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What Did Croton Taxpayers Get for Their $21,500

March 3, 2009

That was the amount spent on two Harmon reports? The answer is, “Not much.” $6,500 of it went to Saccardi & Schiff for a plan that includes the destruction of the oldest building in Harmon and for a controversial scheme for residents and customers to play musical chairs with parking behind a huge, blocky building that would replace the Village-created “eyesore” of the Dodge dealership.

Don’t let the Harmon committee tell you that this large building of nearly 25,000 square feet and its 47 parking spaces are only suggestions for what could occupy that space. Their intention clearly is to demolish the Clifford Harmon former sales office. In their exhaustive 44-page recommendations to the Village Board, the building is shown in Appendix 2 as an “affected property,” and is glaringly absent from plans 4c and 4d. Why doesn’t the Harmon committee fess up and admit they were not aware of the building’s history?

Another $15,000 went to Danth Inc. for a report that claims Harmon is ripe for a host of businesses, based on its “unmet demands.” Among these are stores selling furniture, family clothing, women’s clothing, radio-TV-electronics, jewelry, sporting goods, used-merchandise, and full- and limited-service eating places. The report then winnows these and recommends for Harmon a cell phone store, a pet shop, stores offering knitting, women’s clothing, prepared meals, and full- and limited-service restaurants. Whew!

The report’s author was unfamiliar with the study area and its retailing history. He says the nearest pet shop to Harmon is in Montrose, 4.7 miles away. Montrose has no pet shop. Choice Pets in Ossining, 3 miles away, is the nearest pet shop. Knitting? The Niddy Noddy, even with world-famous knitter Irene Miller at the helm, had to close. Women’s clothing? Remember the Import Corner, a lovely store? Same fate.

The Harmon committee obviously neglected to provide the author of the report with a copy of the 2004 Gateway Law banning fast-food restaurants. How embarrassing! He recommends a McDonald’s for Harmon, but points out that they would probably want to be closer to the Expressway. Another example of that law excluding revenue-producing businesses. And, despite the awkward presence of two shuttered Harmon restaurants, his report sees great hope for full-service restaurants there. Tell that to the owners of the Riverside Café and Tutto Bene.

All in all, this report is a huge disappointment. One has to wonder whether the Harmon committee believes that Croton taxpayers got their $21,500 worth from these two flawed reports.

— Robert Scott

On March 4, 2009 8:51 PM, Anonymous said:

Dear Mr. Scott,

In your retracted post accusing me of posting in anonymity, you compared yourself to an astute prosecutor, one who was “building his case” waiting for the right moment to share your ideas for the future of Harmon.

While I will agree that your grasp on historical events is unparalleled, it is the future that concerns me at the moment.

We have two weeks until election day, I wanted to give you a heads up that the community as a whole is waiting for what your vision of the future is.

If our vision is so horrible, it ought to be an easy task to come up with far better suggestions.

Respectfully, Ian Murtaugh

On March 4, 2009 11:13 AM, Robert Scott said:

I’ll be brief in responding to Mr. Murray.

(1) The point about the Dodge dealership that Mr. Murray ignores is that the 2004 Gateway Law made it impossible for the owner ever to sell it. That’s discrimination plain and simple. No wonder he closed it.

(2) Let’s see if I understand Mr. Murray’s tortured logic. Although the Harmon committee never had any intention of destroying the historic building, they and the consultant both produced maps and sketches just to see what the property would look like if the building were not there. Apropos his complaint that I never did anything to get the Village to declare any building to be historic. I wrote hundreds of articles abut Croton history. I was a chronicler of its history—not its conscience.

(3) If Mr. Murray really understood the Danth report he would know that it draws a circle on a map with a radius of three miles centered on Harmon. That’s three miles as the crow flies, Mr. Murray. A business within the circle would be competitive with any business suggested by the report. Outside that limit, noncompetitive. Thus, the Dress Barn in Briarcliff 3.2 miles away or a pet shop in Montrose 4.7 miles away would not be competitive with the report’s suggested women’s dress shop or pet shop. And how is unmet demand estimated? That’s easy. Calculate the estimated spending power of an area and subtract the total of existing sales. No more abstruse number ever existed.

(4) Here is what the Danth report says about McDonald’s: “The information in Table 1 suggests that the unmet demand for limited-service food operations —e.g., McDonalds, Starbucks, Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, Mex-to-go, Black Cow, etc.—in the three-mile ring could support between 31,800 SF and 83,100 SF of additional space in these establishments. McDonald’s would want a stand-alone store, require a 37,000 SF lot and probably prefer a site closer to the limited access highway or Van Wyck Shopping Center or both.”

(5) Mr. Murray has finally revealed in a comment on the NCN Forum on February 24 the secret ingredient on which the Harmon project rests. It will “take advantage of hundreds of thousands of visitors to Croton Point Park and Van Cortlandt Manor annually.” Wow! So that’s the clue to the Harmon project’s success! If the Democratic Party is pinning its fortunes on Mr. Murray and his phantom army of shoppers peeling off from visits to touristy destinations to shop in beautiful downtown Harmon, they are more impractical than any political party that seeks election ought to be.

On March 4, 2009 8:57 AM, Anonymous said:

ROBERT SCOTT: “The report’s author was unfamiliar with the study area and its retailing history. He says the nearest pet shop to Harmon is in Montrose, 4.7 miles away. Montrose has no pet shop. Choice Pets in Ossining, 3 miles away, is the nearest pet shop”

Wrong again Mr. Scott. I ride my bike to my office every day in the warm weather. My office is 1 block north of Arcadian Shopping Center where Choice Pets in located. My office is 5.2 miles from Harmon.

ROBERT SCOTT: “The Harmon committee obviously neglected to provide the author of the report with a copy of the 2004 Gateway Law banning fast-food restaurants. How embarrassing! He recommends a McDonald’s for Harmon, but points out that they would probably want to be closer to the Expressway.”

Wrong again Mr. Scott. The Danth Study explicitly points out that national and regional chains WOULD NOT be interested in the Harmon area. This is a fabricated statement to serve your personal agenda.

Mr. Scott’s credibility is in complete shambles over this issue. He continually takes broad liberties with the facts with no references or backup whatsoever.

On March 4, 2009 8:55 AM, Kieran Murray said:

I need to correct you again Mr. Scott.

ROBERT SCOTT: “$6,500 of it went to Saccardi & Schiff for a plan that includes the destruction of the oldest building in Harmon and for a controversial scheme for residents and customers to play musical chairs with parking behind a huge, blocky building that would replace the Village-created “eyesore” of the Dodge dealership.”

The purpose of the Saccardi & Schiff study was to model every property in Harmon and determine its Maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR). The intention was to make sure the math we used to arrive at a maximum FAR of .8 was sound and worked in the entire district. Again Croton Dodge could have operated indefinetely as a legal non conforming use. They chose to leave Harmon, the village did not force them out.

ROBERT SCOTT: “Don’t let the Harmon committee tell you that this large building of nearly 25,000 square feet and its 47 parking spaces are only suggestions for what could occupy that space. Their intention clearly is to demolish the Clifford Harmon former sales office. In their exhaustive 44-page recommendations to the Village Board, the building is shown in Appendix 2 as an “affected property,” and is glaringly absent from plans 4c and 4d.”

The diagram you refer to was intended to model what a .8 FAR with rear parking COULD look like. It is emphasized before and after the diagram in the report that it DOES NOT IMPLY ANYTHING. It was done for modeling purposes only!

ROBERT SCOTT “Why doesn’t the Harmon committee fess up and admit they were not aware of the building’s history?”

I nor the Committee will NEVER admit this because it is NOT TRUE! We spent hours on this building and EVERYONE was aware of its history. You have yet answered my question as to why in the 50+ years you have been here you never attempted to get it recognizes as a formal historic landmark.

… continued



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