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Millbrook Preserve may be one step closer to reality

The Town of New Paltz this week closed the purchase of 62 acres of undeveloped land, opening the door to the proposed Millbrook Preserve becoming a reality.

The parcel, which was once slated to become a housing development called Stoneleigh Woods, is adjacent to Duzine Elementary School and situated within the Village. Supervisor Toni Hokanson hopes to incorporate hiking and biking trails around the numerous wetlands located on the site. The land, which is costing taxpayers $550,000, will be paid for with a 30-year bond, according to Hokanson.

Millbrook Preserve is a proposed conservation area which would encompass most of the remaining vacant land bounded by Main Street, North Chestnut Street, North Putt Corners Road, and Shivertown Road. Rachel Lagodka, who chairs the Village's Environmental Conservation Committee (EnCC), has been working on creating the preserve for some time. ""Of course I'm thrilled," she remarked. "Not too many stories like this have a happy ending, but it needs to be seen as the right and logical ending as the community comes to understand the value of preserving the resources that affect us all. It's a crucial contribution to the Mill Brook Preserve, and the preservation of the wetlands that keep the air and water of the community healthy." Lagodka believes that the preserve is necessary to protect the local beaver population, which she has referred to as "guardians of our watershed." She and other EnCC members maintain a Facebook group about New Paltz beavers.

The attempts to develop a preserve have also had failures over the years, included the siting of the Lent Farms development and Woodland Ponds senior living facility on land that organizers hoped would be included. Although supporters such as Lagoka and Town Open Space Committee chair Seth McKee indicate that this is a victory for the preserve, Supervisor Hokanson was not able to be reached to confirm that the Town intends on incorporating this tract into such a preserve, if and when it is formally created.

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