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Plattsburgh Residents Debate Streetscape Project

Plattsburgh City Hall
WAMC Photo
Plattsburgh City Hall (file)

Plans to rebuild a portion of a residential street have raised the ire of some Plattsburgh residents.  But city councilors believe they have reached a compromise that meets federal requirements and satisfies the concerns of homeowners.
Cogan Avenue is a residential street in Plattsburgh that is a popular shortcut between the busy Route 3 business corridor and the SUNY Plattsburgh Field House and the high school campus.
On January 9th the city’s Department of Public Works Engineering Technician Andrew Durrin reported on and offered a number of options for a project to upgrade and improve the underlying infrastructure of a portion of the street.   “We are in the design phase for the project. We're going from Cornelia Street down to Park Ave West. This is the only portion of this is going to be done for the time being.”

The street is a bit of a throwback with no sidewalks, street markings or parking spaces, and some residents want it to stay that way. But not for nostalgic reasons. Under city code if sidewalks are installed residents are responsible for maintenance and winter shoveling.  New parking spaces would also mean the loss of right of way property along the street.
At an earlier meeting resident Richard Cummings told the common council residents along the entire corridor should be consulted.  “I was kind of a little ticked off that you consider this project, two thirds of the street. So there's nothing for me to believe that whatever you decide on this end isn't going to continue down to our end. If you're going to address safety, address the college kids going from one end of the street to the other at 50 miles an hour. The Domino's delivery people not stopping at the stop signs. That's where your dangers are. Fix what needs to be fixed.”

Cogan Avenue is in the area of the city represented by Elizabeth Gibbs.  The Ward 3 Democrat says she has tried to visit every home along the project’s footprint.  “The most current rendition is only going to go about five, maybe at the most six, feet into the people's right of way. It is ADA compliant. It allows for on-street parking. It'll get the infrastructure work done. It'll fix the water lines below the road. It'll be done right. And that is what's important here so we don't waste taxpayer money and we don't waste time.”

Ward 6 Democrat Jeff Moore says the Cogan Avenue project does more than repave the street.  “I just want to make clear this is a rebuild. When we do a repave just pave the street we don't necessarily have to put sidewalks in and all this stuff. But in, in this case being a rebuild, that's when you get where you have to put the sidewalks and all that in. And once people realized that we had to deal with the drainage and the curbs and the sidewalks then they were much more amenable to going with Project 5A.”

While most councilors prefer the compromise Plan 5A,  Ward 5 Democrat Patrick McFarlin likes the previous plan.  “The difference is plan 5A has 11 foot wide streets with a four foot wide sidewalk and every so many feet to be ADA compliant needs a five foot square turnaround for people with wheelchairs, strollers and things like that. I'm in favor of narrowing the streets a little more and having five foot wide sidewalks. They're very small variations and that's why it's called 5A instead of six. It's a tiny tweak, but that's the difference.”

Gibbs says approval by the full council is not needed to move forward with the project.  “When we agreed by budget resolution last year that we would tackle this project this year, that was the vote. So the decision on what the project looks like comes out of our infrastructure committee. So when we got the feedback from everybody in the community, and then we talked about it within the council, infrastructure committee makes the recommendation. We don't have to take a vote on what the project looks like. Because it's redundant at this point. We've already voted. So we’re going to make our recommendation to the public works.”

Plans for the new Cogan Avenue streetscapeand rebuild are available on the city of Plattsburgh’s website.