Pavilion rises at the Town Field

By Mark Reynolds
Posted 1/10/24

Recent warm weather has allowed for construction of a new pavilion at the town filed to move quickly forward. Once completed, it will be dedicated in honor of the late town attorney Lewis C. DiStasi …

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Pavilion rises at the Town Field

Recent warm weather has allowed for construction of a new pavilion at the town filed to move quickly forward. Once completed, it will be dedicated in honor of the late town attorney Lewis C. DiStasi [1937-2021].
Councilman John Fraino said the town chose Douglas Fir for the building, even though is was a bit more expensive.
“I’m very pleased with the decision we made to go with Douglas Fir. We paid a few thousand dollars more and the timbers are absolutely beautiful. A few people said this wood is of a high  quality, so we made the right call on that,” Fraino said. “The crew over there were like little beavers, it is just amazing how the structure is coming into place.”
Fraino said the builders recently completed the first phase of the project.   
“The size of the pavilion is 45 feet by 70 feet and the first phase of construction will be completed this week, which includes the pavilion floor, gutter drains, electrical conduit and the main structure including the roof and shingles,” he said. “The pavilion is more attractive than what we initially imagined.”
The next phase will include bringing electrical service as well as lighting to the building, and the final phase will be the installation of bathrooms and a storage area.
The cost of the pavilion is estimated from $400,000 to $450,000. The town has $125,000 from NYS Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, and they have secured $100,000 from Ulster County through the American Rescue Plan Act. The Town will apply for another grant that if received will go toward the remaining balance of an estimated $225,000. Supervisor Dave Plavchak said if this does not come through, the board may vote to tap recreation or covid funds to pay that balance.
Fraino said the pavilion has generated a lot of interest in town, with suggestions of hosting a weekly farmer’s market, concerts, square dances, story telling and book readings.
“The pavilion is a permanent structure that the town can be proud of, and it will serve us and future generations for many years.  Our vision is that events will generate activity and draw people to the village and benefit the businesses in the downtown area,” he said.
Fraino gave special thanks to architect Sean Williams of Recraft, and to Mike Campbell, owner of the Barn Raisers, who are actually constructing the pavilion, adding that they are both local Highland businesses.
Short Term Rentals
The board approved a resolution to revise their Short Term Rental law that will allow an STR as an accessory use in single-family, two-family and multi-family containing four or fewer units in the A, Residential 2 acres, 1 acre, ½ and ¼ acre and Commercial Business [CB] zoning districts. Only one STR per parcel will be permitted.
At the December 20, 2023 meeting Councilman Joe Mazzetti questioned what the purpose is of these revisions.
“For a three and four family; those are rental properties and you’re limiting the number of rentals by taking a rental off the property. We have a shortage of rentals now [so] what’s the purpose? he asked.
Supervisor Plavchak said, “the purpose is still one per parcel; [that] is what we set it up for and we only have 20 Short Term Rentals in town today, so it’s not like we have hundreds of them.”
Mazzetti pointed out that under this change, “your rationale doesn’t make sense. If you want to do one per parcel then why limit it to four, why not limit it to whatever the max is, if you have one apartment in a 30 unit building.”
Plavchak said, “once you get over six you get into a different control issue and a different type of inspection.”
Mazzetti asked why not make it for five and six units, “if it’s a control issue, why not do it right?”  
Plavchak noted that initially the STR law capped it at two, “and we want to go to multi-families and we capped it at four.”
Councilman Mike Guerriero pointed out that, “You’re kind of having a mini-hotel in a residential neighborhood and you’re going to have people coming in and out and I think it’s going to create a problem.”
Plavchak reacted by asking Guerriero if he wanted no short term rentals in town, a proposal that no one brought up at the meeting.
Mazzetti highlighted one possible problem with a multi-family of four units is one unit would be the Short Term rental and that unit would be constantly turning over and would negatively impact the other three who are long term rentals.
“There is the very real possibility of conflicts over parking spaces, more arguments and complaints and more of a police presence needed at the multi-family building,” he said. “Short Term rentals is not a right fit for long-term rental facilities that have more than two units.”
Mazzetti, who owns about 40 rental units in town, said “This law would benefit me but it’s a mistake and I’ll put that on record.”
Councilman Lenny Auchmoody said at the Planning Board hearings on short-term rentals there is a long list of items that the applicant has to respond to, such as to the number of parking slots, the size of the septic system and do they use town water.
Mazzetti said it is not about the number of parking spaces, “it’s about the flow in and out and the fit.”
The Town Board set a public hearing on this revised law for January 17, 2024 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall, 12 Church Street, Highland. Mazzetti was the sole no vote, “because I think this is a silly law.”