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Friday, 07 March 2014 11:32

Round Lake Residents Say 'No' To Roundabouts

By | News
Photo by MarkBolles.com Photo by MarkBolles.com

 

By Arthur Gonick 

Saratoga TODAY

 ROUND LAKE— As reported in Saratoga TODAY in its January 24 issue, the residents around Round Lake Road have risen up in force to actively resist the imposition of roundabouts as a solution to traffic problems at two key intersections.

 While members of the Malta Town Board have characterized roundabouts here as a "done deal," the citizenry (about 75) who came out last Saturday, March 1 at the intersection at Chango Drive (one of the proposed sites) to wave signs and urge people to honk horns in support of their "no roundabout stance, as well as those who packed and spoke at a public hearing regarding eminent domain procedure at the town board meeting on Monday, March 3, say otherwise.

The town board voted at it’s last meeting of 2013 to accept Albany engineering firm Creighton-Manning’s (C-M) "preferred" alternative of roundabouts, though it noted in their report that it was a more expensive option and roundabouts that would be placed at the two intersections would have "non-conforming," features, or less than ideal specifications.

The roundabout projects are at the intersections of Round Lake Road with Ruhle / Raylinsky Roads and with Chango Drive. These two roundabout projects are estimated by C-M to cost $4.86 million, with approximately 80 percent funded by Federal and State sources while a project involving a traffic light (which does not exist at Chango Drive), turn signals and turning lanes (which are not at either location currently) would cost $3.1 million according to C-M estimates.

This caused resident Tim Downey at the public hearing to say that this issue came down to "Pork… you guys just wanted the money. The fix was in from the start."

Indeed, the acquisition costs of land for obtaining the proposed right-of-way widens the gulf between the two projects further. C-M estimated that roundabout right of way costs would be $165,000; while a traffic light project would be $39,900.

At the March 3 public hearing, representatives from C-M presented a report noting that some of the non-conforming issues had been resolved, but resident Elwood "Woody" Sloat noted that many remained, and even was skeptical about some of the "resolved" issues ever happening:

"The C-M group stated they are going to move the Stewart’s at Ruhle Road’s entrance/exit back (north) 20 feet and extend the splitter island. This was previously determined to be not feasible because of the extensive telephone/water/sewer and utility systems in this specific area.  Many residents, including myself, are skeptical that this will ever happen and will probably result in a "change order" (which will drive the project cost further) once they get approvals. 

 "The citizens will watch every step of this construction," Sloat said.

Other residents at the public hearing concentrated on the safety issue of roundabouts, both for vehicles and pedestrians.

"I fear there will be children’s bodies lying in the road." Said Shelda Roerig, resident whose family tree includes original residents of this area. Her family currently owns the ice cream stand and miniature golf course near the proposed Ruhle / Raylinsky roundabout that many area children frequent.

 Of the 16 commenters at the public hearing, only one spoke in favor of the project that the town board had voted for.

While this is obviously not a scientific sample, the packed town board meeting, a good number of motivated residents who lined Round Lake Road on a frigid Saturday and the passion of the community, exemplified by the now 400+ signatures against the roundabouts submitted at the public hearing, indicate that even though the town board has eminent domain on it’s mind, they think otherwise.

Their fervor could be capsulized by Kevin Eitzmann’s comment at the March 3 public hearing:

"This is not how democracy works."

Well, maybe it is. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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