On Wednesday, November 28, representatives from the Pawling Pedestrian Plan held an open house to gather public commentary on a comprehensive sidewalk project underway throughout the village. The Pedestrian Plan is a joint effort between the Dutchess County Transportation Council (DCTC) and a local task force comprising volunteers. Ultimately, the project seeks to improve safety and access to the village center, recreation areas, and schools to enhance the pedestrian experience in the area.
Beginning with a resolution passed by the Village Board last April, the project then assembled a task force consisting of local officials and Town and Village residents. Throughout the summer, representatives from DCTC and task force members conducted a sidewalk inventory to identify problematic areas and formulate recommendations for areas of expansion. This process involved consulting GPS data for the area, reviewing the Comprehensive Plan, and soliciting public input.
“This Pedestrian Plan has three main goals,” explained Emily Dozier, Senior Planner with Dutchess County Department of Planning and Development. “We want to improve access, safety, and enhance the pedestrian experience. That means making it more comfortable and inviting to walk.” In previous years, DCTC has undertaken Pedestrian Plans in Rhinebeck, Hyde Park, Pine Plains, and Arlington. They are also currently working on a similar plan with the Town of Millerton. “These have been quite successful at allowing communities to pursue grant funding,” added Dozier.
Conducted in July, the sidewalk inventory identified a number of factors that the DCTC will take into consideration when preparing its final report. These include the overall condition of sidewalks throughout the village, as well as amenities such as trees, lighting, benches, outdoor tables, trashcans, bike racks, and shelters. Also considered as part of the study were sidewalk width, crosswalk locations, curbs, pedestrian-related signs, and on-street parking.
In total, the study encompassed more than six miles of sidewalk. Officials noted a lack of sidewalk connections on East Main Street, Coulter Avenue, and Route 22. Overall, 90% of the area sidewalks were deemed to be in good to excellent condition, with exceptions on portions of Elm Street, West Street, and Charles Colman Boulevard. The most common issues among the sidewalks were cracks and clearance, with roughly a third of crosswalks reported as fading. In addition, of the forty signs for pedestrians, many were found to be aging and inconsistent. The study also revealed several missing ramps and warning strips throughout the village.
While the process is continuing, officials presented a number of preliminary ideas based on the findings of the sidewalk inventory. Recommendations include the addition of curb extensions on Main Street, the addition of warning strips at ramps, and consistent crosswalk signs. On East Main Street and Coulter Avenue, the survey revealed several safety and accessibility issues, including incomplete sidewalks, lack of crosswalks, and a wide-open intersection with multiple driveways.
Officials presented a number of improvement concepts as they continue to move toward the completion of the final report to the village. These ideas include the extension of sidewalks and/or a boardwalk on Dutcher Avenue, the possible installation of a boardwalk along the wetland area of South Street, sidewalk extensions to allow better access to both the high school and middle school, and sidewalk extensions to allow better connectivity to Lakeside Park and Murrow Park. “This is still very much in a conceptual place,” said Dylan Tuttle, Junior Planner with Dutchess County Department of Planning and Development.
Village officials will continue to work closely with the DCTC, and they anticipate the final plan will be completed in the spring or summer of 2019.
For more information on the Pawling Pedestrian Plan, visit DutchessNY.gov/PawlingPedestrianPlan online.