Village tackles issues around walkability

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The Village of Trumansburg has many unique distinctions, but perhaps the most important is that it’s one of the few rural New York villages that can boast both the offering of essential services (water, sewage, DPW, fire, police and EMS) and an attractive Main Street.

One of the attractive aspects of the village is a resident’s proximity to all of it. Coffee, dentist, eye doctor, library, craft beer, barber/hair stylist(s), bike shop, bowling, pizza, car parts, farmer’s market and fine dining are all generally within walking distance for most village residents. While we know that’s a great marketing pitch, we also recognize that distance is not the only barrier to walkability. That’s why we’re focusing on improving access and safety for all pedestrians.

A beloved fixture for local walkers, joggers and families looking to avoid Route 227 is the Gregg Street footbridge. For about a year now, the bridge has been closed due to a damaged retaining wall that supports the bridge. After bidding out the work, the original price tag for repair was too high for the village to address immediately.

Since then, we’ve talked with state representatives about grant funding, the bridge has been further examined by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and most recently, the Village Board commissioned a committee of volunteers to investigate the potential to repair the bridge as part of a community construction project.

We have the luxury of a diversity of expertise in greater Trumansburg, and with that offers the potential to repair the bridge for only the cost of materials/machinery. We’re currently working on an application to the DEC in which we hope they will give the community build their blessing. We know this bridge is important to many residents and regardless of the DEC decision, and I believe we will find a solution that restores the bridge to working order.

Many of these same volunteers just spent a week building a new sidewalk on South Street between Whig Street and Main Street.

This strip of sidewalk completes the safe routes to school project the village embarked on two years ago and provides a smooth journey from Main Street to the school district campus. Strollers and wheelchairs will be delighted with the much improved surface, and we’re grateful for the volunteers and our DPW staff for giving their time to this important project.

In the future, we hope to address more sidewalks in the village on an annual basis. One priority area we have is continuing the Main Street sidewalk past the Farmer’s Market up to Seneca Road to connect western Main Street to the rest of the village.

Walkability inevitably leads pedestrians to stepping off sidewalks and into a road. That is why we have formally requested the New York Department of Transportation to study several areas of Main Street as we look to improve pedestrian protection in our business corridor.

The first area is the intersection of Route 96 and Cemetery Road. Not My Dad’s Ice Cream, especially when the fair grounds and school district are in use, is a popular place to walk to. The problem is there is no sidewalk access for the patrons, leading to a dangerous game of “frogger” for those in search of a frosty treat.

Couple that with cars coming out of 45 mph zone and you have the potential for a problem. We’re hoping the DOT will agree and paint a new crosswalk that connects the sidewalk to Not My Dad’s and Synergy.

Our Main Street has much going for it, but one obstacle is the fact that Main Street is also State Route 96. This brings with it many cars commuting across the state as well as more 18-wheeler activity than we’d like to see. The state will not drop the speed limit below 30 mph, but we are hoping they will offer ideas for new signage or other methods to imploring drivers to be extra cautious as they pass through Main Street.

With many restaurants, a laundromat and a small playground, there are many people moving about in this small area and we recognize the twists, turns and elevation changes of Main Street can create blind spots as you approach various crosswalks. The intersections of

Elm and Main and Union and Main are two areas we have highlighted in our request for help with speed reduction. We expect to hear back from the DOT in the coming weeks.

Roads, sidewalks and bridges: these are not the topics you’ll hear discussed during upcoming presidential debates but are essential to quality of life in all cities, towns and villages. While they are needed, they are not cheap. That is why we’ll continue to look for financial support from different levels of government, while utilizing our inspiring, local volunteers whenever possible.

As we push to protect and advance the quality of life in the village, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the supportive spirit of our neighbors who share our ambition in ensuring that Trumansburg does not go the way of other municipalities in New York state, but rather that it remains attractive, accessible and self-sustaining for generations to come.

Keith Hannon is a Village of Trumansburg trustee, Village Police commissioner and board member of the Trumansburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

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