A proposed renovation of McDonald’s in New Paltz opens the door to addressing issues with that business by members of the Town of New Paltz Planning Board.
One of those issues: Planners’ goal to connect parking lots.
McDonald’s engineer Alan Roscoe is unfailingly polite when he talks about the topic; but he’s also firmly opposed. McDonald’s is a corporation built on a business model of getting people into cars and idling in the drive-through lane, and New Paltz is a community where more and more zoning is being geared toward encouraging people to walk from place to place. Plans to make connections were created as part of a remodeling proposal, albeit grudgingly, after Ulster County Planning Board members required the idea be explored.
Interconnection of parking areas is a planning objective at the county level, as part of an effort to design developments for people rather than their vehicles. For this particular project, a specific objective is to reduce the number of drivers attempting to make a left onto Route 299 from McDonald’s, but presumably it would also incrementally benefit the broader goal of reducing the need to depend on motor vehicles. However, owners of neighboring properties seem to share Roscoe’s view that they have no obligation to contribute to a common good which doesn’t benefit the bottom line.
Jim Kempner, whose corporation owns the plaza where Tops is the anchor store, wrote in an e-mail that “the scenarios shown on your plan will cause traffic issues within our center and show no benefit to the overall issue. Accordingly, we are not interested in pursuing this further.”
David Ness, chairman of the board at the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce, provided no specifics at all, simply writing that “we are not in favor of the proposed easements” between the two properties. New Paltz Town Planning Board members acknowledged that if reducing left turns was a rationale, such a connection wouldn’t further that end.
The requirement was simply to pursue the possibility, rather than to build it. Therefore, it’s likely to be deemed asked-and-answered since the rejection of neighbors is sufficient in the present legal environment to put the kibosh on the idea.
Planning Board members also tried to get Roscoe’s corporate superiors to invest in something a little more in keeping with community aesthetics. Jane Schanberg asked if what she called the “very, very stark design” could become something “not quite so dramatically modern,” but Roscoe’s tried-and-true justification is that this is the look now being used for McDonald’s throughout the northeast. Digging into the look of the building is something board members agreed to do during a workshop meeting.