A new set of sidewalks may have been an easy task in Sharon Springs when the village bustled with dozens of hotels and guests flocked to its spas a century ago.
But there’s no local money to build new sidewalks today, so the village is hoping to tap into a stream of federal funds that could improve the safety of children when they walk to the Sharon Springs school.
The village is holding a public hearing Thursday to get input from residents on an application to build sidewalks and crosswalks near the intersection of state Route 10, the village’s Main Street, and U.S. Route 20.
The village intends to apply for a grant from the federal Safe Routes to Schools Program. Coordinated by the U.S. DOT’s Federal Highway Administration, the program aims to make it safer for kids to walk or bike to school and provides money to make it appealing — and less dangerous — to do so.
The program provides money to help planning, development and building within two miles of primary and middle school buildings, according to the website of the Federal Highway Administration website.
The Sharon Springs school buildings are situated right off the main intersection of Routes 10 and 20 where sidewalks are either nonexistent or of little use.
Mayor Omer Cousineau on Friday said this intersection at the primary entrance to the village is tough to negotiate on foot, especially when it rains.
Route 20 has been paved so many times the sidewalks on the north side are below the level of the road in some parts.
“When it’s wet and everything, the sidewalks are all under water there,” Cousineau said.
“When it rains, you’re out in the middle of the street if you want to walk,” he said.
Curbing is another issue.
There’s none left in some spots and remaining curbs have been “mutilated” by snow plows and vehicles, the mayor said.
The crosswalks themselves could also use some work, he said.
“It’s very dangerous the way they’ve had it labeled. The travel routes are right against he sidewalks, which are right against the road, which is rather dangerous,” Cousineau said.
Sharon Springs school Superintendent Patterson Green said the initiative would be welcome. Many students take the bus to school, but those who live inside the village walk or bike, he said.
A consultant drafting the application will be on hand to discuss details of the proposal during the meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Village Meeting Room.