Scenic byway vote on the map for Olive, Shandaken

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By Jay Braman Jr.
A critical decision will be made in coming weeks as the towns of Olive and Shandaken hold the keys to the eastern end of the proposed Route 28 Scenic Byway plan.
Plans for a Scenic Byway designation for a 50-mile chunk of the Route 28 corridor have not only been bogged down in the eastern portion of the region, but one community has already officially opted out of the program.

Seven municipalities fall within the area, starting on the western end in Delaware County with the Town of Andes, then covering the town of Middletown and the villages of Margaretville and Fleischmanns. To the east, in Ulster County, the towns of Shandaken, Olive and Hurley round out the group.

All four Delaware County communities have officially endorsed the Scenic Byway plan, but in Ulster County endorsements are uncertain.

It was the Town of Hurley that opted out of the plan. The town that was the gateway, sandwiched between Kingston and Olive, Hurley voted to drop out of the byway last year due to concerns over a loss of Home Rule when it comes to land use along the Route 28 corridor.

The move followed several months of debate over the issue, with supporters of the byway plan shouting long and loud that there would not be any loss of Home Rule. Supporters also insist that a Scenic Byway designation would open up opportunities for grant funds to pay for projects that would enhance the communities along the highway corridor, as well as several miles of Route 214 in Phoenicia and Route 42 in Shandaken.

Following Hurley’s departure, Shandaken tabled action on the plan and has yet to make any announcement as to when the town board would revisit the matter.
But at last week’s town board meeting in Olive, officials said that, for them, the time has come to decide one way or the other.

It remains unclear whether the byway plan could survive Olive’s departure. The plan is still in the application stage. A Scenic Byway is a federal level designation that would be granted the region after the proposal is reviewed. Should two, or worse, three, of the original seven communities back out it is difficult to tell if the idea would pass federal muster.
The Olive Town Hall is located on Bostock Road in Shokan, just a stone’s throw off of Route 28. The vote is expected on Tuesday, March 12 at 7:30 pm during the official town board meeting. Discussion and public comment on the plan will take place during the town board’s audit meeting on Monday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m.