Press-Republican

March 5, 2014

Master plan in view for Saranac River Trail

By DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — A consultant may soon be aboard to build a master plan for the Saranac River Trail Greenway.

That pathway would eventually extend from the City of Plattsburgh through the Town of Saranac through the towns of Plattsburgh and Schuyler Falls.

Bob Fuller, who represents the Town of Plattsburgh on the Saranac River Trail Greenway initiative, gave an update on the project at the Town of Plattsburgh Complete Streets Committee’s first meeting of the new year.

He said his group’s next focus is to send out a request for qualifications for the consultant. 

A master plan, with options, he said, will help the participating municipalities make sure their parts of the trail will match up with the others. 

“We hope to have a consultant on board within 60 to 90 days,” Fuller said.

That part of the project would involve $40,000 in waterfront revitalization grant funding awarded in 2011 to the Town of Saranac. 

DOT FOCUS SWITCH

Complete Streets planning calls for streets and roads designed to improve safety, access and mobility for roadway users of all ages and abilities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation.

Josh Wilson of the New York Bicycling Coalition attended the Plattsburgh session and gave details on some of his group’s advocacy issues.

While the coalition supports the state’s Complete Streets law, members are concerned it was written to exclude Complete Streets improvements in resurfacing and maintenance projects. 

Wilson said that comes at the same time the State Department of Transportation has switched to a focus on maintenance and preservation projects over construction of new transportation infrastructure.

They would like the Complete Streets law to be amended to allow such improvements.

“This is a good opportunity to do low-cost projects,” he said.

SPEED LIMITS

The Bicycling Coalition is also following legislation introduced in the State Senate by Sen. Betty Little to allow towns with a population of less than 50,000 to set their own speed limits.

Presently, a town has to submit a request to its county highway department, which is then forwarded to the State DOT, where it is often denied.

Wilson said it doesn’t make sense that small towns can’t set their own limits while a neighboring village can. He said there is a huge safety benefit, as evidenced by a 40 percent increase in survival rates for a pedestrian if the vehicle that hits them is going 20 mph rather than 30.

‘PLAN FIRST PAYS’

Town of Plattsburgh Planning Department Head Phil Von Bargen said at the meeting that the town has been awarded a $25,000 matching grant in the last round of Regional Economic Development Council funding. 

That is to be used to prepare a Town Waterfront Revitalization Planning Guide.

It would be a key component for a new grant application for design or even implementation projects. Von Bargen said it’s becoming increasingly clear that having a plan in place makes it easier to get funds later.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com

SARANAC TRAIL SESSION

Saranac River Trail Greenway Committee meetings are open to the public. The next one is tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, March 26, in the first-floor meeting room of the Clinton County Government Center in Plattsburgh.

GRANT OPPORTUNITY

Waterfront revitalization projects in Clinton County were awarded up to $200,000 in funding in 2012. For the next round, consultant Melissa McManus is accepting proposals for projects in Clinton County through 4 p.m. March 31 by email at melissamcmanusllc@gmail.com.

COMPLETE STREETS MEETINGS

Tentative dates for Town of Plattsburgh Complete Streets Committee meetings are set for the fourth Thursday of March, April, May and June.  They would be held at 4:30 p.m. at Plattsburgh Town Hall, 151 Banker Road, Plattsburgh.