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A Baker's Dozen: Thirteen Reasons for Croton's Business Recession

August 31, 2007

Crotonblog: Letters to the Editor, Croton-on-Hudson, New York 10520
To the editor,

Because I have written before on the problems facing Croton businesses, several friends have suggested that I put together a detailed analysis of the reasons for the present crisis in Croton’s commercial real estate. Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am not and have never been engaged in the real estate business and do not stand to profit from any comments made here. Accordingly, to paraphrase the Bette Davis line from “All About Eve,” fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Almost everybody in Croton seems to have suggestions about what should be done about the deepening economic crisis revealed by the alarming rise in empty storefronts and other commercial locations. Frankly, I am tired of hearing people in Croton publicly complaining about this situation and bemoaning the failure of this village to attract new ventures. Several very solid reasons account for the alarming disappearance of businesses from Croton. One reason: Through its own legislative decisions, Croton has shown itself to be an unfriendly community to business and to “outsiders.”

I am also tired of hearing people say, “What Croton needs is a _____” or “What we ought to have in Croton is a _____.” (Readers can fill in the blank spaces with their own suggestions.) Although well-intentioned, such spontaneous exhortations are not the product of planning but of emotion. They exhibit little awareness of the hurdles Croton put in the way of entrepreneurs.

Before anybody nominates the kind of business they have decided we need here, I urge them to consider the obstacles that discourage newcomers. Perhaps then they will come to recognize starting a new business is not easy. First and foremost, two crucial events, 40 and 37 years ago, triggered major changes in Croton’s attractiveness to new business.

1. Opening the Expressway in 1967 made Croton a backwater community for business (but a more desirable place to live). Formerly served by the old Albany Post Road, Croton was bypassed by the Croton Expressway that now diverts through traffic away from it and other communities to the north, Montrose, Buchanan and Peekskill. Cars and drivers previously forced to drive through Croton now speed past it. Visitors must now have a reason to leave the Expressway and enter Croton. The bypass has been a controlling factor in the economic development of Croton for 40 years and cannot be ignored.

2. Bankruptcy of the Penn-Central increased Croton’s tax burden on businesses and residents. Until the bankruptcy of Penn-Central on June 21, 1970—then the largest corporate bankruptcy in American history—Croton was what might be called a “company town.” The railroad’s repair shops made it the village’s largest employer; it also paid the lion’s share of village taxes. Metro North still is the largest entity in the village, but pays no taxes. This bankruptcy 37 years ago shifted an unanticipated tax burden to local businesses and residents.

Here are some verities of Croton’s current business situation—or rather its plight:

3. Croton’s penchant for engaging in litigation drains money from its treasury. Need I say more?

4. Service businesses that can subsist on Croton’s trade alone have the best chance of survival. Examples: a pizzeria, delicatessen, barbershop/hairdresser, shoe repair, dry cleaning, beauty parlor, nail salon and coffee house, many of which are already here.

5. Ideally, a new venture’s chances of success in Croton are measurably increased if in addition to attracting local trade it lures motorists off the expressway or draws customers from elsewhere. Examples: an automobile dealership, nationally recognized fast-food restaurant, specialty or ethnic restaurant, and specialty chain store (such as Radio Shack).

Croton’s economic situation was aggravated by passage of the so-called Gateway Law enacted in 2004. Ann Gallelli was the driving force responsible for an initial questionnaire asking Croton citizens to describe the Croton they wanted. She was next responsible for the results of that questionnaire being extrapolated by planning consultants. The firm selected was Buckhurst, Fish & Jacquemart of New York City, a division of the architectural and planning giant, Perkins Eastman.

The present Gateway Law was created with the avowed purpose of “strengthening the visual identity of the village.” This is sheer gobbledygook nonsense, especially since problems of Croton businesses do not stem from an image problem. Although this law was intended to give parts of Croton a facelift, it did nothing to attract new business. In fact, it actually prohibits some businesses from coming here and discourages others by overly ambitious regulation.

6. The major flaw in the Gateway Law lies in its creation of artificial “gateways.” So designated because of their visual impact on persons entering the village, the three “gateways” are Croton Point Avenue and South Riverside Avenue (conveniently excluding the village’s own station parking lot), Municipal Place and Route 9A at the north end of the village.

The law makes the mistake of emphasizing form, not function. Function, not external appearance, is the key to business compatibility and success and lies in affirmative answers to two questions, “Does it fill a need?” and “Is it a good fit with existing businesses?” Because Zeytinia perceived a niche market and took a risk to fill it, some have foolishly suggested that what we need is another Zeytinia. This makes no marketing sense and could result in two business failures in place of one success.

Fanciful gateways aside, Croton has five retail “nodes.” I list them here: (1) the shopping mall clustered at the ShopRite Supermarket enclave; (2) the South Riverside Avenue/Harmon shopping strip; (3) the Maple Street shopping strip; (4) the Grand Street shopping strip making up the so-called Upper Village; and (5) the vestigial shopping strip in what was formerly called the Lower Village at the north end of Croton, a considerable part of which was destroyed in building the Expressway.

How to integrate these separate shopping nodes into a cohesive symbiotic commercial unity should have been the objective of planners. not putting a pretty face on any new development. This still remains the challenge Croton must face.

7. The Gateway Law ignores a major gateway. The concept overlooks the Route 129/Grand Street gateway to Croton’s “upper village,” in effect denying that it is a gateway. Yet the village has erected an elaborate sign welcoming motorists entering the village on Route 129 from Yorktown. Proponents of the gateway concept have never satisfactorily explained the reason for an omission that throws their concept into doubt.

8. The Gateway Law makes the assumption that its three gateway neighborhoods have discernible characters. The Gateway Law reads, “Each of the gateway areas should have a special character.” This is technocrat talk. The exact meaning of this sentence is unclear, and I confess that I cannot parse it. The word should, the past tense of the auxiliary verb shall, is usually used to express (a) obligation or duty; (b) probability or expectation; or (c) conditionality or contingency.

Did the framers of the law mean that each these neighborhoods should have a special character—but that each has yet to have one? Was the intention of the law to create a special character for each neighborhood? We only have to examine the photos of the empty properties in the recently posted “Album of Shame” to know there is little character or architectural uniqueness in any of Croton’s commercial neighborhoods. Surely no planner expects a single new building plunked down among nondescript existing buildings will change the character of any Croton neighborhood. In the massive and encyclopedic work by Frank E. Sanchis on Westchester architecture, not one commercial building in Croton is singled out for mention.

For centuries, Croton was an industrial Hudson River hamlet, progressing from river traffic, brickyards, N.Y. Central Railroad shops to today’s “bedroom” for workers in N.Y. City by the annexation of Harmon in 1932. Half of its street grid reflects its hilly topography and was laid out in the 18th century; the other half (Harmon) has a street grid created in the early 20th century by a developer intent on extracting the greatest profit from a newly acquired parcel of land.

Given such disparate beginnings and developmental patterns, it was unrealistic to demand that selected spots in Croton get a makeover at the expense of incoming new ventures. As the adage warns, “You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” Trying to make Croton pretty is not the answer. Croton has great appeal because it is what it is. In computer argot, “What you see is what you get.”

9. The Gateway Law exhibits a strong anti-business bias by listing specifically prohibited businesses. Croton’s policy of excluding certain businesses as undesirable might be understandable if the businesses were topless bars or stores selling pornographic films or books. But to exclude whole classes of legal businesses that most communities would welcome because of their ability to enhance the business climate of a village is short-sighted and foolish. In fact, it is a form of unwarranted discrimination against business that borders on being unconstitutional if not downright un-American.

Controlling the commerce of a community by excluding certain legal businesses smacks more of the planned economy of the former Soviet Union than of free-enterprise America. Proclaiming Croton to be business friendly in the face of its negative attitude is transparently foolish. Banning certain legal businesses makes Croton less attractive to all businesses.

For the record, the businesses specifically prohibited by Croton are: (1) commercial parking lots; (2) automobile or other vehicle dealerships; (3) automobile storage lots; (4) drive-through windows; (5) fast-food restaurants.

Here are my comments keyed to the above numbered prohibitions: (1) Croton operates its own parking lot at the station. Does it fear competition?

(2) Despite the village’s proclaimed antipathy to automobile dealerships and the Mayor’s recent reiteration of this at a public meeting, such usage would be quite appropriate for the former Croton Dodge property since the building is adapted for such use. An upscale agency handling BMW or Mercedes, for example, would bring customers to the village with money to spend jingling in their pockets.

(3) This is a redundant prohibition. The ability to display its inventory of cars for sale is a requisite for an automobile dealership. You can’t have one without the other.

(4) Studies have shown that drive-through windows are efficient and actually reduce the number of parking slots needed.

(5) No one has satisfactorily explained what Croton has against McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s and caused the village to legislate against them, especially since they have broadened their menus to include more healthful meals. Croton prohibits fast-food stores—but aren’t Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway and the many pizzerias “fast-food stores”?

Supporters of the Gateway Law condemn such establishments as “big box stores.” “We kept big box stores out of Croton” is their campaign plank. But these are not big box stores. The evidence is clear that what they have kept out of Croton are new ventures of any kind with the law’s unreasonable requirements.

Studies have shown that the traveling public will search out and patronize nationally known fast food outlets because of their higher standards of cleanliness and consistency in quality. A McDonald’s hamburger tastes the same in Meriden, Mississippi, as it does in Malden, Massachusetts. In my travels, I have come to prefer the consistency of a national chain over the chancy, unknown quality of local “greasy spoons.”

Finally, fast food restaurants are desirable because they offer employment to local young people in contrast to a half-dozen nail salons employing low-wage, tip-remunerated employees whose presence in this country is of dubious legality and who are bussed in and out of Croton every day from parts unknown.

10. Croton also has an aggressively unfriendly policy toward “outsiders.” Croton has no objection to nonresidents paying to park their cars in its parking lot or spending money in its stores. But they are second-class citizens if they try to enter its parks, which are strictly off-limits to “outsiders.” Our society has engaged in bloody struggles over the years to become egalitarian, so it is surprising to find that “apartheid” is alive and well in Croton. How strange that residents do not perceive the connection between exclusionary legislation and empty lots and empty storefronts. A biblical admonition warns, “Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.”

Discrimination of any kind is regrettable, especially in a village with a longstanding liberal tradition. Croton was settled by successive waves of “outsiders”: Irish aqueduct workers, Italian dam workers, bohemian artists and radical writers from New York City’s Greenwich Village. (Note: For reminding me of this welcoming aspect of Croton’s past and providing me with some historical dates, I am grateful to a frequent Crotonblog commenter who now prefers to remain nameless on the Internet.)

11. The Gateway Law is discouragingly repressive and restrictive. It limits developers’ options in its specifications about placement and screening of parking areas, landscaping and beautification, lighting, signage, pedestrian walks, building footprint, open space, and architectural requirements. For example, it says, “In order to discourage [emphasis mine] parking lots in front of buildings, new buildings shall be oriented with the building front facing the street and situated close to the front property line to create a more continuous street wall.” Thus, customer convenience and practicality are sacrificed on the altar of appearance.

The Gateway Law also says, “All off-street parking shall be located along the side and in the rear of buildings.” Again customers are inconvenienced in the name of appearance. Major design changes increase the overhead of new ventures, yet are not incurred by established businesses in Croton. Unequal treatment has the potential of making new ventures uncompetitive and unprofitable.

As an example of the overly intrusive quality of the requirements of the Gateway Law, imagine the reaction of a developer to the following requirement: “To reinforce the area as a major gateway, the Planning Board shall encourage] the design and placement of a distinctive gateway feature [emphases mine], such as a clock or sculpture near the corner of Croton Point Avenue and South Riverside Avenue.”

I called this a “requirement” because, it should be noted, the Planning Board is the body that gives final approval to site plans, thus making the word “encourage” a joke and practically guaranteeing there will be a clock or a sculpture at that corner. But do Planning Board members have the ability to judge the artistic worth of a piece of sculpture or the architectural merits of a street clock? And if the clock should display the incorrect time, can the village be sued by someone who misses a train and an important meeting? The Gateway Law is a classic example of an “everything-including-the-kitchen-sink law.”

12. Casual, slow-as-molasses action by village boards and frequently intrusive nitpicking of applications by these bodies. Please don’t try to tell me that Croton’s processing of applications is not slow or nitpicking. I have been caught in the toils of the slow-grinding mills of Croton government. If Croton were genuinely business friendly, it would speed up and streamline the application process.

13. Lack of a commission or agency created for the sole purpose of attracting new businesses to Croton and failure to budget for a campaign to attract new businesses. This deficiency is so obvious comment is almost unnecessary. With the above-listed hindrances to new businesses and lacking a formal plan to attract them to Croton, is it any wonder that few new businesses have come to Croton? Until the publication on Crotonblog of the photo album showing the large number of empty commercial properties in Croton, few had an idea of the magnitude of the problem. So long as Croton’s restrictive Gateway Law and the village’s regulations denying outsiders access to Croton’s parks, creating a commission or agency charged with attracting new business, and allocating money to attract new business would be futile and wasteful.

There you have it—a baker’s dozen problems Croton must acknowledge and solve. Croton must also abandon its “do as we say, not do as we do” policies that result in the eyesores it tolerates in the village. I refer specifically to the former skate park. In a village whose Planning Board agonizes over color schemes of proposed residences, this village-owned property is a disgrace. Its condition is so unsightly the village should issue itself the citation it would issue if private industry had been responsible.

Another example is its toleration of the illegal parking that takes place at the strip mall at the foot of Maple Street. In addition, many village catch basins need to be cleaned of the debris clogging them.

Village government is supposed to set examples for private industry and citizenry to follow. I regret to say the village has been so busy paying compliments to itself, it has avoided looking at its own visage in the mirror.

What can be done to correct these ills? First and foremost, Croton should stop kidding itself that businesses can be lured to Croton despite Croton’s backwater location, high taxes and the negative qualities of its legislation without offering incentives such as initial tax relief or abatement. The shortsighted Gateway Law looks great on paper, but only to those who have no knowledge of what it takes to attract entrepreneurs willing to risk capital in a new venture.

More than three decades ago, Croton hired Manuel S. Emanuel Planning Associates, of Nyack, N.Y., to review its zoning ordinance and forward planning. One conclusion the planning consultants drew was that too much of Croton was zoned for commercial use. This view was seconded by the late Gabriel S. Frayne, then chairman of the Planning Board. Mr. Emanuel, now living in South Carolina, recalls that Croton never acted on his firm’s recommendation. A quick way to solve the problem of too many commercial properties would be to change the zoning of Croton’s undeveloped commercial property to residential use.

In the 18th century, villages needed little more in the way of shopkeepers than “the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.” Many of Croton’s empty storefronts are in 19th century Victorian residences in which the lower floor was converted for retail use. Another solution would be to allow these to revert to residential use.

Still another solution (and the one least likely to happen because politicians hate to admit that they made a mistake) would be to repeal the Gateway Law or at least to negate its onerously restrictive qualities. The law was enacted on March 15, 2004, with Mayor Robert Elliott and Trustees Georgianna Grant, Leo Wiegman and Gregory Schmidt casting yes votes. Mayor Elliott and Trustees Grant and Wiegman are out of office now, leaving Mayor Schmidt the only affirmative voter still holding office. Trustee Deborah McCarthy (then on the brink of moving from Croton) cast the sole no vote. In the more than three years since the law’s passage, the wisdom of her vote has been borne out.

I urge readers to familiarize themselves with the Gateway Law. In the village code on the village web site, search for the word “gateway.” You will be led to Section 230-20.1.

— Businessperson

On September 15, 2007 9:26 AM, weewill said:

dmf419 - You should check with the village manager and ask that he look up the actual policy. I was on the board at the time the unfortunate ruling was put into place that dictated the need for a resident ID. I vigorously opposed it at the time and in fact voted against it. My fellow board members overruled my objections and voted to institute the new rule.

If my memory serves me correctly, they did agree to make some exceptions .. i.e., school district residents AND any individual serving our community as an active member of the Croton Volunteer Fire Department.

This exception was rightly made in recognition of the enormous contributions made by men and women of our volunteer Fire Department. I also believe former Chief Bill Vlad participated in the arguments to protect his members’ rights to access to our parks.

On September 14, 2007 3:00 PM, dmf419 said:

While reading “Businessman’s” recent “Baker’s Dozen” letter to the Editor one point (there were many good points, by the way) really stuck out to me. That point is as follows:

  1. Croton also has an aggressively unfriendly policy toward “outsiders.” Croton has no objection to nonresidents paying to park their cars in its parking lot or spending money in its stores. But they are second-class citizens if they try to enter its parks, which are strictly off-limits to “outsiders.”

As a life-long Croton resident, and volunteer firefighter/emt for the Village this one point really bothers me. In the past few years, my family chose to leave the village in order to purchase a home we could afford. However we chose to continue our Volunteer service to the community. I am shocked at the fact that even non-resident volunteers of the Village are considered “outsiders” and are not welcome to enjoy the Village’s beautiful parks.

Why should “outsiders” be willing to frequent Village merchants when it is made so clear that we are essentially “unwanted?”

On September 6, 2007 11:12 PM, TeaDrinker said:

I’m surprised no one has mentioned another example of the blatant discrimination that damages Croton’s image in the eyes of the outside world. From its shortsighted exclusion of perfectly legal businesses to closing its parks to tourists and nonresidents to its ban on dogs walking in its parks, even on a leash, this village deserves all the contempt and censure the world may heap upon it. Everywhere in the civilized world but here is a dog considered man’s best friend. Until it changes its ways, my earnest wish is that this village will stop wringing its collective hands over the empty storefronts that dot its streets. It should also stop wondering aloud why they remain unoccupied. Even if Croton managed to attract businesses to take a chance here, I doubt that residents would patronize them. In the past, they have shown little loyalty to other local businesses. The epigraph of playwright George Kelly’s Pulitzer prize-winning play “Craig’s Wife” says it all: “People who live to themselves are generally left to themselves.”

On September 4, 2007 9:31 PM, Devil's Advocate said:

Mr. Davis:

Let me first say that I am not in favor of unregulated development, however what I am equally NOT in favor of is paralysis through analysis. How many times do we need to “study” what should happen in Harmon. Businessman really did an outstanding job explaining in detail what is wrong with the gateway legislation but to me, the only measure of success are the results. I think you cannot argue the fact that the results of gateway legislation and the whole comprehensive plan exercise has yielded NO tangible results in 3 years and have arguably made matters worse.

I know of two development projects in the last couple of years that would have made a significant positive impact on the Harmon gateway, but in the end were not built because with the restrictive zoning were deemed economically infeasible and were ultimate abandoned by the owners. To make matters worse, the land these project were proposed for were bought by their owners for 25% or less than they are currently on the market for. Specifically these properties are Nappy Auto on the corner of South Riverside and Benedict Boulevard, and 49-51 Croton Point Avenue (between Carusos Deli and the Exxon stations). These properties are hideous eyesores. Almost anything would be better than what sits on them now, yet the planning and zoning boards were unwilling to make simple consessions that would impact NO ONE in order to get these properties developed.

Rumor has it that another proposal from the owner of Nappy Auto will be coming in for planning and zoning consideration in September. Apparently they are wanting develop a building with commercial storefronts on the first floor and apartments on the second and third stories.

Now back to your feeling I oversimplified the issue of commercial development, if we simply changed the # of stories allowed in this district from 2 to 3 and were more realistic about parking requirements (commercial spaces are needed in the day, apartment parking at night. Also there are a minimum of 15 parking spots in HArmon open at night for additional tenant parking) we would have a DRASTIC improvement to the HArmon district that would likely spark more improvements by other property owners.

It is that simple.

On September 4, 2007 5:01 PM, KWilly said:

DA,

I have a problem with anyone who takes a complex issue like Business Development and tells people that its a simple issue. It is just like Maria Cudequest when she said that for 1A Croton Point Avenue its always been a simple issue, yet so many people still dont’t get it and Maria Cudequest keeps simplifying the issue.

The Comprehensive plan tries to control development so that we have it, while at the same time controlling it so it doesn’t take over our lives. Are you for the government trying to control development and if so what should we replace the comprehensive plan with?

Kevin W. Davis

On September 4, 2007 2:50 PM, Devil's Advocate said:

I am tired of hearing how much time and effort went into the Gateway legislation. The only thing that matters are the results and the results are DISMAL.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I cannot think of even one success the gateway legislation has to point at in the two years or so it has been in place.

The Gateway Overlay zones and even the C-1 and C-2 zoning changes that came out of the comprehensive plan have failed miserably.

The mayor was correct in disbanding the Comprehensive Plan Committee. They had their chance, time to move on. If I ever hear the village spends another nickel with Buckhurst, Fishhead and Associates I am going to blow a gasket. They pulled the old “Consultant Shuffle” stringing out the exercise for all the fees it is worth by slowing coming to the conclusions the people paying their bill wanted to hear.

The answer to this problem is so simple. Repeal the gateway overlay zones, increase the FAR and reduce the parking requirements. Let property owners make a fair profit and things will change. PERIOD!

On September 2, 2007 10:05 AM, weewill said:

This is such a healthy debate with so many good ideas for the future of Croton. Keep those great comments and opinions coming. (It’s a shame if our Mayor and Trustees don’t read the blog because the ideas and thoughts come from the hearts of the very people they’ve sworn to represent.)

We have to play the cards we’ve been dealt. Just about all the statements made addressing the reasons why we have difficulty attracting small businesses and the pros and cons of “big chain stores” are well laid out and need to be seriously evaluated. We can’t change history but we sure can influence the future.

Think big! What about turning the upper village into a quaint, turn-of-the century village with cobblestone roads, delightful Victorian period lamp posts, small pubs and quaint shops, Make it a walking-only destination for small shops. Imagine history buffs coming from surrounding states to rellve history. Van Cortlandt Manor House is already a huge draw. The upper village could be an added attraction. We could install historic hitching posts, not for horse and carriage, but for bicycles and might even enourage wandering minstrels to stroll the streets providing shopper’s entertainment. The traffic stanchion area could become a small circular park with benches and water fountains. Have you ever been to beautiful Williamsburg? Dream on!

In the meantime, keep those ideas coming for solutions to the economic problems we face. We can’t have it both ways. We either have to accept our realities of high taxes, lack of assessments, and limited shopping, or we can be daring and creative and plan for the future we want. The more ideas we entertain, the better the results will be.

On September 1, 2007 8:14 PM, KWilly said:

The difference is in Location. I can’t see where you can put one of those huge stores. I don’t believe there is a vacancy where you can fit a Toys-R-Us. Then after you bring one of those stores in you have to account for all of the traffic that a store like that would bring and how much traffic currently flows into the nearby roads. I believe that we need small businesses not large ones.

Kevin W. Davis

On September 1, 2007 7:58 PM, crotonres said:

To Kevin Davis

What is the difference between a Toys R us and Shop Rite or A&P or CVS. I will leave Wal Mart out because they are in their own group. I am not saying open the flood gates to every national chain. Get one or two in to add to the tax base and visiblity of the town. That may draw new businesses.

Driving around this town gets depressing due to all the empty businesses. And down the road this will start to hurt home values. First by our high tax bill. I know another poster said that this is the cost of keeping us a small town but it will also ultimately kill our property values. Secondly people do not want to live in a town if there are no stores. If you will have to drive to Yorktown or Cortlandt to buy more than coffee or pizza or you do not need your nails done; why not just buy a home there.

On September 1, 2007 7:39 PM, KWilly said:

It all depends on what you consider a big box store. For me what i consider a big box store is a Wal-Mart or a Toys-R-Us. A store that large i think does more bad than good and is more harmful to our small town character than a Waste Transfer Station.

Kevin W. Davis

On September 1, 2007 4:55 PM, crotonres said:

I think it is short sighted to block all “big box” business. These types of business need not be an eyesore. Good landscaping and planning can make any building blend. As an example look at the landscaping the Exxon does not to mention the use of solar energy.

A second problem that is harder to fix is the lack of a group of stores than someone could walk around. All our stores are spread out encouraing people to run in and out and not browse. I use the Village of Bronxville as an example. They do not have a major road passing through their town yet every store is occupied because the town is set up to encourage walking through it.

Maybe it is time to bring in an urban planner who can redesign the town’s layout to encourage foot traffic.

On September 1, 2007 10:52 AM, weewill said:

Oldtimer is right. It makes no difference how much time and effort went into a decision making-process as long as the final decision is a good one. Many of us believe the Gateway Law is a good one and a sound way to preserve the beauty and heritage so important to a small town. It should not be viewed as unfriendly to business. It clearly is unfriendly to big-box and honky-tonk neon and plastic arches. Many of us welcome the protection it affords from these too big for a small village businesses.

We’re hardly a “hoity-toity, self-important nouveau riche millionaire’s playground like the Hamptons” nor do we want to be. Our taxes are high. All of us wish they could be lower. But few of us are willing to sacrific our quality of life for lower taxes. We like the small town feeling and we are willing to do what it takes to preserve it.

And incidentally … there are many of us who welcome all to share in our parks and playgrounds. Until and if our riverfronts and parklands ever become too crowded for Croton residents, then and only then should we place residency restrictions on their use. Discrimination and/or racism have no place in this or any other community!

On August 31, 2007 9:51 PM, TeaDrinker said:

I usually read Crotonblog but haven’t been prompted to make a comment until now. So, the Planning Board requires a developer to erect a piece of sculpture or a street clock at the corner of Croton Point Avenue on the way to the station? They’ve got to be kidding.

I can remember when the Village sued EXXON at Ann Gallelli’s insistence because the gas station at that corner erected a canopy over their gasoline pumps as a safety measure—and the Village claimed it blocked “the view.” The Village lost that frivolous suit which cost taxpayers about $125,000.

How come a sculpture or a clock won’t block “the view?” Crotonblog should start a new feature called “What Were They Thinking?” and lead off with this blooper. It takes some kind of a prize for stupidity.

On August 31, 2007 9:34 PM, TeaDrinker said:

To Businessperson’s litany of examples of discrimination by Croton, I would add the ticketing of parkers at shopping centers who have violated owners’ time limits. The Village doesn’t enforce village parking regulations to help merchants elsewhere in Croton. Why are tax dollars subsidizing some owners of shopping centers? Let them do their own policing and enforcing.

To weewill I would say: It doesn’t really matter how much time and effort went into discussions leading up to the impractical gateway legislation now in effect in Croton if what was achieved is a law inimical to business. Or did I miss something, and that was the real intent of the law?

“Apartheid” was the right word to describe the exclusion of “outsiders” from Croton’s parks. Croton has made itself into the equivalent of a gated community unfriendly to both business and strangers. One might expect such attitudes in a hoity-toity, self-important nouveau riche millionaire’s playground like the Hamptons.

Discriminating against people because of where they are from is just as bad as discriminating against them because of the color of their skin. Now that Croton’s dirty linen has been aired on the Internet, the whole world knows about Croton’s own form of racism. As the Church Lady used to say on Saturday Night Live, “Isn’t that just dandy!”

The only nonresidents of Croton who can get close to the water are fish and seagulls. The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”—a sentiment that apparently is not recognized in Croton.

On August 31, 2007 3:13 PM, weewill said:

(I use the male genre for Business person for ease of response - Obviously it might be either a man or woman.)

Businessperson has a wealth of information and history as he outlines his ideas and conclusions with clarity and passion. And I do believe as a man of research and knowledge, he would be the first to recognize the amount of study and investigation that goes into such far reaching decisions as the Gaeway decision. I would guess, from his in-depth analysis, that he has been involved himself in similar deliberations and I sincerely hope be continues to share his ideas and comments with officials in Croton.

I know from personal knowledge and attendance at the Comprehensive Plan meetings that many, even most, of his ideas and conclusions were discussed at length during the Gateway deliberations. It’s too bad he wasn’t a participant in those debates. I say this not as a criticism but as a testiment to his knowledge and understanding of Croton’s business climate. He expresses his thoughts crisply, logically and intelligently. The Comprehensive Plan committee wrestled with many of the same concerns before making their recommendations to the public and Village Board. They held numerous public input sessions to determine what the community at large wanted and weighed just about every concern you raise.

Only then did they make what they, and many caring and concerned residentsof Croton, believe to be a sensible and well-balanced approach to protecting our identity as a small hometown.



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