Open Letter to the Community: Put on our whole-town thinking caps
September 28, 2012
by Chuck Napoli
I wish the town board had waited until they had a picture or a site plan to show us before holding a public hearing on the zoning change at Chappaqua Crossing to allow retail uses. The confusion and fear that was revealed at Monday night’s hearing means to me that it’s time to have a real conversation about how we can all work together with Chappaqua Crossing to develop their property without hurting our downtown hamlet. To get this conversation going, here are a few questions that the hearing on Monday night left me—and probably a lot of you—wondering about.
1. Most importantly, what are the impacts for the downtown hamlet?
2. What are the impacts to the plan I’ve proposed for an additional 54,000 square feet of retail space and 18,000 square feet of residential—to include a raised field at Bell and parking beneath?
3. Does Summit Greenfield plan to use existing buildings to house retail, or build more footprint at Chappaqua Crossing?
4. In my plan for the downtown, I would own the entire development and make sure that the various retail uses would be uses that benefit the whole. Would Chappaqua Crossing own the whole retail area? The draft zoning says that the retail space “may be owned by one or more persons, organizations, or entities.” What does that mean for the town?
5. We need to see that floor plan Summit Greenfield’s attorney told the Town Board they’re working on. I think we can all help them with it.
Do you have any ideas? A thorough discussion could result in a win-win for the town and Chappaqua Crossing. We can’t afford to have any losers.
Not sure the effect it would have on downtown or on your plan for downtown. I think they were trying to telegraph to us the other night (by the minimum 5,000 SF store space) that they wouldn’t compete with the 1,000 SF places—the SHOPS as opposed to STORES—downtown, but I need to know more.
The board must not confuse their obligation to hold a public meeting with the collaboration process that includes all interested parties and stakeholders to participate in the solution.
The Town Board should conduct an economic and community impact study before allowing over 150,000 square feet of new retail space at Chappaqua Crossing. They must identify the potential negative impact to the surrounding neighborhoods, the potential threat to the long-term viability of our historic business districts, and focus on strengthening retail operations in our downtown hamlets.
Please take a moment to sign a petition to Save our Downtown.
I agree we need to take a long hard look at the big picture and at the future. Most if not all of the proposed plans assume continued economic growth and don’t take into consideration resource depletion and climate change that will have serious impacts on our not so distant future. To ignore these real issues is both foolish and very short sighted path.
Take a look at the community wide conversations that Amherst MA is having to create a vibrant, sustainable local economy that will serve them for the future. The Pioneer Valley Relocalization Project was established to encourage dialogue and collaboration towards a more relocalized, resilient Pioneer Valley.
Seems to me that the first guy to get the financial backing nailed down will be considered. Where’s the money? Can anything be done in this economic climate?
I’d say we should talk, but who cares enough to take the time? I’m not sure anyone does. If they did, we’d see more people at board meetings and we don’t. I don’t, anyway.
Why do we need to increase or carbon footprint by attending Board Meetings? Why can’t we register our Tax Bills as online participants to such discussions and do everthing through our hand held devices. Board meetings should not be confused with being a social gathering, and for those that physically show up; they should not steer how the whole community feels.
I bet Mr. Napoli’s plan would fly through if the whole community can communicate and approve his idea through their own hand held devices. Who still gets their milk delivered to their home in a metal box or steel crate? Time to use our iPhones when it comes to Town Hall matters.
Almost everyone I have talked to about the best use for “Chappaqua Crossing” has agreed that it would be a natural location for a life care facility consisting of a clubhouse,independent apartments, assisted care and nursing home.
Admittedly, we are older, long-term residents who would like to stay in Chappaqua, but there will be a lot of you coming along in the future who will be looking for just such a place. Can’t Summit Greenfield figure out a way to make that financially viable for them? The “bones” are already there. Can’t the Town Board do some nudging in that direction? Let’s be pro-active about what we would really like to see on that beautiful campus. Don’t settle for a bad choice.
Does anyone who post here really know and understand how difficult it is to open up a business in New Castle? And now in this economy, the Government wants to create more competition for both the landlords and the business owners in downtown Chappaqua.
Folks, I suggest making Chappaqua Crossing into a facility that will somehow help the 90,000 injured, paralyzed, and mentally scared Soldiers returning from the conflicts that we are involved in around the world. Part Walter Reed Hospital, part College and vacational training for our returning men and women who fought for our Country.
This kind of thinking will shore up the economic health of downtown Chappaqua, and give our area the reputation of caring about the men and women in our Military. Plus this type of USE will not compete with downtown Chappaqua, and it will not really impact our Schools. Now the question is, do we really care about the traffic patterns as compared to when Reader’s Digest occupied the property?
I love the idea posted by Open for Business regarding a facility for returning service women and men. That would put Chappaqua on the map in the best possible way. What a thought. i’m really impressed with this kind of thinking. I’m overwhelmed thinking about the brilliance of the idea – think of the jobs it will create and the good work it will produce. win/win for all.
Absolutely love this idea from “Open for business” and especially love the idea of thinking outside the box. I’m sorry, but from where I sit, it isn’t a tragedy that we don’t have a major grocery store in town. Having to drive 1.5 miles to Pville, Millwood, etc. would hardly qualify for a hardship for most of the country.
A facility for wounded soldiers would probably be tax exempt and we need commercial revenue.
Lets still go with ‘Open for business’, and lets mandate that the property still stay on the Tax rolls. Men and Women have given their lives, limbs, marriages, eyesight, hearing, the ability to walk, run, hike, feel, love, and blood. Wall Street and the major corporations of this great Country have historic amounts of money sitting out on the sidelines; doing nothing. I believe we have the talent, minds, and phone numbers, to attract a situation that keeps this property on the Tax rolls while giving back to the Men and Women who protected everything we treasure. Everything we treasure can be defined in one symbol, the American Flag. A flag that connects us all together before their was Aol, Yahoo, Cisco, Oracle, Facebook, Bing, Ask Geeves. Before all of this our Military went wherever to protect us as a Nation, so that our children could go off to Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Pace, Hofstra – AND become the Billionaires that many from our area are. Yes, it is private property, private ownership, and YES the owner should make money – AND YES we need to find out how all of this can be pulled together. Doing this should represent the New America that is trying to heal itself in so many ways since 9/11. Folks, I heard people are trying to resurrect Lehman Brothers, and restore that once great company. Perhaps such time, effort, expertise, and money, can be thrown at ‘Open for business.’ We owe it to our Military Men and Women 90,000 are hurt because they cared.
Using the Chappaqua Crossing property as a facility for injured military members would certainly be a constructive use of the property. Considering our proximity to world class healthcare, to airports and to highways it seems like a very good location for such an endeavor. Agreed… this is the kind of thinking that can help keep New Castle from turning into a congested shopping destination while maintaining our downtown business base.
I agree with both “Open for business” and with “Think outside the box”….this can be done. It does not only solve the property use issue, it also provides jobs, volunteering opportunities, and is the right thing to do.