I would like to thank the Warwick Valley Dispatch for its coverage of the Village of Warwick Planning Board. It is important to know how municipal boards and committees operate as well as the impact their decisions have on the quality of all of our lives.
The purpose of this letter is to comment on the Elm St. Traffic Study that you reported on in the August 28, 2017 edition of the Dispatch. I am concerned about the scope and conclusions of the traffic evaluation and wonder if anyone on the Planning Board reviewed the actual data and usage tables prior to accepting the final recommendations of the Developer’s consultant.
Scope of the Study
I appreciate the Planning Board requesting a study of the impact of the proposed Elm St. Restaurant on neighborhood traffic but am concerned that the study was limited to only the West and Elm Sts. access to the site. It is not clear why the Board decided not to consider the Orchard St. access to Elm St. By ignoring this point of access, the traffic evaluation did not “count” the cars that enter at Orchard and go to either Mitchels Corners or the car wash/gas station. This traffic needs to be specifically accounted for in evaluating the impact of the potential 16 Elm St. Restaurant.
In addition, potential customers for 16 Elm St. traveling from south of the Village will be directed by the various mapping applications to turn left onto Orchard to get to Elm St. Anyone familiar with traffic in the Village knows that Orchard is narrow with many parked cars. The turn onto Elm St. from Orchard is an off-set four way stop at the intersections of Orchard, Elm and Welling Sts. that is frequently ignored or rolled through. Those of us who live in the neighborhood are very aware of the danger at that intersection at all times and we approach it very carefully, either driving or walking. Visitors to Warwick will not be aware of this intersection and will add to the safety concerns.
Using the weekday average and weekend actual traffic counts as the base, it appears as if the anticipated traffic volume will increase by as much as 50 percent at midday during the week and even more on the weekends.
The anticipated evening volume will be much greater with the addition of an evening and late night business on Elm St. The anticipated peak hour on Saturday evening could lead to an almost 100 percent increase during the dinner hour on a Saturday.
The current businesses on Elm St. typically close at approximately 9 p.m. with current traffic decreasing throughout the evening to approximately 20 cars total between mid-night and 2 a.m. The addition of a bar that intends to stay open until 2 a.m. will change the neighborhood into a late night destination with a considerable increase in traffic.
It is interesting to note that the predicted traffic for a bar/restaurant that seats 202 people is 47 cars at peak midday and evening during the week and 57 for peak Saturday. Given that many people travel in pairs for an evening out results in the bar/restaurant being at half capacity much of the time. It is difficult to know how someone can be successful at half capacity even with the expected turnover in seating. Finally, the expected number of cars currently exceeds the number of projected parking spaces, particularly on a Saturday evening.
The evaluation findings indicate that the traffic is within an acceptable design standard but a “C” rating is far from the best conditions indicated by an “A” rating. The Planning Board must carefully consider if the Village of Warwick wishes to live at an acceptable level or strive for the best conditions.