Town Supervisor Paul Feiner wants every resident of Edgemont to know that even though he personally has refused for decades to address the problem, the Town is now committed to constructing sidewalks to make it safer for children to walk safely to Edgemont’s two elementary schools.
However, a resolution on last night’s Town Board agenda that Mr. Feiner promised in a town-wide email blast on October 24 was supposed to “take next steps to lead to new sidewalks in Edgemont” on both Seely Place and Fort Hill Road by calling for a request for proposals to “hire an engineer to provide engineering design services” did nothing of the sort.
Rather than take the new steps that were promised, the proposal instead called for a repeat of a $20,000 study commissioned by the Town Board last spring – the results of which were released last month – to explore the “feasibility” of constructing new sidewalks, including a “traffic analysis, including both pedestrian and vehicular traffic patterns, sidewalk use, benefits associated with the creation of the sidewalks, layout options, phased implementation and construction costs “while also including a review of the Town’s Draft Comprehensive Plan and discussion for these sidewalks as they relate to concepts within the Draft Comprehensive Plan.”
The resolution on tap for approval last night never once mentioned hiring “an engineer to provide engineering design services.”
What is more, the proposal under consideration last night omitted a proposed additional sidewalk on Fort Hill Road from Jackson Avenue to Ardsley Road, even though that sidewalk was expressly mentioned in Mr. Feiner’s October 24, 2015 email blast. Also omitted was another sidewalk — on Old Colony Road — that Mr. Feiner said would also be the subject of an engineering study.
The Town Board agreed to pull the sidewalk resolution from its agenda – to be voted on instead at a special meeting Friday – in order to add the sidewalks that were missing from Wednesday’s proposal. But it is not clear whether the board intends to reword the resolution so that it calls not for a repeat of the prior study, but instead calls for an “engineer to provide engineering design services.”
ECC president Bob Bernstein said at Wednesday night’s meeting that completing these engineering services were critically important in order for the Town to be in a position to submit grant proposals to obtain federal and state funding for construction of all sidewalks needed for Edgemont children to be able to walk safely to and from their elementary schools.
“Edgemont needs the Town to complete the engineering work so that proper grant proposals may be submitted,” Mr. Bernstein said. “If Edgemont were an incorporated village, we would have already gotten this work done ourselves, but because we’re not a village, we are entirely dependent on the Town doing this public safety work for us – because only the Town is eligible to apply for grants,” he added.
Mr. Bernstein also pointed out that the Town had promised Edgemont residents that engineering work would begin not only for the sidewalks promised for Seely Place, but also for Fort Hill from Ardsley Road to Longview Road, as well as on Old Colony Road from the high school to the “S” curve.
Town board members agreed to pull the resolution to allow for other Edgemont sidewalks to be included in the request for proposals – but it is not clear whether the Town Board intends to proceed with the engineering work – as residents were promised – or whether it would rather just do another study.
Mr. Feiner last night said if grant money were not available to pay for construction of sidewalks in Edgemont, he would include money in his “capital budget” to start the work.
However, Mr. Feiner’s capital budget – which is a list of capital improvements for which he intends to borrow money to fund – is not generally submitted until late spring 2016, and no money has been allocated for sidewalks in any capital budget adopted by the Town since 2011. Consequently, even if he were to honor his promise, there may be competing demands for sidewalk funding elsewhere in the Town. As a result, even if the Town were committed to building them, it may be years before any are actually constructed – and yesterday’s “resolution” which failed to call for the promised engineering work, unless corrected by tomorrow, may turn out to be a step backward.
Such steps backward are not unusual when it comes to sidewalks in Edgemont. Last year, Police Chief Chris McNerney told the Edgemont Community Council that he had come to the conclusion that sidewalks were needed for children in Edgemont and, having seen federal funds pay for a sidewalk nearly a mile long on Heatherdeall Road in Ardsley, where he lives, Chief McNerney said he would support efforts to get such funding to pay for sidewalks in Edgemont.
Mr. Feiner said the Town Board was supportive, but at a town board work session in December last year, they said no sidewalks would be constructed at all in Edgemont unless and until the police chief had completed a town-wide study of sidewalk needs for school children in all nine school districts that serve unincorporated Greenburgh.
Edgemont is the only school district entirely within unincorporated Greenburgh, but there are eight others that exist partially in unincorporated Greenburgh and partially in one or more of the Towns’ incorporated villages.
After Edgemont residents protested, the town board reversed course and decided to fund an outside study of sidewalk needs in Edgemont only. That study, completed at a cost of $20,000, last month recommended the constuction of sidewalks on Seely Place, along Ardsley Road to Highland Road, and along Fort Hill from Ardsley Road to Longview Road, at an estimated cost of $1.1 million.
Following release of that report, Mr. Feiner met with civic groups in Cotswold, Old Edgemont and Southern Greenville, and promised the next step would require calling for an engineering study – to be voted on last night.
But as of last night, no such engineering proposal was even on the table.