When will the village of Croton do something about the abominable traffic and disastrous parking conditions at the strip mall at Maple Street and South Riverside Avenue?
The strip mall as a mini-shopping center came into being all across America in the period following World War II. Typically, a group of stores was built as a continuous row with parking in front. Easy parking for motorists, of course, meant limited access for pedestrian traffic or bicyclists. Croton’s first and only strip mall was no exception. Historically, it is interesting in that it was one of the first pieces of postwar retail construction to be built in our village, now left in the dust by the larger and more ambitious Van Wyck shopping center and Croton Commons.
Like most strip malls—self-contained with few pedestrian connections to surrounding neighborhoods—the strip mall in question, built by Croton resident George W. Underwood, was service oriented, and contained his liquor store at one end and a laundromat at the other. Paralleling the front of the stores at the curb line is Croton strip mall’s lone concession to design esthetics: a small strip of turf, arguably now the sorriest-looking and least-tended spot of greenery in all of Croton. Mr. Underwood’s mall also provided parking spaces behind its strip of stores, a fact seemingly unknown to many residents today.
The strip mall’s success and ubiquitousness everywhere in America soon made “strip mall” a pejorative term. Parking spaces, adequate in the days when whole families shared one car, became insufficient and unable to accommodate the increased volume of quick in-and-out traffic. The net result at Croton’s strip mall is that when parking spaces are scarce it’s everyone for himself. Thanks to curb cuts later added for the disabled, motorists now brazenly park—often with the motor running—on the sidewalk and on what little grass is left.
Despite the glaring obviousness of the parking infractions occurring daily at Croton’s strip mall, code enforcement is nonexistent. Yet Croton traffic control officers at village expense zealously police time limits set on parking by the owner of the nearby Van Wyck shopping center and enforce the threat of being towed. Meanwhile, it’s anything goes for motorists at the strip mall, where pedestrians and bicyclists pass at their own risk.
Why the discriminatory treatment between traffic enforcement at the mini and maxi shopping areas, Mr. Mayor? Why are taxpayer monies enforcing the owner’s traffic rules at one site and not the village’s traffic rules at the other? Just askin’.