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DeWitt: Neighbors consider Maple Drive sidewalk

About 70 DeWitt residents gathered April 10 at the town hall to discuss preliminary plans for a sidewalk project initiated in 2005 by a group whose homes help make up the neighborhood. The project comes at a time when the town is looking to re-do the road due to its deteriorating conditions.

The initial meeting, driven by project organizer Tracy Foss, touched on topics such as the preliminary sidewalk design, benefits and concerns. Irene Scruton, a town councilor who also lives on Maple Drive, acted as facilitator.

"I was so happy when I saw this piece of paper in my mailbox," said Kittell Road resident Tony Anello, referring to the flyer that was distributed to homes on Maple Drive and neighboring streets. "We have a lot of community on the road. People walk up and down with their kids, strollers, their dogs. It's wonderful. Having access to Maple also, I think, would bring the whole area together, and that's what we need -- more community."

A footpath would also bring increase safety on the heavily trafficked two-lane road.

"Right now, it's dangerous," said Theresa Eppolito, a Fitness Forum employee.

The exercise club is in favor of sidewalks because many of its members use the neighborhood streets for jogging and walking, she said.

Anello agreed.

"My daughter is going to be using this road to go up to school and I'm going to be very happy knowing she'll be able to walk safely up a road," he said. "I'm tired of 'let's take the bus to school' when you're around 300 yards away from it because it's dangerous."

The primary construction concerns included landscaping and aesthetics. Neighbors want to keep the character of the neighborhood in check, Foss said. Ideas such as adding streetlights and burying utilities were also discussed.

The crowd was shown three preliminary sidewalk options designed by SUNY ESF students who took on the challenge as a class project in 2006. Choices include grass strips with curbing to separate the road from the sidewalk or a raised asphalt pedestrian path with no grass strip between the path and the side of the road.

The total estimated cost for the sidewalk district, which would include residential and commercial properties, would be approximately $60 per $150,000 assessed value over 20 years, said town engineer Mike Kolceski. The total project cost is estimated at $600,000, not including grants or $400,000 with grants estimated in at one-third of the cost.

"This project would probably go to public bid, if it goes forward," Kolceski said, adding, "There's no reason to believe there couldn't be more money in grants."

Sidewalk construction would include the segments of Maple Drive from East Genesee Street up to and including Edinger Drive.

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