Verplanck residents peppered Cortlandt officials Thursday, May 12, with
questions, suggestions and concerns as the town continues to refine and move
forward on three major projects in the riverfront hamlet.
The meeting on the Verplanck Enhancement Plan drew nearly 50 people to
the Red Schoolhouse on Sixth Street to share ideas on the Broadway Streetscape, Meahagh Park and Steamboat River Park. The session was a follow-up to a Jan. 20 discussion.
Despite occasional differences on details, there appeared to be general
agreement and support for the projects, and Supervisor Linda Puglisi encouraged residents to bring suggestions and concerns to town officials.“This is not carved in stone,” she said. Chris Kehoe, a town planner, emphasized that the illustrations on display during the meeting were preliminary and conceptual and that they would be revised based on input from residents.
The Broadway project is focusing on the section from Eighth to 16th
streets, the second phase of a three-part project. Phase I, from Fifth to
Eighth, was completed a couple of years ago; Phase III, from Fifth to the
Hudson River, will be tackled after Phase II. The sequence has been determined
by the availability of federal funding over three-year cycles, said Kehoe, one
of seven town officials on hand to explain the projects and answer questions.
Phase II, costing about $750,000 (with 80 percent federal funding and 20
percent, or $150,000, from the town) will feature a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the
northwest (ballpark) side of Broadway and a curb on the opposite side. Cost was
a major consideration in putting a sidewalk on only one side, Puglisi said.
Residents differed on the relative merits of straight curbs (safety,
traffic flow, sight lines) as opposed to bumpouts (traffic calming, deterrent
to racing and speeding, landscaping opportunity). The plan currently includes
several bumpouts. Several residents emphasized the importance of maintaining
any trees, flowers and other plantings. Rosemary Boyle Lasher, assistant director of the Department of Technical Services, noted that traffic calming was a component of the streetscape project, despite the frustration of waiting for traffic signals to change.
Residents were divided on the formalities of parking spaces, with some
favoring painted lines to indicate spaces and others preferring the informal
current arrangement, especially in front of homes farther from the center of
the hamlet. A suggested compromise was to forgo striping initially and revisit
the matter if parking became a problem.
Puglisi said drainage improvements are planned on both sides of Broadway,
and the venerable water main (believed to be about 80 years old) will be
evaluated. The road will be repaved as part of the project.
Aesthetically pleasing guide rails will be installed where needed,
Puglisi said. She noted that galvanized steel rails that will be installed soon
in a couple of locations in the hamlet are driven by safety concerns and are
not part of the streetscape project.
Other suggestions included accommodations for bicycles, burying utility
wires (the town can ask but cannot compel utilities to do so) and reducing the
width of the sidewalk (a width of five feet is required by the Americans with
Construction is expected to start in early September after the town holds
a formal public hearing, advertises for bids and awards the contract. The work
would be completed in 2012.
With reclamation of a former dump completed, work on park improvements is
expected to begin in late summer and take three months, said John Palmiotto,
director of the town Recreation and Conservation Department. Major features are a basketball court, skate park (with a low fence to deter geese), walking path
and benches. Other features include a new sign, trash cans and additional
landscaping. Lighting is not part of the plan because the park is expected to
be officially open only from dawn to dusk.
A launch area on the shore of Lake Meahagh for small watercraft is not
part of the current plan but could be added later, Puglisi said in response to
suggestions from residents.
Ed Vergano, director of the Department of Technical Services, received a
round of applause when Puglisi credited him with “a yeoman’s job” in cleaning
up algae in the lake.
Questions about security were prompted by the vandalism of one of the new
signs posted at entrances to the hamlet. While cost would probably prevent
installation of security cameras like the ones at Steamboat Dock, Puglisi
encouraged residents to report suspicious behavior. Residents suggested
increased emphasis on community policing.
Steamboat River Park
The 30-acre site, including the property of the late Jim Martin, the
former Sturgeon Boat Club and the former Peekskill Seaplane Base, is destined
to become a “great lawn” for the town, Puglisi said. She noted that, in
accordance with Martin’s gift of his property to the town when he died nearly five years ago, the residents of the mobile homes on the site may remain a maximum of five more years.
Plans for the site include an aviation-themed playground and extension of
a walking trail, Kehoe said. Puglisi said the history of the area would be
recorded on a kiosk featuring brickmaking, fishing and the Martin property
Suggestions from residents included shade trees, a community garden,
preservation of views and a boat launch (water depth and parking are being
evaluated, Puglisi said).