When Main Street is a Highway — Sloatsburg, Route 17 and the “benefits” of benefactors

Posted on 25 October 2017 by Editor

Sandra Jobson with the NYSDOT Region 8 Complete Streets Sloatsburg team presenting options during Public Meeting workshop at the Sloatsburg Fire Hall.  

On Wednesday evening the county spotlight will shine on Sloatsburg and its Complete Streets project. The Rockland Municipal Planner Federation features Sloatsburg at a workshop that is part of its “A Year of Transportation” program aimed at Rockland’s transportation needs.


The panel discussion is set for Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals members across Rockland and features Sloatsburg Mayor Carl Wright, Trustee and Deputy Mayor Peter Akey, Sloatsburg Revitalization Chair Darrel L. Frasier, and New York Department of Transportation’s Sandra Jobson.

The NYSDOT’s approach to Sloatsburg is positioned by the agency as a case study for public involvement in the development of Main Street projects, matching state road needs with local interests that attempts to enhance Main Street quality of life and enhance the vibrancy of the community.

“An unsightly stretch of Route 17”

A recent article in Town and Country Magazine put Sloatsburg front and center about the upside and pitfalls of wealthy benefactors investing large scale in local communities. By any account, Michael Bruno’s recent investment in Sloatsburg Route 17 real estate falls squarely into that category — rich benefactor buys up Main Street and attempt to turn it into a piece of paradise.

After one gets past a few pointed and petty “writerly” putdowns of place, writer Bob Morris arrives at the heart of the matter — can a tycoon change the stars of a small community? As Morris details in the article, there are a number of successes and a lot of failures. But the fact remains that all communities are driven by local economic interests, just as Sloatsburg was once shaped by the Sloat and Pierson families and their particular industrial interests.

Small town living and walkability have become assets as we come to realize that social media isn’t always so social … from Bob Morris’ Town and Country article Is Buying an Entire Town the Next Status Symbol For the Ultra-Wealthy?

One thing many residents of Sloatsburg and those nearby in Tuxedo agree on is that Route 17 and Sloatsburg itself need change. Over time, the highway through the village and beyond, once noted as a scenic route, has become a sort of “unsightly stretch” of road that is the opposite of quaint and scenic. Route 17 currently promotes car culture over local life and that has slowly stifled Sloatsburg.

The Complete Streets project and parallel investment of Michael Bruno are certain to change Sloatsburg. The hope by many proponents of change is that both, taken together, will enhance and elevate the quality of community life and position Sloatsburg for the long run, creating both a vibrant local economy and affordable lifestyle.

“It’s going to be a village for all seasons,” said Bruno in the Town and Country article, quoting Sloatsburg’s now weathered street banner logo. “Bruno,” wrote Morris, “is the latest in a long line of wealthy benefactors who have wrapped their arms around a town they love in the hope of helping it not just survive but thrive. Along with cash they bring political clout, a track record of getting things done, and, for better or worse, a vision of how things should work.”

But Bruno, like those “benefactors” before him, must partner with both the local population and  municipality in order to earn trust and see his grand plan become successful. To date, Sloatsburg has been an agreeable village government, accommodating Bruno’s enthusiasm and vision when appropriate to local standards and community values.

It takes a village to gather together all the ingredients to make a grand plan work. But sometimes it only takes planting a few too many bushes to suddenly change the message from neighborly and welcoming to something else entirely.


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10 Comments For This Post

  1. Jerry Says:

    I trying to understand what the writer means by: “ But sometimes it only takes planting a few too many bushes to suddenly change the message from neighborly and welcoming to something else entirely.”

  2. Editor Says:

    Well think about it a moment. Refer to your Robert Frost.

  3. yianni Says:

    Maybe its a direct reference to the bushes he planted that cut off the neighboring pub from the municipal lot immediately behind it. I don’t know if it was done maliciously but it and the bushes he’s planted at other properties say “keep out!” to me.

  4. sissy Says:

    Sloatsburg is quite a special town and does have plenty of potential, but a very busy road runs thru it. How does a municipality balance a main street in the core of its business district and at the same time attract more business and also people willing to stay awhile and visit? ‘Tis a quandary. We do not have “Walkability” nor do we have any small little tourist like business’s to stroll to or through. There is much to consider and much more to discuss and make happen.

  5. chris treadwell Says:

    To answer Sissy’s question, the municipality institutes a road diet to slow traffic and encourage the visitors to walk around and visit the local shops.

  6. Bob Easton Says:

    For those worried about “too many bushes,” consider the last time you stayed at a relaxing hotel. Was it near a noisy road?

    Those houses behind the “too many bushes” are hotel rooms. It makes very good business sense to try to dampen the noise for the hotel patrons with shrubbery. Those “bushes” are a simple and attractive solution, not some sort of “stay away” barrier.

  7. sissy Says:

    I took a little time at the Grand Opening to visit the front side of the new construction. I was amazed and delighted at how quiet it was. There is a reason for it… and not to keep people out, but for noise abatement. It does seem to lessen the really loud sound of the traffic whizzing by on Rte 17.It is used in most area with high traffic and housing nearby.It works!

  8. Linda Says:

    Will Sloatsburg be changing the speed limit from 35 to 30 by any chance? Suffern main street speed limit is 30, why isn’t Sloatsburg? It just might help slow down the traffic [a little]. Also, painted pedestrian walks would help. I’m hoping this will be on the laundry list for the Route 17 project. Along with building suitable sidewalks. I am hopeful and appreciative for any positive change that Michael Bruno or anyone else volunteers to deliver.

  9. Editor Says:

    Suffern’s Lafayette Avenue is an entirely different road than Sloatsburg’s Route 17, but, yes, the Village of Sloatsburg has requested a possible speed limit reduction along Route 17 through Sloatsburg. I believe the requested speed limit is 30mph, which the NYSDOT has taken under consideration. The final Complete Street plan for Sloatsburg will be revealed when the DOT holds the next Public Meeting. The hold up to date is due to the need for the DOT to complete a survey and additional due diligence in terms of recommendations that it might make to the Village.

  10. sissy Says:

    Great that we may possibly limit speed on our main Village road, but I am skeptical. When I am driving to Tuxedo the cars are doing 45-55 if not more…never mind on the weekend, or a Friday afternoon/evening. Red Light camera and perhaps speeders will realize the cost of speeding without the fatalities of doing so!

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