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Town Proposes Sidewalks [Poll]

Officials are looking to create miles-long walkway from the flagpole to the commuter lot by Exit 11 of Interstate 84.

The money may not be in place yet, but the plans are there to create a large walking loop that would allow someone to walk from the flagpole in the borough to the Interstate 84 commuter lot by Berkshire Road and Wasserman Way, Newtown officials said.

The has drawn up the map of the proposed sidewalk loop, and officials are awaiting news of whether they have qualified for a $500,000 Safe Route to Schools grant, which would allow them to kick off the project with a sidewalk along Queen Street and extend the downtown walkways on Church Hill Road from Wendover Road to the flagpole.

The town also is in line for another Department of Transportation grant that would allow it to extend sidewalks, first on Route 25 from where it ends on Glover Avenue to Mile Hill Road by Walgreens and then continuing on Mile Hill Road – which at some point changes to Wasserman Way – to Reed Intermediate School, Newtown Land Use Director George Benson said. The second extension would be along Church Hill Road from the borough to Sandy Hook Center, he said.

The final two legs of the plan, which at the moment doesn't yet have grant funding, would be a new walkway on Wasserman Way from Reed School to the commuter lot by Interstate 84's Exit 11, and connect it with yet another one on Berkshire Road from there to Sandy Hook Center.

In addition to sidewalks, the loop would have the potential to connect with an existing Deep Brook segment of an 11-mile Al's Trail, that runs from the Upper Paugussett state park to behind Reed School.

First Selectman Pat Llodra said she wants to gain public support for the plan as the town looks for ways to pay for the project, such as through grant funding and other means.

Steven January 06, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Really, sidewalks? I would rather see the ROADS FIXED!!!
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com January 06, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Hoa my understanding from George Bensen was that the location of sidewalks, if the grant was provided, would be determined at a later time. However seems to be some political pressure not to have it on the Middle school side despite the Police Commission voting that the Middle school side was the only sage side.
Robert Hennessey January 06, 2012 at 05:42 PM
This sounds like a reference to one particular resident's disdain at having pedestrians pass their home and lobbying our politicians for a similar agreement. Perhaps Bob might disagree? Additionally, it would be welcomed relief to know this is not a pre-cursor for enticing potential development of apartments at FFH. Could anyone enlighten?
Swami January 06, 2012 at 06:33 PM
"The money may not be in place yet".... Is there even an estimate out there of what the total cost might be, and what percent of cost would be picked up by Newtown tax payers?
Sarah Findley January 06, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Mr. Hennessey, You'd do well do not repeat rumors and induendo. If the Bob you are referring to is the resident that "disdains" pedestrians passing his residence, you would be surprised to learn that not only are residents already walking across his front yard but he has taken the time and effort to mow a path for people to enjoy the fields. A resident of Glover Avenue, lets call him Brucie, should not be suggesting that any resident has the power to lobby politicians and be spreading said lies throughout various media organizations. I think what you may not realize is that "Bob" and most of the other residents of Queen St are far more concerned about a pedestrian fatality than the need to shovel a sidewalk. Next time ask the person in question his stance on something, before you perpetuate a lie.
Mary Jaeger January 06, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I'm all for the sidewalk plan but more effort should be made to the upkeep up the roads also. There are so many roads that need to be refurbished and potholes repaired too.
Sarah Findley January 06, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Interestingly enough, I just found out from someone in the know that the results of the 2006 Traffic study deemed the West side of Queen the appropriate side. This was because the sidewalks were meant to facillitate safe walking for area residents NOT for travel in between school. I was also informed that someone on the police commission heavily lobbied for the East side. Either way in doesn't matter because the Police Commission has NO AUTHORITY over the sidewalks. Another interesting piece of information is that the same lobbyist on the police commission lobbied to have a cross walk at the end of Meadow to cross over Glover. Could it be that a certain resident did not want pedestrians walking on his yard??
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com January 06, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Sarah then you also know the Police Commission, before I was elected, rejected a number of their recommendations, as did the Borough Government, Specifically both the Borough Government and the PC rejected the location of the sidewalks on the West side. The Vollmer study was done for the PC commission and they did a comprehensive review of the recommendations. The Police Commission does have the authority on the placement of crosswalks, which are critical to the design and placement of sidewalks. They did that before I was on the commission. When I was on the Police Commission I most certainly supported crosswalks at Meadow and also on Queen and have always also supported sidewalks on Queen.
Sarah Findley January 06, 2012 at 10:08 PM
The study was done at the request of the BOS not the police commission. It was paid for 50/50 by the BOS and HVCEO.The placement of crosswalks are the authority of the police commission, the sidewalks, the town(not the borough government). As a former member of the PC,you should know all of this especially since you were part of the traffic study group. More importantly you endorsed the reccommendations which were for the non middle school side.
Robert Hennessey January 06, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Sarah, we've tussled before, and I fully realize you're protective of family. You are also aware that I do not post comments, or submit letters to the editor that are not fact-based. I understand your sensitivity, but was hoping to hear any counterpoints from "Bob".
Sarah Findley January 07, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Mr. Hennessey, You can address me as Ms. Findley. I don't believe we have "tussled" before today. What tussle you referring to exactly? This has everything to do with being protective of family and also ferreting out people who continue to perpetuate rumors, lies and inuendo. At this point, if you have a fact based piece of information that states that my father publicly or privately "disdained people walking in front of his residence" or "lobbied a politician for a similar agreement"we both would love to see it. Setting aside some imagined political pull you think he might have, you must realize that the decision regarding placement of a sidewalk is not something a politician can decide. Again, why don't you contact him directly, his number is in the book and then you may become educated on what actually happened. He does not need to respond to you because quite frankly you are not worth his time unless you act like an adult and talk to him directly. I, on the other hand, am sick and tired of people like you firing shots from the comfort of your computer screen. Contacting people directly is far less cowardly than submitting a letter or posting a comment. I can't guarantee it will work but if you resist being as annoying as you have thus far, he may TRY to educate you on the facts.
katydid January 07, 2012 at 12:15 AM
It would be helpful if there was a key and/or larger print to help decipher the map.
Hoa Nguyen January 07, 2012 at 12:24 AM
I'll try to see if I can get this on mapquest so it might be a little more interactive, but that might take some time. If you look at the map and see the button "Scroll," you'll see a magnifying glass with the "+" next to it. Press that magnifying glass and that should allow you to zoom into the map. Then click anywhere on the map and drag your mouse to see a different section of the map. Hope the instructions make sense.
Sarah Findley January 07, 2012 at 01:15 AM
I was remiss in my last response to point out that I am not "aware of " the facts of any posts or letters as I have no idea who you are and what you have written in the past. I would also respectfully ask that if you are discussing my father you refer to him as Mr. Geckle and not hide behind generic names as targets of your missives. If that is who you are referring to, be a gentleman and use his proper name. He is only "Bob to close friends and family and you would not fit in either of those categories.
Mary Ann Jacob January 07, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Good for you Ms. Findley, people need to be accountable for their words and man up to their opinions instead of hiding behind innuendos.
Robert Hennessey January 07, 2012 at 01:35 AM
I'm here Mary Ann, and awaiting Bob and Cathy's support of Queen Street's sidewalk being constructed on the same side as the Middle School.
Sarah Findley January 07, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Thank you so much Ms. Jacobs, It is important to recognize that this town is so wonderful because of it's volunteers. I am hopeful that community members are not discouraged to volunteer because of fear of personal attacks. We may not agree with each other on our political views but we all agree that it take dedicated people to make this a community. Mr. Hennessey, I have noticed that you enjoy writing letters. I am pasting just two of the listings with requests for volunteers from The Newtown Bee as it seems that your skills could be used because you seem to have a lot of free time. Volunteer Opportunities: The Season Of Giving Does Not End With The Holidays By Nancy K. Crevier The season of giving does not have to end with the holidays. Numerous area organizations need the gift of time and talent provided by volunteers year around. Consider supporting one of the following groups through volunteering. The Animal Center is a volunteer-staffed animal welfare charity with volunteers providing foster homes for kittens, cats, and dogs; volunteers can also write thank you notes, coordinate food drives, or pick up donated items from the Wish List. For more information visit theanimalcenter.org or call 203-270-0228. Canine Advocates of Newtown is in need of volunteers over the age of 21 to walk dogs at the Newtown Dog Pound. Volunteers are also needed to help with fundraising projects. Contact Virginia Jess at 203-426-5327. Check the Bee for more listings.
Kinga Walsh January 07, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Is it possible to combine the safe school grant with the other grant mentioned (for sidewalks on Rt 25 to walgreens corner) and then using a new sidewalk path on rt 25 as the safe route? kids could walk to 25, down to walgreens than along a sidewalk to reed etc. another option. don't know the timing of either grant and if it is possible. probably will get scrutinized for suggesting anyone walk on 25 but Southbury residents walk on main st (I believe it is called that) along a sidewalk path. This may also alleviate the issue with Queen St residents being concerned about the impact of the sidewalks on their property, etc. Offering another option for discussion.....could also help some businesses on that area of 25 via some extra pedestrian traffic...
Mike Kelley January 07, 2012 at 02:26 AM
I agree Ms. Findley and Ms. Jacobs. Main reason I have not been on Patch and will stay off of it. Too many keyboard warriors. Lots to say and no facts, just personal attacks, rumor and inuendo. A lot of this has gone on too long. Have fun all. I will get my information from The Newtown Bee and the Danbury News Times. Mr. and Mrs.Geckle have gone above and beyond for this Communit for more years than most of us have been around this town. I have only been here since 1985.They do not deserve this kind of harrasment. Go back to your keyboard guys and think about it. One of you once told me I was better than that. I took your advice. Your turn now. if the shoe fits wear it and apologize.
Richard Hooker January 07, 2012 at 02:33 AM
I agree. The pave job on River Road is absolutely DEPLORABLE. They need to repave the entire road, not some cheap patch job with low quality stone!
Mary Ann Jacob January 07, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Kinga, I would suggest contacting Liz Stockart who has written these grant applications for the town. They will give you specifics on what each grant requires and how we qualified. As I have said several times, this is not a bait and switch game. You apply for a very specific grant and either get it or not. If you don't get it , another town does and you still pay for it since the state has already budgeted the money. So...Newtown or another town? If you do get it you can't change it to spend the money on something else.
Alex Tytler January 07, 2012 at 12:01 PM
"grant" money has to come from somewhere. It doesn't come from the sky, it comes out of taxpayers pockets. This is a collosal waste of money. How about a "green walking trail", ie a dirt path?
Douglas Brennan January 07, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Ask a simple question and yet no answer. Seems clear to me that in order to have an estimate or a plan you would have to decide how long, how big, how wide, what they would be made of and where they would be built. Where are we going " no answer" from the New Russians...Hederick Smith.
Kinga Walsh January 07, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Mary Ann, offering other suggestions in a public forum is what was done here. Never implied or stated this is a bait and switch game...others may have. Understand the overall process and the fact that one or another town receives the funding. The option suggested is not another use of the funds but revises the placement given resident concerns - if that is understood to be "changing it" than that is your interpretation but from this point of view it is working to take into account resident and others' inputs. If there are specific requirements associated with the grant, why wasn't the public given these stipulations when the overall information was released? The article above nor in The Bee specifies that the land use dept's map is the only option and the grant receipt is contingent on that plan being implemented. Appears from the news sources that Newtown is almost assured to be receiving this funding; therefore, let the public discussion take place.
Mary Ann Jacob January 07, 2012 at 01:48 PM
This is in reply to Kinga's post below....can't seem to get it in the right place...I reposted to correct a speeding error. Yes Kinga, the grant says very specifically what the funds a re used for which is why I suggested you read them so you have that info. Perhaps Hoa can post them here? I can't answer why the press did not report the stipulations to your satisfaction, but he grant process has been public, as required, from the start. Discussion on sides of the street and the like are in order, but moving the sidewalks to an entirely different area or using the FFLD Hills funding in another area is not, again reading the grant would help clear that up. We have received the FFld Hills grant,and hope to receive the one for sidewalks.
Hoa Nguyen January 07, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Having covered another town that went through a similar Safe Routes to Schools exercise, I can tell you that even though the town has applied for a grant, there are many more studies, public hearings and other procedures that must be followed before sidewalk construction begins. There will be a lot of other opportunities to discuss the specifics of any sidewalks. I think the overall point behind releasing this map was to get an idea from the public on whether this – the idea of having this large walking loop from the flagpole to the commuter lot – is something the community would support. I put the .pdf just to let everyone know about it, but obviously, the town will have to gauge on its own what the community support is.
onceuponanewtown January 08, 2012 at 01:02 PM
In some states sidewalks are assessed, financed and paid for by the individual property owners similar to sewers and water lines.
Po Murray January 08, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I recall completing a survey on whether or not I would allow my kids to walk to school. I was under the impression the survey was related to the application process for a grant. I would encourage another survey asking all school parents to provide their input on which side of the street (s) for sidewalk construction.
dave T January 08, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I fail to see how this equates to economical benefit....liability absolutely... from parents suing the town when their kids take a digger on their rollerblades reenacting their favorite scene from jackass.. or someone slips on ice. My road is a friggin goat path...fix the roads trim the trees if you have to do something, or A tax decrease instead would be much more welcome....
Scott Coleman January 11, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I may be a bit late to the discussion but I would suggest two things: 1. Given the propensity of people these days to drive everywhere, I would expand the definition of "sidewalk" to make it wide enough to safely and comfortably accommodate both pedestrian and bike traffic. I have traveled extensively across the US and internationally and seen some fantastic "non-motorized" routes that people can use to quickly and efficiently get from one place to another. By allowing bike traffic it will satisfy some of the impatience related to getting quickly from point a to point b that may not be satisfied by walking. 2. Additionally, as Chairman of the Newtown Trails Committee I would put emphasis on creating sidewalks that connect to existing trails (i.e. the Trail at Dickinson, trail at FFH) to create a true interconnected system. As a committee we continue to work towards that goal but thought it would be good to mention it in this discussion.

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