By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
After three previous meetings where neighborhood opinions clashed, Church Street residents Tuesday (Aug. 23) reached an informal consensus to install STOP signs at the intersection of their street with Northern Avenue. Supported by the Cold Spring Village Board, the citizens’ meeting-of-the-minds on traffic control occurred during the board’s weekly workshop. The signs would be placed on Northern Avenue, a narrow but often-used east-west thoroughfare whose wide, funnel-shaped intersection with Church Street has prompted complaints about bad driving. Some residents contend that vehicles frequently turn the corner at high speeds, heedless of children or pedestrians on Church Street or on adjacent sidewalks.
Before any signs could be installed, the Village Board would have to enact a new law. Mayor Seth Gallagher, who lives around the block from Church Street on Garden Street, promised to get the law-drafting process underway. However, he told the approximately 15-person audience, the village will review other options as well and consult further with Cold Spring Fire Company No. 1 (CSFC), headquartered at the corner of Church and Main Streets. There’ll be a follow-up. We’re going to look into a few different things, he said. The mayor also recommended formation of a committee to determine the best ways to deal with Church Street concerns. We really have to come up with a happy resolution for everybody, said Trustee Bruce Campbell, who serves as deputy mayor and often handles street-related matters for the board.
In a letter to mayor and trustees, Church Street residents Leo Sacks and John Zuvic termed the traffic problems a crisis that is affecting the entire community. They proposed several modifications, including a crosswalk; STOP AHEAD signs on Northern Avenue at High and Garden Streets, each a block from Church Street; and a STOP sign at the Church-Northern intersection. As an experiment, the village placed orange cones in the approximate location of a possible bump-out at Northern Avenue-Church Street. Curbed, rounded aprons, bump-outs extend from a sidewalk in semi-circles to nip-in the width of a street and force vehicles to slow down and turn carefully. However, the fire company ran into trouble “literally” when it tried to get its large truck through the intersection with the cones in place. The turning is not do-able without hitting cones, Assistant Fire Chief Matt Steltz said at the workshop. Although running over cones does not cause serious problems, if the truck ran aground on a concrete bump-out, its undercarriage could be damaged, he said. Nonetheless, Steltz said, I’m more than willing to work with the village to try a different pattern for the cones to see if that allows the truck to negotiate the turn. He emphasized that the fire company must have access to Church Street. Currently, he said, children in the street may be at risk from cars, but if the fire company cannot respond to an emergency, you’re endangering the entire street, including the children.
Two Church Street residents questioned use of bump-outs. I wouldn’t put a curb in like that, said Betty Budney, who is also a member of the Philipstown Town Board. She expressed concern about drainage. Donna Steltz predicted that a bump-out is just going to be an extension of the sidewalk, with children playing on it, still close to turning cars. John Landolfi, CSFC vice president, told the board that it seems like a no-brainer to start with a STOP sign and see how that works. A show-of-hands audience vote indicated widespread agreement. Gallagher, Campbell and Trustees Charles Hustis and Airinhos Serradas concurred; Trustee Ralph Falloon was absent
Assistant building inspector
During the workshop, the Village Board also voted unanimously to appoint Kimberly A. DeSocio as fire inspector and assistant building inspector. She holds national and state certification and for more than a dozen years has been a firefighter in Cornwall, across the Hudson River from Cold Spring.
Photo by L.S. Armstrong