Guilderland has a choice: quality of life or big-box stores

To the Editor:

When I think about the possibility of adding another big-box store to the Crossgates area, what comes to mind is either Exit 9 or Exit 15 off the Northway. Both Clifton Park and Wilton have allowed the maximum commercial development and both of these areas are nightmares to travel through.

I pity the people who deal with it every day. What has developed is “institutional traffic gridlock,” because they have crammed in more stores and apartment complexes than can be accommodated by any road system.

The Route 20 corridor has already become congested. Why would we want to add more congestion and inconvenience for the citizens of Guilderland?

The boosters of this development will always talk about adding tax base to the town. I would love to see a breakdown of costs to the town versus taxes paid, but I have two thoughts on that.

First: What is the actual financial cost to the town of hosting Crossgates? Before the pandemic, a look at Blotters and Dockets in The Enterprise showed that about half of the police activity was centered at Crossgates, mainly trespassing, petty theft, and the occasional assault or shooting.

The cost of police time is only the tip of the iceberg. You have the legal expense of adjudicating this with judges, public defenders, district attorneys, clerks, and the list goes on.

On top of this are the issues of traffic control and road maintenance. It costs the town a lot to have Crossgates.

The second item is Pyramid Corporation’s long and persistent history of challenging tax valuations in order to minimize taxes and not pay their fair share. When you think about it, this is an attempt to shift what it costs the town to host them to the residents.

There is no reason to think this pattern of behavior will change as Pyramid adds new business, especially in light of the sneaky way it tried to circumvent environmental regulations by clear-cutting the development area and making it a fait accompli. That showed Pyramid does not seem to care about the citizens of Guilderland.

So we have a choice here. Do we want Guilderland to turn into Clifton Park or Wilton with the congestion that comes with cramming business and apartment complexes into every square inch, or do we want to maintain our status as a nice, residential town that’s easy to live in?

It is a decision we should make consciously before one day we drive down Route 20, realize it takes 45 minutes to get from Route 155 to Stuyvesant Plaza as we sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and wonder how this could have happened.

Quality of life is far more valuable than buying stuff in box stores.

John Hughes


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