While their site plan proposal is still pending before the Roslyn Board of Trustees, representatives of Edwards Food Stores have tried to win the minds of local residents by mailing a letter to each homeowner explaining their desire to build a supermarket in Roslyn.
The short letter, which comes with a promise to be "vigorous in the pursuit of legal redress," has, if letters to this newspaper are representative, come with a lukewarm response from the public. It also has been met with a rebuttal from the Roslyn Chamber of Commerce. In January, shortly before Edwards was to make their case before the BOT, the chamber invited an Edwards representative to speak before the organization's members.
At the meeting, chamber members "wanted to know what good they [Edwards] would do for the village and the business community," said chamber president Frederic Carlton.
"They gave no answer," he continued. "Except that they planned a big parking field and they might allow us to use it."
However, the Edwards people, Mr. Carlton added, failed to answer key traffic questions. For instance, chamber members emphatically do not want Skillman Street widened, something that may occur if Edwards is allowed to build.
Most of all, chamber members would like Edwards, while their site planned is being reviewed, to "make a show of good faith" and "open up a parking lot now," Mr. Carlton also said.
"The business community is distressed over the lack of parking," Mr. Carlton said. "They [Edwards] were supposed to get back to us and they didn't. So now everything they say is suspect."
Moreover, the Edwards people, according to Mr. Carlton, have "missed the whole point of the [previous] court case."
Under the administration of Joel Pasnik, Stop & Shop received the right to start building. Residents and businessemen objected by filing an Article 78 lawsuit which was upheld by the courts.
Mr. Carlton said that although Edwards does not have the right to build under the old conditions, they do have the right to re-challenge the village's new zoning laws.
"But in the interim they should create parking for the village they say they care about," he said.
Also at the chamber meeting, Timothy M. Maloney, a director of real estate for Edwards, reiterated that the plan "is not Stop & Shop." He also said the size of the supermarket was open to flexibility. In other words, a planned 88,000 sq. ft. store could be pared down to say, 47,000 sq. ft.
Traffic was an issue which sank the Stop & Shop plan. As noted earlier, that topic remains a contentious issue. For instance, Pia Riverso strongly advised Mr. Mahoney to come up with specific and realistic traffic numbers. At the BOT meeting, Ms. Riverso reiterated those comments, claiming that traffic numbers done by Stop & Shop four years ago, "have no validity today."
The Edwards letter was signed by Mr. Mahoney, and Hans A. Kempers, "on behalf of Ahold." Ahold is a Dutch-based company which owns Edwards. Its American offices are in Atlanta, GA.
When Stop & Shop, the company which through court action failed to build in Roslyn three years ago, was purchased by Ahold, the corporation decided to pursue the same supermarket plan, this time through Edwards. Before construction was halted by a series of court decisions, Stop & Shop had already put $16 million into the supermarket construction. Hence, the decision to attempt to build again.
The letter claimed any new construction would "[make] sense economically, aesthetically and environmentally." The supermarket, the letter continued, would serve as "the cornerstone of the commercial center of the Village....[assisting] the protection of the community's quality of life by providing an aesthetically pleasing building which comports with the Village's Historic District's architecture." Mssrs. Kempers and Mahoney also said a supermarket would provide "ample parking" for customers visiting downtown Roslyn.
But the letter also came with veiled threats of continued litigation against the village. While noting that past legal challenges and appeals concerning the property "would literally fill a library," Mssrs. Kempers and Mahoney also claimed that their counsel believes current zoning laws in Roslyn can be contested and defeated through legal means. Zoning provisions that have transformed the land off Skillman Street from industrial property to a residential area were specifically mentioned as those that would not be "allowed to stand" in a court of law.
In closing, the letter states that Edwards has been "entrusted with a precious legacy" that they "do not take....lightly." The letter signers proclaim their appreciation for "the unique character of the Village of Roslyn" and note that Dr. Roger Gerry, a former BOT member and leader of Roslyn's many housing restoration projects, was involved in "creating and approving the tenor" of the initial Stop & Shop plan.