Here come the sidewalks

2 Jul

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If you’ve been in the village anytime recently, you’ve probably noticed that new sidewalks are being installed along the north side of East Main Street. It looks like (judging from the little “don’t dig here” flags all the way down Main Street) that the new walks are being replaced from Jojo’s Bistro all the way east to Phillips Rd.

They’re making great progress, so the main part of the job should be done in just a few more days. It’s going to be messy for a short time, but in the end this is going to be a great improvement for the village.

My personal thank you to Superintendent of Public Works Jake Swingly and his staff for replacing the bike rack in front IMG_20200701_142505430_HDRof Barry’s Pub/The Garage Sale Store that was knocked over several months ago (probably by a delivery truck). Cyclists are beginning to hit the streets for the summer, and as our local restaurants and pubs start to open up again, the bike rack should get some use. Let’s hope it survives a bit longer this time.

Speaking of sidewalks, I saw this recently on Supervisor Tom Flaherty’s column (which you can find on the Town of Webster website). I heard talk many moons ago about sidewalks being installed west of the village, and had wondered what the status was.

This column from June 24, which I re-post in its entirety, explains.

While campaigning in 2019, I heard several people say they wish we had more sidewalks in Webster. Some even said that the Town government was against installing sidewalks in Webster. One of my favorite lines is “don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story”. When I entered office in January 2020, I got first-hand knowledge that the facts on how the Town government was approaching sidewalks did not match the story. I immediately became aware of a 3+ year effort that the Town Board had been involved in to have sidewalks installed on Ridge Road, in the 1.5 miles between Five Mile Line Road and Rachel Drive in the Village. The “effort” was one of my first educations as Town Supervisor as to the process it takes to have sidewalks put in.

I am pleased to announce that the Town Board’s efforts on this project long before I became Supervisor, and several other key Town of Webster personnel has finally culminated. In the next several months you will start to see the construction of these sidewalks. So why did it take 3+ years? If the Town Board wanted sidewalks on Ridge Road, couldn’t they just wave their magic wand and make it happen? Well, unfortunately I am learning we don’t have a magic wand as a Town Board, but man that would be cool if we did! Life would be a lot easier. What I found out was that the cost and the land use were the two stumbling blocks that made the process take over three years.

On the cost side, the $2 million+ project will be 75% – 80% funded by State and Federal grants. That grant process is long and arduous. Had the Town Board opted three years ago to bypass that grant application process, the sidewalks would be in by now. However, Webster taxpayers would have footed the whole $2 million bill instead of the $400 – 500,000 it will now cost. On the land use side, these sidewalks over a 1.5-mile swath will cross over lands owned by the Town, State, County, and private owners. Unfortunately, we could not just say “hey, we’re putting in sidewalks so we’re going to go through your land to do it and there is nothing you can do about it”. The time and cost to obtain the rights to put those sidewalks on that land, was combined with a legal process of easements and rights-of-way, and I’ll spare you all the boring details. Trust me, it is no easy task.

So have some patience the next few months as you traverse Ridge Road between Five Mile Line and Rachel Drive. Installation of the sidewalks may cause some traffic issues. Can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. But oh, will that omelet be nice once it is done! I for one look forward to being able to walk from Wegmans on Holt Road down Ridge Rd. to Town Hall on Hard Rd., and all the way to Five Mile Line Road on these new sidewalks. I am thankful for the efforts of previous Town Supervisor Ron Nesbitt and the Town Board members for “staying the course” on what was a difficult and challenging process the past three years. They brought $2+ million dollars of quality of life improvements to Webster and did so with the citizens paying for a fraction of the cost through their town taxes.

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