WARRENSBURG - Stewart's Shoppes has decided to retain the old Hudson Headwaters billing office rather than demolish it, in a change of plans for relocating its local convenience store to Stewart Farrar Ave. - a proposal that's stirred up controversy.
Stewart's executive Tom Lewis said that week that his firm believed that leaving the billing office in place, rather than replacing it, would be more compatible with townspeople's wishes. Until recent years, the building for decades housed the Warrensburg Post Office.
"Leaving the building will have less impact on changing the neighborhood," he said. "People on Elm St. are now looking on the old post office, and that won't change."
He said residents would likely prefer the existing view rather than the back of a Stewart's store.
"This new plan is the direction we're headed right now," he continued.
This change by Stewart's has apparently not quelled the controversy over the store's relocation from lower Main St., however.
A substantial number of residents have aligned against the store relocation, citing that the move would mean a commercial operation in a historic district, as well as causing traffic, safety, litter and noise problems in a primarily residential neighborhood.
A dozen or so townspeople opposed to the move attended the Jan. 13 Warrensburg Town Board meeting, but they kept silent as Supervisor Kevin Geraghty recognized their concerns. He noted that the town board hadn't yet seen any plans, as none had yet been submitted to town officials.
"I know you have concerns, but at this time we can't answer your questions," he said.
Stewart's has signed a purchase contract with Hudson Headwaters Health Network to buy a 1.2-acre parcel of land on Stewart Farrar Ave. stretching from Elm St. to Main Street, and HHHN is downsizing and moving its billing operations elsewhere.