Keep Altamont safe and family-friendly

To the Editor:

The Stewart’s shop in Altamont has always been an important part of our community. My mother used to sing their praises for the help (and ice cream!) they provided to the Altamont Senior Citizens on numerous  occasions.

And there’s no denying that Stewart’s staff is friendly in every store we visit in the region — a credit to their personnel management and training — and nowhere more so than at the Altamont Stewart’s. It’s a cozy place for good food and for visiting with neighbors and friends, as is obvious from the fact that their parking lot is so often full.

However, Altamont is primarily a residential community that is family-friendly — a place where parents can raise their children in a safe and comfortable environment. That’s why it is so important to keep things small and family-friendly: small enough for our children to walk or ride their bikes even across those five busy corners.

It would be a mistake to create even more traffic at this busiest spot of our downtown, especially by doubling the lot size and demolishing a perfectly serviceable duplex where young families might get a start in Altamont, like I did 60-plus years ago when my parents rented a duplex on Maple.

Increasing the parking capacity of Stewart’s is bound to create greater congestion and greater risk of accidents. The reason there have been so few accidents in the Stewart’s lot to date might just be because the small scale encourages in all of us extra attention and care toward the space and safety of others at the store. That’s the beauty of keeping things small.

Most of all, it’s the neighborhood. If we allow this rezone, we will be allowing “progress” and “growth” to destroy the east end of the Helderberg Avenue-Severson Avenue residential area, where my own elementary school-aged children lived comfortably and safely precisely because of the small scale of Stewart’s lot.

We have a Village Master Plan. A lot of work went into devising it. We should stick to its zoning and protect the residential character of that part of Altamont.

Thomas Capuano


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