By RUSSELL JONES
Despite not being able to secure funds from the Burditt Trust, the Pittsford Selectboard remained committed to the sidewalk project in front of the Lothrop School on Route 7.
Often labeled as “dangerous,” the section of Route 7 from Mechanic Street to the guardrail past Furnace Road has an almost non-existent sidewalk, forcing pedestrians to appear to walk along the roadside.
“That sidewalk is the most unsafe thing for kids in this town,” board chair Tom Hooker said at a selectboard meeting in April. “There is no difference in the sidewalk and the road.”
Pittsford received a grant from the state in 2018 for $100,000 to repair the sidewalk along Route 7, but the grant requires a local match of funding. The selectboard appealed to the OVUU board to allow them to use funds from the Burditt Trust to match the grant, but the school board rejected the request maintaining that town sidewalks were the responsibility of the town to fund, not the school’s responsibility.
After that the school board’s rejection, it seemed the sidewalk project was destined to fall through the cracks, but Hooker said he would go back to the board to see what direction they wanted to go. That direction is apparently forward.
At the selectboard meeting on Aug. 7, the board voted 4-1 to commit to funding the project.
“We are not looking at a bond,” Town Manager John Haverstock said. “We are, however, committed to restoring some sidewalk and some curbing along that section, especially in front of the school and near Furnace Road.”
The board members felt those two sections were the most dangerous portions of that stretch of highway. The commitment made by the board this past week is intended to show the state that the town is still dedicated to the project.
“Our commitment tells the state that we want to get this done,” Haverstock said. “We want them to know we plan on starting this project in the construction season next summer.”
Hopefully, that commitment will keep the state from rescinding the grant they have already given the town.
“We’ve written a letter and sent it to the state saying that we are committed to completing the project,” Haverstock said, “including the $100,000 local match. We are looking at more inexpensive alternatives, though.”
The alternatives that are floating around include two options:
• shortening the length of the intended project to just include the area in front of the school down to just past Furnace Road, leaving out the more northerly section;
• or improving the signage in the area and painting the sidewalk to delineate it from the road.
Haverstock said the board would like some feedback from the state on what options are available. To that end, they have invited their liaison from the state to come and address the town and are hopeful that will happen soon.
“We are open-minded to many alternatives that are floating around and we are looking forward to getting some input from the state,” Haverstock said, adding the board may make a decision in the near future. “Maybe as soon as this Wednesday at the selectboard meeting,”