Letter to the Editor: Chappaqua Crossing: Simple thoughts & observations in looking for a solution
July 10, 2009
by Scott and Christie Krase
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
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
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
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
Enjoy the summer,
Scott and Christie Krase
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:
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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