The Northport Village Board of Trustees will re-evaluate its proposal for restoration of a sidewalk along Bayview Avenue following a meeting with the street's residents on Tuesday.
The original plan, which was designed in 2005, was to rebuild significant portions of the sidewalk along the east side of Bayview Avenue, with the restoration project stretching from Main Street to James Street. But many Bayview residents at Tuesday's meeting were generally more concerned with the state of the road than the state of the sidewalk, saying that they would prefer to see the money invested to fix poor road conditions.
"From your input, I think it's a waste of time doing a sidewalk on the [East] side," said Northport trustee Jerry Maline. "The plans were made in 2005. To use them would be totally impractical."
The funding for the sidewalk comes from a grant given to the Village for improvements on multiple roadways in 1999. Work using the funding was already done on roads such as Scudder Avenue, Reservoir Avenue, and Church Street. Most of the funding will be used for a restoration project along Ocean Avenue that has not yet started.
Bayview is the only other street that has not had work done on it yet. The purpose of the meeting was to determine whether or not the sidewalk was the best course of action. But it quickly became clear that the residents at the meeting thought the money could be better spent.
"If someone wants a sidewalk I have no problem," said Steve King, a resident of 131 Bayview. "But the foot traffic on Bayview doesn't really warrant it. In some places it squeezes the street and private property to put the sidewalk in."
There were multiple logistical issues with a new sidewalk brought up by Bayview residents. Several residents pointed out that the east side of the street was needed to pile plowed snow (a fact magnified by massive amounts of snowfall this year), while others discussed reservations over the aesthetics of installing a new concrete slab along their street.
Christine Deangelo, of 80 Bayview, noted that she needed to drive over the sidewalk to get out of her driveway on many days, and that high curbs would make her life more difficult.
One resident, of 139 Bayview, called the new sidewalks "not very functional. They are narrow. There are telephone poles in the way. There are fire hydrants in the way. In some places you couldn't get two people walking side-by-side to get between the retaining walls and the impediments."
But the main issue that most residents agreed on was that a repair of the concrete road (beyond the blacktop patching that's frequently done) was a more pressing need. King said the most recent patchwork made the road look "like a Dalmatian".
"It is an embarrassment and a shame to drive down Bayview Avenue, between potholes and weeds growing," said Diane Berger of 77 Bayview. "It looks like crap. We're like a stepchild in this neighborhood."
"Have you seen the street after the snow?" said Lucia Greco-Bergin of 64 Bayview Avenue. "That's supposed to be the Fifth Avenue of Northport. Right now it looks like it's 124th Street."
For Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin, it wasn't surprising that the residents preferred an alternate project.
"People have been talking about this for a while," he said. "They've mentioned that the sidewalk isn't the main priority, and that there may be some negative things about doing the sidewalk, such as the problems with [where to put] the snow, and where people have extensive brickwork, are they going to have to maintain it, because they'll have to meet the sidewalk and make it appropriate for people walking by and handicapped access."
Some residents, like Bob Shepps of 131 Bayview and James Bergin of 64 Bayview, were concerned that they would lose the grant for the sidewalk if they chose to work on the road instead. Tobin told the residents that the grant was a blanket fund for road improvements, but that widespread changes would require the Board to re-present plans to the State Department of Transportation (DOT). He didn't have a problem doing that, though. "If we have a strong consensus that the residents and the board believe the money is better spent, and spent for the aims of the grant in a different way, we’ll have no problem going back to the DOT if we need to," he told them.
An interesting side discussion took place over how to make traffic on Bayview more efficient during snowstorms. Judy Gorevic, of 127 Bayview Avenue, suggested that Bayview be designated as an one-way street during times of snow emergency, so that the road could be paved quicker. Trustee Thomas Kehoe took the suggestion one step further, suggesting that Bayview could become a one-way street full-time, a suggestion that seemed to resonate with the residents in attendance (although Trustee Damon McMullen noted that they tried it in the 1960s and it was unpopular). Guido seemed opposed to the idea, noting that it would be a hassle to get approximately 100 cars off the street and into the Village parking lot before the storm. But many of the residents said it would be an inconvenience they'd be willing to suffer in order to get the road paved quicker.
As for the next phase of the plan, Deputy Mayor Tobin expects that the Village will need about a month to review the state of the road before meeting with Bayview residents again to decide on a final adjustment.
"I'd like to see when Mr. Guido is able to inspect the road, when we get a sense from residents that we've identified the major areas that people would like to repair and get the financial details from that," he said. "Then we'd want to re-notice everyone about it. I'd hope we'd be able to [meet with residents] between mid-March and the end of March. If we get a consensus then, we'll know what direction to go and we can have the engineering company draw up the proper plans, give it to the DOT, and move."