In keeping with two resolutions passed unanimously by the Colonie Town Board at last week’s Town Board meeting, Thursday, Sept. 11, a project to build a loop road on the Siena College campus will now be sponsored by the town.
According to Director of Facilities at Siena College Don Delmanzo, the project will create a road that will connect the campus’ townhouses to its gymnasium in an effort to prevent students from using town roads to get from one side of campus to the other.
The project began, Delmanzo said, just over three years ago, just before he began working at the college in 2005, when the college received a $1.3 million federal grant for the transportation earmark. The grant required the college to seek a recognized entity sponsor for the project that would incur no additional costs in the construction or maintenance of the road.
Originally, the college had sought to have the state as a sponsor, but Delmanzo said the state is prohibited from being the sponsor.
`We had been told by the state, because of the kinds of earmarks that we’re seeing, that they might pass a bill where we could be our own sponsor,` said Delmanzo. `We didn’t want to burden the town of Colonie initially if we could do it ourselves.`
However that bill did not pass in the state Legislature and the college still needed a sponsor before beginning construction.
Next, Siena went to the Town of Colonie, at the time under the previous administration with former Town Supervisor Mary Brizzell.
Being that it was already December, the then-supervisor had told the college that the project would be put on hold until after the election.
The election came and went and the college still saw no sponsor.
At an agenda review session prior to the Thursday, Aug. 28, meeting, Delmanzo had talked to all members of the Town Board and the supervisor, pleading with the new administration to take on sponsorship of the project, telling them that the town would have virtually no liability with the loop road.
`Every conceivable liability issue that that can be provided from the town will be insulated,` said Delmanzo. `No one wants the town to carry any liability from this.`
Councilman Brian Hogan asked Delmanzo, `At what cost will this be to the town?`
Delmanzo said none, since the project is almost entirely funded by the federal government. In addition, the college must match 20 percent of the bill.
While the costs of the project are substantial, Delmanzo said the benefit of having the loop road will be incredibly beneficial to students.
`I believe it will improve student life significantly,` he said. `If the students have a tight schedule where they literally have to drive to a sports event and afterwards they have another obligation, then this will facilitate driving when they need to drive.`
Beyond that, Delmanzo said he anticipates that project directors will incorporate adding a bike lane into the project for students who use alternate transit, as well as a sidewalk with side-lighting.
`The after-dark transit route should be better than what we currently have,` he said.
At the original discussion on the issue, Councilman Bob Becker had asked, `Will this project do anything to help with parking?`
Becker had told Delmanzo that the town had been receiving several complaints from residents on Campus View Drive and other surrounding areas about students parking on residential streets surrounding the campus because there was not enough parking on campus.
Delmanzo said then that he did not think this project would do anything to curb those concerns, but that this project could be the first of many collaborative efforts between the college and the town.
In terms of when the project will be completed, Delmanzo said he would like to do it next summer, `but I think the prevailing wisdom is that it will be done the summer of 2010.`