DELMAR — Residents pushing to drive the Delaware Avenue Complete Streets and Road Diet referendum to a public vote submitted petitions to Town Hall last week.
The Petition for Town Vote Coalition said it submitted a 186-page packet to Town Hall on Wednesday, May 12. The packet included nearly 1,500 signatures, enough to drive the referendum to a public vote..
Steve Peterson, a town resident helping with the coalition, said the process was “witnessed by a few of our citizen volunteers, [and] it was properly and officially delivered and received.”
The town has yet to decide how to reline the highway. One option is to convert the existing four-lane road to two, opposing traffic lanes with a middle two-way left-turn lane. Another is to continue allowing two lanes for inbound traffic from Albany while reducing outbound traffic to one. There is a third option — leave the roadway as is.
Proponents laud the road diet as a means of converting the 1.3-mile stretch of roadway between Elsmere Avenue and the Albany City Line as a pedestrian-friendly community street. Opponents, including business owners dependent on that traffic, are concerned motorists will be deterred from visiting their storefronts.
The town first had to pass a $5.2 million bond resolution to fund the project. The money promised by the state and federal levels — all but $728,000 of the proposed cost — are paid later to reimburse the town.
The Town Board approved the bond resolution for the project by a 4-1 vote at its meeting last month. However, under finance law, the resolution is subject to permissive referendum, meaning it could go before town residents for a vote, but only if the Town Board received enough petitioned signatures.
According to Section 91 of Bethlehem Town Code, residents had 30 days from April 14 to file a petition with the town clerk and force the issue to a vote.
The petition required 5 per centum of the total vote cast in town for governor in 2018. Based on records from the Albany County Board of Elections, 17,309 residents had cast a vote in the 2018 gubernatorial race. The petition required approximately 866 signatures.