Town Supervisor Paul Feiner came under fire tonight for having denied funding for construction of two sidewalks that would have allowed children to walk safely to Greenville Elementary School next year, claiming it was a “business decision.”
The rejected funding would have allowed for construction of a new sidewalk on Fort Hill Road from Ardsley Road to Longview Road, and along Ardsley Road from Fort Hill Road to Highland Road.
Mr. Feiner instead authorized $500,000 in funding for a sidewalk on Fort Hill Road from Ardsley Road to Jackson Avenue that, when completed, because of his refusal to fund the two sidewalks leading to Greenville School, will leave children stranded on the corner once they come to the dangerous intersection with traffic-clogged Ardsley Road.
Indeed, as a result of Mr. Feiner’s action, once childen walking along Fort Hill Road arrive at the intersection with Ardsley Road, they will need a car to get them safely to school.
In a town board hearing tonight on his proposed capital budget, Mr. Feiner said the reason he was recommending funding for the sidewalk along Fort Hill Road from Ardsley Road to Jackson Avenue was that he had recently met with the Southern Greenville Civic Association and they wanted it, which made it sound more like a political decision.
Nevertheless, why he thought it made business or political sense to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a sidewalk that won’t allow any kids to get to school remained a mystery.
Mr. Feiner’s action was a rebuke to Police Chief Chris McNerney who last year recommended that the two specific sidewalks Mr. Feiner rejected be constructed so that children could walk safely from their homes to the Greenville School. The Town Board then commissioned a study by the RBA Group, which likewise strongly recommended construction of these two sidewalks.
Mr. Feiner had no explanation why he was making a sidewalk that won’t allow any children to walk to school a greater priority in Edgemont than the two sidewalks that would have helped children walked safely to school.
Chief McNerney said two weeks ago he was not consulted on the decision and would seek to get it reversed, but was evidently unable to do so.
Meanwhile, funding for the sidewalk to be constructed on Seely Place was okayed by Mr. Feiner, but it is looking less and less likely that construction will take place in 2016.
Mr. Feiner had for months been promising Edgemont residents that the Seely sidewalk would be constructed over the summer and completed in time for the opening of school in the fall.
However, the Town did not even seek bids on engineering work for the Seely sidewalk until March and it is not yet known when the engineering work will be completed. Accordingly, even if the Town acts quickly to approve the capital budget and proceeds to borrow the money to fund the cost, the Town would still need the resulting of the engineering work to seek bids to get the sidewalk constructed.
As of tonight, the best estimate for when work on the Seely sidewalk would begin was sometime in October, but if it gets delayed beyond that, the coming winter weather may result in construction being deferred until sometime in 2017.
The Town Board tonight scheduled a special meeting for next Tuesday to adopt the capital budget. By scheduling the special meeting tonight, the town board was sending a message that tonight’s public hearing was a formality, that no matter how strongly Edgemont residents argued tonight in favor of proceeding with the sidewalks the police chief had recommended for Greenville children, the Town Board would not budge on the issue.
Town councilman Francis Sheehan had warned at Tuesday’s work session not to schedule the special meeting in advance of the hearing – lest it appear to the public that the Town Board had actually “prejudged” the issue.
But town board members tonight hastily scheduled the meeting next Tuesday to approve the capital budget without regard to the opposition expressed over Mr. Feiner’s rejection of funding for the Greenville sidewalks.
Mr. Feiner also warned residents who favored the Seely sidewalk that if anyone spoke out against the capital budget tonight, it was possible the Seely sidewalk won’t get built at all in 2017.
Funding for the Seely sidewalk was initially proposed to be $260,000, but Mr. Feiner increased that amount by $200,000 to $460,000 — just in case the estimates for doing the work turn out to be higher than $260,000.
Mr. Feiner said funding for other sidewalks in Edgemont might be authorized in future years.