CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Resident architect Chuck Napoli is working with members of the public on a radical overhaul of downtown Chappaqua to revitalize the business district and create more parking spaces.
The draft of Napoli’s proposal calls for the installation of an indoor parking garage, a turf field, a new row of stores and a possible performing arts center.
The indoor parking garage would be constructed on top of the current Robert E. Bell Middle School field next to Senter Street and would create 400 spaces. On top of the 12-foot garage would be a turf playing field.
Napoli said the current South Greeley Avenue parking lot would be converted into a 15,000-square-foot area for new buildings that could be used in any way. He said there would also be room at the back of the new area for a performing arts center, a skating rink or other possibilities.
“This does create more vitality, but it also creates something for the rest of the town by moving cars and relocating cars,” Napoli said Wednesday to several merchants from King Street and South Greeley Avenue.
Napoli said the current proposal would cost about $15 million and would require nearly three years of construction, which would be broken into phases. He said the money would come from loans and individual contributors.
"We have people that are very interested in funding this," he said. Approval would also be needed by the school district and landowners in the area.
Napoli will continue to hold work sessions all summer in hopes of having something to propose to the town in the near future. The public sessions will be held every Wednesday at noon in conference room A of New Castle Town Hall.
Napoli is trying to spark public discussion before any official proposal because he is looking to reverse the typical planning process, he said. He cited the heavily opposed Conifer Realty housing proposal as something that was forced on the residents rather than negotiated by them.
Much of the opposition to the Conifer proposal revolves around the size of the housing structure, which would require several zoning ordinances to comply with the town’s code. Napoli said Conifer is locked into a certain size because it received state funding for the project before finding out if the public wanted it.
“Now the negotiations are beginning. Too late. It’s been a year, should have been done very early on,” Napoli said. “And that’s why you’re in this room. We’re beginning to negotiate.”