Tuesday, August 19, 2008

But Who Will Shovel Them?

With a bad case of infrastructure envy, the O-D editors push for sidewalks in New Hartford . . . seemingly because Whitestown has them.
New Hartford is considering an amendment to subdivision zoning laws that would require all new developments to construct sidewalks . . .
This sounds like every house in a new suburban development will have sidewalks in front of it. Is this really needed?
. . . The village has sidewalks, but not the town. . .
And there is good reason for that: Population Density.

Sidewalks are found in villages because the population density justifies them: too many people trying to share the road with vehicles would be unsafe and decreases traffic capacity. There are sufficient numbers of people benefiting to warrant their sharing the cost.

While the editors feel that sidewalks would promote a "close knit" feeling in the community, it is really population density (people living close to each other) that does that. If someone chooses to live in a development with 5 acre lots to have room from their neighbors, they do NOT want a "close knit" feeling. Sidewalks in such a place would represent a expense not justified by a need.

Chapman Road is cited as
"a wonderful addition, and you see people walking/running along them all the time"
"All the time" is an exaggeration. How about winter? I seem to recollect a discussion between residents along Chapman and town fathers where the residents were not happy about the sidewalks because (1) they did not choose to have them, (2) they did not want to shovel them, and (3) they did not want the accessibility.

It seems that to satisfy the desires of some recreationists, the public is being asked to expand its infrastructure. The costs of this will ultimately fall on either Town taxpayers in general or the adjoining homeowners.

9 comments:

Mrs. Mecomber said...

I live in the town (not village) of New Hartford. I want sidewalks. All my neighbors want sidewalks. Kellogg Road, Oxford Rd, Oneida Street, and Elm Street in Willowvale look HORRIBLE, and there have been constant car/pedestrian accidents in Willowvale. You'd be surprised to see how many residents will shovel their own sidewalks. And I'm in favor of a law enforcing the shoveling of sidewalks. As it is right now, snow plows dump all snow between the road and people's lawns, and it is IMPOSSIBLE to walk down the street without walking on the icy road, right next to the cars sliding by.

Now, I have only seen a few pedestrians walking on Chapman and Oxford. But I see streams of people on Oneida St, Elm St, and Oxford, all day and all night. I once read that that the Washington Mills intersection of Oneida/Kellogg/Chapman was one of the busiest in the county.

Maybe Chapman Rd people don't want sidewalks, but others have been clamoring for them for YEARS. And actually, there used to be sidewalks until the 70s, when the town paved them over with asphalt. I dare say Oneida St definitely needs sidewalks-- maybe even curbs, too, because of all the water flow from Sauquoit.

Anonymous said...

I drive the Chapman area all of the time. The only frequent walker/runner I see on the sidewalk is Jerry Donovan.

swimmy said...

The chapman road sidewalks also supports the population density. With all the heavy traffic, it does not make sense to have pedestrians on the road with vehicles traversing that roadway in excess of 50 miles an hour. Yes I know the speed limit is 35. But whenever I travel the speed limit on that road, I inevitably have someone tail gating me and attempting to pass on a double yellow going up the hill. One guy succeeded in this death defying stunt. To follow him, I had to reach 55! Not safe for pedestrians, if you ask me.

But yes, I do recall it was a woman who frequently walks that road who pulled the strings for those sidewalks to go in.

If anything is true in new hartford, the few ALWAYS come before the majority, especially when you have powerful connections... Look at the new business park proposal.

Strikeslip said...

Mrs. M -
If there are sufficient people clamoring for sidewalks, then they should consider forming a special use district under Town law to pay for them. That way, people living in the Villages of New Hartford or New York Mills who are already paying for sidewalks within their own jurisdictions do not have to pay for sidewalks elsewhere.

I've always said, if you want a city (or village) accoutrement/service -- and sidewalks would be one of them --
then become part of a city or village.

Dilbert said...

Whitestown clears the sidewalks they have on Clinton/Middlesettlemt, Clark Mills Rd etc. and they do a great job. Even after a heavy snow they are cleared within 24 hours.
However once they are in there is no guarantee peolpe will use them like in West Utica where people park there cars on the sidwalks and walk in the road.

Greens and Beans said...

Sidewalks are a good idea for densely populated areas. However, to mandate their installation is a bit overboard. On the other hand, I do fancy Strike’s idea of possibly creating distinctive sidewalk districts where the population is dense enough and the residents desire the sidewalks.

As with all laws, enforcement is paramount. New Hartford should not impose any ordinance without getting serious about the enforcement of the laws. When have we ever seen a sidewalk violation listed in the “police blotter” section of the newspaper? Too many residents are allowed to abuse the sidewalks that are located in front of their properties. I have noticed that there are several sidewalks in the Village of New Hartford that, for years, have been in critical need of replacement. Too many sidewalks have been allowed to be heaved and cracked by tree roots. Too many sidewalks have been damaged by the residents and businesses who smash them during winter snowplowing. And in Whitestown, there are several areas where the residents actually park their cars blocking major portions of the sidewalks that intersect with their driveways. This is a problem on the very road that the Whitestown Police Chief resides. On Commercial Drive, there are some businesses that actually use the sidewalks to provide a level base to support their temporary signage. I have witnessed police agencies stop cars for traffic infractions, right in front of these sidewalk violators, and opt not to enforce the obvious violation in front of their nose.

theangryengraver said...

Move to the country. You'll be able to walk in the road like I do LOL

Mrs. Mecomber said...

I thought your argument against sidewalks was based on community "need," not how they would be paid for or who would pay for them. I never stated that I desired someone else to pay for sidewalks in, for example, my area. I stated that sidewalks are both desired AND needed, for those of us who live out of the village, too.

Sorry, maybe I missed something in your post-- it seemed you were against sidewalks outside of villages because you thought no one would shovel the snow and that there aren't enough people to warrant the installation of sidewalks.

And just to clarify something-- don't get me going about how people pay for services they don't receive! Because the publis school system is the biggest crook of all with this! If townsfolks are going to mince over paying for others' sidewalks, I'd like to see a little more beefing about public school tax for a service some of us who are not served... but that's a totally different post, eh? ;)

By the way, do my taxes help pay for roads in the Village of New Hartford, roads that I never use?

Anonymous said...

I can see adding sidewalks to heavily populated roads, but not all roads/developments need sidewalks. The only places that really need it are ones with moderate to high vehicle traffic combined with regular pedestrian traffic. Dead end roads,low traffic roads, and roads that are rarely used for foot traffic do not need the sidewalks. Camden is a good example, with the high pedestrian use roads having sidewalks, while the less used backstreets do not.