Saturday, June 10, 2006

Palisades Mall Traffic: A Wal-Mart Lesson

There's a front page story in today's Rockland Journal News about the continuing efforts to mitigate the traffic going into and out of the gigantic Palisades Mall in West Nyack. What's instructive for us is the fact that the Clarkstown Planning Board, which approved the original traffic design in the early nineties, failed to envision any of the current problems even though critics were quick to point them out at the time.

All of which should be an object lesson for the Ramapo Planning Board as it looks to review plans for the Wal-Mart supercenter on Rt. 59. Planners need to weigh carefully the contentions of all of the paid experts who are brought in to tell them that the increased traffic volume can be easily mitigated.

What usually happens is that the subsequent mess, all because of store demand that couldn't have possibly been anticipated by the experts, is left to the town and county to fix-usually at the tune of hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars. In addition, the added "social costs" of accidents, fatalities and lost work time is never even figured into the equation.

It is now the job of the Alliance and its allies in Monsey and the rest of Ramapo to make sure that the surrounding communities are on high alert for the usual developer snow job when it comes to the evaluation of the traffic impacts that a project of this size will generate. The old adage of-"Figure don't lie, but liars figure"-needs to be applied to the Walmonster's expert witnesses.