Wal-Mart’s attempts to build a 215,000 s.f. superstore with a gas station at the site of a former Drive-In movie theatre near Route 59 has become a full-length action feature in this small town. Residents don’t like the script at all, and think Wal-Mart’s impact on the local economy will be a horror show. County Legislator Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) and David Fried (D-Spring Valley) held a public meeting recently that revealed the public’s deep concerns over traffic and environmental issues with the superstore concept. The developer, National Realty & Development, is the same company that last January spent $90,000 in a losing effort to convince voters in Agawam, Massachusetts that they needed a superstore. The site in Ramapo is near an existing Pathmark grocery store, and a variety of small merchants, which would all be hard hit. This roadway already has some serious traffic problems, and the Jewish Business Counseling Center has told local officials that increasing traffic in the area is a mistake.
“This influx will not only threaten pedestrian safety … it will also disrupt the tranquility of religious observance,” the JBCC wrote. Opponents of the project have retained traffic engineer Brian Ketcham to review the traffic study done by National Realty. Ketcham estimates that 150 trucks deliveries will take place each day and as many as 6 million vehicle trips to the store annually. Ketcham said the added car and truck traffic would add carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter to the air pollution in the area. Richard Lipsky, executive director of the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, an organization that fights for the rights of small businesses, told The Journal News that Wal-Mart has displaced 1,300 supermarkets over the past 10 years. Bruce Levine, Spring Valley’s village attorney, told the newspaper that the most objectionable parts of the design — the loading docks, and air-conditioning units — are facing senior-citizen apartments.”You put the stuff that’s bad next to those least able to fight it,” Levine said. Spring Valley has also just spent millions in public funding to revitalize its downtown, and the Wal-Mart would jeopardize that recovery effort. The Wal-Mart project in Ramapo will have to go through a lengthy review process, and before its done, opponents hope Wal-Mart will feel like their Drive-In Movie plan has turned into a small town version of “War of the Worlds.”
For local contacts in Ramapo, contact [email protected] The Neighborhood Retail Alliance has been fighting for the rights of small businesses in New York City for the past twenty years. The group says it has successfully taken on some of the New York City’s largest real estate developers as well as some of the country’s largest retailers in the effort to prevent the erosion of New York’s neighborhood economy. Go to www.momandpopnyc.com for further info.