Letter to the Editor: Chappaqua Crossing: Simple thoughts & observations in looking for a solution

July 10, 2009
by Scott and Christie Krase

Dear People,

Let’s get moving in a different direction before it’s too late!

We have looked on with a mix of anxiety and frustration at the ongoing

Chappaqua Crossing debate. Yes, we guess we are writing this letter to

give yet one more perspective to a very complex problem. Yet, we feel

compelled to do so, not because we have the “perfect answer” but because

we fear we are in danger of a non-optimal outcome.

The goal in a difficult negotiation should be to arrive at a place that

is within a “zone of fairness.” Our strong belief is that the Chappaqua

Crossing project can find resolution within this, however, we feel today

we are stuck. It is just the “No’s” vs. the “Yes’s,” both sides seemingly

incapable of doing anything other than reinforcing their already

entrenched positions.

In short, someday this project (or one very similar) is going to happen.

Call us crazy, but we just do not think it is possible that the Readers

Digest campus gets turned into a National Park. So, without the input

from any consultants or lawyers, the following is a simple summary of

where we (and we suspect many of you) believe this debate needs to end up.

The bottom line: Chappaqua Crossing is a real estate business transaction

Is Chappaqua Crossing the utopia? No.

But aren’t we tired of a downtown of just real estate offices, nail salons,

banks and empty stores? The current Chappaqua commercial real estate

situation is a sad joke and anything that helps support the existing

merchants and any new merchants has to be a positive. This morning on

the drive to the train, we counted eight commercial vacancies just from

Quaker Hill to Starbucks!

Aren’t we tired of not having a basic Recreation Center comparable to

the other surrounding villages, where all members of town could go for

programs and activities?

Aren’t we tired of having the worst fields in the county for

Kindergarten through Varsity athletics? Real estate values are directly

related to the level of amenities and services offered to residents,

which include youth sports!

Is Chappaqua Crossing going to bring our town services to a grinding

halt or degrade the quality of the school system? No. We need to stop

worrying if there will be 10, 20 or 50 extra kids in the school system.

The addition of 2-10 kids per grade is far less of a strain on the

educational system than a dwindling (residential and commercial) tax

base. It is impossible to imagine sustaining a 0% school budget without

severe consequences down the road. 

Are we going to be able to strictly enforce age restrictions? Likely

not. Ironically, however, this should not be hard if we employ the same

vigor and discipline used to monitor the train parking lot!

Is it going to cause more automobile traffic? Yes. Seems to us the

ongoing bridge scenario is pretty darn disruptive but we have managed to

deal with that just fine! With proper re-engineering, the 117/Roaring

Brook/Saw Mill intersections may even improve their traffic flow during

the busy times. For the record, there used to be 7000 people working at

Reader’s Digest who somehow managed to come and go without disastrous


Seriously, New Castle needs the tax revenue (expected to be $3 – 5 million) and

we also need a population base that can support a functioning commercial

community. Potential additions to our town: a real Recreation Center, public

space, maybe new fields (even turf!) and anything else that just

about every neighboring town seems to have but we lack. Why? Older

families and younger families pay an enormous price to live here, and we

should have most or all of the services, facilities and amenities befitting

a great town. Look around, it is stunning how little this town has

to offer!

Will some people be unhappy about (and inconvenienced by) the outcome? Yes.

But Chappaqua Crossing is not a nuclear reactor or a trash incinerator.

We need to do what’s best for the town as a whole, not just the concerns

voiced from the one mile radius around the high school (of which we are part).

Once again, the reality is that someday, something is going to happen at

the Reader’s Digest site. It is incumbent on the people of this town, the

Board, and Summit Greenfield to stop the “Yes” vs. “No” nonsense, and

realize this is a business transaction where maybe, just maybe, there

can be two “winners.”

We implore our community to stop wasting time and our tax dollars to

hire consultants to tell us what we already know. The board ought to

work with a community action committee on creating a reasonable “wish

list” where a vast majority of us feel well compensated for any or all

project drawbacks. As this is so important, let’s take that plan to a town

wide vote!

We implore Summit Greenfield to stop being unreasonable in your new

“asks” and be prepared to come to the table ready to meet us in the

“zone.” Honestly, offering two acres for municipal use is not close to

“fair” given the changes you have asked for. Summit Greenfield also

needs to do a lot more to prove it is improving, not degrading the

community as whole – that way everyone benefits – even its closest

neighbors! In the end, this will not be about a successful PR campaign

or whose lawyers are smarter or can argue better or yell louder.

In this difficult economy, let’s build something together, that we are

all proud of 20 years from now! This will not be easy, but nothing good

ever is!

Enjoy the summer,

Scott and Christie Krase

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Write the town board with your comments and ideas and copy us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for publication in NewCastleNOW.org.

Public comment on the DEIS and on Summit Greenfield’s proposal for rezoning continues on Tuesday, July 28, 7:00 p.m. at town hall. The town board has mounted the DEIS and related documents on a dedicated website:


and has set up an email address to receive comments from the community at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

For a complete listing of NewCastleNOW.org’s previous articles and letters to the editor on Reader’s Digest, click here.

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