Pathway by Royal Park designed for safety
By David Yarger
On Tuesday evening, Dennis Judson, client service manager at Fisher Associates, was available for discussion on the proposed pathway along the north side of Fourth Avenue.
Judson explained the details behind the design phase and the three scenarios initiated for the approximately 2,400-foot pathway.
Starting at the Fourth Avenue Royal Park entrance down to the end of the wooded area by Four Seasons Cinema (1,200 feet), a 7-foot wide pedestrian walkway would be constructed along with a 3-foot concrete gutter to assist with drainage.
From the end of the wooded area down parallel to the vacant building that usually houses Spirit around Halloween time (900 feet), the pathway will narrow to 5 feet with a 4-foot grass area along the road. Judson said the biggest aspect of the second part would be "consolidating the driveways. Right now, it's wide open asphalt and people can come and go anywhere they want. We're going to consolidate and make a couple actual entrances and exits, so people are more defined where they're coming from."
Lastly, from the roadside area parallel to Spirit to Military Road (300 feet), the pathway will increase back to 7 feet with a foot of concrete curb area. Along with the sidewalk, new Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramps will be constructed to encourage people to cross Fourth Avenue rather than Military Road.
A few years back, there was a death on Fourth Avenue, after a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle. Judson and Town of Niagara Supervisor Lee Wallace said the big reason for the path is safety, because the road is poorly lit and a tight squeeze for walkers and cars.
"The goal of the path is to provide a safe pedestrian facility for people who walk to utilize versus walking in the street like they're doing right now. Their was a fatality about four to five years ago, which kind of was the impetus to this project. ... But, ultimately, to provide a safe pedestrian facility."
Wallace said, "We tried to get a bus stop at the Royal Park apartments. So, there are a lot of people that live in Royal Park who don't have transportation and ... we did have a death on that road (Fourth Avenue) and a lot of people have to come up Fourth to try and get to the bus stop up on Military. So we just felt it was well worth the money to try and save lives and try to do the right thing to put this pathway in."
The main complaint from residents is if there is a true necessity to use taxpayer dollars for a pathway, mostly for the use of one area.
Currently, the project is a cost of $600,000, 80 percent ($500,000) of which will be funded through a federal program called the Transportation Alternatives Program, Judson said, and the final 20 percent ($100,000) will be funded by the town.
Judson said, "My argument would be there are people who use it, especially, there's a low-income housing facility up here and ... (residents) generally don't have the means to have a vehicle, so they walk to the shopping plaza, they walk to get groceries.
"I've seen people out there with their baby carriages and little children walking alongside them in the road, so I understand it doesn't appear that there's a lot of people out here, but there are people utilizing it. I've been out here several times myself and witnessed it. ... It's dark out here; it's not lit; it's not a safe place to walk."
Wallace added, "Some people think it's a lot of money and I wouldn't disagree with them. Our percentage is around $100,000, but I guess I look at it from this point of view; We're trying to do everything we can to improve the quality of life for our residents. If it means saving lives, that's what we're going to do."
On the actual road itself, if the proposal gets past the design phase, Judson said there would be no adjustments to the roadway, and, if anything, there could possibly be a flagman directing traffic, but he didn't foresee a road closure occurring.