Center, which is run by 17 sisters, ages 68 to 98. The sisters hold weekend retreats for 16 in onsite cabins and in its 1929 prefabricated Sears barn known as the Kateri Lodge. Summer camps also use the site.
The ministry runs on an annual budget of about $200,000, according to Sister Veronica Mendez, the ministry's president. The property is part of the order's tax-exempt holdings in Upper Nyack, which is within the Town of Clarkstown.
With the sisters dying off, there's a need to plan for the future. The $3.1 million proceeds for the land will be used to support the sisters as they age and will need medical care or to move into nursing homes.
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