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Cairo supermarket public hearing packs town hall

Sep 01, 2010 11:14 pm
[caption id="attachment_2874" align="alignright" width="162" caption="Karen Johnson of Charter Realty & Development Corp. explains the proposed supermarket project."]Karen Johnson[/caption]The Town of Cairo Planning Board held a public hearing tonight about a proposed 40,000-square-foot supermarket on the site between the two banks at the intersection of Route 23 and 23B, and Route 32. This is where a previous supermarket proposal with other suburban-type national chain stores, and housing, called "Alden Terrace" was eventually abandoned after much public scrutiny and a lawsuit. Then, the issues were the town's faulty sewer system, the housing part of the "Alden Terrace" proposal, and other issues. This time, public support in the packed town hall leaned more in favor of the project then against it, with many residents voicing a need for new economic opportunities in Cairo.[caption id="attachment_2875" align="alignleft" width="162" caption="Dot Rosenthal spoke in favor of the proposed supermarket."][/caption]
The only reason suggested by the public for the board to kill the entire project (from longtime Cairo resident Peter Ricci) was that it would suburbanize Cairo just like Catskill did by bringing in Home Depot, Lowe's, Wal-Mart and other stores, taking business away from Main St., while not helping the tax base all that much. (These chain stores repeatedly threaten Catskill with lawsuits that the cash-strapped town cannot afford to defend. William Kemble in The Daily Freeman has written excellent stories about Home Depot and Wal-Mart skirting taxes with such threats.) In Cairo tonight, most town residents stated that any new project would be good for the town in the center of Greene County, and the tradition of Cairo saying no to new projects must end. Charter Realty & Development Corporation's Karen Johnson refused to say which supermarket chain wanted to move in to its building, and they are bringing the supermarket project first and then there will be further development, although of what sort is completely unknown on the rest of the surrounding land between Cairo's two busiest roads. Ellsworth "Unk" Slater (photo below), who own's Cairo's only supermarket, Great American just up 23B, voiced several concerns about the project, as did his lawyer and engineer. A few nearby homeowners worried aloud about the planned five wells associated with the project. Slater pointed out that when he put in a gas station next to his grocery store a few years ago, they discovered the gasoline additive, methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), and, since the ground slopes toward this project, it may affect those wells. Others supported the project, but voiced concerns about the speeding cars and exposed back of the supermarket at the Route 32 entrance, and the light poles in the proposed parking lot peaking into the magnificent view of the Catskill Mountains ridge line. The public hearing remained open and will resume at the board's regular meeting at 7 p.m. Wed. Oct. 6.
[caption id="attachment_2876" align="alignright" width="162" caption="Ellsworth \"Unk\" Slater, owner of the Great American grocery story, had concerns about some of the plans for his future competition."]Unk Slater[/caption]
Listen for yourself to what the residents of Cairo thought about the project at the public hearing by clicking here or pasting the following url into your computer's media player: http://data.wavefarm.org/2010/09/CairoPubHearing_supermarketPlanningBoard_WGXC_090110.mp3

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