By Nadine Cafaro
Rehabilitating the old Borden condensed milk factory on Route 208 into a boutique hotel and spa has been on multiple Montgomery agendas for the past year, and while the support is ongoing and prevalent for the project, there are now some small worries from a local ashram.
Before being mentioned at the Town of Montgomery planning board this past Monday, the project was most recently brought up at a town reorganizational meeting in early January. Town board members considered a $2 million RestoreNY grant that would help fund the project and not surprisingly, it ended with a resounding yes and support from local residents.
Noah Bobrowsky, Design and Construction Associate for City Winery as well as an associate developer of the project was in attendance as well as Todd Zwigard, the project’s architect, and Civil Engineer Larry Marshall.
Todd Zwigard refreshed the public on the architectural goal of the project. “The design principle of the project is to honor the history of this unique site through careful stabilization and restoration of the existing brick factory buildings, many of which are in poor condition, and to introduce modern architectural elements that are essential to the repurposing of these buildings into a world class hotel complex with the amenities necessary for this business model to thrive,” said Zwigard.
Zwigard and Marshall both discussed much of the project’s rendering, explaining parking needs, sewer, roofing, design choices, utilities and more.
Walden resident John Cappello was the first to speak during the hearing, and it was on behalf of Devayani Cable, the Vice President of Shanti Mandir. Shanti Mandir is an ashram providing spiritual practices including Hatha Yoga classes, family retreats, monthly meditation retreats, music concerts, and Meditation Intensives in Walden. The area also has a reception building to provide amenities.
It’s also a six minute walk to the Milk Factory.
Cappello made it clear that Shanti Mandir is in support of the project and noted that the project’s applicant met with people from Shanti Mandir at the beginning of the project. “The one major area we have of concern is the tent that is going to be located to the rear of the property near the rail trail and fairly close to Shanti Mandir. On Sundays, Shanti Mandir has services that start early in the morning,” said Cappello.
The tent could be used for weddings, which Cappello and Shanti Mandir fear can get noisy. “They [Shanti Mandir} were told that this would be seasonal and would operate at certain times for a few weddings, but the size of the tent is 60 by 100, which is 6000 square feet,” said Cappello, “This could host anywhere from 400– I saw on one of the calculations–to 525 people for a wedding, so the real concern is: how will noise be limited? Will there be any attenuations to ensure the peace of Shanti Mandir and their residents staying there doing those times?”
Cappello asked about sound reduction along the rail trail and area around Shanti Mandir. He also asked that Shanti Mandir be contacted when they install a water system so their wells can be monitored in case.
While there wasn’t a direct answer, the planning board did decide to continue the public hearing on February 27 at 7:30 p.m.