L to E: On creating a commercial center and town hall at Chappaqua Crossing

April 4, 2014
by Suzanne Chazin

I know there has been a lot of talk about creating a commercial center in the former Reader’s Digest property and also moving the town offices up to Chappaqua Crossing. I think this is not a good idea over the long term for the health of our community.

It will rob our downtown of the vitality it needs to remain a central hub, particularly if the town offices move to Chappaqua Crossing. There is also a genuine concern about congestion in that part of town (I am not from that part of town so this is not NIMBY). Our high school is right across the street with a lot of brand new drivers who will be making left turns when they wish to head west out of town.

What’s more, the congestion will be considerable. I understand that people like to say that Reader’s Digest at its peak had similar population levels but that was an entirely different sort of traffic. I worked at Readers Digest full time from 1987 to 1998 (some of the peak busy years). And while the parking lot was completely full, the roads were only used at 8-8:30 in the morning and at 4:30-5 in the afternoon. We had a full service cafeteria, bank, store, dry cleaners and car repair on the premises so people did not venture out that much. It is not fair to compare RD traffic at its peak to the comings and goings of people who will do shopping in spurts throughout the day and evening.

Please reconsider your plan to further segment our town. We are losing our small town feel by the year.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Chazin


Comments(20):
We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

Great letter Ms Chazin- unfortunately you are saying nothing new. In fact all of your points have been made by Rob Greenstein and Lisa Katz. The campaigned and ran on these very issues. They won the election and now sit on the town board because they also believed that retail at CC would bring congestion to CC and rob downtown of its charm and vitality. In fact , Greenstein often said that retail at CC would create a third hamlet and ” destroy downtown”. It was his mantra. He pretended to protect downtown merchants and convinced them he had their backs.
Greenstein and Katz now sit in positions that empower them to see thru the process they promised. Instead they have done a compete 180 degree turn and now support the very development they fought so hard to stop. 
Your wasted your time- they don’t care what you or anybody else thinks.

By Resident on 04/05/2014 at 11:45 am

Much of what you say justifies CC.

A traffic light at the Greeley entrance eliminates the left turn worry. You confirm readers digest traffic surge history . Though now it may be at different times, within the scope of peak readers digest use.  I can’t see those two immense surges though. Wont It be spread throughout the day?

You confirm that readers digest was always a third hamlet, albeit a small private one.
Thirty years later, times have changed and so does the need for that are needed.

Downtown must evolve. Landlords should lower rents to help them survive.  I never shop in town.  I will go to whole foods .

By Dear suzanne on 04/06/2014 at 8:14 am

“Won’t it be spread throughout the day?” is a very good question, along with “How much traffic will there really be?” 

Neither has been answered.  Let Greenstein and company answer these questions - traffic for 120,000 s-f of retail

and

office

and

commercial/hospital/weezee things that are already there (not exactly “business” zoning).

And remember - SG is asking for a very big change in zoning. So what if we all drive every one of our high schoolers to Greeley?  Those are conditions we have now. SG should have to work around those conditions, not have the “right” to have as much traffic as there ever was on that site in the old RD days.  These are not the old days.  And this is not the old zoning they want.  They want new zoning that will be much heavier in use.  SG and Greenstein have to trim their plans accordingly.  If they have, Greenstein hasn’t shared that with anyone. He’s operating on his own. That’s what’s bugging everyone.

By Unanswered questions on 04/06/2014 at 1:44 pm

The tide is in your favor. Just mollify us with tweaks to traffic patterns. The noises from the 15 NIMBY houses are now falling on deaf ears.

also, widening roadways requires that carved out shoulders be made to look natural with natural stone work, stone by stone.

By HEY SG on 04/07/2014 at 4:23 pm

“everybody is a stay at home”, arm chair critic. Sheesh

By Dear suzanne on 04/07/2014 at 8:39 pm

@Unanswered questions

If you want to drive your high school student to Greeley like all of the other Chappaqua Moms as well as pay for empty school buses winding their way through town, go right ahead. It’s your “right”. The entitled attitude that you also have a “right” to a traffic-free drive while you chauffeur your precious teenager around is what rankles. Summmit Greenfield has as much a “right” to have people drive to Chappaqua Crossing as you have a “right” to save your children the crushing humiliation of having to ride the loser cruiser.

By West Ender on 04/08/2014 at 8:17 am

If the Chappaqua Crossing proposal is built, the town should consider reducing the minimum lot size requirements of the surrounding neighborhoods and remove limits on multi-units.  This would provide current homeowners with the option to create new house lots between existing homes, better align with the housing density within Chappaqua Crossing, and provide room for more people to live, work and shop in the immediate area.  Doing so could address some of the shortcomings of suburbs as described in Kenneth T. Jackson’s Crabgrass Frontier.

By Environs on 04/08/2014 at 6:00 pm

To West Ender - I made my kids take the bus in elementary and middle school. But leaving the house at 6:40 in the morning when it’s dark and wait on a dangerous corner with lots of traffic to get the bus is unacceptable in my opinion. So guess what? No high school student on my road takes the bus in the morning, including mine. Maybe if the bus routes were better thought out more kids would take them. Get the facts before you write such nasty comments.

By VJS on 04/08/2014 at 7:08 pm

Boy are you right on the money.

By Dear west ender on 04/08/2014 at 7:16 pm

“HEY SG”
I can only conclude that you sought to isolate and ridicule those who would be most directly and adversely affected by the proposed CC development by using the “other N word” - NIMBY - as a negative epithet for the neighbors of the Chappaqua Crossing property. Your ill-conceived comment goes on to reduce that minority’s plea for full and fair consideration of their traffic safety, quality of life and home values to sub human “noises” for which a “deaf ear” is an appropriate town board response. Thankfully, nothing as yet suggests that town board shares your disrespect for those community members.

By Enough Epithets on 04/08/2014 at 7:26 pm

Lets become just like inner ossining and have the same quality school system

By Great idea on 04/08/2014 at 8:58 pm

Their concerns are genuine but they are 15 people who MAY not be affected as much as they fear.  12000 other people benefit.  My point is and has always been that the SILENT majority wants the development. The Nimbys are an extremely small and extremely vocal minority. The bought their homes with their eyes wide open next to non residential land. THAT they are mum about. 

I do not trivialize their circumstance.  But they voluntarily bought into an area that, between 20 and 30 years ago , was extremely commercially active.  They conveniently ignore that most material and relevant point. 

The term nimby defines them. ..... That is the fact whether you or they like it or not.

By Dear epithet on 04/08/2014 at 9:10 pm

@Great idea

Wasn’t it just a year ago that Greeley was recognized by the Intel Foundation as the top high school in the country for science education?

Oh, wait! It was Ossining High School that received that recognition, not Greeley. It must be that “inner ossining” quality school district that confused me.

It’s no wonder that I keep seeing posts about how parents are finding so many other communities to be a better choice than Chappaqua. Between the sky high taxes and the entitled attitude, Chappaqua just doesn’t carry the cachet it used to. I guess you didn’t get the memo.

By West Ender on 04/10/2014 at 1:32 pm

Ouch

By Dear West Ender on 04/11/2014 at 7:23 am

I’m and “empty nester” but I think maintaining the quality of the Chappaqua School District (as well as Ossining and Bedford District where New Castle kids go) is vitally important.  i for one would vote to break the tax cap to help maintain the quality of our schools, which seem to be threatened by what I see as the overemphasis on cost cutting by the school Board and Administration. At the same time,the Chappaqua School District badly needs more rateables- that don’t bring in more school aged children. The loss of the commercial base at Readers Digest is detrimental to the town and the school. It won’t solve the whole problem, but it would help.  Some retail there could help put that property to good taxable use while providing a service that the town lacks. I think the only northern Westchester town without a grocery store is maybe North Salem- a very rural town.  Why not stop complaining and criticizing and come up with some constructive suggestions about what would work there, and provide the kind of services the town residents want?  Summit greenfield wants a successful project- and they need to stop endlessly fighting with the town.  So lets get together and tell them what we do want there instead of what we don’t.  It has to be something they can sell (forget Wall Street North), something we want, and most important - taxable.  Forget the not for profit uses- they are a disaster for any town.

By schools matter on 04/11/2014 at 9:51 am

You don’t get it. the tax cap is vitally important to the economic health of our community. It’s not so much as a reason to deny tax dollars as much as it sets financial boundaries that no one can criticize. The tax cap is a legitimate ground for reigning in the special ed and other special interests that want to spend limitlessly (i.e. to the “nth degree”) on individual children who, while deserving of help, approach diminishing returns at $200,000 or more per year in “extra” tax dollars for achieving marginal improvement. The parents of those children demand and sue the district for expenditures that they can’t afford or don’t want to pay for.

That being said, YES YES YES to adding to the commercial tax base.

YES YES YES stop fighting Summit Greenfield. But just like the School uber Special Ed lobby spenders with loud voices, NIMBYS, those who eschew all progress and the downtown landlord/merchant lobby are thwarting all efforts to bring in the tax dollars.

The nay sayers and contrarians fantasize that there will be no tax benefit with the development. They ignore the fact that the tax grievances and tax reductions will end upon development and, the theretofore reduced tax assessments will be increased (and I hope through the roof).

We CANT get together because NIMBYS will never be happy. I do understand them but, they did buy their homes next to 120 acres of commercial land. I almost had a development contiguous with my rear property line. I had to suck it up. Luckily, the topography saved me. The point being, if it happened, tough on me.

The recently submitted CC plan seems perfectly fine. The design was modified because of the objections, and rightly so. Now just work on the traffic situation.

Will a NIMBY not shop at Whole Foods as a matter of protest? (Like the Mrs. Greens striker supporter who proudly said she drove 45 minutes each way to Connecticut to shop at a more ‘labor friendly’ store)  I don’t think so.

By dear schools matter part 1 on 04/11/2014 at 2:14 pm

The schools do matter all the way. Now that the SAT is being watered down and returning to 1600, our students should have an average of 100 points better than the averages of our 1994-2006 graduates. More
“special” enriched Ed is the ticket funded by increased taxes.

Rob, with all his warts, is on the money with CC (and his choke point that delayed Conifer).  (PS I do not support him, but I am not a hypocrite and he deserves some credit along with the tongue lashings)

By dear schools matter part 2 on 04/11/2014 at 2:15 pm

@ Dear schools matter - I do indeed drive to Ridgefield every couple of weeks - it’s under 30 minutes, by the way, not 45 - and Armonk weekly - 10 minutes or less - to avoid crossing the picket line at Mrs. Green’s.  I also shop online, at the farmers markets, and at Mount Kisco seafood.  I’m saving money, because online shopping can be cheaper than the stores, eating well and also supporting the workers who were illegally fired. If you’re going to spread stories and sneer at working people, at least get your facts right.  It’s NewcastleNow, not Faux TV.

What Rob is not saying is that S-G has NO legal right to a variance. - S-G lost that one in court, and the holding would have been upheld had the appeal not been mooted by the settlement -  and the environmental report established that the traffic problems posed by the CC project cannot be mitigated.  The large scale retail plan - not redesigned, unless your count moving the deck chairs on the Titanic a redesign. - is bad for those of us who live nearby and bad for the town, for all reasons previously stated.

And you can bet your pineapples that I will not shop at Whole Paycheck.  The farmers markets and deCiccio’s have better produce and are cheaper by far, and my natural foods store in a Ridgefield has products that I can’t get anywhere else nearby - including some dairy products.

The development remains a bad idea.  The store in Ridgefield, by the way, is called Nature’s Temptations.  It has a Facebook page, is family operated, and is great.  Supporting union labor has many rewards.

By Rita Tobin on 04/12/2014 at 7:53 am

Please refer to the final scene of my movie involving   My confrontation with my teenage student.
I am proud to wear the same stripe as ms tobin.

The point being manners of thinking on CC or other town issues depend on whether the relevant person has feet firmly planted in reality, that is, the way things actually are, as opposed to wishful , impractical thought which is , in the end , counter productive to society and the cause itself.

By The prime of miss jean brodie on 04/14/2014 at 9:07 am

Isn’t that the scene where Ms. Brody was exposed as being, and called, an utterly “ridiculous woman”?

By Movie goer on 04/14/2014 at 10:48 pm


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