On April 13, 2001, we narrated the story of the little town of Bethlehem, New York, where residents of a group called Plan 9W (named after a roadway exit) is battling a prolific developer called the Nigro companies. Nigro has proposed a huge “Town Center” mall for Bethlehem that was slated to be anchored by a Wal-Mart supercener and Home Depot. Now, it turns out, Home Depot has withdrawn from the project. According to the Bethlehem/New Scotland Spotlight newspaper, their disappearance from the plans is part a larger company retrenchment that has been reported across the country. “Home Depot has been going in a different direction, under different management, and they have been going through some contraction,” developer John Nigro told the Spotlight. In June, he said, “They decided to slow their store opening process nationally” — and to drop the Bethlehem location from their list of new locations. All that appears to have changed, however, is the corporate logo, as Nigro has added what is rumored to be Lowe’s into the project — like corporate musical chairs. “It’s a little bit different,” said Nigro. “But we decided we did not want to substantially change the size of the building or parking areas. Most of these companies are reasonably the same.” An Oct. 30 date has been tentatively set by the board for a public hearing on the revised plans..Nigro told the media that his company representatives continue to meet various community groups to address their concerns about the project.”We are certainly aware of the concerns of the community, and we feel it’s necessary to listen to them,” he said. One local opponent of the plan told us that the new plan eats up still more green space in favor of building footprint and parking, and puts the parking lot 20 feet closer to Route 9W. and that the state DOT is now forbidding left turns out of the project from the north entrance, which will force traffic coming from Albany (60% of the customers, according to Nigro) to leave from a more distant entrance than the one they entered from, requiring complex maneuvering by drivers through pedestrian-heavy areas. They implied a major traffic redesign may be needed.Residents also suggest that Nigro has not listened to citizen’s groups, and the change to a larger Lowe’s footprint is evidence of deafness to community wants.
For contacts with Plan 9W, or to offer help to residents in Bethlehem, contact [email protected]