City announces another option for Cogan

Image ProvidedThe City of Plattsburgh's latest option for the reconstruction of Cogan Avenue would add four-foot sidewalks and parking on the street's east side, using approximately five feet of the city's 15-foot right-of-way. 

PLATTSBURGH — The City of Plattsburgh Common Council announced another option for the 2020 rebuild of Cogan Avenue and hoped to finalize one of the scenarios at its Thursday, Jan. 30 session. 

At an earlier meeting, dwellers of the city street were invited in to offer feedback on the road's proposed reconstruction designs.

At the time, three options had existed and, per comments that evening, few of the Cogan Avenue residents had seemed pleased, with many bemoaning the addition of curbing, as well as the potential loss of driveway/lawn space and on-street parking.

At its latest session, City Councilor Elizabeth Gibbs (D-Ward 3) said the council was leaning towards another scenario, which she referred to as Option 5a. 

"This takes into account all of the things that we thought would make it safe," Gibbs said. "(It) would reduce liability, would provide sidewalks and on-street parking would still exist." 

LEAVE IT ALONE

Work to the street, to apply to the 1,700 feet between Cogan's intersections with Cornelia Street and Park Avenue West, was to include paving and was an offshoot of a nearing waterline reconstruction project.

Three ADA-compliant options, designed by Plattsburgh-based firm C&S Engineers Inc. via a $116,000 deal with the city, had been presented earlier this month and had included changes like the removal of on-street parking, as well as added curbing and/or sidewalks.

Most of the strip's vocal residents had wanted their street repaved, being notorious for its many potholes, but found any additional changes to be unnecessary. 

Cogan Avenue resident Harry Durgan had been one to suggest the city simply repave the street and move on.

"All I want to do is maintain what we have there," he had told the council. "It works. What we have works. We don't want change on our end of the street." 

LIABILITY ISSUES

But there were a couple of roadblocks in the way. 

As it was, Cogan Avenue had on-street parking, no sidewalks, minimal curbing and a short white line on the road's west end for bikers and/or walkers.

"With only having (the line) on one side of the road, you're forcing pedestrians to have their back to traffic," City Engineering Technician Andrew Durrin had told the council. "Another issue is people are parking inside of that pathway, so it causes pedestrians to be forced out into the roadway.

Both of these are liability issues for, not just the city, but also the design engineer."

The council's original options for the street had included a design with no sidewalks, which was preferred by the residents of Cogan Avenue.

However, per Durrin's remarks, that would have eliminated on-street parking in order to avoid the issues of liability — a choice not welcome by the residents there.

STATE FUNDS

At the Thursday council session, Councilor Gibbs said the no sidewalk option would also block the city from using state funding for the project. 

"Each year the city embarks on at least one major roadway construction project using Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, or CHIPS, funding from the state," a statement on the city's website says. 

"This funding requires the city to follow specified design criteria and engineering," it continues. "With engineered rebuilds using state-funded projects, sidewalks on both sides of the road are required."

Though Councilor Gibbs said she was at first not in favor of sidewalks in the West End, the ability to use state funds had changed her mind. 

"I was made aware that there is (state) funding that would go towards paying for these sidewalks," she said. "If we design this without sidewalks, we would have to take out money from our general fund for it."

'NOT AN OPTION'

For various reasons, Cogan Avenue residents have also voiced opposition to proposed curbing there, but, on Thursday night, Gibbs said this was a necessary addition.

Per the city's statement, the project required the major rebuild due to city infrastructure located underneath the roadway and roadside.

"(It) must be reconstructed to remedy water and sewer line deterioration and improve road drainage," it adds.

And so, Gibbs said, without added curbing, water would continue to compound and ruin the street. 

"If all we did was go through and resurface (the street) and fix the potholes, like we've done with other projects, all you're doing is throwing away taxpayer money," she said. "It is not an option to pave it and leave it alone.

We'd be right back at it in a couple of years; same potholes, same water problems," she continued. "It would be a huge waste of taxpayer money to not do it right the first time." 

LATEST SCENARIO

The option announced at the latest council session was a cross between the city's original scenarios. 

Some earlier options had potential to use the city's 15-foot right-of-way, which many homeowners perceived as their own lawn and driveway space, to build sidewalks and/or provide on-street parking.

This latest option would create four-foot sidewalks on each side of the roadway and include on-street parking on only the east, or odd, side of the street. 

"For this option the Common Council has worked closely with the engineers to employ less than a third of its 15-foot right-of-way," the city's statement says, "and would be performing landscaping to replace trees that need to be removed to repair the underground infrastructure."

The city has featured a rendering of the possible street design on its website at http://cityofplattsburgh.com/DocumentCenter/View/4888/Cogan-Ave-Project-Option-5A-presented-01-23-2020

The council was expected to vote for a Cogan Avenue layout at its Thursday, Jan. 30 meeting. 

Email McKenzie Delisle: 

mdelisle@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @McKenzieDelisle

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