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I, Too, Have a Dream

July 4, 2007

Crotonblog: Letters to the Editor, Croton-on-Hudson, New York 10520
Lately I have been having a recurring dream that I’d like to share with village residents. The dream is still a little fuzzy. But each time I have it, details become clearer. At first, on awakening I was overwhelmed by the dream’s ambitiousness. Over time, however, that initial feeling has evolved into excitement and optimism. The dream goes like this:

I am driving to the station for the morning commute to the city. It’s a rainy day, and I am following a village DPW truck on Croton Point Avenue. When we reach the road leading to Veterans Plaza, we both turn right instead of left and enter the former Metro-Enviro site. Although it has been raining all night, the newly paved lot is not flooded at all. The DPW truck continues farther into the property to reach a relocated DPW facility. As I exit my car I see two men in the parking lot standing next to a GreenTree. Mr. Zambrano, the village treasurer, is handing the other man a check for what he describes as the current month’s lease payment. The check is for a large amount, but well below the parking fees collected by the village every month.

As I walk along a newly paved walkway underneath the bridge to Croton Point toward the station, I see a handsome building in an attractively landscaped setting. It occupies the former DPW site and the area where the parking lot used to flood on rainy days like this. There is a man cutting a yellow ribbon looks strangely familiar to me. I think I may have seen him before on News 12 talking about the redevelopment of White Plains and New Rochelle; or maybe it was on NBC TV interviewing candidates to be his apprentice, I can’t be sure. I recognize him as a developer who has contributed much to Westchester’s development. After he cuts the yellow ribbon in front of the new building, this man hands a check to Mr. Zambrano, who is obviously elated by the numbers he reads. Strangely enough, although there are hundreds of people at this ribbon cutting ceremony, there are few children. I guess people with school age children don’t live in one- and two-bedroom condos.

My dream picks up later that day. I am walking up from the train station after returning to Croton around 8:00 p.m. When I reach Harmon, everything is noticeably different. The streets are alive with people. Buildings with restaurants, shops and cafes form a beautiful streetscape up and down Croton Point Avenue and South Riverside Avenue. Above each of these restaurants and shops are two additional stories of apartments. As I approach what formerly was Croton Dodge, I see many people waiting in line. Above them is a marquee listing various shows and events. A live play and an art show are on the schedule.

Next I ride a skateboard down Riverside Avenue to the skateboard park at the DPW site on Municipal Place. But the only ramp I find is a handicapped ramp at the entrance to a new professional office building. Doctors, lawyers and business owners are coming and going from the building. Then that same familiar-looking man comes out of the building with Mr. Zambrano and hands him another check. Mr. Zambrano examines it and says, “Thank you, you are sure making life in Croton a lot less TAXING.”

As I walk up Municipal Place, I notice other changes. A large street clock and a fountain resembling the Croton Dam spillway are at the corner of Maple Street and Municipal Place. People young and old are gathered here, talking and eating ice cream in the building’s courtyard. It is hard to tell who lives in this building from those here for the recreational activities. One thing is certain: this spot is a great improvement over the undeveloped and wooded lot I remember.

My dream ends with another group of people enjoying various outdoor activities at Croton Landing. Oddly enough, the only thing that seems to have changed at the waterfront is its size and improved esthetics. And no buildings are here at all. I wonder if that man at the ribbon cutting ceremony had anything to do with the improvements at Croton Landing.

I would be interested in hearing if anyone else in Croton has been having similar dreams? If so, what are the details? Do any readers get the feeling my dream is more of a nightmare? If so, I am interested in hearing why. If so, I am interested in hearing why—so, please post your opinions here on the Crotonblog for all to consider.

— Kieran Murray, Croton

On August 16, 2007 11:43 AM, greengurl said:

Why thank you waffles for your heartfelt endorsement and your very good idea. I am an art director so I have some experience in creative concept, marketing and sales.

I was under the impression that one could only join the Chamber if they owned a business but I would be thrilled to get invovled. Way back when, I was the president of my co-op board in NYC and I remember the experience well. No one wanted to help but everyone wanted to compain! I would imagine being a mayor is similar although on a grander scale.

On August 14, 2007 5:11 PM, waffels said:

greengurl…..with all your chatter about business I do sure hope you are involved with the local business community. Our dear mayor was the head of Crotons chamber of commerce. I hope you have approached him to volunteer your time, I’m sure some of your ideas could be put to use…A good chamber needs people who are energetic and willing to get something done…..sounds like they have their woman……

On August 14, 2007 4:01 PM, greengurl said:

Wow I have this dream too however Donald Trump never made an appearance in my dream however the other apprentice and Westchester resident, Martha Stewart, did.

The dream starts like this…

Martha drives her car over from Katonah along Route 100 past the resevoir and down 129 to Croton to get an Ice Cream at the Blue Pig, because she heard it was the best in Westchester. As she licks her blackberry ice cream, she looks around and says to herself, …

“Gosh, what a sweet town. It feels like Vermont or Massachussets yet, it is a quicker commute to NYC than my dear Katonah. What a perfect spot. Could use some paint and classy signage…. kind of needs a “Katonah-izing.”

Lick, lick…

“Hmmmm… maybe when I launch my new ambitious line of Katonah brand paint, my team will “Katonah-ize” a town and that town will be Croton!”

Martha becomes “Mayor for a day” of Croton and uses her executive and creative abilities to implement a cohesive village business plan. She helps to brand and package Croton water. She creates viable marketing solutions for businesses to succeed, such as the popular - CROTON’s Little Book - a collection of fine business in the area. She invites new business to come to the area. She created a viable chamber of commerce and much more. The town became so successful that Donald Trump approached Croton to bottle his water for a hefty fee.

So the story ends happily, and Martha’s great idea is the impetus for a newer bigger show where Martha goes across the US reinventing hopeful American towns who suffered from the fallout of the big box store invasion. Entrepreneurialism, is alive and well in Croton and it is said that Donald Trump took part in a major train station reconstruction project which included a shopping center and promenade along the water with a restaurant on top with water views.

The end.

On July 21, 2007 1:01 PM, weewill said:

Now that would be poetic justice at it’s best. Hiring the best in the business to advise and guide economic development in this little Village is just what we need. Bob Elliott is recognized as the best in the business and he’s paid big bucks for his advice and counsel. He willingly shared his expertise and talent for many years, free of charge. Because of his experience, and proven successes at bringing people together, he would provide tremendous value-add to any planning and development in this area.

Bob is unquestionably one of the best economic development professionals around. He is especially known for his innovative and creative ideas along this beautiful Hudson Valley corridor. He loves its history and anticipates its bright future as he works to bring people and ideas together … always with a mind toward preserving and protecting our unique and treasured Hudson River corridor..

And because he loves Croton and the Hudson River environment, I bet he’d give us a break on fees! We already owe him big time and he remains the best!

Georgianna

On July 20, 2007 6:33 PM, waffels said:

I’m sorry but it’s not “We” it’s the owners of the properties…..”We” can wish all we want but it takes the owners or in the case of new businesses the entrepreneurial person that wants to work 80 hrs. per week to get it done. “We” can talk all we want but the ideas and opinions mean nothing unless the owners and operators want to do them…..a village cannot give a renting business incentive to open a business. A village can however give an owner incentive to build a certain way to accomodate an idea and that’s what we need. Everything costs money and owners may not have the money or not want to spend the money so it’s all about negotiations……send the word to the mayor and trustees…..I have said it before, Bob Elliot was a master at this, putting people together…..Maybe he should be hired to consult….

On July 20, 2007 12:09 AM, croton_guy said:

A growing portion of the South Riverside business district is becoming vacant. Croton Dodge & Nappy’s old building come to mind.

To me, if we could start developing some two or three story buildings with shops on the first level and apartments above, it would look real sharp AND help the community out.

I like the look of the Upper Village’s older row-type buildings where you have delis, shops and offices on the street level and good, hard-working people living upstairs.

On July 13, 2007 11:40 AM, waffels said:

DA……..PS…….Having spent considerable time in New England through the years you see in many communities how they utilize the old main street houses to allow commercial operations on the 1st floor and residential upstairs. It is a beautiful way to utilize a residential area and add some very quaint interesting businesses. I think that I remember hearing that his mayor wanted to utilize this idea on grand street but also wanted to take the back yards via eminent domain of said cute main street houses and make parking lots. Maybe if the zoning changed over on riverside that sort of building could happen. Storefront 1st floor and residential 2nd and up.

On July 12, 2007 11:06 PM, Devil's Advocate said:

HERE IS A SOLUTION:

Maybe we just have too much property zoned commercial. I say change the C1 and C2 zoning to allow single family residential development using the RA 5 zoning requirements (50x125 minimum lot size) in the Harmon, Upper Village and Riverside Avenue north of municipal place areas. We now have a minor site plan review process that takes aesthetics into account. New houses are certainly better than vacant broken down commercial properties, and they generate significant tax revenues.

I would rather have fewer, high quality commercial properties than the mess we have now.

P.S. Kevin Davis can derail any great series of posts. He really needs to give it a rest.

On July 10, 2007 3:19 PM, KWilly said:

Ok i was wrong but i was suspicious due to the fact that the two posters are very similar and this time it was just a coincidence that they were minutes apart. I love commenting not to see my name in print but because i have alot of opinion’s and some of them should be kept to myself but some if not most of what i brought up was not brought up yet. Personally i would love to comment Anonymously but because my style is already so distinct i would not be able to get away with it. It also gives me more credibility because im willing to have people know who i am.

Kevin Davis

On July 10, 2007 2:59 PM, TeaDrinker said:

Editor’s comment: In a comment dated July 9, Kevin Davis wrote, “I’m kinda suspicious when Business Person and Oldtimer always have posts near each other.” Mr. Davis, who has been an outspoken foe of Internet anonymity, should be more careful in making wild charges that are not supported by the facts. On the chance that Mr. Davis had solid evidence, Crotonblog investigated the dates and times of the rather few 2007 paired postings under these two names. In an earlier heated discussion of the Gateway Law, the following exchanges took place:

  • May 10: Businessperson @ 05:52 p.m.
  • May 11: Businessperson @ 12:02 p.m.
  • May 11: oldtimer @ 12:30 p.m.
  • May 12: Businessperson @ 12:05 p.m.
  • May 13: oldtimer @ 02:17 p.m.

On July 9 at 3:51 p.m., oldtimer posted a comment about Kieran Murray’s suggestion that Donald Trump might be induced to assist in developing Croton. That same day, at 3:57 p.m., Businessperson posted a very long comment about the Gateway Law but made no reference to oldtimer’s post.

We can find no evidence to support Mr. Davis’s charge that Businessperson’s and oldtimer’s comments are always “near each other” on Crotonblog. Of course, when posters are exchanging comments back and forth, their postings will be “near each other” on Crotonblog. Almost before we have stopped typing an item on our keyboard, Georgianna Grant often has the first comment about it on Crotonblog. What conclusion would Mr. Davis draw from this?

Crotonblog can only conclude that this incident is another example of Mr. Davis’s habit of casually shooting off his mouth first and then checking on the facts. Mr. Davis, who makes much of his youth and inexperience, would be well advised to investigate first before leveling charges, especially by using such a mealy-mouthed expression as “I’m kinda suspicious…”

We have long suspected that Mr. Davis will offer an opinion on any subject merely to see his name in print. Nevertheless, we should not have to spend valuable time chasing down wild charges by him. On Crotonblog, Mr. Davis has already charged Croton police with dereliction of duty. In Crotonblog’s humble opinion he should be more circumspect about what he says publicly.

On July 10, 2007 9:13 AM, waffels said:

I had an interesting conversation with a developer friend of mine that has had experience in dealing with Mr. Trump. Basically he told me that Mr. Donald really isn’t worth as much as one may think. He is however a perfect “brand”. He takes other peoples money, builds and they put his name on it for the name/brand. Trump is associated with $$$$$ and american succeess so the money people supporting development want his name. Most of his projects that he owns outright do not and have not done well. He is a brand. I’m told this also of the Westchester developing monster, Ginzberg. He takes other peoples money, happily, and developes whatever and puts his name on it…..Ginzberg brand…..so I say keep the trumps, ginzbergs, walmarts, home depots etc. away from croton…….the taxes collected and the supposed savings to the taxpayers would never outweigh the loss to what we are as a small village.

On July 10, 2007 12:49 AM, Just The Facts said:

Businessperson,

I am a bit distressed by your pessismism and negativity. On these boards I have passionately disagreed with other posters, but I have known deep down that those I have disagreed with cared about Croton but just had a different view of things. However, your post is very negative and quite frankly self defeating. Despite having one of the larger posts I have seen on this blog, you really offer no solutions other than perhaps getting rid of the gateway plan. But, even that wouldn’t do it in your book as you seem to believe that our fate was sealed 30+ years ago. With a name like business person, I would have expected a bit more optimism and constructive solutions.

As far as the gateway goes, I like I believe many of my fellow Crotonites do not believe that the gateway concept is entirely bad. I for one do not want to see more auto dealerships (they are not the most attractive facilities, do not bring in repeat and steady customers who will shop elsewhere, and quite frankly reduce property values (ask yourself how many car dealerships are in Chappequa or Scarsdale (the village and not central ave)).

The truth is though that Croton businesses flounder because: (i) Crotonites do not shop as locally as they could (myself included) and (ii) very few Croton business offer anything that truly is compelling enough for a non Crotonite to come and shop here. Until both of these things change, there will be no improvement.

Finally, Mr./Mrs. Businessperson, why don’t you open a business in Croton? I suspect that you won’t take me up on my suggestion precisely because of the two points I raise above and not because of Mrs. Galleli or the Gateway plan.

On July 9, 2007 10:46 PM, KWilly said:

It is evident through reading about this on CrotonBlog that Business Development in Croton is very complex and that there are more than 2 positions on the issue on how to enhance Business Development in Croton. Here are some thoughts i had on it.

1) It seems that alot of the arguments againgst the Comprehensive Plan just rhetoric. I haven’t heard anything where they point to specific parts of the Comprehensive Plan and explaining why it is bad and what would happen if it was lifted. Some of what i hear is parts that are bad but not why they are bad and what it would be like if that part was gone. Maybe there are some parts of the Comprehensive Plan that should be lifted, but overall it is a good thing to have since the development that is in the best interests of Croton is development that is sustainable not development that is uncontrolled or lightly controlled.

2) Free Enterprise in the rest of the Country might be thriving in a business sense but it also has alot of unintended consequences such as Many Big Box Stores, Traffic, Pollution, Low Wages, Environmental Damage, A less Bicycle-Pedestrian Friendly Environment, Etc. We should not look at this as a two sided approach because i believe that we can keep our small town character while having an active business front.

3) The Comprehensive Plan here seems to be a scapegoat when i think the real issue is that we need a place that brings people into to Croton such as the Jacob Burns Theater has done in Pleasantville. As stated before Croton does not have enough people to support Businesses in Croton and we have to have people travel to Croton to provide Business for Croton’s Businesses. I have no idea what this development would be but with all the empty storefronts we have some room to maneuver. We should not be so rude to people who dream big because we need to be thinking. Part of brainstorming is coming up with bad ideas before you hit the good ones.

4) Having Tax Incentives for startups is something that should be explored. Helping a starting business become a permanent business would be the goal and it might just do that.

5) Business Person: Are you saying that Croton should have a McDonald’s or an Eckerds? I think that would hinder development because part of what Croton so valuable and unique is its Small Town Character that would be destroyed.

6) Im kinda of suspicious when Business Person and Oldtimer always have posts near each other. Perhaps Ross should monitor the IP Addresses

Kevin Davis

On July 9, 2007 8:13 PM, weewill said:

It makes little difference that readers don’t know who you are or from what your negative perspective of Croton eminates. You certainly are entitled to your opinion. All should be considered but not all will be agreed with. There are those of us who love/luv this village and work very hard to maintain it’s small town quality that is so valued by us. We’ve made it clear to our officials that we don’t want huge chain stores with their ugly flourescent, plastic and neon facades. We’re grateful that our representatives listened to our concerns and have made concerted efforts to protect us from such “intrusion.” Perhaps if you had been a part of those early deliberations, the situation would be different today.

All comments and citizens should be heard in order to make the best decisions for Croton. For those of us who attended planning meetings and Comprehensive Plan meetings we know the variety and kinds of things considered, thrown aside, debated, dismissed or adopted. I attended just about every Comp Plan meeting and don’t remember a time when any one presented your obviously very strong feelings about the lack of wisdom in the Gateway concept. Had your concerns been presented to the committee, both they and the highly respected Planning Consultant paid for by our tax dollars would have been glad to explore the pros and cons of your comments. And in fact, even without your attendance, they did consider many of the concerns you expressed.

It’s clear that a huge Trump or Cappelli project would not fit, nor would it be welcomed in this small village. (Trump or Cappelli would have to “buy the entire village” for a project of such magnitude ! )

Note for Businessperson - The Gateway Plan was not the “brainchild” of Ann Gallelli. She was the ‘messenger”, the Chair of that very hardworking committee of 6 respected, highly qualified, and smart “businesspersons”. Their recommendations resulted from many sessions with citizens, a village wide survey, joint resident and committee worksessions to brainstorm ideas, and finally with the guidance and experience of a highly expected professional Planning Consulting Firm with enormous experience and success in developing both large and small plans for similar communities.

I make a final suggestion for Businessperson and anyone else interested in our village. Go to the Village Manager’s office in the Municipal Building on Van Wlyck Street in Croton. They would, I’m sure, find a little corner of space for you to sit and quietly read through the minutes of each and every meeting and session of the Comprehensive Plan Committe. I think you might find them very interesting and enlightening,

Georgianna

On July 9, 2007 6:31 PM, waffels said:

Wow, business person the name fits. I think what we have here are plain and simple two schools of thought. You preach pretty hard for your degree but I have to side with the less aggressive approach. I think that as a home owner my home is the single largest investment, besides my kids, I am going to make in my lifetime. I want the value to stay as high as and appreciate as much as I can get. Croton as it is now supports that value. The river access which is unprecedented up and down the hudson river, the croton river, access to croton point, the small village feel. Businesses come and go and there are plenty of very vibrant businesses in this village if you utilize them. Small busniness retail is not for everyone and finding people to take the plunge is tough but people do and bravo to them. Croton is ripe for new ideas and the brave ones will put them out there and if they do it right the village will support them. Your rant sounds like a developer…and BTW the gateway commitee put out questionnaires to get some feed back from the community. I think majority of the planning came from the volunteer commitee that took the questionnaires, their own expertise and came up with what they thought was the appropriate recommendations. You do realize that a llof the committee members were volunteer. The way you are going on I would hope you are involved in some capacity to some volunteer organization because it’s obvious you have plent to say……without exposing yourself I would love to know what your “business” is…..

On July 9, 2007 3:57 PM, TeaDrinker said:

To Mr. Murray and the other well-intentioned citizens of Croton with their dreams of enticing new businesses here, I say, “Dream on.” Dreaming is about all anybody can do now in the face of the reality of the mounting numbers of departed businesses and empty storefronts. The clues to Croton’s failure to attract commercial enterprises lie in two disciplines no longer taught in school as separate subjects: history and geography. Until the good people of Croton recognize that Croton is in the grip of forces beyond its control, this village is only going to continue to go downhill.

Croton’s fate was sealed by a series of traumatic events. In 1967, the State Department of Transportation opened the Croton Expressway. As part of a projected superhighway along the eastern shore of the Hudson, it was the only section to be built. Unfortunately, the new four- and six-lane highway bypassed Croton, as well as Montrose, and Buchanan. From then on, motorists who wanted to reach shops and other facilities in these places were forced to leave the superhighway.

In the blink of an eye, this unanticipated stub of a highway effectively reduced the traffic passing through Croton and the other communities. Potential customers whizzed by them, never even coming close to their business establishments. Residents loved the newfound peace and tranquility; retail establishments suffered. Croton is unlike other lower Hudson communities in that it is off the beaten track.

The second traumatic event for Croton occurred three years later on June 21, 1970. On that date, the Penn-Central Railroad declared bankruptcy, effectively ceasing to be Croton’s largest single taxpayer. In one fell swoop, a huge portion of Croton’s tax burden was precipitously dumped in the laps of its other commercial taxpayers and, of course, of residents.

A third and only slightly less damaging event was the village’s more-recent embrace of a seductive Gateway Law, the brainchild of then Planning Board chairwoman Ann Gallelli. To give it the cachet of having emanated from the popular will, a questionnaire was circulated asking residents what changes they wanted to see happen in Croton.

This wish list was then manipulated and incorporated into an ambitious regulatory plan that envisioned “gateways” and made would-be entrepreneurs toe arbitrary bureaucratic lines, whether they made good business sense or not. The “gateway” concept would have been highly appropriate in planning an entirely new model community. Applied to the remnants of a 19th-century Hudson River industrial village that had been married to a 20th-century real estate developer’s largely residential development, it was a disaster. Being only applicable to new businesses, it put them at a serious competitive disadvantage.

The law sets up three hypothetical “gateways” through which people coming into Croton pass, but curiously omitting the fourth gateway through which pass those who arrive on Route 129 from the direction of Yorktown Heights. The stated purpose of this intrusive law is “to establish standards that upgrade the image of the area.” Existing businesses don’t have to do a damned thing to assist in achieving this lofty objective. New businesses, for which the bar is set much higher, are enjoined “to preserve and enhance each gateway’s special character.”

The excessively intrusive Gateway Law also dictates how much open space a new business must set aside, the maximum floor area and building size, and mandates that off-street parking shall not be in front of the building but alongside or in back. For those who may bristle at my characterization of the law as “intrusive,” allow me to point out that it even stipulates that “a clock or sculpture” be placed near the intersection of Croton Point and South Riverside avenues. Would the Planning Board settle for a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty?

The visitor who approaches Croton on Croton Point Avenue is presented with the closed entrance to Metro-Enviro, a roofing and home remodeling warehouse, and the empty Jean Jacques patisserie shop. Ahead lie the neo-modern Croton Veterinary Clinic, the converted garage that is now a podiatrist’s office and the former automobile dealership (ex-Volkswagen, later Oldsmobile), now E/T Equipment, with its premises decorated with lawn tractors scattered everywhere with wild abandon.

I wish Ms. Gallelli would explain how anyone could upgrade the image of that area. As for the so-called “Municipal Place Gateway Area,” I would change the name to the “Municipal Blight Gateway Area.” What can any new business do to “preserve and enhance” this gateway’s “special character,” starting with the strip mall at the foot of Route 129? Did the framers of this law not do anything more than merely study maps? A short walk would have shown them the ridiculousness of their makeover plans.

The friendly face of an idealized Croton presented by newsletter writers and bloggers who claim to “luv” the village is belied by the “we don’t want your kind around here” reality of the Gateway Law. For a community desperately in need of an infusion of new business, it was a most peculiar law to have passed. Not only did it fly in the face of the two economic realities described above, it sold residents a bill of goods. With its series of economically suicidal prohibitions, it singled out five business types as unwanted in Croton: Parking lots, fast-food restaurants, any establishment having a drive-through window, automobile storage areas, and automobile dealerships.

Parking lots are particularly singled out, perhaps because the village is in the parking-lot business and wants no competition. The village also has a thing about drive-through windows, even though studies show that drive-through windows move traffic more efficiently and actually reduce the need for parking places. Want to open a fast-food restaurant, also known as a quick service restaurant? No dice. The Gateway Law forbids fast-food restaurants without defining them. Whatever they are, Croton doesn’t want them. But you can open as many pizza parlors as you wish. (Since when is a slice of pizza not “fast” food?) And isn’t the Subway sandwich shop in the ShopRite shopping plaza a fast-food restaurant by any definition? In the Alice-in-Wonderland vocabulary of the Gateway Law, a word can mean anything the Planning Board wants it to mean.

The paradox is that a now-forbidden automobile dealership is exactly what Croton needs for its economic good health but cannot have. Auto dealerships bring into a community customers anxious to spend money. The ideal tenant for the vacated former Dodge dealership would be another automobile dealership Unfortunately, the Gateway Plan, which specifically decrees that automobile dealerships have no place in gateway zones, now makes that impossible. Automobile storage areas, a concomitant of dealerships, are equally taboo.

Proponents of the Gateway Law even lied by mischaracterizing McDonalds and Eckerd Drug as “big box stores” when they are not, and claiming that they had kept big box stores out of Croton and tried to make political capital out of that falsehood. Anyway, no self-respecting developer would put a big box store in Croton under any circumstances. Failing to recognize economic realities and having made Croton such an unwelcoming place, speculation by residents about whom or what might be attracted here can only be unproductive. Having set up crooked games with loaded dice, a stacked deck and a rigged roulette wheel, Croton now wonders why no businesses want to come and gamble in our casino!

It is significant to note that since the passage of the Gateway regulations more than three years ago no new businesses have come to Croton other than another in a succession of specialty apparel shops and service establishments like nail salons requiring minimal investment and employing low-wage workers. In point of fact, however, several long-established businesses have consolidated or have given up the ghost in that same period.

Sometimes it seems that history and geography, as well as the reality of these cataclysmic events, are lost on naive Crotonites who dream of a dramatic reversal wrought by a benevolent developer. Well-intentioned citizens of Croton, have your fanciful dreams if you wish, but please don’t try to fob them off on those of us who have our feet firmly planted in the here and now.

It’s very easy to sit back and nominate the kinds of business you think should attempt a start-up in Croton, especially if you haven’t any money at risk in them. Market geographers say otherwise. At best, Croton is marginal in its appeal as a site for businesses, being able to offer only customers drawn from its small and almost static population. The truth is that the core population of Croton is simply not large enough, nor is it growing fast enough, to support other than the kinds of business that have already managed to avoid being shaken out of the mix. But how many more delicatessens or nail salons can we absorb?

If Croton had passed a law that denied an entire class of people the right to buy a home and live in Croton the hullabaloo this would create could be heard from here to California. Then why has this village allowed certain people to arrogate unto themselves the power to deny legitimate businesses the ability to operate here? The free enterprise system seems to be thriving everywhere in this country but Croton, a rather nondescript bedroom town for New York City, with its ugly railroad shops, sprawling parking lots and elitist delusions of grandeur. One consolation is its spectacular natural vistas fortunately are safe from meddling planners. Or are these next on the list?

On July 9, 2007 3:51 PM, TeaDrinker said:

I read with much interest Mr. Murray’s recital of his “dream” for Croton. It requires a well-heeled savior to come forward and pull Croton out of the black hole into which it seems to be descending. Unfortunately, he has nominated a rather unsavory candidate for the role of knight in shining armor. Mr. Murray has envisioned Croton’s mysterious savior in the person of Donald Trump—you know, the guy who so mercilessly fires apprentices and loves to tangle with celebrities like Martha Stewart and Rosie O’Donnell. Heaven preserve us from the likes of Donald Trump, the fast-buck artist, as a developer in Croton. He is a master at peddling tons of what is my favorite term, not heard much anymore: bushwa. In less-polite society its abbreviation is b.s.

I question how much Mr. Murray really knows about Mr. Trump. In 1988, Donald Trump bought the Plaza, New York’s classic landmark hotel, for $390 million. Two years later, having failed to meet interest payments, he sold it to an Arab prince for $325 million, a loss of $65 million. In 2004, this same Arab prince sold the Plaza for $675 million, more than doubling his money. So much for Trump’s business acumen.

The same year he bought the Plaza, Donald Trump acquired the Eastern Airlines Shuttle, a hugely profitable air service to Washington and Boston, using a $380 million loan from 22 banks. In 1990, he defaulted on his interest payments, and lost the company and its fleet of Boeing 727s.

Of all the businesses to be in, the only one in which it is nearly impossible to lose money is owning a casino, the odds are so preponderantly stacked in the house’s favor. Yet in 1992, Donald Trump’s Atlantic City Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino filed for Chapter 11. In 2005, his Atlantic City casino went bankrupt for a second time. He is now trying to unload it on unsuspecting investors for the equivalent of $22 a share. Wall Street insists it is only worth $11 a share.

Is Mr. Murray really dreaming of having Donald Trump or someone of his ilk as Croton’s financial savior? If so, please stop the world and let me off. I think I’m going to be sick.

On July 8, 2007 7:47 AM, waffels said:

Everyone is throwing so many ideas around but almost all disregard the fact that people own and operate all the properties in question. Short of eminent domain which in these cases I don’t think applies, these owners have their rights to do whatever is within the limits of the zoning. The approach needs to be one of negotiation. The administration needs to build bridges with these owners, with big business people. The mayor should be talking to the heads at Trader Joes for example telling them why Croton would be such a great town for their store. If Trader Joes really wants to come here as a result they will do the bidding with the nail salon, and the “owners” of the empty lot across the street….bridges….. Bob Elliot was a master at this. He wheeled and dealed to put people together. This is the job of a good mayor/ adminstration. The mayor puts it into play and delegates to everyone else. As a village we can’t just tell people/business owners/residents what they have to do. And PS dors, most of the cars on riverside seemed to always be cars for sale from croton dodge jockying them around throughout the day.

On July 7, 2007 9:23 AM, weewill said:

More, More, More ..,… Keep those ideas coming! This kind of dialogue is just great! Such Open exchange should tickle the sensors in our creative minds and cause us to reach out and use these ideas as building blocks for bigger and greater things.

Let’s dream big. I believe all great inventions and accomplishments began with a simple idea (or dream) Croton has the talent and the courage to achieve great things.

Keep those ideas coming!

Georgianna

On July 6, 2007 11:12 PM, Just The Facts said:

Couldn’t they use the parking lot accross the street that I think Croton Dodge used to use to store cars?

On July 6, 2007 10:37 AM, dors said:

I would love nothing more than to see Trader Joe’s go into the old Dodge location but it will never happen. Unless, of course, someone razes the Perfect 10 nail salon and uses the space for parking. Running in to the Harmon Deli at lunch is an adventure; imagine the chaos at the Trader Joe’s parking lot with the current allotment of spaces. Truth be told would Croton really miss the loss of a nail salon? Who would know anyway? There are so many others to choose from it wouldn’t make that much difference (no offense to the ladies of Perfect 10).

On July 6, 2007 9:36 AM, Just The Facts said:

I have a more modest dream — I would love to see a Trader Joe’s move into the old Croton Dodge location. For those who haven’t visited a Trader Joe, it is sort of like a small scale specialty grocery store — there prices are reasonable and they carefully select their products. While this may put some pressure on Zeytinias, I think that they could each carve out their own niche.

The point about Trader Joe’s though is that it is the kind of store that would bring people from surrounding stores to come and shop there (much more than a Zeytinias). Thus a Trader Joes could have a halo effect on the entire area.

At any rate, if you agree, take matters into your own hands and visit the following link and request a Trader Joe’s location: http://www.traderjoes.com/locationrequestsform.aspx

On July 5, 2007 9:55 AM, weewill said:

I hope Kieran Murray has sent a copy of this post to the Mayor and Village Board members who, for whatever reason, don’t read the blog. This is just exactly the kind of “thinking outside the box” that we need. Obviously some scenarios in his dream will remain just that … dreams. But many of the scenarios could well become a reality.

His dream has presented creative and innovative approaches to what might be accomplished with a fearless and forward thinking approach. The opportunty to dream and stretch our imaginations such as he suggests may not present itself again. The time is right to envision the RR station, parking lots, the troublesome 1A Croton Point Avenue site, the vacated Jeanne Jacques building, the now vacated Dodge parking lot, the empty Dodge Auto building, and down to the vacant Four Seasons restaurant present an exciting and innovating challenge.

Very little is accomplished by thinking in a small little box. Granted Keirnan’s dream is huge and encompasses a lot of unknowns. But so could the fullfillment of all or even part of that dream bring enormous benefits to the village.

I urge and hope others will weigh in on his dream. Any proposal of this magnitude needs careful analysis and brain storming by as many minds as can be enlisted. And while no one can say what the final determination might be, the one thing that is certain is that it should not be dismissed out of hand.

Georgianna



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