By Steven Bernstein
Over 100 people packed Town Hall Tuesday, April 23, for the first public hearing on the plan for Chappaqua Crossing. The New Castle Town Board heard only negative feedback from those who arrived regarding its consideration of the Summit-Greenfield plan to use 120,000 square feet of space at the old Reader’s Digest campus, for a supermarket and for other retail use. Meanwhile, at least one town board member made it clear that no decision has yet been reached.
“I have not made up my mind,” said Town Board member John Buckley. “We’re going to do this fairly, reasonably, and we’re going to see what’s in the best interest of our community as a whole.”
The general sentiment of those who spoke was that the board was not doing what was best for the community. Dozens of citizens stood up and voiced their opinions about how such a project could negatively affect the town.
There were several concerns on how the proposed project would influence traffic, public safety, and how the town does not need a grocery store. “We have no problem getting groceries now. I don’t know of anyone in town who has that problem. It’s not a burning issue. It’s a very poor idea,” said David Aplin, whose family has lived in Chappaqua for the past 23 years.
No one who attended the meeting expressed any favorable thoughts about the plan.
“The traffic’s going to be horrendous. The access to this development is almost impossible, coming off the Saw Mill, it’s ridiculous. We don’t need another grocery store, we can drive to Pleasantville or Mount Kisco,” said Robert Lieblich, another longtime citizen of Chappaqua.
“It’s the small business owners who are helping our downtown come to life. They’re helping to cultivate a sense of community. The town board should be held to prove that the New Castle Town community believes this huge change to the character of our community will benefit the town, who ask that you put a referendum on the ballot this November, asking the community to decide whether they want a third business district,” said Rob Greenstein, head of the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce.
“If we’re focused on preserving our high school as the center point of the town, and we’re moving traffic in that direction, I think that’s a big mistake. You can’t move on that road for 45 minutes in the morning, and 45 minutes in the afternoon. I think the school board should really be front and center and what they think about the ramifications of this project across from the school,” said Robert Bowen, a resident of the town for thirty-five years.
“I live right off of 117; it’s absolutely dangerous when trucks are on 117. I can’t imagine what would happen if there were trucks going both ways on 117,” said Hillary Grasso, who moved with her family to Chappaqua two years ago. She also noted dangers in crossing for Greeley students who would be drawn to the development right across the street.
The second public hearing will be held on Monday, April 29th. Any citizen who wishes to share their concerns over the proposed plan for Chappaqua crossing should go so their voice can also be heard.