NEWBURGH – The first of a two-part series of public hearings regarding Orange County’s new comprehensive plan was held Wednesday afternoon in Newburgh.
A new plan is adopted every five years and according to legislative and stake holder input, thus far, this plan is focusing on public transportation.
Although the proposed plan covers everything from development to highway traffic, rail transportation and public land transport, the majority of county residents who shared input on Wednesday directed their attention toward Newburgh’s bus and ferry system.
The current Newburgh bus station is located approximately two miles outside of the city on 17K in the Town of Newburgh, a harsh walking distance for those who rely on that form of transportation to get to and from to work, doctors’ appointments, court and other travel.
Chris Hansen, a Newburgh resident, outlined his concerns for transportation within these areas, citing working residents are being underserved amidst the current system.
“You can’t walk to the bus station, so you have to have a car to get to the bus, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a bus,” said Hansen. “Our ferry connection to the train doesn’t correspond with a large percentage of the working population’s needs, in terms of when the commute to the city.”
County officials are also flirting with the idea of a more regionally accessible train route to be included within the new plan.
Acting Orange County Executive Harold Porr said he would like to see more access in this regard and is backing a proposal for such rail additions.
“One thing I proposed was having a one-seat ride from Stewart Airport to Grand Central Station by building light-rail down 17K and Broadway, across the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, to the Beacon train station,” said Porr. “That, I hope they’ll include in their plan and hopefully, some way in the future, we’ll be able to study whether that is feasible, or not.”
Porr said there are no projections yet, in terms of cost, but he believes it would be relatively inexpensive to commission such a study on the proposal’s feasibility.
Public hearings on the county’s new comprehensive plan will continue on March 20th at 5pm in the new government center’s legislative chambers in Goshen.