Open Letter to TB members: The entire town has a full stake on the issue of traffic and safety

“One chance to get this right”

Thursday, May 15, 2014
by John and Liza Norton

Dear Board Members;

Allow us please to add our voices to the chorus of New Castle residents who are greatly concerned about the impact that the proposed retail development at Chappaqua Crossing will have on local traffic volume and flow.

For the record my wife and I are not fundamentally opposed to the retail/residential development of the site assuming a rational and balanced approach is taken. Yes, we do need a supermarket in town and Chappaqua Crossing seems like a logical place for it. (However, should a Whole Foods loom over Roaring Brook Road, probably not.) 

Central to this discussion is the reality that Summit/Greenfield purchased a corporate campus ill-suited for major retail/residential development.  The developer’s initial due diligence certainly should have revealed that the site’s retail potential is severely limited by the fact that the site is served by limited commercial access, congested state and local roadways. 

After years of listening to a litany of self-inflicted hardships and wrangling with Summit/Greenfield over various residential development proposals the Board is now presented with a more complicated mixed retail, office and residential proposal.

At this stage of the proceedings the critical consideration of traffic and safety seem to have been subordinated. The absence of any credible current “retail” traffic data before the Board and minimal commentary is most troubling.  Arguably the junctions of Rt. 117 and Roaring Brook Road and the entrance to Horace Greeley High School are the among the most problematic intersections in New Castle.  The Board and the community need to be able to analyze a relevant commercial traffic impact study before any proposal is approved.  Needless to say the developers’ proposed traffic remediation plan appears woefully inadequate. 

The torturous eight-year saga of Chappaqua Crossing should not lead to community fatigue and Board capitulation. As a commercial developer intent on selling its interest in Chappaqua Crossing as soon as soon the rent-up becomes self liquidating, Summit/Greenfield will naturally attempt to limit its infrastructure costs and continue to plead that they are victims of restrictive local government oversight.  It is consistent with the facts that they will resist funding the major capital improvements required to the surrounding roadways. 

The entire New Castle community has a full stake on the issue of traffic and safety.  Summit/Greenfield has very different interests. No half measures are acceptable. We all have one chance to get this right; if not, we live with the consequences for decades. 


John & Liza Norton
2 Taylor Road
Lawrence Farms East
Mt. Kisco, NY

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

It is certainly true that the general traffic issues will need to be addressed with Chappaqua Crossing and the retail development.  The largest point to consider will be how the increased traffic will impact the students at Horace Greeley.  It is unwise to believe that a simple crosswalk at the area from Greeley to CC will suffice.  The students are very likely to visit the merchants at CC for lunch and after school.This reality suggests that a traffic light or even a pedestrian overpass would likely be the safest option. 
The other related point to this would be the already heavy traffic at the start of school, end of school day and after school activity pickups(sports and other). Many children are driven or drive themselves.
This issue deserves careful thought relating to our children’s safety.  Our town does not need another student struck outside their school.

By a parent on 05/15/2014 at 2:08 pm

We should all remember that Reader’s Digest and now Northern Westchester Hospital and other businesses have been located at this site with their accompanying traffic.  It seems that it will be possible to manage the expected increase in traffic in a logical and safe manner.  It is easy to forget the days past when employees of Readers Digest clogged 117, but we lived through it, and hopefully, have a better understanding of realities and traffic studies.  The current relative quiet traffic level may have made us a bit complacent.
We should all definitely speak up and hold SG accountable for the improvements to our infrascucture and quality of life that their development requires them to provide.

By A Longtime Resident on 05/15/2014 at 2:25 pm

every town in Westchester county is currently plagued with vacant commercial real estate.
This Whole Foods boondoggle at the Reader’s Digest will not be sustainable economically. The density of N. Westchester and the online shopping habits of Chappaqua and N.Westchester shoppers will not support the retail proposed at this site.
The economy is not getting better any time soon.
Brighter minds might consider the economic and environmental realities before committing to this mess.

By vacancies will plague this mess on 05/16/2014 at 8:14 am

Chappaqua residents have been without a supermarket for a number of years now. Instead we have two chain pharmacies, where formerly supermarkets were located. Gristede’s where Rite-Aid is and Grand Union and later D’Agostino’s where Wahlgreens is.  It makes great sense for Whole Foods to move in at Chappaqua Crossing.  As far as increased truck traffic is concerned, trucks have long been transporting goods along 117 to the above mentioned locations, and they would have a shorter run from 684 to CC than to downtown Chappaqua.

Traffic from employees of Reader’s Digest also crowded 117 in the past, especially in the early morning hours and late afternoon to early evening hours.

As a resident of Chappaqua for 43 years, I have seen an increase in traffic everywhere.  This is impossible to avoid.

I also remember our wonderful library being met with great resistance, when it was proposed for my Smith Street neighborhood. But after a compromise was reached by locating the entrance on S Greeley Avenue instead of Smith Street I think we are all very proud to have this wonderful resource within walking distance to our homes.

Similarly the neighborhood were up in arms about the women’s shelter. But again what better location could have been chosen, – on a beautiful property, a lovely green yard – a SHELTER indeed and close to the police station.  What could be safer!

So bring back a supermarket to our town. Let the developers pay for turn-out lanes and traffic lights that will be necessary.

Change and increased traffic is inevitable.  It is how we implement it that will make the difference!

By Ebba Fisch on 05/16/2014 at 10:45 am

Why do I think that SG’s retail savvy is a bit more reliable than your
biased, self interested, NIMBY objection?. NO offense.

Your vacancy thought is diametrically opposed to the traffic objectionists.

Please, someone help me regarding these inconsistent points of view!!!!!

By Dear Vacancies will plague.. on 05/16/2014 at 4:33 pm

I too have lived here for 43 years.  I do not think that you understand the difference between what is being proposed here and how the Readers Digest was used at its peak.  Readers Digest bussed in many of its workers.  They respected the school’s schedules.  The traffic needed to support the retail development proposed here is hugely more than anything at anytime that existed for Readers Digest.

There is no way to mitigate this traffic.  NONE.  Your suggestions on this are laughable.  Also laughable is for you to compare trucks for one market to the many needed to supply 120,000 sq.ft. of retail.  Why do you wish to make already heavily trafficked roads even more so ? 

I would love to see a market in the downtown hamlet, not CC.,  Is it really too hard for you to drive 5 miles in any direction to the existing supermarkets ?

Similarly, there is no comparison to the library or the shelter.

Here is a letter that you may have missed from another longtime resident who also worked at Readers Digest in its heyday .

By Jane P. on 05/17/2014 at 9:34 am

Maybe you do not know that SG will be gone as soon as these 120,000 square feet of new retail are built. And did you know that now rather than being housed inside the existing buildings, they are ALL OUTSIDE.  ALL NEW BUILDINGS.  Have you seen the Target / A&P shopping center in Bedford Hills ? That is the size .  Have you seen that parking lot ? That is the size. 

S.G.  is savvy about escaping once they get every dollar they can from their bad investment.

By S. G. escape on 05/17/2014 at 10:11 am

You would think people are starving in this town by the sounds of it.  How are people surviving the great loss of Dags that no one ever went to in the first place? Whatever the case, this place needs a complete plan and last time I checked there was still hundreds of thousands of empty office space.  A half-baked solution is no solution.

By Who’s hungry? on 05/17/2014 at 11:45 pm

I would think we would want SG to “escape” as soon as they can after they get approval.  They are not a business or s firm that has been dealing in good faith.  Good riddance.  Let someone else build the community needed center, housing and fields. 

Meet me one year from today in the Whole Foods Coffee line to thank me.

By Let SG go on 05/18/2014 at 11:22 am

The grand union facility was a regional 18 wheeler transfer point and distribution center to all its stores in westchester and other counties (as was written in the posting you comment upon). That was on its large sign at its entrance.

If it were for only one store, per your false spin, you might have a valid point. The “laugh” , as you call it, is that dozens of huge “semi” trucks were constantly in and out onto route 117 in mount kisco and driving through chappaqa for 25 years with no enduring problems of note.  It WAS a DISTRIBUTION center.

Cripes, I was stuck behind a truck once in a while and didn’t think anything of it other than mild annoyance . 

Whole foods , like every large supermarket, will have a large truck delivery at most twice a week. if more than two very large truck deliveries , it will only be as a result of a large amount of sales, ie, its success. The delivery truck leaves its trailer at the loading dock and the cab drives off because it takes a few days to unload non perishables.

So…. You are talking about, at most, 2 truck deliveries in the middle of the night that no one hears or sees.  Please be more factually correct and have less false spin in your comments .  Nice try.

By Dear Jane p on 05/18/2014 at 11:30 am

SG escape is absolutely right.
They will bail as soon as they can and cut their losses.
We will be stuck with the collateral damage, ultimately a semi-vacant, tasteless strip mall.

Why do we call companies like SG “developers”? It seems Orwellian to me!

By Orwellian language on 05/18/2014 at 4:08 pm

Dear Jane P.

The problem you decidedly ignore is that the town repeatedly voted with its dollars over the past 25 years AGAINST a grocery store. Grand Union, D’Agositino’s (whose owner lives here) and Gristedes all sleep with the fishes. How, in the name of all that is logical(not to mention financially sound) can you even dream that a full service grocery store would survive somewhere down town? For Starters, where would you build it….unless you propose to sell groceries from town hall, after it is relocated to CC?

And, of course there never would be a traffic problem…sheesh.

Please feel free to invest YOUR money in such a doomed endeavor. I got it!:: Form Nimby, Inc. as an investment company funded by the birds of your feather and then build whatever it is your want.

I make this ridiculous comment to point out the magical thinking that some CC objectors have. No Offense, but please wake up.

By Downtown groceries have failed on 05/18/2014 at 5:56 pm

There is a new vocabulary word I discovered reading either the WSJ or
NYT, metro section: “supermarket desert”. It describes us to a “t”.
It describes the recent phenomenon that many areas are experiencing; namely, big box stores, internet shopping and at work conveniences, Walgreening and ‘CVS’-ing absorb demand for traditional small mark up supermarkets. Sales of High profit items are made by those type of businesses which do not sell the low profit items, which are sold in full service groceries.

The point is that we are not alone in the US insofar as not having a supermarket is concerned. It is not a question of: ‘We vs them’, NIMBY vs majority, haves vs those who have less, selfish shoppers vs those who feel that their arms are being amputated. It is a real, societal circumstance that grocery stores are on the decline. We are lucky that WF is coming here.

Yes, it could fail. But it takes years for that shake out, if it ever occurs.

By I am Starving for a supermarket on 05/18/2014 at 7:51 pm

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