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Let's Stay Cool, Like the Fonzie – or Rather: Discussing 'Costco'

Learning about Costco and Trolls.

At the end of the day, we're a relatively small town. I think we need to remember that when commenting on the site where a big-box wholesaler is being proposed, we have to maintain a certain level of respect.

We're all going to meet one another when more fully developed plans with concrete proposals about the traffic and the sewer and such have matured – assuming we all care enough to show up at the public hearings around September (as they are tentatively scheduled).

I don't want to get punched in the mouth because I said some crazy thing in comments section of a Patch article. I have to admit, some of my comments could be deemed inflammatory. I apologize for any offensive commentary. Going forward, I promise to keep it constructive. We can disagree, but let's not hope for one another to "fall off the face of the earth."

Whether Costco comes to town or not, I'm still going to want to look you in the eye and say hello. The veil of anonymity that the Internet can provide sometimes gets the best of us, but let's not let it. [Note: if you go to the Facebook page for Patch and check out the article I wrote, not a single person was in favor of Costco in the Facebook comments. Zero people that had to attach their reputation to their comment was in favor of the proposal.] 

With all that said, I think we should take some queues from our town supervisor Grace. He rightly – in my mind – opened the "courtesy of the floor" section of town board meetings so that you were not confined to 3 minutes. He fully supports you speaking your mind, but asks you to remain respectful and to try and not repeat points made previously. If anyone told another person to "fall off the face of the earth," he wouldn't allow such behavior.

It's a lot to ask in an Internet environment, but going forward, if you are going to comment on the Costco/big-box issue, you should do so with your real name, or at least keep it civil and concise. We should try and emulate the town board meeting environment to remain accountable for our words, spoken or written. It's easy to hide behind pseudonyms like Hayden Macnair [Harry Potter villain] and it's easy to shout people down or resort to schoolyard antics. After all, we'll probably all meet in person at the planning board meeting in September.

I've used the term "troll" recently and want to make sure the community understands what I mean by it; it's  a person that makes inflammatory and off-topic comments in an online community, basically. I'm not insulting anyone's looks or suggesting you live under a bridge if I call you troll.

Lastly, the big-box wholesaler site, be it Sam's Club or Costco or Super BJ's, is an area of great import to the future of Yorktown; I believe the Yorktown Comprehensive lays out a vision in-congruent with a big-box wholesaler. That's the center of the debate; it's not about Costco, per se.

The plans for the site are very rudimentary at this point. Case in point: the site plan doesn't even differentiate the asphalt from the planted and woodland areas (see before and after photos at the top of this post). They've laid out some broad strokes but many details have yet to come into focus, like where they will find the sewer capacity – Yorktown does not have it. That's one of the few facts we are certain of at this point.

In the meantime, I promise to make a formal request for the planning records under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and will share what information I can glean. I encourage you to do the same and compare notes. 

It's more important to me that we're congenial neighbors than what ends up on the subject parcel. I can live with poor planning, but I can't live with crazy neighbors. 

God bless us all. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Evan Bray September 12, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Bob, I really respect what you have to say. You seem very reasonable and seem to have deep roots in the community. For the record, I think the nursery on the site isn't blight. It is a bunch of trees and the keep it up, right? I'm really not sure if I know where you stand though. I can read it for and against the Costco project. I would hate to see us just abandon all hope and just chalk it up to a lost opportunity. I truly believe, in my heart of hearts, that the Costco proposal runs contrary to the comprehensive plan. I think the town adopted it as law to defend the town from irresponsible development. I just don't see any social or planning benefit. You yourself have reasonably argued that the tax benefit is nominal. I'm no politician, but I think we can spur reasonable commercial deveopment along that corridor without this project. In fact, I think it may exacerbate some of the empty buildings along 202. In summary, I thank you for reasoned and accountable position. You are one of the few that choose to literally show their face and use their name. I respect that and look forward to meeting you in person.
Bob Rohr September 12, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Thank you Evan. I have always believed that if you believe in what you say, you stand up and take it. If you are ashamed or afraid you hide. One part of the current plan or any other plan is to bring apartments or other high density housing into the Town I would oppose. Two terms on the School Board sweating out budgets to cover basic operating expenses and trying to move forward taught me how much increased enrollment can cost. You become a realist quickly in that environment. I am pro Costco, if Costco did their homework and the area is worthy of investment, and if they are successful, others will come, and some more revenue will flow into the Town. Not the windfall the developer's Lawyer espouses, but a good amount. The Trick is to confine this development to those two narrow corridors which are largely away from the residential and open space areas of Town. The empty buildings you mentioned is a Restaurant, car dealership and the old Agway/Counrty Store. The idea that the Town can exist solely on a residential tax base is a fantasy. Scarsdale, Chappaqua et al, can pull that off. Yorktown does not have that per household income base. But, it is prosperous compared to most of NY State. I think if people stop being inflexible on both sides of any issue, a good middle ground can be found. If not, nothing moves forward. I am sure if we meet we would get on just fine.
george simmons September 21, 2012 at 10:08 PM
I just wanted to state a concern about something that may not be on peoples minds or in their thoughts. Traffic is not just a hassle it is a SAFETY ISSUE. What I mean is that Say you on Shopping in the HEART of Yorktown which unfortnatley would be murphys law Friday At 4pm. You develop chest pains and need Urgent Medical intervention. The Volunteer Ambulance and Paramedics are dispatched which ride in different vehicles. The Paid Medics show up but the volunteer ambulance is delayed because the Volunteer EMTs cannot get to the Ambulance HQ in their personal car with only their green lights. The ambulance HQ is located on rt 202 by FDR Park. 15 minutes into the call the ambulance is not there and you go into cardiac arrest. YOU need to get to HUDSON VALLEY which by law is the hospital closest to you and must go to. GOOD LUCK GOING DOWN RT 202 the closet way. YOU WILL DIE!! LIGHTS and sirens only shave about 45 seconds off travel time. LOOK IT UP. I am concerned that people are pinching pennies over looking out for their fellow Human BEINGS God BLESS you all
george simmons September 21, 2012 at 10:16 PM
another point I wish to make and please excuse my grammer is that I am a longtime resident of the Town of Yorktown. I have Personally watched people DIE because of delayed TREATMENT. The average response time can very long. Our Volunteers are GREAT AND PROFESSIONAL People They do an outstanding JOB with the resources and Time they have to work with. They Leave their JOBS to answer YOUR CALL OF NEED without Payment. PLEASE PLEASE Consider all consequences of this project before YOU VOICE an opinion. IT IS YOUR and your Fellow residents LIVES at stake.
Bill September 21, 2012 at 10:55 PM
That would be a good argument, except that I believe that Sammy is a distributor since he owns all of the stations in the area. So we can blame Shell and Mobil, but the fact is that someone who owns 100 stations could come up with cheaper prices if he wanted to. And the Mobil down in Cortlandt is actually matching the price of the BP across the street (although they still charge extra for credit). Why don't the stations in Yorktown match the price of the cheaper Citgo there? Similarly, the Gulfs on Route 202 are cheaper than Sammy's stations. Why isn't he competing with them there?
Bill September 21, 2012 at 11:35 PM
When was the last time you complained to your state representative about the safety issue that the traffic is causing? If it's such a matter of life and death now, why isn't it worth complaining about now but you're using it as an excuse to block something you don't want? Especially when the fact is that they will put money into alleviating the traffic problem and force the state to act. When was the last time the state did anything on Route 202 to solve the traffic problem? 15 years ago a development was rejected and the excuse was that they were going to wait for the state to fix the roads in a couple of years. How did that work out? We get to drive to Cortlandt for Home Depot and get the traffic. They get the property taxes.
Bill September 21, 2012 at 11:54 PM
I'm pretty sure he owns the Shell and Mobil in downtown Yorktown, doesn't he? He certainly owns the Mobil on 202 at the Taconic and am also fairly sure he owns the new Shell further down. He also owns the Mobil in Cortlandt Manor that is across from BP at Locust Avenue. I'm not sure about the Shell on Route 6 that has the car wash or the one in Shrub Oak. Maybe not since they are less expensive than the others. And as I pointed out earlier, Sammy is a distributor (this came out when he tried to stop selling the property to Costco, as it turns out he owns part of the land and neglected to realize that he was selling it to a competitor, oops). Are you telling me that a distributor who owns 100 stations has no say in the gas prices? In any event, if Costco sells crappy gas, then it's one less thing to be concerned about competition from.
Bill September 22, 2012 at 12:03 AM
I don't know who pays $50k but you should be aware that $18k is the portion that is allegedly going to the town, which was taken from a much larger total tax bill, which included town, county, school and other components that make up your bill. But of course quoting the larger number makes it look like Costco would be a good thing, so Evan found the much smaller number to use instead. I'd be almost positive that your $50k example is based on the larger composite number, since no one would talk about just the piece that goes to the town.
Bill September 22, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Sammy apparently is no longer involved in the Shell stations as his partners kicked him out due to some questionable financial stuff. He is listed as the chairman of Courtesy Mobil, which is on 202 at the Taconic, as well as other locations. http://www.manta.com/g/mmfpy8m/sammy-eljamal Rather than play a game of semantics, you could simply say that he runs the dealerships, even if the oil company owns the property. How about the reduced value of the motel property while nothing is built on it? And I think you are wrong about property taxes being adjusted based on a location's sales. The value of the business has nothing to do with the real estate's value. And once again, where is the proof that local businesses will leave if/when Costco opens. How many closed as a direct result of BJ's opening? And when you found the 50k property tax figure, was that solely for the portion that goes to the town, or their entire tax bill? You haven't answered that question.
Bill September 22, 2012 at 02:37 AM
First, I held the door for someone yesterday at the post office. So don't give me this crap about people not caring about others because of this. This is truly taking the BS to a new level that even Evan hasn't reached. Now, if you want to talk about what's right. What's right is fixing the Route 202 traffic problem. And Costco will give money to the State to do that. What's not right is to use the safety issue as an excuse when you've done absolutely nothing to try to get it fixed and are only using it as a convenient excuse to block something you don't want. And don't tell me the State will fix the problem if we give them a couple of years. The town board fell for that line 15+ years ago when they rejected the Homart development. Only a fool would believe the State if they claimed they were going to do something now. And only a liar would claim that they're going to do it on their own. Finally, what's right is not telling people that they can drive 30 minutes to shop at a store because you have no interest in having a retailer open here. That's arrogant, and it's wrong. Oh, and selfish is depriving the town of much needed development and infrastructure improvements because a few people think it's bad.
Bill September 22, 2012 at 02:40 AM
BTW, george, an earlier post of yours (which you apparently deleted) had the following ditty "OHH, Just another thought there are projections made that there will be an increase of upwards of 600-950 cars an hour on roads that are as IN Failure Rate already". Please tell us where you got the 950 cars figure. That's so ridiculous that even Paul hasn't come up with a number that high. I think you're just making it up like you are much of the rest of what you're posting.
Jennie Sunshine September 22, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Bill, the safety issue is of grave concern for me. If traffic is too backed up on 202, I will not be able to get my children to the nearest hospital in a timely manner. Head injuries, a knocked out tooth, broken bones, lacerations...this is serious! Even now, without Costco, the road sometimes has difficult traffic. But no one can tell me the roads will be at all clear if Costco is built. I just don't believe that.
Bill September 22, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Where are your letters insisting that Route 202 be fixed NOW because it is a heath hazard not being able to get to the hospital? Don't you think it is in the interest of Costco to make sure that Route 202 traffic is fixed so customers are able to get to their store and don't get fed up from sitting in traffic? I know you're a traffic expert, but 202 can be fixed if someone just spends some money on it, which the state has refused to do.
george simmons September 22, 2012 at 06:07 AM
Look at the NYS dot website regarding proposed projects for the area. The map doesn't show any real significance with widening the road. Only a small bit. According to NYS DOT they have no plans or money to widen that road for at least 5 years. People can say I don't know what I am saying or I am lying because I don't want Costco. I don't !!! not there !!!Not now !!! fix the traffic issues and the roads that are F rated( failure rated) NYS DOT has rated the major roads in the town and quite a few are this rating. Thank you.
Bill September 22, 2012 at 06:08 AM
Re: taxes, that is my point. When you ask the land owners how much they pay and they tell you $50k, they're talking about their total tax bill - town, county, school, sewer and water districts, all of the other stuff that gets added on (much of which I never even knew about until I started paying my own property taxes recently). I do not doubt the $50k figure you were given. But the $18k that you are comparing it to is a number that Evan came up with which ONLY includes the town portion. The total bill is MUCH higher. But as I said, talking about the larger number makes Costco sound better than Evan wants it to sound, so he just talks about $18k and ignores the additional money that the school district, county, etc. will receive. I have heard talk of adding a 3rd lane in the middle of 202 to allow for turning so it would not stop traffic when cars need to turn left. Costco is not going to pay for all of it but from what I have read, once there is a 3rd party willing to put money into improving the traffic situation, the state can come up with some money of their own. On weekend, the traffic on 202 is not all that bad. An extra lane under the Taconic will do wonders to alleviate the traffic heading thru there. There is no excuse for it not having been done already. And is Salah a relative of Sammy's? It could be the same company.In fact, I would not be at all surprised if that is the case, since Sammy apparently had his hands full with other stuff.
george simmons September 22, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Ohh the projections on the amount of cars were provided at several meetings. Again, I didn't make them up out of thin air. I am sure that you Bill or other interested parties would be more than welcome to attend those very important informational meetings. See you there..
Bill September 22, 2012 at 02:29 PM
If they used a 950 car figure, that would mean 15 cars per minute entering and leaving the site. It would also mean that number of people checking out, which is not possible. No one else has quoted that here, and you can be sure that they've been using the worst possible numbers to scare people. And BTW, I think the number of cars may be doubled, because it appears that they are counting trips, which would be arriving an departing.
Evan Bray September 23, 2012 at 12:54 PM
No, Bill. Wrong. They are using the worst case numbers because that's what the law requires. That's how licensed professionals design systems for building egress, fire protection, parking, plumbing, etc... You always design that per the minimum code requirement OR what is proposed, whichever is greater. It's not to "scare" anyone. Did I mention that Costco requires a variance from the ZBA to provide 20% less parking that is required per our zoning code? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OlCVNn9ZeY
george simmons September 24, 2012 at 03:46 AM
The old saying applies" there are none so blind than those that Will NOT see". Alot of people that think Costco is the best thing for Yorktown. Are closed minded and thick headed. I think before people say that the naysayers are just making up facts to KEEP Costco OUT of Yorktown, Those people should Actually do their own research. The facts in the DEIS speak for themselves. Not only with the DEIS but the countless other documents that are available state facts that others Maybe with their own agenda may try to Twist. The point is " People wake up do your own research attend all the meetings you can. " don't be like lambs being led to slaughter. If you want to walk around with blinders on then you only have yourself to blame when things go bad. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting the best deal. But. Like anything else. " At what cost." Look at the name COSTCO, " COST" is the cost going to be with it.
george simmons September 24, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Oh again, I was reading The patch and read about the Attempted burglary on Ellen Lane in Yorktown. On Saturday. Do you all know where Ellen lane is. That's right ladies and gentlemen. Off route 202 behind the Mobil next to FDR Park and the TSP. in the same residential area where they are planning on placing Costco. What's worse is that someone one walked in on the guy apparently in the process. Humm on a Saturday morning you could be returning from Costco down the street and again Your safety is put in jepordy because some lowlife was attracted to your upscale community because of the low prices and good deals and the element those kinds of places attract. Ohh for those that disagree with me look at where the suspect is from. And his prior arrests in 2011 in the Cortlandt town center(Walmart) for drugs. Do you all want to attract those kinds of people. Read the police blotters or talk with your Police Officer Friends, Those people have arrived and are still coming. Don't believe me. Do your own research. !!!!! Costco vs savings!!!!
Bill September 24, 2012 at 04:15 AM
George, you're delusional. I've never seen a lowlife at Costco (although your description may be different than mine). You need a membership to shop there and I doubt many vagrants or lowlifes have Costco membership cards. They'd be far more likely to be at the homeless motel that used to be there, or shopping at KMart in town. How many break-ins do you hear about from people who shop there? How about from people who shop at BJ's, which also has low prices? And why weren't you so concerned about the people living at the motel (who I'm pretty sure would have matched your description of lowlife). Also it is not just about low prices and good deals (not that you'd care or understand) -- this is not Walmart or some dollar store we are talking about. Costco is a great place to shop because they have great quality stuff at reasonable prices. I was over at Costco in Nanuet today, I went in for one thing and ended up spending $84. And it will bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for the town and school district in property taxes alone. So the savings are there.
Bill September 24, 2012 at 04:19 AM
They may use it to build to code, but no one in their right mind would use it to predict actual traffic, unless they were trying to make things sound worse than they ever will be. And how often has the town waived the parking requirement? Pretty often, as I recall. Do you think that Costco is going to build a store that their customers will have problems finding a parking spot at?
george simmons September 24, 2012 at 04:37 AM
Delusional. Oh my god!!! He we go with the same calling again. ,, As for property values declining. What happens when Crime increases. Property values go down. What causes a rise in crime.. Like everything else Population. Increase the population in an area and all kinds of things happen. Including a crime increase. I agree with you that the shelter was horrible in the old motel. I am glad it's closed even if the property sits there empty it's better than that right. Ohh and I have been reading a bunch of our other comments Bill, You seem to act like a child having a tantrum when. Someone gives you facts supporting their opinion. I don't care if you personally love Costco It's not just about You it's what's good for Everyone. I again have to correct your statements which is getting a bit irritating. In NYS You DO NOT have to be a Member of Costco to buy gasoline there. That is NYS LAW. And If you are buying gasoline you are indeed shopping aren't you. I do not appreciate your name calling of me or anyone that seems to disagree with you. That is childish and if your a child then how can you be a member at Costco. (Children cannot legally enter contracts in NYS ) I do not want to get into flagging posts here Bud. I respect your opinion please do the same. Good night.
Bill September 24, 2012 at 04:59 AM
I was pretty sure it was Rockland County that had the law requiring anyone to be able to buy gas at Costco, but because I am not positive (I have not been to the New Rochelle Costco since they opened their gas station) I won't say you're wrong. So instead, I will post a link to a story saying it is a Rockland law, and then you will post a link to something proving that it is a NY state law, ok? Here we go: http://www.lohud.com/article/20080910/NEWS03/809100377/Rockland-law-take-mystery-out-buying-gas-Costco "But if you didn't know that or weren't familiar with county law that forbids retailers from requiring membership in a club to purchase gas, there was nothing at the pump telling you otherwise." Oh wait, here's an article on Patch about the new New Rochelle Costco gas station http://pelham.patch.com/articles/costco-gas-station-open-in-new-rochelle-gas-discounts-for-members "There's a new place to get gasoline in New Rochelle, as long as your membership fees are paid up. Costco, located at 1 Industrial Ln., carved out a piece of the parking lot and constructed a multi-pump gas station" There you go, George, prove to me that you didn't make up your post about it being a NYS law. If it really is, please be sure to tell the person who wrote the Patch article that he forgot a very important fact.
Bill September 24, 2012 at 05:00 AM
I do find it amusing that now you're saying that people who drive to Costco to get cheap gas will be the ones committing the burglaries (especially since others here have claimed that their gas is not really that cheap). Has there been an increase in crime at the Costco in Nanuet, where they actually have housing right next door to Costco and non-members really can buy gas? Hey, there's a Lowes there and they have cheap prices too, so by your "logic" it stands to reason that it must be very dangerous to live in that area. And Cortlandt Manor must be a veritable crime zone with Walmart nearby. And once again, BJ's has cheap prices, and have we seen an increase in crime as a result of that? I'm sorry I called you delusional. I really only meant to say that you're making stuff up (but maybe you think it's true in your mind, so I should be kind to you). Have a nice evening, George.
george simmons September 24, 2012 at 05:08 AM
I couldn't sleep because, I wanted to correct an assumption. That some might take offense to. I was not saying that only low life low class people shop at Costco. All kinds of people shop and Costco,BJs SAMs etc. I was trying to point out if you increase the population and traffic flow some bad elements will most certainly be attracted to it. And we all know we don't want that do we? NOT EVEN if someone tried to buy me a 5 course dinner at a fine restaurant would I or should I agree to that. So my fellow residents I am not trying to insult my brother and sister tax paying neighbors. I am merely trying to make a point. Thank you and remember the best way to stimulate a local economy is to keep the money local. Remember the motto of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce "Shop Local"
Bill September 24, 2012 at 05:19 AM
So you're now saying we should not add ANY retail because it will just attract bad people, right? Let's leave all the unrented stores empty. Let's encourage more to go out of business so we have less chance of undesirables coming to Yorktown. BTW I spent $84 at Costco in Nanuet today. I would love to spend it at Costco in Yorktown instead. But I'm certainly not going to spend that $84 at the stores that are in Yorktown today.
Bill September 30, 2012 at 12:23 AM
George.. because you got me interested (and because I was in the area), I decided to take advantage of the $3.83 regular gas at the Costco in New Rochelle today. I've uploaded a photo so you can see where it says "Members Only" (which I confirmed with the employee there). Unless they don't know NYS law, I'd say you're wrong in your claim that it is state law that anyone can buy gas there. BTW I am not going to claim that this is going to be their normal price, I'm sure it is a special for their grand opening. But Nanuet was $4.02 today, which is still better than anything else in Yorktown. Oh, and I think they had 18 pumps and I did not see anyone sticking out on the road waiting for gas, nor the parking lot it was attached to.
Bill September 30, 2012 at 12:28 AM
BTW, George, my problem is not when "Someone gives you facts supporting their opinion". My problem is when someone gives me made up stuff masquerading as facts (technically known as lies, or maybe just BS) to support their opinion, and then trys to convince people that their opinion is valid as a result of the lies (or BS) that they are spreading. For example, your premise that people will come to town to get cheap gas because they do not have to be a member and then commit crimes is just completely bogus since you DO need to be a member. I hope I have not insulted you, George.
Jane mccarthy October 01, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Bill- do you live anywhere near Mohansic avenue? Do you witness the traffic daily?

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