New Castle officials are taking to heart public sentiment voiced earlier this year to make the town a more pedestrian-friendly place that encourages walking and biking instead of driving.
The town is considering the creation of a new recreational path now referred to as the ChapLine that would extend from North Greeley Avenue in Downtown Chappaqua north to Roaring Brook Road. It would also have access from behind Horace Greeley High School.
Chappaqua resident Dan Googel, a member of the Master Plan commercial work group who made a presentation before the town board last week, said an advantage for the town is that the outline of a path has already been made. About 10 years ago a temporary dirt road was created for trucks to use during the construction of a new sewer line.
Googel said although the area needs some work, the town would not have to start from scratch and it would provide residents the chance to walk more than a mile between downtown Chappaqua and points north to the area around the high school.
“In general, it’s a healthy activity,” Googel said. “It provides people a place to get exercise, be outside, it’s environmentally friendly. It reduces the need for cars. It’s actually a cost-effective way for the town to create more recreational space.”
During public outreach sessions conducted last spring by the Land Use Law Center at Pace University as part of the Master Plan update process, making the town more pedestrian friendly and increasing recreational activities was listed as a high priority by residents.
Googel said that the town’s decision on the future of Chappaqua Crossing, which is across Roaring Brook Road from the high school, would not impact the ChapLine. It would be an important link within the community.
That point was echoed by Supervisor Robert Greenstein who mentioned that it creates a way for residents to travel within town other than in a car. Although he said trails such as the ChapLine increase nearby property values, especially as the more of the population looks for more walking communities, Greenstein did acknowledge that there are several nearby homeowners.
“Regardless the ultimate mix of office, residential and retail at Chappaqua Crossing, the ChapLine would provide the residents and employees an alternate means to get to downtown Chappaqua,” Greenstein said in a statement.
Along with providing additional recreation for residents, it would also allow high school students to walk or bike safely between school and downtown and provide a better alternative for them than driving, Greenstein said.
Googel said that easements would be needed from six private homeowners. In the case of four of those homeowners, the path would go behind their property. An easement from the Chestnut Oaks Association is already in place, according to Greenstein.
Googel said while it is overgrown in spots, the trail is in good condition with some minimal grading needed.
“The majority of it is in extremely good shape,” he said. “It should be easy to upgrade. There’s a smaller portion that would need some work.”
While Greenstein said there weren’t firm cost estimates at this point, at Googel’s Oct. 14 presentation he said an “extremely preliminary” estimate is between $850,000 and $1.4 million. Between $500,000 and $800,000 would be for upgrade of the grassy areas along the path for about .9 miles. Installation of a prefabricated bridge would run between $100,000 and $170,000. Miscellaneous, administrative and legal expenses would account for nearly all of the remaining costs.
Googel is hopeful that there is public support for the project.
“I have full confidence in this community, as family-oriented as it is, that people would be very supportive personally, but in addition hopefully we can get sponsorships from local corporations and nonprofits,” he said.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/