State looks to save all Main Street trees

At his State of the Town address Tuesday, First Selectman Rudy Marconi gave an update on the state’s plans for improvements to Main Street, which are still in the development stages with different plans being studied and refined for an eventual public hearing.

Among the highlights he offered were:

  • The likely reduction of the number of parking space in front of the Addessi block between Catoonah Street and St. Stephen’s from 15 to 10;
  • A conclusion, after looking at a lot of attractive concepts, that it doesn’t make sense to close off Bailey Avenue — too many cars use it;
  • A look at putting bike lanes in through the village was dropped, since it would encourage people, possibly kids, to bike on Route 35 and the lanes would disappear beyond the village;
  • A major benefit to traffic flow is expected from moving the CVS parking lot driveway to be across from Prospect Street, allowing the three village traffic lights to be synchronized.
  • The plan would establish “through lanes” to efficiently move traffic along Main Street between Prospect and Governor, with turning lanes for cars waiting to go down side streets like Catoonah or Bailey.

“When it’s green, it’s green all the way through,” Marconi said.

He added that the town was trying to get state officials to put in a synchronized cross-walk light by the alleyway near the dance studio. “They said, ‘We don’t do those mid-block,’ ” Marconi said, adding that no one had explained why not.

But the state officials the town has been working with promise a major improvement from re-aligning the CVS driveway directly across from Prospect Street.

“They rate it level ‘F’ — it just fails,” he said of the level of traffic service at the intersection. “According to the plan it’ll go to level ‘C.’ ”

Marconi said he believed “they’re looking at pretty much saving all the trees” and asked Conservation Commission member Jim Coyle, who’s on the committee and was in the audience, for confirmation of the state’s intent.

“It’s still a little squirrelly,” Coyle confessed. “...That requires some more study.”

Marconi added that the state officials working on the project were beginning to understand the town’s attachment to Main Street’s trees. A late afternoon meeting during the holiday season, with all the lights aglow, did it.

“They walked in and said: ‘You’re making it tough for us. This town is absolutely spectacular when you drive in. Now we get it,’ ” Marconi told the meeting.

He also said the state officials promised they’re not going to force a project down the town’s throat. “If you don’t want us to not touch anything, we won’t,” Marconi said they’d promised. “But don’t call us for 30 years.”

An audience member asked when the Main Street project might happen.

“We’re looking out to bid 2018, construction 2019,” Marconi said, although the plans will be subject to budget woes and many other concerns that could delay them.

“The big 800-pound gorilla in the room,” he added, “is whenever you get it done, you can’t shut down the town — so it’s going to have to be done at night.”