Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ramapo-ses Questions On Wal-Mart

It seems that the Alliance isn't the only concerned party worried about the traffic impacts of the proposed Wal-Mart supercenter on Route 59. As the Journal News reports this morning, the Town of Ramapo is still waiting for the developer to answer questions it has raised, not only on the traffic impacts that the store would have on the county's main state road, but also on the spill-over impacts that would be created on the side roads in and around the project.

The story this morning highlights the fact that the town's own planner is skeptical about the ability of the Walmonster to find realistic ways to mitigate that impact that the store will be sure to have on the area's already congested traffic situation. As the News indicates, "A report filed in late March by the town's planning consultant, John Lange of Frederick P. Clark Associates, predicted that westbound traffic would back up about a mile from the site to Route 45. It was also a concern that side streets would be blocked by lines of Route 59 traffic"

This is in line with the what the Alliance's consultant, Brian Ketcham, has been pointing out from his own analysis of conditions on the local roads, both now, and should the store actually be built. In spite of what anyone who knows the conditions in the area will tell you, the developers persist in trying to get folks to accept that somehow the Walmonster won't have that great an impact.

In a report submitted to the town, consultants for the developer wrote, "Gridlock conditions will not occur..." Which brings to mind the Marx Brothers line: "Who are you going to believe, me or your own lying eyes?" And, in typical developer fashion, they proposed some simple turn signal changes and other minor adjustments as mitigation for the estimated 6,000,000 additional car trips that would be generated by the store.

This is precisely what the Manhattan Institute report on NYC's environmental review process called critical attention to-the developers' narrow scope of concern for immediate intersections around a project, but with no attention paid to the larger area-wide impacts that will be created. It doesn't appear that this is going to be acceptable to Ramapo.

Skepticism about the review process was voiced by a local resident who told the paper, "The traffic is horrendous already..." Yet William Johnson also said that, "They're going to do what they want to do anyway." Maybe not William. Opposition in the Monsey community continues to grow, and weekly advertisements in the Community Connections are starting to raise awareness on a wide range of community impact issue.

Legislator Bruce Levine underscores this when he tells the News about residents' concerns for traffic on all of the secondary roads around the proposed site. Today's story also reports on the work of the Alliance in calling attention to the adverse business impacts that a Wal-Mart would have on the retailers of Monsey. So it is beginning to look that the obstacles are growing and the prospects for Wal-Mart, once bright and promising, appear to be dimming.