Stewart’s should look elsewhere. We value what we have: Fox Creek Market and clean well water.
To the Editor:
Thank you for your comprehensive article on the plans to bring a Stewart’s to the Hilltowns. At least now we know what our politicians have been up to behind closed doors.
The issue for many of us has never been whether there could or should be a Stewart’s Shop in the town of Berne. The question is whether the hamlet is an appropriate place for it to locate. The size of the operation, the hours of operation, the lighting and noise considerations, and the increased traffic in an already congested area make it not suitable for a primarily residential neighborhood.
But of far greater concern is the insistence of Stewart’s that gas pumps be a part of the deal. The hamlet has no municipal water. We rely on private wells. I am not aware of any other Stewart’s with gas pumps being located in the middle of a residential neighborhood that relies on private wells.
If there were to be a gas spill, 100 families could potentially have contaminated wells, which would render their homes uninhabitable. What contingency plans have been developed for that possibility?
Residents outside of the hamlet should also be concerned with a Stewart’s being located within the hamlet. We currently have a wonderful store, the Fox Creek Market, which is very popular. The owners are experienced in how to run a store, and that experience shows in the product. Everyone seems to agree that the Fox Creek Market has great food, courteous service, and a nice neighborhood feel.
In spite of Supervisor Kevin Crosier’s comments to the contrary, if a Stewart’s were to open in the hamlet, the Fox Creek Market would likely be out of business. The idea of co-locating stores can work in a more populated area and can work if the businesses are different. For example, a pharmacy might want to locate near a grocery store, so that someone needing groceries can also pick up a prescription on the same trip. But in an area where the population is barely able to keep one convenience store open, adding another will decrease the revenues.
People in Voorheesville are wondering whether the gas station in their village will be able to stay in business if Stewart’s takes over the former Smitty’s location. And the village and surrounding area of Voorheesville is way more populated than Berne.
Putting Stewart’s in the hamlet does not even make financial sense. In order to build a store, three houses would have to be demolished, which means loss of property taxes that they paid. And then there are the revenues from the current Fox Creek Market that would likely be lost, as well as the two buildings they own being abandoned.
Is that really what we want for our town? We urge anyone who is concerned about saving our Fox Creek Market to let our elected officials and the Stewart’s Shops know that we value what we have and ask that Stewart’s find an alternative location that will not directly compete with our local store.
Editor’s note: Susan Hawkes-Teeter lives in the hamlet of Berne.