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Sidewalk Opens Across From Saratoga Springs Elementary School

A sidewalk was being completed outside a Saratoga Springs elementary school this afternoon. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports the project — part of a national program — will complement a planned bicycle path. 

A concrete mixer pulled up outside Geyser Road Elementary School in Saratoga Springs Thursday afternoon where a sidewalk was being completed.

The final section along Geyser Road, beside a recently completed crosswalk, is part of a statewide and national effort called Safe Routes To School.

Mayor Joanne Yepsen said this is the first project in a model she hopes to see replicated throughout the city.

“Because we want to encourage students to be able to bike and walk safely to school every single day no matter what the weather is,” said Yepsen. “And so as you can see there is a sidewalk link, there’s a special crosswalk, there’s a special new light that has gone in…”

The project moved forward after the city secured a court decision allowing it to obtain the property directly across the street from the school by eminent domain.

Geyser Road Elementary Principal Kristy Moore said students are being taught safety rules as the sidewalk is completed.

“We’re teaching our students the basic rules of the road; what side you bike on, what side you walk on. So they’re going to be safe when they go out into the community.”

Some students who attend the school live in a newer development located across the street. Kate Maynard, Principal Planner with the Saratoga Springs Planning Department, says the project fills gaps along the sidewalk for residents along the busy road.

“So really we’re providing that mobility for Geyser Crest and the neighborhood as a whole to reach the school, the park, and then the trail which will get you all the way to Spa State Park eventually, then downtown.”

The trail she’s referring to is the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail. Once completed, the 23-mile route will accommodate walkers and bikers throughout the city.

The Saratoga Springs city council recently approved a plan to extend an 8-foot-wide section of the trail along Geyser Road, after more than a decade of debate in the city.

Some residents have taken issue with the city’s authorization to use eminent domain to seize a half-acre of property along the route to build the trail. A group of three property owners has threatened a lawsuit

But Molly Gagne, president of the Southwest Neighborhood Association, supports the city moving forward on both the sidewalk and Greenbelt Trail extension.

“It wasn’t for eminent domain you wouldn’t have a Northway, so I guess those people don’t take the Northway. And if wasn’t for eminent domain, you wouldn’t have a sidewalk today.”

 

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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