Last week Lloyd Supervisor Dave Plavchak questioned reporting in the Southern Ulster Times concerning the town’s proposed sidewalk project in the hamlet. Seeking clarification, he released a timeline of what took place over the past few years.
In August 2018 the original scope of the project for the Transportation Alternatives Program grant [TAP] included sidewalks for both Commercial and Commercial Avenue Extension. Its stated intent was to improve accessibility and way-finding between the town’s rail trail and the downtown businesses in the hamlet.
The TAP grant was awarded in February 2019 and by December 2019 the town selected the firm of Barton & Loguidice [B&L] to design the project.
On March 26, 2020 the Department of Transportation [DOT] notified the town that the Preliminary Design Phase was authorized. In June 2020 the DOT contract and the B&L design contract were both approved by the Town and design work commenced. The scoping statement in the DOT contract was consistent with the TAP grant.
In December 2020 B&L submitted their Draft Design Report. The sidewalk along the Commercial Avenue Extension was highlighted as ‘Work by Others’ and because of this, the design report stated that all of the work could be accomplished without ROW.
In February 2021 the town received comments back from DOT on the Design Report. B&L began to address DOT’s comments as they prepared a Final Design Report.
By August 2021 B&L was informed that the developer decided not to fund the Commercial Avenue Extension sidewalk. Based on this turn of events, B&L solicited for a ROW sub-consultant and prepared a supplement to the design contract to incorporate a permanent acquisition of a small portion of [Town Councilman Joe] Mazzetti’s parcel, which sits on the Extension, for a sidewalk.
In February 2022 B&L requested an additional proposal from the ROW consultant for 5 temporary easements and the town requested that the underground electric be evaluated.
In May 2022 coordination was made with the DOT to determine the elimination of ROW segments [and] affirmed that the project scope could be modified accordingly. Coordination with Central Hudson Gas and Electric to determine limits of Underground Electric and responsibilities for design and construction determined that the Underground Electric project would be independent of the streetscape project.
Plavchak’s timeline supports the fact that when the streetscape project was initially proposed in August 2018, both Commercial Avenue and the Commercial Avenue Extension sidewalks were included in the project. However, after objections at the Town Board level, a key design plan in December 2020, shows that a sidewalk on the Commercial Avenue Extension would be done by the “work of others.”
The “others” referred to in the timeline is developer Keith Libolt, who promised at the time his Highbridge residential project was approved by the Planning Board, that he would install a sidewalk on the Extension. He has since negotiated and re-negotiated with the town over the past three years on his “promise” of a sidewalk, that now is off the table and instead, he will be paying the town $10,000, which is a fraction of what the sidewalk would have cost. The Town Board minutes of December 16, 2020 reflect that the town’s Economic Development Committee submitted comments on the sidewalk project, noting that “private funding is available” for the Extension sidewalk from Libolt.
At this point it appears that an easement between the town and Libolt, instead of a sidewalk on the Extension, will let the public walk down his driveway at his apartment complex, allowing access from the rail trail into the hamlet area of town.