What’s the hurry?

By Sharyn Duffy

I would like to respond to Ted Universal’s commentary appearing in the April 24, 2008 edition of the Livingston County News, entitled “Build that Lowe’s already.”  What is the rush?!  With the national economy in distress as he says and the county population not growing, it does not seem like the best time for a Big Box Home Improvement Center to be successful here.

Since building my home in the early 1990s, many large suppliers, Standard Builders Supply, Grossman’s Lumber, Hechinger, Builders Square and more recently Chase Pitkin have gone out of business in Rochester.  We are fooling ourselves if we think Lowe’s is immune to these difficulties.  Home Depot just announced that it is closing 15 under-performing stores and has canceled plans for 50 new stores! An empty Big Box would be a real blight on our environment and economy as we all discovered when the first Wal-Mart was vacant for almost two years.

Mr. Universal says that Lowe’s is going to sell us refrigerators, stoves, lumber and hardware, but we already have three appliance stores, a lumber company and a hardware store right here in Geneseo and many more in nearby towns.  This seems like a good example of robbing Peter to pay Paul, Inc.

Unlike the national chains, these locally-owned businesses put much more of their revenue back into the local economy.  The owners live here paying personal taxes and contributing to our charities, community and county.  I wonder if Mr. Universal or our local politicians have ever shopped them.

When building my home, I got the best prices on appliances from Livingston County Appliance and lumber, windows and doors from Nunda Lumber not the chains.  They also deliver and set-up without any surprise add-on costs and they are here to provide service if any problems arise.

Conrad’s and Geneseo Hardware & Rental carry specialty items.  Conrad’s, for example, carries a full range of Eureka vacuum cleaner bags. At Geneseo Hardware & Rental you can find Orek vacuum cleaners bags and parts and you can probably find that one bolt you need without buying a whole package.  Geneseo Lumber also has all the standard items you might need at spur-of-the-moment and usually at better pricing –and you don’t have to fight your way up Rt. 20a and hike across a huge parking lot.

I agree with Mr. Universal that Lowe’s did not cause Geneseo’s traffic problems, but they could be the tipping point that puts traffic way past tolerable, not to mention all the retail business that will try to follow which would bring even more traffic.  Lowe’s wants more traffic as does the County.  They do not care if our quiet residential streets and peaceful country roads are altered.

The County wants the sales tax.  The percentage of that sales tax that comes back to the towns is only about 5% and that is shared by all 17 towns.  Yet the support services and infrastructure costs will fall mainly on the backs of Geneseo taxpayers and those will be substantial.  Lowe’s will also get property tax breaks for ten years.  The estimated net increase in school tax revenue from Lowe’s is around $123,000 in the first year.  This year’s proposed local school tax levy is $8,925,034 making Lowe’s share less than 1.5%.  Hardly a dent!

Mr. Universal indicates that much of the traffic problem lies within the village.  This is true, but we people who live in the country on Lima Road seem to be forgotten.  Most of us bought property to be in the country and pay substantial taxes for the privilege.  Since I built here traffic and accidents have more than doubled.

Like many of my neighbors I keep horses on my property. The equestrian industry, both for hobbyists like me and larger commercial operations is an important part of our local economy, but it requires open space and peace and quiet to survive. We are rapidly losing that on Lima Road and throughout Geneseo!

I do not have current data, but in 1995 there were 11 reported accidents on Lima Road and 24 reported in 2004. That is just the reported accidents. I have had vehicles drive through my fencing and leave. Just in the last few weeks there have been three accidents that I know of on the road. Recently, around 4:00 pm on a Wednesday, a resident of Groveland was visiting in my driveway.  With surprise they commented “Wow, you really do have a lot of traffic here!”

With the construction of the new Super Wal-Mart on Volunteer Road there has been a doubling  of traffic using Lima Road with more commercial vehicles and commuters using it to avoid NYS Route 20A’s traffic and construction.  Perhaps it is easy to be gung-ho about having a Lowe’s when you live in other parts of the town that will have no impacts.

We need to come up with creative solutions to our traffic problems before they get worse not afterwards as Mr. Universal suggests.  What good is it to close the barn door after the horse gets out? We need to be proactive and not reactive. If you care about the future of our community, please contact our town planning board members and urge them to vote “No” on this project at the important May 12 meeting next week!

2 responses to “What’s the hurry?

  1. I am a bit confused I guess. Traffic always sees to be used as a reason against Lowe’s. Yet no Lowe’s exists. Traffic accidents are quoted. Lowe’s will just compound the traffic problem! Oh no!

    Then we talk about how the economy is bad, so there might not be enough business for Lowe’s and how horrible to have an empty “big box” oh the blight!

    Wait, if Lowe’s won’t do well enough to stay open, then how will it increase traffic problems? This sounds like the old Yogi Berra joke — that the place is so crowded, nobody goes there anymore.

    Why don’t the people opposed come out and say it. They want Geneseo to be locked in time, they want Geneseo 1958. They want those of us counting pennies to have to drive all over town with gas at $4 a gallon to shop. They want us to go to Rochester, or be at the mercy of local merchants.

    It’s 2008. Sorry you might have to move to maintain your peaceful sanctuary and horsey lifestyle. Those of us in the trenches during this economic downturn are more concerned with family and the price of a gallon of milk than we are with someone’s view off their back deck. I found your post narrow minded and elitist.

  2. Dear regeist

    At the public meeting with the Planning Board when we could comment, I remember one young woman who declared that people who belonged to PDDG and who had signs in their front yards were elitist. Now the term appears again to characterize someone who values peace and quiet for a chosen lifestyle in a small-town environment in which he/she had invested.

    Sharyn is anything but elitist. She built most of her home on Lima Road with her own hands. She does her own bushhogging. She hauls her own horses behind her truck. She is not a wealthy individual just an avid horsewoman and lover of the countryside in which she has invested all of her savings.

    As a member of Rotary, she contributes in solid ways to the community. She follows local politics and events as an involved citizen.

    You, too are involved and that is for the good. What is not going to gain ground for for one point of view over another is for one neighbor to label another unknown to them with a derogatory word.

    I, too, am a member of PDDG. I too belong to Rotary because of what the organization does for the community. I am also a graduate of SUNY. I retired here from Rochester to lead the small-town life where I could walk to the Village.

    I don’t want to live in a museum; I just want to live removed from the hustle and bustle of the larger urban centers in an area of special beauty, history and character. I can’t see where this is elitist. It is embracing a lifestyle and that lifestyle is not the sole property of what you call elitist people. I had to come out of retirement to continue to afford to live here and am willing to make the sacrifices to do so.

    Not all members of PDDG are descended from well-known families of historical import or are university Professors. Further, they are not against progress. What they seek is planned progress.

    I can only speak for myself but the problem is not with you or I or Sharyn. The problem is with a society that allowed mass transit (the old railroad to Rochester) to be removed from the area that would have provided cheap transportation for us to the retail centers north of us. We are victims of a federal government that did not bypass special interest groups and demand fuel efficient vehicles and support for research into alternative fuels that did not threaten the food supply.

    We all could use convenience and gas saving alternatives. We can work together to make the Lowe’s issue work for all of us but to do that, we should lay aside our anger and personal attacks and contribute to the solution. A viable solution is always best achieved if there is thoughtful, respectful and constructive input from everyone.

    I understand your position and your point of view. Yours may be the winning viewpoint but that will not make me respect you less. I ask you one question: How should I view you and your point of view? What name should I assign to you for having your views? I would rather call you my neighbor, regeist, with whom I respectfully disagree. Peace

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