Schenectady

Metroplex chair: Proposed downtown Schenectady street redirections would benefit development

South Church Street in Schenectady on Monday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

South Church Street in Schenectady on Monday.

Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority chairman Ray Gillen advocated for a pair of street redirection projects in public hearings during Monday’s virtual City Council meeting.

Gillen spoke on behalf of Metroplex to support a pair of changes to traffic flow — one to redirect South Church Street from State Street to Fuller Street from a two-way street into a one-way street while also allowing for westbound left turns from State Street to South Church Street, the other redirecting Barrett and Huron Streets between South Avenue and Park Place from a one-way street to a two-way street.

The South Church Street redirection, Gillen said, would be a major boost for a number of large-scale developments in the area, including the $40 million Mill Artisan District, the SEAT Center, the Schenectady Armory, SUNY Schenectady and its $11 million student housing facility.

“It really helps us serve all the development that is happening in this area,” Gillen said. “Right now, it’s very difficult to access these developments, because you can’t go left at the light.”

A traffic analysis conducted by The Chazen Companies stated that the redirections would not cause serious congestion issues.

“Allowing westbound left-turns from State Street to South Church Street will have minimal impacts to traffic operations,” the analysis prepared by Chazen director of transportation services Thomas R. Johnson reads. “Converting South Church Street to one-way flow southbound between State Street and Fuller Street will also have minimal impacts to traffic operations. Existing and projected volumes for each condition are low and can be easily accommodated under the traffic scenarios analyzed.”

The Barrett Street redirection would finish off the conversion of the area into a two-way thoroughfare. Gillen said the redirection would benefit numerous development projects — both businesses and homes — in the city’s Little Italy neighborhood.

“It makes the entire street two-way, and we think this is going to be very beneficial to the continuing efforts to revitalize the homes and the properties,” he said. “Some of them had fallen into disrepair. We’ve really done a lot of work in this corridor.”

PARKING TICKETS DISMAY STOCKADE RESIDENTS

Multiple residents from the Stockade neighborhood spoke up during Monday’s meaning to express concerns over the police department’s enforcement of alternate street parking and issuance of tickets following last week’s snowstorm.

Stockade Association president Suzanne Unger told the council that Friday morning, residents with cars parked on the north side of Union Street woke up to find $35 parking tickets on their car windshields.

“After a day of phone calls to the city and the police, we were informed that the city had decided to start using regular patrol officers to enforce the alternate side parking regulation that had not been enforced for many years,” Unger said. “While Assistant Police Chief Daryl Mallard disputed this claim, I know from direct experience that few, if any, tickets were issued to me or any of my neighbors on Union Street for six-and-a-half years. This change in policy was enacted with no warning to the neighborhood.”

While Unger acknowledged that the city was attempting to find more avenues to simplify clearing streets after snowstorms, she said, “effectively removing half of the parking spaces on Union Street, year-round, creates many more problems than it solves.”

Union Street resident Chris White echoed Unger’s issues with the issuance of tickets after “decades of no enforcement” and questioned the lack of communication before the policy was enforced.

“In a neighborhood with such an incredible communication network like the Stockade, I question why was no warning given?” White said. “But, my real question next, is why does this designation even exist? I know parking seems minor, but every decision like this really impacts a lot of lives, and we really want to work with this city on solutions — not just be dictated to, based on outdated signs.”

“The lack of communication and consistency,” he added, “is embarrassing to us in the city.”

Mayor Gary McCarthy acknowledged the complaints and said the enforcement was “the police department making a change on its own.”

“It’s something that’s being reviewed,” McCarthy said, “and [we’ll] continue to look at that.”

Councilwoman Marion Porterfield said she was open to meeting with Stockade residents concerned about the issue.

“We can talk about some possible solutions,” Porterfield said. “It sounds like, based on what I’m hearing, it’s time to look at the signage and see if it really meets the needs of the residents who live in the Stockade today.”

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, News, Schenectady County

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