L to E: Master planning for the future is difficult with development projects hanging over us

An outdoor session is planned for 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. in Gedney Park on Wednesday, June 4
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
by Scottie Guerney

I attended the master planning outreach session last Wednesday. This morning meeting sponsored by the League of Women Voters drew approximately 25 residents. I have several positive comments on the process as well as some concerns.

In terms of the actual session, I very much appreciated the Pace Land Use Law Center facilitator’s ability to keep the crowd on topic and respectful of the various voices. While certain ideas were repeated, she made every effort to accurately represent each resident’s comments and then elicit additional thoughts. While those present didn’t agree on everything, it appeared to be a respectful exchange of ideas. On five different topics, facilitators asked what we liked about each, what we disliked, and what strategies we thought might help fix what we don’t like. (An outdoor session facilitated by Pace is planned for 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. in Gedney Park on Wednesday, June 4.  The town will provide staff to watch children people may need to bring.)

What I found most challenging was finding a balance between the need to create a long-range vision for our town and the large projects/developments hanging over us today, such as retail at Chappaqua Crossing and a move of town hall. I feel it is quite difficult to separate the current issues from what should be a discussion of forward vision. Of course each of the current topics deserves an open forum for discussion and debate, but it is impossible to look ahead when most of us are so focused on specific development issues.

Finally, while I don’t know how many have attended the previous four sessions, it can’t be more than 250, total. I do believe that our town must find a way, perhaps through a survey, to reach a wider number of residents. I believe these meetings should only be one aspect of this initial outreach phase. For many of us, committing three hours on a weeknight or weekend morning is not possible. In addition, others might not attend if they are hesitant to publicly share their opinions. I encourage our town board to initiate a process to reach more people. All voices are critical to this process, not just those that could attend one of these meetings.

Related:  A peek into the community outreach sessions gathering input for the Master Plan, NCNOW.org, 5/24/14, by Brett Klein

Master Plan Outreach: An OUTDOOR chance to tell us about the future of Your New Castle, NCNOW.org, 6/3/14

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

For those with severe time restraints, I agree that an online survey to solicit a wider range of opinions would be a good idea.  The survey could be generated from issues raised and discussed at the planning meetings.

By Pragmatist on 06/03/2014 at 11:42 am

Can the Town set up a web site comment Board so that residents who can’t attend meetings can have input?

By Rita Tobin on 06/03/2014 at 11:45 am

An online survey will not work and can not be trusted. The NIMBYs have already proven that. Prior to the election a well intentioned survey was circulated online to gauge resident sentiment regarding retail at CC, Whole Foods, traffic etc. It was not a town sponsored / circulated survey but one done by Ms Greenberg and Ms Whitehouse. They launched it on Facebook and linked it in other blogs. After only 2 days the survey was taken offline because it was reported and confirmed that the NIMBYs were voting multiple times using multiple devices. There were reports of telephone calls, emails and texts to one another whereby they instructed each other how to vote multiple times using a smartphone, a tablet, a home computer, and an office computer. A husband and wife at one address could then fill out the survey 8 times. Some did just that.
For those that will be quick to deny this happened I assure you it did. I was shown a text message from one nimby to another with the instructions.
We have elected officials and they were elected to use their best judgement to do things in everyone’s best interest. I think it is safe to say that our community lacks a supermarket and Whole Foods is thought of as a premier market. We also know that downtown needs a facelift. We know we can use additional recreational facilities, town pool, and open spaces.
If we start to survey residents on what type market or what type retailer should come to CC or downtown we then set a precedent for conducting surveys for everything. What next – survey where the gazebo goes? Survey for where the dog park goes? Should we survey all residents about development at Legionarres property? Maybe we should survey residents to see if we should hire Jill Shapiro or see which restaraunt we want at the train station. I think not.

By Resident on 06/03/2014 at 12:42 pm

Resident has spoken !!  So much for public participation, Resident has spoken !!!

What a bunch of B.S. 

BTW Resident, it is possible for surveys to be credibly done.  Are you afraid that the results would differ from what you want.  I think so.

By old timer on 06/03/2014 at 1:53 pm

I am confused about the above comment. Is the idea that we should leave ALL planning and decision-making to our elected officials? Should we have no input on the location of town hall or where retail works best? Is there no opportunity to debate issues that will impact all of us for many years to come? I certainly understand concerns around surveys, how to properly administer them and verify them, but should those concerns stop our town from hearing more voices? Should we really move forward on a master plan and specific development ideas without allowing more people an opportunity to speak up? I think we need to find an appropriate way to hear from more residents. These decisions are just too important to leave to a select few.

By Concerned citizen on 06/03/2014 at 2:18 pm

I agree with Resident. A survey is easily corrupted and those with an activist – militant- emotional stake will certainly find a way to game the system. As pointed out we have already seen it happen.
I also agree that a survey done for one matter opens the door so that surveys must be done for other matters.  Who decides what issues get surveyed and which ones do not?
Then there is the issue of survey results. What if an issue does not have overwhelming majority? What if it is a dead heat? Or what if residents weigh in on the side of something that is impractical or too expensive?
Seriously folks, surveys and committees for master plan sounds nice and touchy feely but they are not good in any practical sense. This is all about nimby stalling and continued delays.
Do we really need a survey to tell us we need and want a supermarket – that CC is the only viable 100 acres available and it is bordered by a truck rt 117 and the SM Parkway. It is not zoned residential anyway. Zoning change from commercial to retail is far different than from residential to commercial or retail.

By Slippery slope on 06/03/2014 at 3:19 pm

Just require that everyone sign their real names – no anonymous posts – just as at town meetings.  That will clean up the board like a jet stream.  Anyway, no one is voting – just voicing opinions.  Use real names and see what happens.

By Rita Tobin on 06/03/2014 at 4:45 pm

Hey “Resident”-your prejudice and bias is showing. Why must you and so many others erroneously assume those who oppose retail at Chap Crossing are NIMBY’s? Could it possibly be that there are actually those who are just against it simply because it is a terrible idea? Talk about narrow-mindedness. Look in the mirror much?

By Time to get off the soapbox on 06/03/2014 at 7:05 pm

Ironic that it was Rob Greenstein himself who was rumored to be one of the serial responders to Ms Greenstein’s survey. 

Editor’s Note:  You mean “Ms Whitehouse’s” survey?

By To resident on 06/04/2014 at 1:33 am

Nimbys are the most vocal and best organized obstructionists. They have a direct stake in the outcome.

Yes, there are others who don’t want CC because they do not want to change the country feel of the town. They are indirectly affected and not as strident.

That being said, the vast majority of the town wants it.

Yes, Nimbys and other opponents have poisoned the survey ‘well’. No survey can be relied upon based upon past history, I am truly sorry to say. As a result, none can be used as a guiding tool for the board. Slippery Slope says it best.

By Not a soap box on 06/04/2014 at 4:55 am

Just have the meeting away from the dog walking area.

Better still, have it on the dog trail so the public can see the problem for themselves.

By watch out for dog poop on 06/04/2014 at 4:57 am

Rita – we just conducted a survey ( of sorts). It was called the election. Residents got the chance to hear all candidates on many issues and they voted for the people they thought would and could deliver. I understand you and the NIMBYs feel betrayed and tricked by Team New Castle but that is because you folks heard what you wanted and weren’t really paying attention.
I heard at Brodsky and he was firmly committed to relaxing regulations downtown on order to allow owners the opportunity to expand and be competitive. He was also committed to better utilizing town hall space and build out downtown. He was never a big anti retail at CC cheerleader. He was all about downtown. His goals if achieved will certainly require zoning changes.
Greenstein also campaigned to revitalize downtown, embracing components of the Napoli plan. He supported a large performing arts center and additional larger retail for downtown. These also require zoning changes. Rob made it very clear he thought Whole Foods at CC was a great idea and also suggested moving town gall to CC. He campaigned on a platform that we need a tough negotiator to work with SG, to modify / change the strip mall to town sq, and try to get some town facilities at CC. Clearly changing zoning is not something they oppose. That applies at CC too.
That’s why I voted for Rob and Adam. I did not vote for Katz because she brought nothing to the table but her own emotional baggage and disdain for any progress at CC.
My vote and the election of the new town board members indicates that we let these people do their jobs. It does not mean that we survey residents again and poll residents on every decision going forward. Do that now and you open a can of worms because EVERYTIME a decision is debated people will demand a survey or referendum.

By Long time resident on 06/04/2014 at 8:58 am

Thank you “Not a soap box”-you’ve nicely summed up the situation.  To quote you directly, “others who don’t want CC because they do not want to change the country feel of the town.” You have thereby demonstrated-in black and white text- exactly why so many DO NOT want this enormous type of retail zoning. It will, in fact, change the country feel of the town which is precisely why SO MANY of us moved here. For the country feel. Go move to Hartsdale, White Plains, Mt. Kisco to get your fill of the retail you so desperately seem to need. I’ll take our bucolic grounds, lack of massive traffic lanes/lights and relatively quiet neighborhood.

By Time to get off the soapbox on 06/04/2014 at 11:59 am

To Soap Box- you haven’t looked at the plans or you don’t understand Chapp Crossing. When complete, retail at CC will not ruin the country feel of our community. The entrance off 117 will not change. The stores will be set back deep into the 110 acres. You won’t see Whole Foods or the other stores from the street just as you see very little now of the old Readers Digest buildings.
If you are sincere in your protestations about losing our country feel than perhaps you ought to protest our downtown with RiteAide, Wallgreens , Dunkin Doughnuts, Starbucks etc.

By Build it on 06/05/2014 at 6:10 am

Dear time to get off,

CC is a discreet property set off from all others. It comprises less than 1% of the town. All we are talking about, in terms of direct effect, is with a quarter mile of the property. Within that radius are train tracks, a major parkway and a major school campus not to mention the corridor’s truck route. Where is the country feel in this small area…other than in the minds of the NIMBYS, Luddites and obstructionists?

Our town has been in decline for two decades. My taxes increased 2.5 times in 25 years even with multiple tax reductions AND we have lost all our supermarkets and any charm that there once was: Gristedes, Bistro Maxim, Ocean Fish House, Likety Split to name a few losses.

The old charm is gone and no amount of your obstinance will bring it back. At least let us have what everyone else has, to go along with what is left of our charm. Scarsdale has retail, Greenwich has retail,
Even Cos Cob. You are the distant past, like black and white TV with no cell phones or computers.

By Nimby and Luddite soapbox, not on 06/05/2014 at 8:02 am

I agree with ‘Time to get off’. My horse and buggy were good enough for my great great great grandfather and are good enough for me. There should never be any change at all anywhere, even a change for the better as with the proposed upgrade of Chappaqua Crossing. I also agree that supermarkets are never needed in the 21st century. I grow my own organic food and milk my own cows. What is the big deal?

By I am Amish on 06/05/2014 at 8:42 am

“Country Feel? Really?
Go downtown and stand in front of Pizza Station. Look around you will see Wells Fargo bank, Bank America and Citibank. You will observe Dunkin Ds. Up the street observe Starbucks and RiteAid. Proliferating throughout are half dozen or more nail salons. Up the hill is Wallgreens. When the train let’s out it’s traffic like Yankee stadium. What country feel are you talking about?
Retail and commerce have dramatically changed and only magnet type establishments like Whole Foods will draw people. Otherwise internet online shopping continues to grow.

By Bye bye American pie… on 06/05/2014 at 9:18 am

1.You can’t even see CC from the outside, except from the Saw Mill side.

2. Greenwich and Scarsdale do not equate to Hartsdale, White Plains and Mt Kisco.

3. For purposes of consistency and agenda inquiry, Dear “time to get off”, what is your position on having New Castle do more than its fair share of affordable housing? and the Hunts lane site?

By Isn’t it off by itself? on 06/05/2014 at 9:47 am

The ‘country feel’ people are in a nostalgic dream world. Yes, we need and want to retain it, and we have it on our individual streets
(where dog lovers can walk their dogs and have ‘poop-a-thons, or let them run off leash on their own properties.

They are like the ‘religious extremist’ mindset….NOTHING at all, neither fact, logic nor reason, will change their ‘religious’ belief that Chappaqua Crossing is the SATAN that will destroy us. The point I make is not to impugn actual religious faith, it is directly only to the absolutism that is involved in some teachings by some institutions, none specifically…except as to one religion: NIMBYISM

By Dear American Pie on 06/05/2014 at 10:29 am

I agree with Build It, American Pie and NimbyLudite – To pretend that Chapp Crossing area is somehow tranquil and country like is a joke and another false NIMBY argument. CC is surrounded by a PARKWAY, truck RT 117, and a commuter train route with trains whizzing past with whistle blaring from 5:20 am everyday and through out the day and night. The Greeley campus is set back and the students are housed deep inside the campus and not near the retail at CC. In fact Bell Middle school students who are younger and more vulnerable are closer to downtown retail and train station traffic than the Greeley students will be to Whole Foods. The NIMBys cry that Greeley students will be in danger but middle school kids are ok?
The proposed retail at CC will be out of view from the residential side of the development. The Whole Foods and other retail will be deep within the complex and with appropriate minimal signage and lighting it wont even be seen.
The country like feel of downtown may be impossible to regain but with chain stores, national banks, and the like it is difficult to imagine how to stop progress. Even Chuck Napoli’s plan (endorsed by Rob Greenstein) calls for chain stores and a very large performing arts center – doesn’t sound country like to me.

By It won’t be seen on 06/05/2014 at 12:07 pm

It’s in the hands of the town board. period.

Greeley danger? two minutes to CC vs 20 each way to Rocky’s? Sigh,

By I have faith on 06/05/2014 at 10:28 pm

Show us how a credible survey can be done which can absolutely, positively be immune from NIMBY manipulation and the effects of apathy. What about those who, quite rightly, feel that it is a waste of time at this late date or that it is similar to the useless 40 congressional votes to repeal Obamacare?

As someone as recently posted: there was a survey taken in November which is the only one that counts; THE ELECTION.

It seems to me that door to door survey people, like the old fashion census takes could work. This eliminates multiple voting. One vote per household. This way the locations of the responders can be evaluated to show how the concentration of NIMBYs
skews overall results. In other words, if 99% of NIMBYS oppose it, being 1% of the town’s overall population and 60% of the overall town wants it or doesn’t really care, we can then use those figures to make an evaluation, maybe.

There should be two people in each team. One from SG and one from the NIMBY organization “keeping them honest” as Anderson Cooper says.

By Dear old timer on 06/06/2014 at 8:26 am

Why does everyone equate retail with Hartsdale, White Plains or Mt. Kisco? Why can’t it be like Greenwich or Westport or Rye?

By Anonymous on 06/06/2014 at 2:13 pm

@ Dear old timer,

You have asked and answered your own question.  Maybe you just like to hear yourself speak.  Or maybe you should think before you do speak.

By old timer on 06/06/2014 at 2:48 pm

Lets survey all people that live more than 1/4 away from CC and see the results

By lets have a survey on 06/06/2014 at 4:22 pm

This is the question to be asked:

“Are you in favor of not having a supermarket in chappaqua?”

By Yes survey on 06/07/2014 at 12:14 pm

Yes survey,

You are all so blinded by your selfishness that you ignore the facts.  What is proposed is 120,000 sq. ft. of new retail buildings.

I am very much in favor of a town wide survey, but ask the full question, please !

By Jeff on 06/07/2014 at 2:54 pm

Some of The questions:
  1.Do you want a supermarket?
  2.Do you object to additional stores?
  3. Are you in favor of a development that is hidden from view?
  4. Do you want to spend your tax dollars to help downtown landlords make more profits or should they spend their own money on themselves?
  5. Will you accept some increase in traffic at varying times of the day to have Whole Foods?
  6. Should less than 1% of our population be able to stop development?
  7. Did you notice that 117 was a major supermarket distribution center truck route about 10 years ago?
  8. Do you feel that Greeley students walking across the street to CC is safer than their driving to Rocky’s or other places when leaving school or for lunch?
  9. Do you agree that stopping tax reductions from being granted to the developer results in a tax benefit to the town?
  10. Do you feel that people who moved next to or near Readers Digest commercial land, by doing so, knew or should have known that the nature of its commercial use could change over time?
  11. Do you think that the traffic resulting from the 111 homes approved and accepted at CC, and by its neighbors, should be any part of a reason to deny a supermarket from being built on the site?

The method: Door to door with a representative of SG/supporters present so NO NIMBY manipulation. One vote per household. 4 response options: Yes, No or split opinion in household, Do not care

Other than that, It will lack credibility.

Besides, at this point in time a survey is pointless. The only survey that counts now is of the 5 members of the town board.

By Dear Jeff on 06/08/2014 at 9:43 am

Wow !!!!  What a croc !!! 

There are experts who formulate and survey.  Your questions show your bias but some may even make the survey. 

Chill Dear Jeff and enjoy this beautiful day.

For the record, I am a longtime resident, 40 years and live nowhere near CC.  I know the history of the area.  Your questions show that you do not.  I also know that whatever anyone says that contradicts what YOU WANT will fall on deaf ears, so good by.

By Jeff on 06/08/2014 at 3:13 pm

You are a horse and buggy to our suv’s,  vaudeville to our DVD players, smoke signals to our I phones.  Ok, u have 5 years seniority over me. But that doesn’t detract from our need for a supermarket.

By Dear Luddite jeff on 06/08/2014 at 10:25 pm

Dear Jeff, the cheating Nimbys know how to game the system, as they have already done ……twice!

Editor’s Note:  There has been no professional, random-sample survey done on Chappaqua Crossing.

By Stop survey cheats on 06/08/2014 at 10:27 pm

You make the best point.  Even though a survey is binding upon no one, lets do it either door to door with SG and nimby representatives or send out numbered forms with imprinted addresses.  That way there can be no counterfeiting and the responding properties identified .  Also, the absolute numbers can be analyzed to determine general viewpoint.  We would expect that Nimbys would be 90% against which is at this point in time a useless fact.  But if its only 70 %. That is interesting.
If responders generally are evenly split that is one thing .  If not, that is something else again. 

By Dear editor on 06/09/2014 at 10:12 am

people should use their real names. If afraid, don’t comment

By phil luria on 06/09/2014 at 9:52 pm

Dear mr luria,  anonymity Promotes reprisal free debate and exchanges of ideas.  Putting one’s name on an unpopular point of view, or an idea that you hold which your neighbor or best friend abhors, takes matters to personal levels when they should only be in the public debate.  CC is like religion , politics , one’s children and one’s dog. Which are all intensely personal and emotional, hot button items.  Just like voting is private, so are our opinions if we want to keep them anonymous. Both express how people feel which is a good thing. It lets everyone else know how others feel.
American is founded upon allowing unpopular speech, your comment is designed to have a chilling effect on the American way.  But , you are entitled to your opinion , which is unpopular with me.

By Fear free on 06/10/2014 at 8:56 am

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