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West side traffic an issue in Walden

May 30th, 2012

“Every way you look at it, it’s not an easy situation,” said Mayor Brian Maher. The Walden Village Board has been discussing traffic in the area of South Montgomery Street for months.

A local law was passed which changed Cross Street to a one-way street. Now a new debate has been raging as it appears parking will need to be eliminated along S. Montgomery Street to accommodate turns. Businesses which use that parking are not in favor.

“I do not support removing parking,” said Maher. “To me, it’s not something we should do.” Part of the problem was that the traffic heading up Cross Street to S. Montgomery Street had limited sight distance due to overgrown hedges on the property in the triangle.

The board was advised at their meeting last week that the homeowner had been approached and was willing to trim the hedges.

Maher stated he believed they should cut the hedges and revert back to the previous traffic pattern.

“It may confuse people and it will be embarrassing to us, but that doesn’t matter–it’s the right thing to do,” said Maher.

“There are more problems there now than ever before,” said Trustee Bernard Bowen, who spoke in favor of the move. “I’ve seen more opportunities for accidents since we changed it. I drive that way every day. It seems to me it was working before.”

It was pointed out that cutting the hedges would resolve one issue, but there would still be other issues with sight distance and road width that would need to be addressed before they could revert back. Other members of the board also expressed concern that changing it again would result in confusion and possibly accidents.

Village Manager John Revella said that after the hedges were cut the roads would be closed temporarily and test vehicles sent through to see the level of improvement.

The public hearing was left open, to be continued at the board’s next meeting.

The village’s planner, Alan Sorenson, presented a revised Comprehensive Plan to the board, outlining in broad strokes where some of the changes lay including sections on historic preservation, parks and recreation and other areas.

Sorenson stated that if implemented, “a lot of zoning changes” would need to be made to come into compliance with the new plan. A copy of the working draft of the Comprehensive Plan is to be uploaded to the village website. Public hearings on the plan will be set in the future.

A public hearing was set in regard to the proposed change to the taxi code for June 12 at 6:30 p.m. Another was set for the same evening at 6:45 p.m. on the sign law and an extension of the moratorium.

In other business, Dave Lustig asked the board to require that all bicycles on the Rail Trail be outfitted with a bell to warn (and not startle) pedestrians. He also suggested that the village purchase the bells at wholesale and sell them to bicyclists and use the profit to help maintain the Rail Trail.

By Rachel Coleman

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