AVON – Village residents have split opinions on a sidewalk that is planned for D’Angelo Parkway, the quiet horseshoe off of North Road near the circle, but their cordial, thoughtful conversation Monday night is a strong testament to the care that the community and Village Board have for one another.
At a Village-organized community meeting before the regular Village Board meeting agenda, Mayor Tom Freeman opened the floor to public comments. He said that the seed for this sidewalk was actually planted 15 years ago, when local developer Bob D’Angelo bought a patch of woods and developed it, saying that once the lots were 80 percent occupied, a sidewalk would be built with $50,000 he laid in escrow.
“At that time, sidewalks were somewhat of a controversy because residents felt that it went nowhere,” said Freeman. “Mayor Richard Burke indicated that sidewalks would be brought down North Avenue to make D’Angelo Parkway part of the walkable community. Since then, other homes have been built and other families have moved in and North Avenue needs to be part of the community. And the sidewalk is the simplest, safest way to do it, we believe at the Board and the Planning Board. Since there is a little bit of concern about where the sidewalks would go and whether sidewalks are really needed on D’Angelo, we went back to the Planning Board for another opinion and their opinion was…”
“It’s now,” said Village Trustee Rob Hayes. “Basically the way that the agreement was written was once there was 80 percent occupancy of the subdivision, then there was the ordinance to put in sidewalks.”
Village resident Bob Hayes said that $50,000 will not scratch the surface of a sidewalk installation project on D’Angelo.
“What the heck kind of sidewalk are you going to get for $50,000?” said Hayes. “Because there’s a lot of work that you’re going to have to be done there. There’s embankments. It’s not an easy, flat stretch to lay a sidewalk down on. […] I just can’t imagine that you can put a sidewalk in that community for that kind of money, and if we did, I don’t think it’s going to last two years, frankly.”
“That’s a point well taken because it was done 15 years ago,” said Freeman. “Values then are different from values today. Landscaping is different.”
When Bob Hayes asked if the Village would front additional money to help pay for this sidewalk if it is put in, Freeman said, “We have confidence in the developer that we work with that they would step up and help pay for it. It’s not fair to the Village taxpayers to put money into a sidewalk there.
Ultimately, Freeman said that per the arrangement that has had dry ink for 15 years, the sidewalk will have to go in.
“Think about it. If you’re not in favor or in favor, no offense, but it was already on the drawings that said ‘oh there’s going to be a sidewalk here someday. That’s a wonderful benefit,'” said Freeman. “I want everybody to know that the Village Board and the Planning Board are solid on the fact that a sidewalk is going to go in as part of what the Village of Avon wants to be in its comprehensive plan. It’s not a blindside that we’re going to show up at your house and put a sidewalk down because we can. That’s not the intent.”
Another snag: plans have changed about which side of the road to build the sidewalk on. The sidewalk was originally drawn off to the side of the north lane but is now proposed on the other side of the road. Homeowners have landscaped and planted significant gardens and trees that would be in the way of a sidewalk on either side of the road. There are utilities in the way.
“One family planted a tree at the corner in honor of one of their family members,” said Freeman. “The family wrote me a letter on this. And that’s fair. They didn’t have the knowledge of a sidewalk going in there. It then was moved, or flip flopped, probably because of the terrain, as you said, Bob.”
When asked by the Mayor, Bob Hayes said that he would litigate this issue because the plans for the sidewalk changed after he purchased his property.
“And there’s reason for people who moved in assuming they were going to have the sidewalk to have the same concern because the sidewalk isn’t there,” said Freeman.
“I couldn’t agree more and it should go back on the developer,” said Hayes.
Ultimately, the Board and the public agreed that the issue would not be settled that night but felt better having heard everyone’s positions. Still, ideas are swirling. D’Angelo Parkway resident John McCaffrey offered an alternative solution that several attendees and Freeman expressed interest in.
“My observation right now is that D’Angelo Parkway needs repaving and we should possibly be thinking about making it a one-way street and using part of the street as a bicycle lane,” said McCaffrey. “I’m here to tell you that things like this is what breaks up neighborhoods. And that’s not why we live in the Village of Avon. So I think we just need to continue to have this good discussion with the Mayor and the Village Board.”
Freeman asked for a community forum to float outside-the-box ideas like this. There is no official date set for such a forum.
“You know what? You could run a curve around the outside and make that a bicycle lane and have a very nice sidewalk at the street level,” said Freeman. “I love the idea. Let’s try to figure out one way to make this work and have something that will be helpful to all of the young families, all of the families that come when you sell your houses and move out. Let’s make this part of the walkable community.”