Residents Wish Planned Retreat Would Retreat

December 1, 2006

Author: Dianne Wiebe

Source: Daily Freeman

ELLENVILLE - More than 50 Cragsmoor residents crowded a Wawarsing Planning Board public hearing Thursday night to ask questions about and offer comment - mostly negative - on a religious retreat proposed for their hamlet on the Shawangunk Ridge. The size of the proposed project was of concern to most.

The Mahamundra Hermitage is proposed by Dharmakaya, a Buddhist organization which has purchased a 91-acre tract on Cragsmoor's southern slope and Thursday night presented the draft environmental impact statement to the public for review.

Project architect Philip Cerniglia presented drawings of a site plan that includes a welcome house, retreat center, and houses for staff and students. Buildings farther back in the compound would be used for retreats that would last from one month to three years.

Cerniglia said much of the vegetation on the site would be preserved, and extensive landscaping would be used to provide privacy for those living at the center as well as a buffer for neighboring properties.

The Milarepe Center, the largest building, would be 6,000 square feet, and collectively, the planned 17 buildings would total 78,000 square feet.