Middletown, Wallkill come to tentative agreement on land trade

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Depew, left, and DeStefano announce the deal

MIDDLETOWN – For well over 20 years, the City of Middletown and Town of Wallkill have been debating where to draw municipal boundaries in the area of the Middletown Psychiatric Center and on Tuesday, top officials announced a tentative arrangement that they say is beneficial to both communities.
Before it can be finalized, both municipal councils must approve it, a public hearing must be held and then a three-judge panel must sign off on it.
The Psych Center property is currently divided between the two entities. Under the agreement, that would go to the city and some 100 acres of city land at Mount Hope Road and County Route 78 would go to the town.
Middletown Mayor Joseph DeStefano and Wallkill Supervisor Daniel Depew are both pleased with the deal. DeStefano noted it will have benefits for both communities.
“We are focusing on regional economic development – we already have a lot of interest and I understand there has been a down payment on a large piece of property at the psych center contingent upon this annexation happening,” the mayor said. “It is a tremendous economic tool and a strong message to the people in the economic development field that Middletown and Wallkill are working together for regional economic development.”
The property that Wallkill would annex would be marketed for commercial development instead of a former plan for high-density housing.
DeStefano said there is interest by two educational institutions that are exploring development opportunities on the psychiatric center property.
Depew said it made sense for the city to take over the psychiatric center property.
“We realized early on that the Town of Wallkill for our general population being focused closer to the intersections of (routes) 17 and 84, to acquire that property and that infrastructure that’s there would have very little purpose for us,” Depew said. “To make a huge investment in buying those buildings or doing those things, it just didn’t make economic sense, whereas with the city it made a lot of sense and they have passion for cleaning that up.”
As part of the deal, Middletown will supply water and sewer for the annexed Wallkill land and assume maintenance of Monhagen Brook, which has experienced flooding issues.
One interesting part of the arrangement is that Kuhl’s Highland House catering facility is partially in both municipalities. Under the plan, it would be placed wholly in the Town of Wallkill.