With the defeat of Proposition 6, on the “Road Diet,” it is a good time to reflect on lessons learned. In retrospect, it was better that the vote took place during the general election as the proposition was defeated by a larger group of voters. Democrats, Republicans, and others sent a resounding message that they support our existing businesses and respect their concerns. Voters outside of the area affected showed their support of their neighbors who were asking the town board to reconsider their unpopular plan.
From my perspective, over the past four years residents and businesses have said that they want a better Delaware Avenue. They want better sidewalks, especially in the area surrounding Elsmere School. Pedestrians have long been ignored on this stretch. The “improvement” of the adjacent stretch of Delaware Avenue a few years ago was a disappointment to many. I think many of us expected an inviting design. The second construction to replace water and sewer infrastructure and subsequent drainage issues was upsetting for many, especially our businesses. The succeeding maintenance has been dismal. By August of this year, the weeds were knee-high.
There are a number of ways that we can create an inviting Delaware Avenue that doesn’t involve bike lanes: traffic calming, additional crosswalks, pocket parks and benches, landscaping, lighting, and bike racks. The town can also create a unified signage and color scheme and can offer small grants to businesses to create what is sorely lacking, a sense of place. Better connections between the Albany County Rail Trail and this short stretch, including a connection to the Normanskill Bridge into Albany and signage directing people to the trail would also be a great asset. Let’s not forget that we have the only rail trail in the area which is directly behind the business districts of Delmar and Slingerlands. Many of the other area trails are located next to the river or canals and don’t provide easy access. We can capitalize on this for our local businesses. I’d like to invite our Town Board to think outside the box and create an inviting business corridor that we can be proud of.