Having trouble finding a place to park at the always crowded Shop Rite in the Midway Shopping Center on Central Avenue in Edgemont? Ever feel that navigating the congested parking lot at Midway, either by car or on foot, is an accident waiting to happen?
Those problems there may be about to get a whole lot worse.
The Greenburgh Town Board has scheduled a surprise vote this Wednesday to approve a proposal to expand Midway in two phases – first by constructing a 3500 square foot building adjacent to the Pizza Hut restaurant and, a year later, by building another 5400 square foot building on what is now the parking ramp leading up to the strip mall’s roof.
Also on the agenda this Wednesday is a resolution finding no significant negative environmental impact from Midway’s plan. In keeping with Town Board practices, the actual text of the resolution is not yet available and will probably not be posted for the public to see until a few hours before the Town Board meeting itself.
Even though the expansion will result in the loss of several hundred parking spaces, the developer says unless the expansion is improved, it will implement no measures at all to improve parking and safety at the Town’s most lucrative strip mall, estimated to be worth at least $100 million, claiming – without proof — it would be too cost-prohibitive to do so.
Scheduling the vote for this Wednesday – without any prior public notice except its posting on an agenda — was a surprise because Midway ‘s “compromise” proposal last month to implement its expansion in two phases rather than one, received overwhelmingly negative comments from the public and Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said he would vote against it.
The developer’s representative then said he would ask his client to consider implementing parking and safety improvements first, including possibly constructing a structure parking facility at the site, which is one of the few recommendations still included in the latest version of the Town’s draft comprehensive plan.
Yet, based on the agenda, the Town Board will be voting on the expansion this Wednesday – without waiting for anything new from Midway.
While it’s always possible that the Town Board will vote against the proposal, the fact that it was suddenly — and very quietly — placed on the agenda for a vote at all suggests someone at Town Hall believes the votes to pass it are now there.
Even though Mr. Feiner said he would vote against it, there is no assurance that other members of the Town Board would vote against it too. And in keeping with the secretive nature in which Mr. Feiner runs the Town Board these days, none of them have said anything recently about the proposal and it has not been discussed publicly at any town board work sessions.
What is more, even Mr. Feiner’s opposition is not guaranteed. In August, he posted on the Town’s website an unusual 970-word defense of the Midway proposal – written by Midway’s representatives — leading many to conclude that Mr. Feiner was actually lobbying for the measure. Indeed, at the hearing in June, when members of the public told Mr. Feiner to put the safety of the public first and not “negotiate” a compromise, which he promised not to do, he then proceeded during the public hearing to do precisely that — all with the encouragement of Town Attorney Tim Lewis, who seems to want the Town to do a deal.
Developers and members of the public are not allowed to post on the Town’s website, which made Mr. Feiner’s efforts on behalf of Midway all the more unusual — and peculiar.
Midway’s proposed expansion has been twice rejected by the Town’s Planning Board — although consistently supported by a faction on the board led by Planning Board Chair Fran McLaughlin — and has been opposed for years by the Edgemont Community Council and its member civic associations in Edgemont which have repeatedly called on town leaders to insist that parking and safety improvements be implemented before any expansion of the already-congested mall is considered.