Letter to the Editor: Voters should consider traffic safety at Hunts Place

Monday, November 4, 2013
by Ed Frank

Many residents have voiced their concern that the proposal for a supermarket and retail at Chappaqua Crossing will create traffic congestion. But voters should be aware of the serious traffic safety hazards that will be created if Chappaqua Station, the Conifer project at Hunts Place, is constructed.

The proposal is for the construction of a 28-unit four and a half story high AFFH affordable residential rental building to be constructed alongside the vacant parcel located between the SMRP northbound exit off-ramp, the Metro North RR tracks, and the Route 120 Bridge.

Negative aspects of the project have been voiced both in the New York Times and by Mr. Craig Gurion (the plaintiff) who brought the lawsuit against Westchester County that resulted in the Housing Settlement that requires the County to produce 750 AFFH units; however, I feel it is important to bring to the attention of voters serious traffic safety issues that would be created if the Conifer building were constructed.

First, the $500,000 Vollmer Plan commissioned ten years ago by the New Castle Town Board concluded (page 50) that “Presently, the deceleration from the northbound exit off Saw Mill River Parkway to the Chappaqua exit is almost non-existent posing a significant safety hazard when vehicles exit immediately after the Bridge abutment.”

The proposed Conifer building is scheduled to have its vehicular entrance located at the very foot of the off-ramp—which will create an even more significant safety hazard, making accident-prone locations at both the foot of the off-ramp and the head of the off-ramp.

Conifer’s traffic engineer produced a study that in my opinion was based upon data that was not correct and was based upon erroneous beliefs. Conifer’s traffic engineer, for example, did not record a queue on the off-ramp of more than four vehicles. On two separate random days, I observed a queue of seven vehicles backed up almost to the parkway exit.

The bottom line is that the SMRP off-ramp was classified ten years ago by an independent company (Vollmer) as “a significant safety hazard” whereas the traffic safety report that the current Town Board relied upon was produced by Conifer’s traffic engineer. I repeatedly requested the Town Board to retain the services of an independent traffic engineer; unfortunately the Board declined to act on that advice.

Voters should carefully consider the traffic safety hazard that the Conifer building will create. Voters should consider the safety of their families and friends and others who utilize the Chappaqua exit. In a worst case condition, if NYSDOT has to permanently close the exit (to all but emergency vehicles) due to serious safety concerns, consider the effect upon motorists who utilize this exit, on additional traffic at the Roaring Brook Road and Pleasantville exits, and on our hamlet merchants.

CFRAH (Chappaqua For Responsible Affordable Housing) is financing an Article 78 Petition to overturn the Town Board’s wrongful decision to issue a Special Permit to Conifer. The petition is based, among other issues, upon CFRAH’s belief that the SEQRA review was unsatisfactory.

I believe that every voter should consider the above information when deciding whether to vote for Ms. Paderewski or Mr. Greenstein. Mr. Greenstein has taken the position that the Town Board’s issuance of the Special Permit for Conifer to construct the Hunts Place residential building was wrong;  Ms. Paderewski’s position is that she will not act to overturn legislation passed by the current Town Board. These are good reasons to vote for Mr. Greenstein.

There are better locations for AFFH housing in New Castle, CFRAH and I fully support the construction of AFFH housing on those sites; one such location was proposed long ago by resident Architect Wally Toscano: the town-owned property behind town hall, on Washington Avenue. In the Town Board’s rush to approve affordable housing at the inappropriate Hunts Place site, it did not give adequate consideration to Mr. Toscano’s proposal.

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