The Salina Town Board voted to reduce the speed limit on the stretch of John Glenn Boulevard heading west from Route 57 to Route 690 from 55 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour At its regular board meeting Monday Aug. 14. The decision was made after a public hearing in which representatives from the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department and the Grenadier Village apartment complex asked the board to support the move. Despite an invitation from Supervisor Charles Iavarone, representatives from the Onondaga County Department of Transportation did not attend the meeting.
“We believe lowering the speed will enhance public safety,” said Rich McCarron of the sheriff’s department. He did not present specific statistics at the meeting, noting that he had previously provided them to the town board.
Grenadier Village resident and spokesman David Valenti spoke up in favor of the proposal. Valenti also spoke on behalf of residents of the Long Branch Apartments and Townhouses.
“As long as I’ve been a part of these properties, I’ve seen the transformation of John Glenn Boulevard,” Valenti said. “There’s been the development to the north on Routes 57 and 31, and more and more housing is going up in Baldwinsville. We have concerns with the volume of traffic.”
Valenti noted that there are some 1,200 to 1,500 people living in Grenadier Village and an additional 600 to 700 in the Long Branch complex. Those residents must cross the center median to make a left turn out of the complexes.
“During peak traffic times, we’ve seen speeds exceeding 65 or 70 miles per hour,” he said. “It’s very dangerous.”
Valenti urged the board to take a proactive approach to prevent future accidents on the road. The board members agreed wholeheartedly with his arguments.
“There’s no better way to do this than to reduce the speed limit,” First Ward Councilor Paul Carey said. The stretch of road in question is part of his district. “Whenever you hear the traffic reports, there’s always an accident at John Glenn Boulevard. We have to be proactive.”
Carey’s sentiments were echoed by Second Ward Councilor David Stott, who also urged increased enforcement on the part of county sheriff’s deputies.
Iavarone, who noted that he has been a resident of Grenadier Village since 14 days ago, mentioned his own concerns about safety on the road, expressing his support for the reduction in speed. The board voted unanimously to approve the measure. Effective upon the filing of the decision and the erection of new speed limit signs, the reduction is just one step the town and county are taking to improve the safety of the road. Residents and members of the board are also working to install a caution light to alert thru traffic that there are cars exiting the neighborhoods ahead.
[Residents face floods, cave-ins]
When the period for public comment arrived, several town residents signed up to speak their piece about flooding damage from recent rainstorms. This is the board’s first regular meeting since the July 12 storm that dumped record rainfall on the area.
Bill Meyers of 105 Glendale Ave. told the board that, as a result of the July 12 flooding, the sewer drain in front of his house overflowed, bringing 22 inches of sewage into his basement and causing $12,000 worth of damage. He noted that the drainage system on his street was inadequate and asked the board to look into repairing it. Meyers’ concerns were echoed by Melanie Brown of 201 Crestwood in Pitcher Hill, who has faced significant flooding with this summer’s heavy rains.
Highway Superintendent James Whitehead admitted that the town’s drainage system is in poor repair. “The pipes are in poor shape,” he said of the Pitcher Hill and Glendale area drainage systems, “but they’re just another of 25 or 30 areas that need to be upgraded.”
Iavarone assured the residents that the town would look into possible solutions and keep them apprised of the situation.
Two other Pitcher Hill residents came before the board to seek relief because they had sinkholes in their backyards. The holes resulted from previous residents’ failures to fill in existing septic systems when the neighborhood was moved onto the sanitary sewer system in the 1960s. One resident, Candice Allen of 105 Sandra Drive, asked the town to share the cost of filling in the holes.
“I think the town is partially responsible,” Allen said. “They sent a letter to the residents in 1966 telling them to fill in the systems and hook up to the sanitary sewers. The letters said the town would be coming through in two years to inspect to make sure they did it.”
Iavarone and Town Attorney Robert Ventre noted that it was not town procedure to inspect private property and that neither had heard of the town ever making a promise to do such a thing. They encouraged residents to file a notice of claim against the town, which would then be submitted to its insurance company.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.