For residents of the remote corner of the Capital District that includes the communities of Duanesburg, Central Bridge, Esperance and southeastern Montgomery County, the proposed Hannaford Grocery store may come as exciting news. Less exciting however is the possibility that one of the few remaining undeveloped areas in the Capital District is about to be paved over to make way for more strip mall banality.
Long neglected by grocery chains due to its low population density, this area has never before had to contend with the effects of big-box commercial development on its communities. But this current proposal is a sign that things are changing and residents really ought to begin thinking about what they want their communities to look like after all this is said and done.
The proposed 35,000 square foot store and accompanying shopping center will be located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and State Route 30, just outside the Village of Esperance. There is currently a Stewarts Shop gas station and a tavern at the intersection. If the Hannaford’s is built, more commercial development near this intersection would be a safe bet.
Unfortunately, since this area is so eager for a local grocery store, you can bet that the Duanesburg Planning Board won’t hold out for a more tasteful site plan or higher architectural standards which might complement the historic Village of Esperance and add more to the area than just another big ugly box.
Instead this will likely be an early sign of what is to come: poorly planned exurban Capital District sprawl. Let me say that I sympathize with area residents who must drive 20 minutes to buy a roll of toilet paper. But how long will it be until Highway 20 in Duanesburg looks like Highway 20 in Guilderland?