Hey Cortlandt, we want our Comprehensive Plan back!!
The residents of Yorktown mutter darkly about how twenty years ago our neighbor stole a march on us and ended up with the shopping center we should have had. Well, guess what? They’re doing it again!!
In an eerie commercial version of Groundhog Day, developers wanted to build – you guessed it -- a 160,000 square foot superstore (in this case a Walmart) across from the Town Center. And once again, the apocalypse was threatened if they didn’t get their way. No new jobs!!! Millions lost in tax revenue!!! Bad, bad anti-development un-American European wannabees standing in the way good upstanding patriots just trying to make an honest dollar!!
Well, luckily for Cortlandt, a few of them happened to be on the Town Board. And they reviewed the proposal, and said: "Sorry. It’s just too big." And that’s with a four-lane road to support it.
So what happened? Massive lines at the unemployment office? A huge sucking sound as all sensible citizens left town? A black X with "Here Be Dragons" over Cortlandt on the business development map of America?
Nope. Within a month – a month – a new group was back with a proposal to build exactly what our Comprehensive Plan calls for. Cortlandt’s Supervisor, Linda Puglisi, is a sharp negotiator indeed; she has shown that by holding firm and not rolling over at the first offer on the table she get the best deal for everyone. In her own words, the new developers “are not interested in one big box store...Nothing as grandiose as what was being asked for before. I tried to emphasize that you have a great opportunity to make this an exciting shopping experience and make it pretty, and they’re considering it.”
A month. That’s all it took. These developers here in our town are acting like parents with young children. Anyone who’s raised kids knows that when they’re small you want to give them some power of choice. So you offer two alternatives. It works: they make their choice. But they don’t realize what the parents have done: there are a whole lot of other choices that they weren’t even allowed to consider. That’s what these guys are doing. Costco or nothing. Last chance Costco. Our way or the highway (actually, they've upped the ante on that one -- they're threatening to take the highway with them if we have the courage to say no).
Why this intransigence? It’s their job. Costco is the best way to maximize this small group’s return on investment. Well, I have no problem with that; they have every right to try. It’s the American way. But that’s why we have – or at least, from the evidence, Cortlandt has – a vigilant Town Board and Supervisor. To watch out for their best interests. The result? The developers make a decent return, and the town gets sensible, sustainable growth. Everybody wins.
We could try that here. Instead, once again, we’re going to march full tilt into the past. And then, for the next twenty years, as we inch along in bumper-to-bumper traffic past abandoned stores, we can mutter darkly about how Cortlandt did it to us again. Cortlandt, if you're going to steal our plan, could we at least get Ms. Puglisi to come over here and negotiate for us?