Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Scoping Out the Walmonster in Monsey

As the Journal News reports this morning there is growing concern in Monsey over the impact that a proposed Wal-Mart supercenter will have on the already over-congested Rt. 59 corridor. As local resident Hershel Klara told the paper it now takes him 20 minutes to drive 6,500 feet from Kennedy Drive to Remsen Avenue "And that's without Wal-Mart...I don't know how I'd do it with a Wal-Mart."

The Journal News also quotes extensively from the Alliance's own traffic expert Brian Ketcham, and from the looks on the faces of the developer's consultants last night Brian was most definitely not a sight for sore eyes. What Brian underscored was the need for the developer to go way beyond just a few intersections in and around the project site (a favorite ploy of developer consultants everywhere). He also emphasized that the five mile trade radius was way too conservative and the store will likely draw from ten miles or more.

The key point in Ketcham's testimony, however, was his estimate of the sheer number of cars Wal-Mart will generate. In his view the proposed store will bring "16,000 vehicle trips on a typical weekday and 21,000 on a Saturday."

He then went on to describe how this extra traffic will impact on auto accidents in an area that has a "sordid accident history." The are between Kennedy Drive and Rt. 306 has 175 car accidents a year and, as Ketcham points out, "Travel to and from this Wal-Mart is estimated to produce another 130 auto accidents annually, in which 45 people will be injured each year." The estimated additional cost of all this?--$30 million every year!

Spring Valley attorney Bruce Levine testified for the village and hit on the socioeconomic impacts that the store will have on local business, a point that the Alliance's Richard Lipsky also emphasized in his testimony. "Levine said that the store would greatly affect Spring Valley's urban renewal plan, which aims to bring more stores into the county's most populous village."

The scoping session sets the stage for what promises to be a titanic struggle. Last night over 50 residents came out but once the traffic impacts and social costs become more widely known we expect an outpouring of concern from the targeted community.