Back Where We Started: Sidewalks Return To Gardiner (News From Town Hall)
By Laurie Willow
From Issue 19: Summer 2013
Sidewalks: Changing The Face of Gardiner
As we navigate the Hamlet today, the building of the sidewalks led by Paul Colucci is all but done. It is to our great advantage that Mr. Colucci was awarded the bid to build the sidewalks, as he is a lifelong resident and demonstrates the he personally cares about every ongoing detail.
The concept of sidewalks was first discussed in 2004 when the Town Board agreed that then Councilwoman Nadine Lemmon could apply for a grant to build them. That first grant was denied. Then a small Federal Grant called the Transportation Enhancement Grant was awarded to build the sidewalk from the Rail Trail to the Town Hall. In 2008, Nadine Lemmon again oversaw the town’s application for another Transportation Enhancement Grant and met with great luck as the D.O.T. (NY State Dept of Transportation) had just been given Federal stimulus money. The D.O.T. called the town to say, “You can have it if you are ready to go,” meaning if there were no issues with the Right of Way. Most of the landowners on Main Street had already donated their property to create the right of way for Phase One, so the town began the process of supplying more and more information to the local unit of the D.O.T., which was reviewing engineering plans.
What took nine years you may ask? For one thing, the Federal Highway red tape was endless. Our sidewalks had to undergo the same review process, rules and minute scrutiny applied to the building of the Tappan Zee Bridge. In the end however, the Hamlet of Gardiner will be prettier and safer, and of the $1.5 million dollar cost, the Town paid only $22,000, (about 1.5%). While some full grown trees had to be taken down, they will be replaced by four-inch saplings and other plantings.
Initially, when local developers knew there were going to be sidewalks, Main Street rejuvenation flourished. Several buildings were renovated, and new businesses were started. Unfortunately, some of the passion to rebuild Main Street has dissipated due to the recession and the extreme amount of time it took to actually build the sidewalks. Hopefully that passion to continue to create an exciting business community in the heart of the town will return once the Hamlet is proudly showing off its new face.
A Water Monitoring System For The Hamlet:
At recent meetings of the Town Board, discussions ensued regarding the creation of a water monitoring system for the Hamlet. This system, by the use of transducers in wells, will supply data on the water table over time and seasons. The goal is to have at least ten transducers installed in various wells. The information that is collected will be invaluable to the development of the Hamlet in monitoring the use of water by existing businesses and homes.
Our underground water courses vary with season, amount of rainfall, use, and other factors. By monitoring the water over time, it will be possible to supply information to people who may be applying to the Town Planning Board for a business in “downtown.” In the past, applicants have had to conduct their own prohibitively costly water tests which were not required by the direct presence of a specific development code, but by a sentence in the zoning code which allows the Planning Board to exact specific information at its discretion.
With the new water monitoring system, all development in the Hamlet will be fed by water information from one source, instead of by requests for some developers to conduct their own water tests. Development can then be controlled by a specific standard set by a central monitoring system and will depend on the amount of water available to support it.
Funds are being sought to implement the project.
Old Library Building
The Town Board has placed the old library building on the market for sale. Controversy remains over whether the building is an historic site worthy of preservation, or whether it is just an old building that no longer has a use for the town.
The Hess Farm
The Town of Gardiner and the Open Space Institute have secured in perpetuity the development rights of the Hess Farm, a 74-acre working farm on Sand Hill Road that has been in operation since the Civil War. This preservation of open space is the culmination of many hours of hard work by the Open Space Committee and many town residents on behalf of all the residents of Gardiner.