A Bridge in the Distance

#HudsonValley year-end round-up: #Trump transition, dangerous dams, #smoking age increase, #Legoland

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As 2016 comes to a close, these are some of the hot news items concerning the Hudson Valley:

Dan Scavino appointed to White House communications team

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has named Dan Scavino as an Assistant to the President and Director of Social Media on the new White House communications team. Already director of social media for the President-elect Trump’s transition team, Scavino is from Hopewell Junction.

“I am excited they will be leading the team that will communicate my agenda that will Make America Great Again,” Trump said of Scavino and Sean Spicer (Assistant to the President and Press Secretary), Hope Hicks (Assistant to the President and Director of Strategic Communications) and Jason Miller (Assistant to the President and Director of Communications).

Scavino and President-elect Trump met in 1990 when the then 16-year-old Scavino was a caddie and bag room attendant at Briar Hall Country Club in Briarcliff Manor, which Trump later purchased and renamed Trump National Golf Club, Westchester. Scavino eventually became the executive vice president and general manager of the club.

Earlier this month, Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson was named to Trump’s New York transition Team Executive Committee.

Dangerous dams in the Hudson Valley

Hudson Valley

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney announced the passage of the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act in early December to help access funding for the rehabilitation of high-hazard publicly-owned dams across the United States. “Nearly 100 dams in the Hudson Valley are considered high-hazard, and that’s pretty scary for families and businesses throughout our area,” said Maloney.

A dam that is rated class “C” or “High Hazard” may result in widespread or serious damage to homes, highways, industrial or commercial buildings, railroads, and utilities, and can cause numerous fatalities and other catastrophic losses.

Some of the more dangerous dams include Morgan Lake Dam in the City of Poughkeepsie, Wappingers Falls Dam at Wappingers Creek, Mount Beacon Reservoir Dam, Goshen Reservoir #1 Dam, Hudson Valley Reservoir Dam, Yankee Lake Dam in Mamakating, Merriman Dam in Wawarsing and Cooper Lake Dam in Woodstock.

Inspection records for all dams in the Hudson Valley are available from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

Orange County to raise smoking age

On December 21st, the Orange County legislature approved legislation raising the minimum age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 21. County Executive Steven Neuhaus is expected to sign the bill into law, which would go into effect on June 1, 2017. Republican legislator, James DiSalvo, of Highland Falls, was the sponsor of the bill.

The new law includes penalties for businesses that violate its provisions, with fines as high as $1,500. Legislator Chris Eachus says the next step is to pass a law targeting tobacco advertising to young people.

Nine other counties in New York State have a minimum smoking age of 21, while two other counties have a minimum smoking age of 19.

Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. supports Legoland

The Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. has issued its full support to the proposed 153-acre Legoland New York Resort along Route 17 in Goshen, the plans for which were announced in June 2016.

Project projections include:

  • $350 million in initial investment, reaching a projected $500 million in year 5
  • Orange County’s share of sales tax revenue over 30 years would be $138 million
  • Creation of 500 construction jobs, 500 permanent jobs, 300 part-time jobs and 500 seasonal jobs
  • Payments in lieu of taxes totaling $421 million over 30 years

“The project offers tremendous economic benefit to the Hudson Valley region, and will bring millions of dollars in economic growth and hundreds of jobs,” according to a statement by the agency.

“As the leading economic development organization in the region, it is important for our diverse board of top executives of local private and public companies and organizations to support large projects such as Legoland New York that will not only have a huge positive impact on Orange County, but the entire Hudson Valley,” said Robert Levine, chairman of the board of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp..

Legoland’s senior divisional director, John Ussher, assured groundbreaking in a year, with project completion by 2019, provided that all environmental issues are resolved and the town of Goshen grants final approval. Ussher said, “We believe this location, just an hour from New York City and approximately three hours from Boston and Philadelphia, is the absolute perfect site for an entertainment brand as compelling as Legoland.”

The theme park would include 50 rides and a 250-room hotel aimed at families with children ages 2-12. Attendance projections are between 1.5 million and 2.5 million visitors a year, with the facility open annually from April 1st through Halloween. These figures are consistent with Legoland’s two other U.S. resorts in California and Florida. Legoland also operates in the United Kingdom, Germany, Malaysia and Denmark. One-third of the visitors are expected to be tourists, one-third would be daytrippers and one-third would be local residents.

New York State has committed to Legoland approximately $4 million in grants as an incentive to remain rather than locate in northern New Jersey. Lego’s first choice of location in the Rockland County town of Haverstraw was rejected given community opposition. Some Orange County residents have formed a Stop Legoland group in Goshen in an effort to halt the construction of the planned theme park.

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