New Castle officials are in the midst of evaluating the feasibility of several new potential sidewalk connections in town, an initiative that was outlined as a priority in the 2017 Comprehensive Plan update.
Last week, the town’s Assistant Planner Kellan Cantrell updated the Town Board on the status of the Comprehensive Sidewalk Plan that is being done to examine whether sidewalks are achievable in five locations in town that were identified by officials last year.
The locations being looked at are Bedford Road from King Street to Roaring Brook Road; the Chapp Line, which would be the pedestrian path linking downtown Chappaqua with the area near Chappaqua Crossing; extension of the Route 120 sidewalk to near Wagon Road Camp; Millwood Road to Gedney Park; and Somerstown Road to Hidden Hollow Lane.
“We are presenting these options and hoping that they are going to give us a preliminary determination as to what is our best path forward,” said Town Administrator Jill Shapiro.
Cantrell said there are existing sidewalks in the hamlets but access for pedestrians to other areas of town are inadequate.
“There’s a lack of walkable connections to parks via sidewalk and there’s a lack of walkable sidewalks to regional pedestrian and multimodal infrastructure along with the North County Trailway as well as to Metro-North,” he said.
Evaluations of the proposed connection to Gedney Park and Somerstown Road are with the engineering division while about 90 percent of the engineering analysis to help determine the possibility of a Bedford Road sidewalk has been completed in house, Cantrell said. A separate feasibility study is being conducted for the Chapp Line.
For each proposed location, the town faces challenges. Shapiro said that for any sidewalk to be installed along a state road, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires a five-foot-wide path for the pedestrians and another five feet for a snow shelf. If there isn’t enough room to accommodate those requirements, then the town must acquire the necessary land from private property owners, she said.
In addition to space, topography could also play a factor in other locations.
Supervisor Ivy Pool said that once the Chapp Line feasibility study is completed the board may have a better understanding whether to pursue that connection or a Bedford Road sidewalk.
“So it’s good that we’ve done that so we’ll be able to compare the two when we get the results of the feasibility study,” Pool said. “I don’t think it would make good strategic sense to do both.”
Councilwoman Lisa Katz agreed with that assessment, saying the town should make clear that one to the public that one, but not both, of those possibilities would be considered.
“I’d like to understand Bedford Road versus the Chapp Line in terms of feasibility and kind of where we’re leaning toward,” she said.
Board members also discussed whether they should consider a sidewalk along Douglas Road in Chappaqua. Councilman Jason Lichtenthal said that there are many residents who live on that street or streets off of Douglas who walk to downtown or the train station.
An advantage for the town if it were to pursue sidewalks for Douglas Road is that since it’s a town street only easements would be required from residents, if needed, instead of the taking of land, Shapiro explained.
The next step for the town is finish the analysis for Bedford Road, Cantrell said.
Shapiro said that sidewalks that had been approved in Millwood will likely be completed in 2021. She said Town Engineer Robert Cioli is working on the final plans to send to the DOT for the agency’s approval.