Board considers waterfront development, parking
WATKINS GLEN—The village board voted to authorize the Schuyler County Project for Economic Development to prepare and submit an application for funds to develop “Tank Beach” in Watkins Glen at the meeting held on Oct. 3, 2011. The project would include a trail connecting Seneca Harbor Park to Tank Beach and a natural history interpretive center to serve as a trail head to Queen Catharine Marsh. Up to $15,000 could be provided by the New York State Department of State Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. The village would then contribute up to $7,500 with another $7,500 pledged by SCOPED, who would also coordinate the project should the grant be approved.
Trustee Kevin Smith had reservations about committing limited village funds to the project, saying “we do not want to stretch ourselves too thin.” Mayor Mark Swinnerton explained that if the grant is obtained, the money from the village would not be required until next year and added “these are the types of things we should be spending our reserve fund on.”
“People coming into our community will see these. Residents and tourists will be able to use the improvements from this project,” Swinnerton concluded.
The initial proposal from SCOPED called for further development of the Seneca Canal including a marina, restaurant, boat storage, public launch, promenade and housing. However, village officials were uncomfortable with the expansive resolution proposed by SCOPED which included details that were not agreed upon at a joint meeting held prior to the regularly scheduled board meeting. Trustee Wayne Weber said he was “not ready here and now to let [SCOPED] start making plans to privatize the park.” All officials agreed that they had discussed development of Tank Beach with a kiosk and boardwalk but not with restaurants, marinas or housing and that such projects would not be approved at this time.
The board also discussed changes to the odd/even parking schedule in the village. This winter, odd/even parking will only be in effect during a “snow event” said Swinnerton. If there is a snow event predicted and the village is enforcing odd/even parking, residents will be alerted with the village’s CodeRED automated calling system. Although the village is still becoming familiar with the system, it is likely that the automated calls will feature a recording prepared by Streets Department Superintendent Donald Perry. The recording will alert residents to the fact that odd/even parking will be enforced and the expected duration of that enforcement. The village plans to test the system within the next few weeks to ensure people are receiving the messages. The board explained that even if a resident or visitor does not receive the automated call it does not excuse them from adhering to the odd/even parking during snow events.
In other business:
• Trustee Scott Gibson took a moment to point out that the Fire Department had applied for a federal grant to help purchase a fire and rescue boat. He explained “there is no such boat on Seneca, Lamoka, or Waneta Lakes, and it is a good idea to decrease response times considering the number of people who use the lakes” The Department has been raising money for the boat through fundraisers and the grant would make up the balance of the estimated $100,000 purchase price. The grant application included letters of support from Congressman Tom Reed and Representatives Tom O’Mara and Chris Friend.
• The board received a letter from Watkins Glen School District Superintendent Tom Phillips urging the board to reduce the speed limit surrounding the middle school and to consider installing sidewalks in the areas that absorb the most pedestrian traffic. Police Chief Struble said that he is aware of the problem and said it occurs when “pedestrian traffic is blending with vehicular traffic.” He added that a student was struck by a vehicle a few weeks ago in the area referenced by Phillips. The board referred the issue to Struble for recommendations at a future meeting.
• The board also approved $1,685 to detail the hallway flooring in the lobby of the newly renovated municipal building. Trustee Gibson commented that with all of the money the village has spent on this building, this is necessary because “this is the first thing people see and the lobby floor looks unfinished.”
The next village board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m.