BETHLEHEM Details are out on the Delaware Avenue Improvement project after nearly a decade of planning.
A full report on the improvements will be announced at a public meeting next week, Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. in the auditorium in Town Hall, but, from the mouth of Bethlehem Planning Director Rob Leslie himself, Spotlight News has obtained a preview.
“Improvements include new sidewalks, crosswalks, curbing, better defined on-street parking and decorative standing lighting fixtures replacing standard style street lamps, to give a more traditional decorative style,” said Leslie. “We’re trying to make the main street appearance of Delaware Ave. that this town deserves.”
Overall, the project aims to “enhance the main street corridor” of Delmar, by making small changes to beautify Delaware Avenue in order to make it more walk-able, shopper-friendly and biker-friendly, though there is no word yet on whether bike lanes will be introduced.
Details are not yet finalized, and public comments are encouraged at the meeting so that changes can be made before the project moves to its construction phase in early 2017. Comments from affected business owners were also cultivated at a meeting Monday, Feb. 1, organized by the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce.
The total project cost is estimated at $3.1 million. The town will provide $1.9 million – after applying for and failing to receive a New York State Energy and Research Development Agency (NYSERDA) cleaner, greener communities grant –and the remaining $1.2 million has been secured by a grant from the New York State Department of Transportation. CHA Companies is working with the town as their design and engineering consultant.
#In areas where the sidewalks on Delaware Avenue seems to flood into the street themselves and cars tend to park on sidewalk areas, separations will be made using curbing and painted lines to better define parking spaces and sidewalks, particularly in the area of Delaware Avenue leading to Four Corners.
“Where parking will go, sidewalks will go,” said Leslie. “We’re trying to maintain the amount of on-street parking that currently exists.”
#Additional areas included in the project are in front of Saint Thomas Church the Apostle Church on Adams Place, to clearly identify the pedestrian sidewalk from the street, as the separation there is ambiguous, and therefore dangerous given the amount of people who cross the street in the area to get to church.
#Areas of Delaware Avenue along Adam Street to Elsmere Avenue, and sections of Kenwood Avenue between Delaware Avenue and Adams Street and Kenwood Avenue and Hudson Avenue will also be affected. The Town is pursuing a study of the section of Delaware Avenue from Elsmere to the Albany City line to address traffic flow and other issues, and working with Albany County on additional improvements and connections to the Rail Trail, according to Supervisor John Clarkson. “All of these efforts tie together, and offer a way to capitalize on existing assets,” he said.
#“With O’Slattery’s Twisted Vine, a new business coming at 308 Delaware Ave. [Wildbird Junction, a “backyard nature shop”] we’re seeing this renewed interest in Delaware Ave. that will hopefully only help attract people to the area,” noted Rob Leslie.
#Sidewalks will be added on Adams Street from Kenwood to Hudson Avenues, and a cross walk will be added across Adams Street connecting the public parking lot there to the Albany County rail trail, and another rail trail crosswalk at the Veterans Memorial Park on Delaware Avenue.
#For the new lamp posts, residents need not look any further than Albany, where their Delaware Avenue improvements were recently finished, and feature lamp posts similar to the ones that will be seen in Delmar. In 2001, streetscape improvement of the Four Corners area were completed in Delmar, but those improvements end at the Key Bank on Delaware Avenue, so the new improvements will see improvements extended even further.
Landscaping along Delaware Avenue will come, mostly, courtesy of the Bethlehem Garden Club’s Street Tree Planting Program, which businesses can apply for using a form found on the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce’s webpage. Last year alone, 20 trees were planted along Delaware Avenue, courtesy of the tree planting program. The project will later be expanded to other areas of town, as well.
#The Chamber has promoted partnerships between businesses in town, and many now provide discounts for completing their own improvement projects on outside of their stores.
#“Phillips Hardware, for example, offers discount on paint, planting materials for businesses,” said Jennifer Kilcoyne, president of the Chamber of Commerce. “It doesn’t have to be a huge investment to spruce things up, and the completion of small scale, inexpensive projects can be a cost effective way to make your business more attractive to new customers.”
#Nine businesses total are participating to offer their products or services, including H20 Pressure Washing, Delmar Signs, Kleinke Associates, Curtis Lumber, Price Greenleaf, Phillips Hardware, Geurtze Builders, Mark Joseph Kelly business consulting and the Garden Club for the Bethlehem Business to Business program, and there is still time for more to participate, by contacting the Chamber of Commerce.
#Since March 2014, a panel of Town Board-selected citizens, business owners and community group members were chosen to form the Delaware Avenue Improvement Project Group. Since then, the group, which includes members of the Bethlehem Garden Club, Chamber of Commerce, the town supervisor, planning director, and 20 other business owners, civic leaders and town officials, has been meeting to discuss possible improvements to the street “for commercial, social and civic benefit of the town,” as reads the project’s formal goal.
#Three public meetings on the project have been held thus far, in this year alone, but even more meetings were held before that, when the project was first proposed in 2007. “Unfortunately, when the plan was rolled out in 2008, despite a positive public reception, the recession and resulting local fiscal difficulties forestalled the effort,” said Supervisor John Clarkson. “Today, with the Town’s finances in very good shape and the awarding of a grant from New York State, it is a great time for the project to move forward,” he described. The first plan was made under former Supervisor Sheila Fuller, and some of the items discussed were modified to fit today’s revamp.
#“I’m looking forward to continued flourishing of the business environment in Delmar,” said Kilcoyne. “It’s always been great location for people, and this will make sure these businesses cotinue to grow, and we have the great quality of life that we have enjoyed for years.”