The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Boulders are gone, but parking concerns remain

By JOHN ROCHE
JOHN ROCHE PHOTO

Boulders that had been placed last month in a privately owned lot off Court Road behind the Bedford Playhouse and shops were moved by the landlord this week in a compromise with town officials to provide emergency access and parking.

 

In what town officials described as a “compromise,” the owner of a parking lot in Bedford Village this week removed some of the boulders that had cut off access to the lot.

A dozen boulders, along with a handful of planters and several orange traffic cones were apparently placed in the privately owned lot off Court Road about a month ago to prevent parking. The move by the owner of the property, Phoenix Capital Partners LLC, not only sparked criticism from several Bedford Village residents, including moviegoers, restaurant patrons and shoppers, but also prompted town officials to take action against the landlord earlier this month.

But following an on-site meeting last Friday between Frank Boccanfuso, a principal of Phoenix Partners, Bedford’s building inspector Steven Fraietta and the town’s director of planning, Jeff Osterman, about half of the boulders were removed, and the remaining half were moved, providing limited access to the parking lot.

“We’ve got half the lot opened up,” Mr. Fraietta said Wednesday. “We came to a compromise, which addresses the fire safety issues and zoning violations by creating access and permitting parking for the landlord’s tenants and their customers.”

The building on Route 22 connected to the lot has a mixed use, with the Bedford Playhouse movie theater, the Meetinghouse restaurant and a few other stores on street level, and apartments on the second and third floors.

Calls and emails for comment this week to Mr. Boccanfuso were not returned. Phoenix Partners, a commercial real estate investment and property management company with offices in Purchase and Manhattan, purchased the building and adjacent parking lot this past year.

The Town of Bedford had leased the Court Road parking lot for the past five years, and operated it as one of its municipal lots. Motorists paid hourly to park in the lot via muni-meters, which were removed after the town decided in mid-2011 not to renew its lease for the site.

In the course of severe belt-tightening by the town board during the budget preparation process, town officials said the decision to no longer operate the lot was a cost-saving measure, since doing so resulted in a significant loss of taxpayer money each year.

The town’s lease on the parking lot ended on Nov. 30, and the boulders appeared in December. The timing of the lot being closed, at the height of the holiday season and peak shopping period, also angered some residents.

“By zoning laws, that lot is supposed to be used by his tenants’ customers or other people doing business in that building,” Mr. Fraietta said. “He’s trying to make up some money, because the town used to lease the lot but no longer does. It’s my understanding that the landlord is looking at ways to lease some of the parking spaces, and at some point might put in a gate that would need to be approved by the fire department.”

The building inspector said that as of this week there are four boulders, two traffic cones and three planters in place that block off a portion of the parking lot. But since the cones and planters in place on an internal vehicular path are movable, they don’t constitute fire violations. And now that 17 spaces have been freed up, the required parking for commercial tenants of that building is being met.

Bedford Supervisor Lee Roberts said she is pleased that the landlord has begun to address the concerns of the town, the fire department and merchants and shoppers in Bedford Village, many of whom contacted the town about the parking lot boulders.

“I’m delighted that there is progress about this situation, not only because of the fire, safety and zoning issues but also since the scarcity of parking in Bedford Village is always an issue,” Ms. Roberts said. “Hopefully, this is a positive step forward on the path to a long-term resolution.”

Ms. Roberts said she and the building inspector and other town officials will continue to monitor the situation and work with the property owner as much as possible. Because the parking lot is located in the hamlet’s historic district, there is an additional layer of regulations and scrutiny, the supervisor said.

The Bedford Playhouse, at 634 Old Post Road, is now a two-theater moviehouse operated by Clearview Cinemas, and the centerpiece of the building. The theater opened in April 1947.

Several residents and shopkeepers contacted The Record-Review about the boulders, raising concern about the possible impact the loss of parking might have on Bedford Village merchants, included the businesses located in the building now owned and operated by Phoenix Partners.

Jim Bowman, a longtime resident of Bedford Village and one of the people who wrote a letter to the editor about the parking lot situation, said this week that he’s hopeful all the “ugly” boulders will eventually be removed.

“I was glad to see some action taken, but the question remains whether the landlord will provide the parking that’s necessary for those merchants, including the movie theater, the restaurant and the stores,” Mr. Bowman said. “There is a sign now that there is a two-hour limit or else you’ll be towed, but two hours doesn’t give people enough time to see a movie, much less enjoy dinner at the Meetinghouse and then take in a movie.”

Mr. Bowman said he believes shoppers, restaurant patrons and moviegoers would be willing to pay hourly to park in the lot, as they had done when the town operated it over the past half-decade. “The setup with the machines to pay as you park worked fine,” he said. “As I and many other people have said regarding these boulders, in this economy, you would hope a landlord would be doing what he can to help his commercial tenants draw customers, not drive them away.”


Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

 

HOME     |     SUBSCRIBE     |     ADVERTISE     |     NEWSROOM     |     CONTACT

The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

NEWSSTAND LOCATIONS

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Perks – 197 Katonah Avenue    

  4. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center;
    294 Katonah Avenue   

  5. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center;
    280 Katonah Avenue    

  6. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

  2. Connie’s at Northern Westchester Hospital
    400 E. Main Street    


South Salem/Vista

  1. JNR Pharmacy – 222 Oakridge Commons;
    Route 123   


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

The Record-Review is available from our office at  264 Adams Street, Bedford Hills, NY

and at these locations:

Single copies $1.00

ARCHIVES

January 20, 2012