Council hears concerns over sidewalks

Mac Bullock
Staff writer
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Posted 3/14/19

Members of the Common Council heard concerns on the lack of sidewalks parts of Erie Boulevard, while looking ahead to Downtown Revitalization Initative implementation, in their Wednesday evening …

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Council hears concerns over sidewalks

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Members of the Common Council heard concerns on the lack of sidewalks parts of Erie Boulevard, while looking ahead to Downtown Revitalization Initative implementation, in their Wednesday evening meeting.

During the public comment portion of the night, resident Shelly Gardener of River Street expressed dismay at a traffic accident in late January, when pedestrian Addison Snyder of Oneida was struck by a truck on Erie Boulevard West, dying days later. Gardener said to the council that the accident could have been avoided had there been a sidewalk for pedestrian travel.

“I’ve come to this council a number of occasions, on at least three, I had adressed sidewalks ... the fact that there are no sidewalks on well-trafficked areas such as Erie Boulevard, where sidewalks end and there is no shoulder,” she told councilors.

“You have a duty to protect,” Gardener continued. “I can’t tell you how angry I am at you, at this city. It’s wrong, guys, and I hope you have trouble sleeping tonight.”

Councilor Kimberly A. Rogers, R-3, said the situation was a tragedy. “It’s just awful, it’s really a terrible thing. I don’t think any one of us up here doesn’t feel horrible about it, and some things are just not anticipated —weather events certainly have a play in that. So, I personally am sorry that that happened, and we will continue to look for ways to improve how we address some of these issues,” Rogers said.

Councilor John B. Mortise, R-2, noted that sidewalk placement and construction was a duty of the administration, but said that some progress on the matter was being made. “First Street got redone last year,” he said. “They had no sidewalks on half, and now there are. So, again, I think it’s something that’s being worked on, but it’s not an answer that can come from me as far as the whole Erie Boulevard.”

The council’s Community and Economic Development Committee was recently briefed by Mayor Jacquline M. Izzo, said the commmittee’s chair, Councilor Riccardo Dursi, R-5, adding that he and his colleagues were pleased with progress on DRI projects.

At the empty lot on 183 W. Dominick St., which City Hall plans to develop for mixed commercial and residential use, the committee expects “hopefully some good news” in the near future, he said.

“There’s some designs that have been going forward for the Centro bus (transfer station),” planned for West Liberty Street, he added. For the DRI’s Business Assistance Fund, there has been “plenty of interest,” and he noted that demolition work at the derelict Liberty-George parking garage would soon begin.

Some ancillary projects like the wayfinding signage and the SMART walk art plaza will move forward as spring arrives, Dursi said.

In her report, Council President Stephanie Viscelli said that she had spoken with Matt Varughese of YES Development, the project lead for the restoration of Old City Hall. Viscelli said Varughese was preparing to meet with Codes Enforcement officials to wrap up the residential aspects of the project, and that he would move forward with plans to use the first floor of the building for business use.

Approved Wednesday:

An affirmation that the Liberty-George parking garage demolition would have no negative environmental impact, per state law.

A measure authorizing the closure of North James Street from Erie Boulevard to West Liberty Street on July 11 and 12 for the “Cycling the Erie Canal” event, and further authorizing the cyclists to us the Liberty-James parking garage in case of inclement weather.

Some amendments to the city budget

Appointing of Commissioners of Deeds, a notary-like position, including the appointment of Councilors Cam T. Tien, D-1, and Ramona L. Smith, D-4. Tien and Smith recused.

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