New Monroe theater is expected to bring convenience, business and traffic

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:52

    MONROE-Local moviegoers in the Monroe area will welcome the new Monroe Pavilion currently under construction on Mill Pond Parkway in the village downtown area. This new multi-cinema complex will replace the old single-screen theater, closed and dormant in recent years, with a multi-floor, six-screen facility. The opening, originally scheduled for February, is now expected to happen in the Spring. A local multiplex theater would provide residents with the convenience of viewing a variety of motion pictures closer to home rather than going to Chester, Middletown, New Windsor or south into Rockland County. At the same time, the theater may provide an infusion of activity into the downtown business area. Despite these advantages, local downtown theaters are inconsistent with the recent nationwide trend of building multiplex theaters integral to highway shopping malls and suburban plazas where space constraints are minimal. The increased traffic demand on local roads and the limited and sometimes nonexistent parking in developed downtown shopping areas present significant problems. And the Village of Monroe is no exception. The new Monroe Pavilion, with a 1,200-seat capacity will be located on a building site with no off-street parking facilities. According to village code, this project would normally require 312 on-site parking spaces to accommodate the anticipated business. In 2003, the Village Planning Board declared the new design to be an existing use and provided the necessary variances to permit the new theater to be constructed. When the new facility opens, theater patrons will have to park on village streets where available and walk the distance. One proposal will provide 32 additional village parking spaces by altering the design of Smithfield Court. According to a traffic study analysis conducted by the Monroe engineering firm of Azzolina, Feury & Raimondi, approximately 380 on-street parking spaces are available in the village within a radius of 600 feet from the theater, albeit the walking distance may be considerably longer. Additional problems may be presented by Mill Pond Park visitors and the surrounding businesses which also compete for customer parking on village streets. Theater patrons cruising for limited parking spaces may also create a moving traffic burden within the village. Town of Monroe Tax Collector William Bollenbach, also a member of the Monroe Library Board, said he is very concerned about the impact of the potential increase in traffic and competition for parking spaces. He claims the library, which is also located on Mill Pond Parkway a short distance from the theater, has limited on-site parking available only for the eight to ten full time library staff. The approximately 20 part-time library employees must now park on Mill Pond Parkway. "The theater will create difficulties leading to a desperate situation in Monroe," Bollenbach said.