NISKAYUNA — Niskayuna residents do not want speeding cars and trucks in the Nott Street neighborhood near Balltown Road.
Many do not want a construction project planned for Nott Street, either.
About 100 people who live in the neighborhood on Tuesday packed the meeting room at Edwin D. Reilly Jr. Niskayuna Town Hall and listened to engineers from Clifton Park-based MJ Engineering and Land Surveying explain the proposed $1.5 million safety improvement project.
The initiative, for a stretch of Nott Street near the landmark shopping plaza that includes the town’s Co-op Supermarket, comes from Schenectady County. The goal is to improve vehicular, pedestrian and bicyclist safety and mobility in the area and also reduce vehicular speeds.
Project manager Lisa Wallin explained four construction alternatives. The first one is simple — do nothing, and leave the section of Nott Street between Clifton Park and Balltown roads alone.
The second alternative, Wallin said, moves Nott Street 11 feet toward the co-op parking lot — located on the opposite side of the street from the co-op building — to provide space in front of plaza stores. A curbed island would be built in the new space, and people parking in front of stores would be able to back up their vehicles without backing into Nott Street.
There would be both an entrance and exit to the space.
The second alternative would also move the entrance to the parking lot. Drivers currently enter and exit the lot through an opening located near the Nott crosswalk that leads to the market’s front door. Under “Alternative 2,” the lot entrance would be accessed through an opening off Via Del Mar.
The third alternative is similar to the second, Wallin said, without the curb island and with wider sidewalks in the plaza.
Wallin said the fourth alternative keeps Nott Street in its current location. The major additions in this plan are the parallel parking spots built across from the plaza on both sides of the street. The parking lot across from the co-op would not be touched.
All plans include raised crosswalks — like speed bumps — one across from the co-op and another across from Lange Pharmacy.
Residents asked questions for about 90 minutes. Many speakers pitched alternative, inexpensive ways to improve safety at the location, using stop signs, speed bumps, police enforcement, traffic cameras and changing people’s driving styles.
Anne Leonelli-Gallo, who owns Niskayuna Specialty Wines and Liquors in the plaza, said she is concerned about the projected five-month construction period. She expects work time to hit 10 months, and stretch into the 2020 holiday season.
“If I don’t have a good holiday, I’m done,” she said. “For me, it’s seasonal. The last three months of the year is how I survive.”
Leonelli-Gallo would like to see stop signs and flashing light signs placed on Nott.
“Now you’ve significantly slowed the speed traffic without putting the plaza out of business,” she said. “The plaza is one of the most iconic spots in the town and they’re threatening the plaza with this project.”
Georgianna Carney of Via Del Mar worries that construction planners will forget about people who live in the area, people who will be listening to sounds of construction during evenings and weekends.
“We just lived through Sunoco,” she said, of the recent renovation project at the service station at Nott and Balltown. “There’s only so much we can take.”
Ken Schwartz said there were similar worries when Schenectady announced plans for its reconstruction on State Street. “It revolutionized downtown, it was phenomenal,” he said.
Glenn Schermerhorn of Dean Street is concerned how the plans will affect people with limited mobility. “I don’t think you’ve considered all the problems people have in walkers and wheelchairs,” he said.
Eric Williams, MJ’s vice president, said Tuesday’s meeting was part of the procedure that comes with the project.
“It’s hard to make everyone happy,” he said. “Some of these people were voicing concerns outside our project limits, put a stop sign on Dean Street, put a stop sign way over here, they’ve got to stop cut-through traffic. Forget about this project, if this project doesn’t happen those people are still cutting through, you still have a stop sign issue on Dean Street.”