A long-awaited, much-needed improvement to the ShopRite parking lot in New Paltz will eventually result in an orderly lot like the one at Tops, but the transition has been anything but. A drive through right now involves navigating around high curb islands, inexplicable dead ends and striping which seems to bear little relationship to either. Once it’s complete — which should be before year’s end — the situation will be much clearer, but getting the needed paving done involves working around the needs of commercial tenants and the vagaries of the weather. Temporary markings on the pavement seem to be either overlooked or not taken seriously, adding to the tension experienced.
According to town building inspector Stacy Delarede, the vast expanse of unfettered pavement there reflects an older sensibility, as does the building itself. She calls it a “huge bumper-car lot.” It was in a desire by building owners to redo the facade and make some interior shifts in the ShopRite lot where Delarede saw an opportunity to get the situation fixed. The lot was not only dangerous due to its design, but due to its condition as well. That was enough for the building inspector to require Planning Board review for the changes, and from that resulted an overhaul to the parking lot.
The islands which seem quite high now won’t be as ominous once the asphalt is put in, but to do that before Thanksgiving would not be economically disastrous. Those islands will get landscaped come spring, and the new pavement will be striped in a way that fits in with those traffic-calming elements. No parking spots will be lost, but some rows will have spaces rotated 90 degrees from the current orientation.
One limiting factor is the building itself, which is iron and steel and costly to modify. It’s too close to the lot line to allow deliveries easily around back, and the new parking area includes space to turn trucks around, which could reduce how often one of them hits the building. Those turnarounds appear to be pointless dead-ends now, but once paved the markings will make their purpose clearer. Two other aisles near Route 299 also have only one outlet, but that’s a preexisting condition which just couldn’t be improved.
Residents taking to social media also wondered about how those islands would impact traffic and snow removal. Once the landscaping is in, Delarede doesn’t expect drivers to send their vehicles over the curbs, but inattentive drivers occasionally drive into local buildings as a matter of course.
The transition is certainly confusing, but Delarede thinks that it isn’t just the parking lot which is inciting online furor. Local roads “have been under construction since the spring,” with sewer work, a rail trail extension, bike shoulders, and other projects. “Every which way we’ve turned, there has been something causing delays. I think people are just frustrated,” and this project was actually one under local control, making it an easy target for commentary.
The current property owners acquired it since these plans were approved, and are beholden to the terms of that site plan amendment. Delarede said they are expecting to get the paving done before the asphalt plants close for the winter, but definitely after Thanksgiving.