There’s been a lot of attention on Glenmont. It’s arguably the fastest growing corner of our town, and has been for several years. Walmart, Lowes and the restaurants that have followed, have made the Route 9W corridor quite busy. Not only do those businesses cater to our hometown residents, but they draw in visitors from surrounding neighborhoods, too. Today, as we look at that particular stretch of the road, it continues to be a two-lane road. But, as Glenmont continues to grow, this could likely change.
We’ve written about the rate of development in this hamlet before, and town officials have touched upon the need to upgrade the surrounding infrastructure to address increased traffic around Bethlehem Center. A roundabout is soon to be installed, but with several proposals on the table to develop both south and north of this intersection, the relief felt once the roundabout is installed may be short-lived.
Right now, a proposal for a 23,000-square foot retail property across the street from Walmart is under consideration. Outside of the gas station that has done business on that lot, it has remained vacant despite the large box stores that have surrounded it for more than a decade. There are other vacant lots on that same side of the road, and all too likely will see businesses spring up, too.
Glenmont Elementary has called this area home since 1957. A few residential homes abutt the school property to the north. Despite this, this corner of Glenmont has not retained a sense of neighborhood as in the more densely populated areas around Feura Bush Road. Businesses, shopping and service centers have appeared and have thrived over the years. There may, in fact, be more fast food restaurants within this mile of road than there are houses.
This characteristic makes this part of Glenmont resemble Wolf Road more than any other section of town. And, as more homes are developed in Glenmont, South Bethlehem and Coeymans, the traffic will be just as thick. With it bottlenecked into a two-lane highway, it already is.
There is the issue of Plank and Frontage roads to the north. Town residents who choose to shop in Glenmont know the plight of navigating these roads to return home. It’s a counter-intuitive way to get back home. Bender Lane was once another way, but that was eliminated to appease surrounding residents. Of course, you can’t begrudge those homeowners from wanting to reduce traffic on that road.
Plank and Frontage roads, however, should not continue to be seen as viable means of egress for traffic back into the center of town. The intersection of the conjoined routes 32 and 9W and Frontage Road, with its dips and hills creates poor sight lines for oncoming motorists today. The spaghetti network where routes 32 and 9W intermingle needs to be revisited when the town looks at a new comprehensive plan. As development continues, it begs to question whether the present arrangement can meet the demands of more motorists.
As for residents returning back to the center of town, the old Southgate proposal from the mid and late 1980s had suggested building an access point from the Delmar By-pass directly to the shopping center. That was a different applicant more than 30 years ago. The development concept, however, was a precursor to the Walmart-Lowes-Panera Bread footprint we see now. The idea of revisiting this plan would involve more than just the town, but this idea and similar ones need to be discussed now in order for us to see anything come to light in the future.
There’s also the idea as to whether or not we want to continue to see this pocket of town develop like that of Wolf Road. The cat may already be out of the bag on that one.
Michael Hallisey is Managing Editor of Spotlight Newspapers.