By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
COEYMANS — A group of homeowners is voicing their concerns over construction of sidewalks in their neighborhood.
Several residents on Frangella Drive, Einie Drive and Blaisdell Avenue turned out at the Aug. 24 meeting of the town council to reject a proposed plan to build sidewalks on their streets.
“I’m here to talk about the sidewalks,” homeowner Frank Mirande, who lives on Frangella Drive, told the board. “Almost everybody on that street, which is a historic-looking street, nobody on that street wants it.”
Sidewalks were constructed on portions of nearby Civill Avenue, but no work has been done on the neighboring roads.
Mirande said he heard from a neighbor on Civill Avenue that they were told Frangella Drive would get sidewalks next year, and Highway Superintendent Daniel Baker confirmed it, Mirande said.
Baker said at the meeting that the sidewalk project was being considered but is not happening this year.
“It’s being talked about for the future,” Baker said.
Mirande contended that the area is not highly travelled by pedestrians and that sidewalks are not needed and would change the character of the neighborhood.
“That street looks the same as it did in the ‘60s and ‘70s before I moved up here and my father used to come here for vacations,” Mirande said. “We really don’t need [sidewalks].”
Town Supervisor George McHugh said there are “no immediate plans” to begin construction, but he contended that sidewalks are for everyone.
“The sidewalks aren’t just for the people who live on that street, they’re for people who walk on those streets,” McHugh said.
Mirande reiterated that sidewalks in that neighborhood are not needed.
“It’s not a high volume of pedestrians,” Mirande said, adding that other streets, like Westerlo Avenue and Civill Avenue, could use improved sidewalks and have a higher number of pedestrians who use them.
Town Councilwoman Linda Bruno agreed with Mirande.
“I agree with Frank,” Bruno said. “We haven’t ever had sidewalks and it hasn’t been an issue. It hasn’t been a safety issue.”
Sidewalks would also force drivers to park adjacent to the sidewalk, narrowing the street, Bruno said.
“It narrows the street way down,” Bruno said. “Seriously, they don’t want them.”
Mirande said he was willing to pass around a petition to local homeowners to show their opposition to the plan.
Homeowner Mary Clouse urged the town council to instead focus their efforts on improving the sidewalks near Civill Senior Housing.
“If that’s your goal, that is wonderful — it’s all cracked there,” she said, adding that she did not want sidewalks on Frangella and neighboring streets. “Basically, the appeal of our neighborhood is that it’s green space and not concrete. It literally, I believe, would reduce our property values because you go through that neighborhood and people have come to me and said, ‘Oh my God, this is beautiful.’ It’s like having an HOA (homeowners association) without the cost of an HOA.”
“We all keep our homes nice and we all keep it green,” Clouse added. “No fences and no concrete. So, I would hope that if in the future you do plan on coming down Frangella or Einie, that you notify us and that you survey us, all of us, before you haphazardly put in sidewalks.”
She also worried that drivers would park on the sidewalks, damaging them.
The sidewalks would be more appropriate for Westerlo or Church streets, she added.
“I hope the money goes towards those streets,” she said. “We are pretty happy with our neighborhood.”
Homeowner John Vasto, who works in insurance, said there are also liability issues to consider.
“When it comes to the added liability to the homeowners, that is a big concern,” Vasto told the board. “Your town code says that you cannot be sued as the town if somebody trips and falls on their property, so if it’s a street right now, you don’t have to worry about the litigation of a lawsuit because of slip-and-fall liability. But as soon as the sidewalk goes in, it’s the homeowner’s responsibility and I can be sued if somebody trips and falls.”
McHugh reiterated that there are no plans to work on those streets this year.
“There are no plans to do anything on Frangella and certainly not Einie Drive any time in the near future,” he said. “We’re concentrating on Civill and some of the areas that need repair.”