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Glenville secures $80,000 for Alplaus sidewalks

Glenville secures $80,000 for Alplaus sidewalks

Hamlet residents have sought them for 30 years
Glenville secures $80,000 for Alplaus sidewalks
Cars head down Alplaus Avenue where there is little shoulder space available for walkers in Alplaus on Thursday.
Photographer: Erica Miller

GLENVILLE -- The town of Glenville has secured $80,000 that it plans to use for construction of sidewalks in the hamlet of Alplaus, where Alplaus Avenue has no accommodations for pedestrians.

The money, a host community benefit to be paid by Champlain Hudson Power Express Inc., is coming after a push by Alplaus residents that has helped secure town and Schenectady County approvals for a hamlet preservation plan developed by residents.

"This is great news," said Maurice "Bud" Watson, president of the Alplaus Residents' Association. "This is 30 years in the making. The neighborhood has been asking for this for a long time.”

The Town Board on Wednesday approved the agreement under which the Champlain-Hudson project will pay the town $80,000 in compensation for allowing a 1,000-megawatt, direct-current underground transmission cable to be buried in railroad rights-of-way along a 5.9-mile route through the town, from Ballston to Rotterdam. The route will cross Alplaus Avenue where CP Rail tracks run west of Alplaus.

Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said the sidewalks will further a town plan to expand off-road bike and pedestrian amenities.  "There's a lot of good benefit to this, and we're just happy we were able to secure this funding."

Actual sidewalk construction won't happen until 2020 or later, but Koetzle said the town can start working with the county on the engineering and easement details needed to build sidewalks on the county road.

The Champlain Hudson Power Express is a plan, in development for a number of years, to bring large volumes of direct-current power from hydroelectric facilities in Quebec to the New York City area. With nearly all regulatory approvals in place, the company hopes to start construction in 2020, with completion estimated for 2024.

The town is expected to get its payment after the corporation gets an estimated $3 billion in construction financing, estimated to be in another nine to 18 months, Koetzle said.

Koetzle said he doesn't expect the $80,000 to be enough money for a complete sidewalk project and the town may look to the county for help.

He called it a critical link in the town's plans to provide off-road interlinks throughout the town.

“It’s another piece in the whole townwide trail system," Koetzle said. "It connects Maple Avenue to Saratoga County and beyond."

Residents are seeking sidewalks as part of the Alplaus hamlet plan, which both the Town Board and earlier this week, the Schenectady County Legislature, have said they support.

The residents' Alplaus Hamlet Plan calls for county and town help with issues like speeding enforcement on Alplaus Avenue and building wider shoulders or sidewalks to increase pedestrian safety. The larger goal of the plan is to preserve the character of the hamlet, which Watson termed "Americana."

In large part, the residents' efforts to control their own destiny stems from public debate in 2016-2017, when a high-density development was proposed along the Mohawk River frontage just south of the settled area, on an industrial brownfield site and a marina. Those plans were ultimately withdrawn in the face of residents' criticism, but it spurred discussion among residents about wanting to offer their own vision for the future.

Watson, for the residents' association, had praise for Koetzle and county officials who have worked with the residents, including County Legislator Tom Constantine, former legislator (now county manager) Rory Fluman, and County Attorney Chris Gardner.

“This is an opportunity for the town and county to show what great things can happen when everyone works together," Watson said.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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