Town planner promotes changes to Greeley campus to ease Chappaqua Crossing traffic

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
by Christine Yeres

With the public hearings on Chappaqua Crossing largely closed as of last Tuesday and the majority of the materials on environmental impacts set out before the Town Board, Town Planner Sabrina Charney, Town Administrator Penny Paderewski and F.P. Clark traffic engineer Michael Galante paid a visit to Board of Education members and administrators to gauge the their interest in making changes to traffic circulation within the Greeley campus that could help to mitigate increases in traffic caused by the proposed development of Chappaqua Crossing—changes the developer might be persuaded to pay for.

Only about five percent of the traffic into Chappaqua Crossing can be counted upon to take the back entrance into the campus from the Saw Mill, Galante told Board members and administrators.  The main entrances onto the Chappaqua Crossing campus will be one opposite the high school entrance on Roaring Brook Road and one on Route 117, or Bedford Road, currently the one official entryway.

Serving also as a main entryway into the shopping center / office park / residential development, the intersection of Roaring Brook Road and the high school entrance would be expanded to six lanes on its Roaring Brook Road axis—right, straight and left lanes in each direction—and would be regulated by a traffic light.  The left turn lanes would be placed where the grassy median is now, said Galante, with length enough to stack four or five cars, he estimated. “And all the surrounding traffic lights would be timed to create a positive flow of traffic,” added Charney. 

Highly aware of the existing traffic load at the high school, the Town Board, Galante explained, had asked him to assess the interior roadways of the Greeley campus and to suggest ways to alleviate the back up of autos entering the campus at a creep on school days between 7:00 and 7:35 a.m. that “spills out” onto Roaring Brook Road down to the Saw Mill and beyond.  The Town Board asked Galante to see “what we can do [to the Greeley campus] to pull the traffic in quicker.” Leaving the campus, everyone agreed, was much less of a problem.

map of HGHS circulation

After an earlier talk with Board of Ed members, Galante had come up with several measures he and Charney believe will help ease traffic in the area.  They suggested the following:

• Add a third lane to the campus entryway.

• Remove the existing sidewalk on the right hand side (as you enter) of the campus entryway; construct a new sidewalk on the Ed Center side. 

• Eliminate the crosswalk from the senior parking lot—a major impediment to traffic flow—to the existing cafeteria-side sidewalk. 

• Instead, channel students walking to school from the senior lot to a sidewalk (newly built by the district over the summer, as it happens) running alongside the softball field that would take students along the bottom aisle of the teacher parking lot all the way to the gym. 

• After the point at which the teacher parking lot aisles begin, allow students to cross to a remaining segment of sidewalk on the right hand side (leading to the cafeteria and library entrances)—a much safer place to cross, Galante explained, than the curve in the roadway at the senior parking lot entrance-exit.

Traffic yes, but mitigations required

“The development is not going to generate a huge traffic problem,” said Charney.  “Yes, they are adding traffic, but the mitigation plan minimizes the impact.  This is an opportunity to improve the situation at the high school, an improvement opportunity that the developer could pay for.”

“Yes,” said Galante. “The developer is obligated to mitigate their traffic.  If this plan were implemented, [morning and afternoon school] traffic stays the same but we can move it in and out quicker. The development across the street—whatever’s approved, if it’s approved, causes more traffic.  The thing is to mitigate this.  I’m not saying there’s no traffic.”

Changes to 117 and Roaring Brook Road

Add to this, said Charney, the left-turn lane at 117 and Roaring Brook Road for northbound traffic and a right-hand slip lane for southbound traffic that developer Summit Greenfield has proposed, and “that intersection will work better than today.” [Roaring Brook Road, a town road, is within the town’s power to alter; however, changes to Route 117, a state road, must be approved by the NYS Department of Transportation.]

According to Galante, the three lanes for the high school driveway at Roaring Brook Road would finally permit cars leaving campus to make a left turn to reach the Saw Mill, rather than turn right—east—and be forced to make a U-turn on Roaring Brook Road to double back to go west, as they must do now.  “And you can time the green phase of the lights differently at different times of day,” said Joe Gramando, Superintendent of Operations and Maintenance for CCSD.  Galante concurred.  At 2:00 p.m., for example, the green phase for Roaring Brook Road traffic could be lengthy, he said.

No mitigation for Saw Mill Parkway intersection

No physical improvements are proposed at the Saw Mill, Galante acknowledged.  “There will be delays there still.  It will continue to back up.”

Town Board’s “Findings” could be Yes, No, or Yes-with-conditions

“What about landscaping of the new roadway?” asked Assistant Principal Andrew Corsilia.  “We could ask the developer,” Charney responded. “The intent of our meeting here is to identify what you want done if this is the plan you choose to go with.  These are circulation issues on the high school property that impact the project, so if improvements can be made I’d like to list them [in the Findings].” She suggested that approval of development at Chappaqua Crossing might be made “contingent upon making ‘the following mitigations to the high school.’ ” 

[The Town Board is within its ten-day waiting period after declaring the Environmental Impact Statement “final” on September 3.  It could issue its “Findings”—approving, disapproving, or approving the project with conditions—at the end of that period (around September 14), but not before. Charney did not specify whether the Town Board could or would take more than the ten calendar days, but told Board of Ed members that the developer was understandably eager to move the process along.]

Board of Ed will present proposed changes to the public

Board of Ed President Jeffrey Mester told Charney that his Board would need to bring up the proposed changes to the campus in its next public meeting, on September 25. 

“There’s time for you to have your public process,” said Charney, “but I need to know which way you’re leaning.  If the changes seem reasonable to you today, I will craft recommendations based on this proposal.  At the end of the day the developer doesn’t need to make improvements on private property.”

“But he wants to be a good neighbor,” said Mester.

“Yes,” responded Charney, “but he doesn’t have to be.  And there’s an opportunity for this private developer to pay for it by having the Town Board roll it into the Findings statement.”

“Coming back later won’t work,” added Penny Paderewski.

Are the changes to the Greeley campus good for Greeley in any case?

NCNOW asked Galante whether even without the development of Chappaqua Crossing the changes he had proposed would improve traffic within the high school campus and area roads.  He responded in the affirmative.  “And not only that,” he added, “but it would make campus conditions safer.”

To the question of whether the Town had asked Galante to run a traffic assessment for the high school taking the alternate layout of a “Town Center” into account, Galante and Charney both responded “No.”


Comments(24):
We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

I see that the traffic patterns and potential improvements to the campus are meaningful, but it and they should not be infused into the CC plan and, in effect, soften the blow.  CC retail, etc. is still a joke.  Yes, a bad joke.  The traffic to 117, the lack of retail support within the community, the location… 

If Greeley needs traffic improvement, let’s view that separately.  Let’s not give merit badges to the Summit team for thinking of a way to worm their way into our hearts with a push like this.

By Les Himel on 09/10/2013 at 10:20 am

“Only about five percent of the traffic into Chappaqua Crossing can be counted upon to take the back entrance into the campus from the Saw Mill, Galante told Board members and administrators.  The main entrances onto the Chappaqua Crossing campus will be one opposite the high school entrance on Roaring Brook Road and one on Route 117, or Bedford Road, currently the one official entryway.” 

Finally debunked is the optimistic fallacy espoused by many residents that the bulk of the traffic engendered by retail at CC will use the back entrance of CC.  Five percent is the real number as per Mr. Galante. 

So how many cars are there going to be going in and out, every day of the week?  The developer has guessed 4100 car trips per day in and out.  I checked the supermarket industry standard Food Marketing Institute website, and learned that the proposed 66,000 square foot “grocery store” at CC is actually known as a “Superstore” since it exceeds 30,000 square feet in size.  The average weekly sales per square foot of a Superstore is $10.58, so multiplied times 66,000 equals roughly $700,000.00 per week in sales.  Dividing $700,000.00 by the average sale per customer of $27.30 equals 25641 customers per week, with double that amount of car trips in and out each week for a total of roughly 51,000 weekly car trips or 7285 daily car trips for the Superstore alone.  Add in an average of 900 unique customers for the other retail shops who visit CC but do not go to the Superstore, or about 1800 trips in and out, and you have a total of about 9,000 trips in and out of CC every day, approximately 5000 trips more than the developer has estimated. 

(continued)

By B on 09/10/2013 at 11:03 am

(comment continued)

Now that we know 95% of the cars will be coming into CC through the Roaring Brook and Bedford Road entrances, and that the amount of cars using those two entrances will average 8550 per day, we can finally ask a few relevant questions heretofore avoided by the Town Board:  Are the 8550 cars able to be handled by our existing or the proposed roadways?  If the traffic mediation paid for by Summit Greenfield does not work to alleviate traffic, will Summit Greenfield pay a second time to fix the problem - or is that New Castle’s responsibility?  Do we want an average of 8550 cars per day going in and out of CC on Roaring Brook Road and on 117?  What about the safety of our children crossing over from Greeley High School, since it now appears for the first time that we know the Roaring Brook entrance across from the High School is the main entrance?

I have asked repeatedly for studies to be performed to determine the true effect of retail at CC on New Castle.  The Town Board refuses to commission a relevant traffic study like any responsible Town Board would, and now we know why, because the traffic study would reveal that 120,000 square feet of retail at CC will create a shocking amount of traffic on both Roaring Brook Road and Bedford Road.

By B on 09/10/2013 at 11:05 am

“Coming back later won’t work,” added Penny Paderewski.

That’s it Penny. Ram it down the school board’s throat before they can even hold a public meeting. Acting at the behest of your TB masters. Perhaps we are finally getting an inkling of where you stand.

By bob on 09/10/2013 at 11:45 am

How do we find how the development will affect the western portion of Roaring Brook Road? Under the best of circumstances and weather conditions the hill down to the parkway is narow, dangerous, cannot be navigated without crossing the double yellow line by anything but a medium sedan and smaller and we KNOW this will be a frequently used road to access the development. Are any improvements planned? As it is now, large trucks that use it often force cars to decelerate and even stop as they climb the hill and with no shoulder its tenuous at best. How do we know trucks coming from the west wont use this road for deliveries? Everyone who lives west and wants to shop at CC will go this way if not closer to 133 or 117/120 intersection. Please provide me with some data showing this wont change an already treacherous roadway. I think you cannot.

By Where is the traffic study for... on 09/10/2013 at 11:54 am

Charney is not an independent player here.  She was hired by the TB and works at their pleasure. This is not a criticism of her capabilities, but a fact of her employment.

Rather than use the consulting firm that the town has used for years, they went with Charney, another way for the TB to control the process.
Her comment, “The development is not going to generate a huge traffic problem,” said Charney.  “Yes, they are adding traffic, but the mitigation plan minimizes the impact.”  is absolutely absurd and an example of just who she is representing.

By Longtime resident on 09/10/2013 at 12:21 pm

“The development is not going to generate a huge traffic problem,” said [Town Planner Sabrina] Charney.  “Yes, they are adding traffic, but the mitigation plan minimizes the impact.  This is an opportunity to improve the situation at the high school, an improvement opportunity that the developer could pay for.”

Town Planner Sabrina Charney is showing her true colors here, as she has often done on the abominable Hunt’s Lane affordable housing project proposed by Conifer Realty. All too often she acts as a willing and eager agent and enabler for private developers rather than as an advocate and voice for rational Town planning.

It would behoove her to remember who butters her bread.

By Will Wedge on 09/10/2013 at 12:25 pm

It comes as no surprise that Charney is the TB’s lackey. This time she makes it public.

By bob on 09/10/2013 at 12:54 pm

What makes Sabrina Charney the “TB lackey.” I don’t agree with you, but I would like more details! Make sure that when you call somebody a “lackey,” that it fits the person you are calling out! In this case you are wrong, but I would like to see what you think.

By Explain to me buddy! on 09/10/2013 at 4:50 pm

Dear Explain to me buddy!
Please do not call me “buddy.” I’m not your “buddy.”
As for an explanation, please read and try to understand the story above.

By bob on 09/10/2013 at 10:03 pm

Dear B, The last time I spent $27.00 for weekly food shopping was in 1976. Getting away cheap is under $200. Therefore $700,000 weekly sales should be divided by $150 per purchase (conservatively) resulting in 4666 customers per week or 9333 in/out trips /7 =  1342 trips per day. Your numbers are either voodoo, speculation, “sky is falling” thinking or just plain biased.

By superarket shopper on 09/11/2013 at 7:29 pm

Dear B, The impartial traffic trip numbers show that the number of daily trips to CC is within the peak Reader’s Digest traffic patterns. You need another method to try to discredit the project.  Just focus on its public view from the cupola side. Insist that the façade remains the same so that outwardly, it doesn’t look like a shopping center.

By supermarket shopper on 09/12/2013 at 7:58 am

The Greeley rush hour aside, does anyone really think that CC traffic will be more than what the Reader’s Digest traffic was? Won’t there be a steady flow that is controlled by traffic lights and turning lanes?

By should I be worried about traffic on 09/12/2013 at 8:12 am

Dear super[m]arket shopper,

I believe that B said $27 was the “average sale per customer.” I don’t think that that means just you spending $200 a week but rather averages in all purchases, including those made by people, no doubt less efficient than you, who may stop in a few times a week to pick up, say, milk and/or other small items. Whether you fill a cart, a basket, or just carry something out in a bag, it still means you make a trip to the store. Maybe the TB can pass a law that allows a person only one entry to the mall per week.

By bob on 09/12/2013 at 11:13 am

Dear superarket (sic) shopper: 

I would not dare to post figures on this site without backup!  Hell, that would be downright foolish, what with all of the sharks swimming about, itching to take a bite out of me! 

Check out this link for the Food Marketing Institute, the industry standard for supermarkets, and you will see the numbers I quoted under supermarket facts.  http://www.fmi.org/research-resources/supermarket-facts  The numbers are from 2011, the most recent available, since 2012 numbers are not in yet.  The trips average 2.2 per person, per week, and keep in mind that the low $27.30 average reflects the fact that many trips are not for large weekly stock-ups, but instead are for smaller day-to-day needs.  Also remember that inside a 66,000 square foot Supercenter there will be more than just groceries - most likely a bank, a pharmacy, a cafe and possibly even child care.  Some of these large markets even sell gasoline, something our esteemed Town Board is probably unaware of in their rush to get retail approved at CC this year.  My point is that people may visit for other reasons than to shop with two carts for the next week of lunches and dinners, and the $27.30 average is just that, an average of small, medium and large shoppers. 

Please check out the numbers on the FMI website - and let me know what you think about my traffic calculations. 

We can argue all day and into the night about the average sales etc., but wouldn’t we both feel more comfortable about retail at CC if the Town Board had commissioned a real traffic study based upon local conditions and demographics - instead of relying upon the numbers provided by Summit Greenfield? 

I am trying to warm up to retail at CC, but I do not have proper information to know what will happen there, and the Town Board appears afraid to ask.  I guess I am not willing to take the risk of building it and then figuring out afterwards that retail at CC has forever ruined the character of New Castle.

By B on 09/12/2013 at 3:56 pm

Traffic within readers digest peak use is one thing.  Use, without mitigation, which exceeds that benchmark is another.  What stores people like is a sore point. It is a certainty that some people will be unhappy.  What is best for the thousands of our residents is the only thing that matters. The vocal minority input is respected and welcome but they do not have the authority to decide how others feel or should feel. It is also a certainty that CC will not be a complete disaster which ruins the lives of everyone. It is also a certainty that there is trepidation and uncertainty.  At the end of the day real estate is entitled to its highest and best use. I think CC is a very good use. Not sure it is its highest and best.  Having nothing hurts us via a vis other towns.  If the project outwardly still looks like R D,  And maybe there may be sporadic slow downs during the day. Do you really think that destroys our way of life ?

By Shopper on 09/12/2013 at 7:57 pm

Shopper,

Most people writing here do not advocate doing or having nothing at CC. They favor some sort of reasonable development, and after all there already will be 100+ homes there. What most object to is the way this town board has acted during the process.

By bob on 09/13/2013 at 7:35 am

Thanks for clearing up that point for me. Spendings energies on criticisms wastes time and energy and accomplishes nothing. The focus should only be on shaping the CC project into optimum, palatable form. The poor behavior on all sides should be transformed for that purpose.

As to Conifer, that “rape” as one person called it, should be stopped in its tracks. Is the New Castle under the legal gun to act right now?

By Dear Bob on 09/13/2013 at 8:08 am

SG has plenty of available property to the north and east of Roaring Brook Road as you travel up/down to the Saw Mill Parkway to donate to the town for widening the road and installing a grooved surface to help mitigate the genuine issue of safe travel on that steep hill.  If this project is to go forward, the reconfiguring of the roadway and associated costs should most definitely be bourne by SG.

By Frequent traveler of Roaring Brook Road on 09/13/2013 at 10:35 am

And what happened to the six and one-half acres of land at CC that were promised to be given by Summit Greenfield to New Castle?  How did the promised acreage suddenly disappear from the discussion?  Is this Town Board willing to ignore the financial interests of the people of New Castle in the blind pursuit of protecting Town Board members from Summit Greenfield litigation?

By B on 09/13/2013 at 5:17 pm

Dear b
Only you know there will be 8550 cars per day based upon your $27 per trip purchase fantasy calculation.  That statistic does not filter to our area alone.  Does it include much less affluent areas. Eg Alabama where prices are much less?  The trip calculation based upon numbers that include poorer areas is inherently unreliable

By Realist on 09/15/2013 at 10:10 am

The modal. Or typical purchase is the figure to use not the average

By Dear b on 09/15/2013 at 11:08 am

Based upon your voodoo math, double the average/modal purchase to $54.00, the daily trips are only 4700 which is way less than the Reader’s Digest daily trips at its most active point

By Dear B on 09/15/2013 at 5:00 pm

I do not know how many cars per day will visit CC.  The point is that the New Castle Town Board does not know and they do not want to know! 

Failing a proper study to determine the shopping habits of the average Chappaquidian (is that a word?), I searched the Internet for statistics - and found the Food Marketing Institute, the industry standard.  Will the average $27.30 ticket be double in Chappaqua?  Maybe, but I really do not know.  Will the sales per square foot average of $10.58 per square foot ALSO be doubled, so the customer count may remain the same?  I just do not know! 

My point is that the Town Board is afraid to find out what will happen with traffic and therefore will not commission a study to determine the true Chappaqua numbers.  How can they possibly proceed with retail at CC without knowing anything about traffic? 

I am not against developing CC - but why can’t we do something the right way for once in New Castle?  No town in the world would dare to build a shopping mall on an office campus in a largely residential area without proper studies of every type and without ANY input from the residents of the town.  Oh, sorry, there is one town in the world that would do this…   

P.S. I drove today in traffic on Route 117 North then left onto Roaring Brook Road this morning.  Traffic was backed up on Route 117 for several traffic lights, and after I finally made the left onto Roaring Brook, traffic was even worse on the other side with cars backed up all the way onto the Saw Mill Northbound.  Holy cow - what a mess!  There was no way to turn around in all of this traffic without starting a war, so I actually ended up taking the Saw Mill River Parkway South to get back to downtown Chappaqua!  Add in traffic from retail at CC, and there is no telling what types of traffic nightmares we will experience.  Without a proper traffic study, anecdotal observations such as mine from this morning will have to suffice.

By B on 09/16/2013 at 8:23 pm


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