Chatham students may soon walk on straighter paths

CHATHAM–The Chatham Village Board awarded Hudson Hills Contracting, LLC, the Safe Routes to School contract at a special meeting last Thursday. The Safe Routes project, funded by a federal grant awarded to the village seven years ago, is intended to improve sidewalks along Woodbridge Avenue and along the driveway to the elementary and high school buildings.

The contract awarded at the July 23 meeting is one of the last steps needed before construction can start on a project that has been a long time in the planning. Village Clerk Barbara Henry said this week that Hudson Hills Contracting bid proposal is now at the state Department of Transportation (DOT) for the final approval that will allow work to begin, possibly this fall. Hudson Hill of Wappingers Falls, was the only company to bid on the project.

“I think this is the last piece,” said Mayor Tom Curran in a phone interview this week. Mayor Curran was not at the special board meeting last week but the three trustees who did attend–Lenore Packet, Mike Wollowitz and Jay Rippel–approved the $250,817.50 contract.

The village was awarded a $396,000 Safe Routes to School grant in 2008 from the DOT. At the time, the DOT had $3.2 million in federal grant money to give to Hudson Valley communities to make it safer for students to walk or bike to school.

Kevin Boehme, who was village police chief at the time, was involved in the application. In a 2009, in an interview published in The Independent newspaper, he said, “It’s going to be a process.”

Mayor Curran said that he inherited the project when he became mayor, saying that the previous administration was already three years into obtaining all the approvals. At one point in the process the state requested that an engineer review the plans. Then Mayor Curran said the board needed to get approval from CSX Transportation to do construction where the company’s train tracks cross Woodbridge Avenue.

The DOT has direct control of the funds, which are designated for design work as well as construction. Ms. Henry said the village sends bills to the state, which then disburses the money. Mayor Curran said he thinks all the expenses for the project will be covered by the grant.

He said the sidewalks on Woodbridge Avenue from Route 203 to Kinderhook Street will be improved as well as the sidewalk leading from Woodbridge Avenue from to the elementary school. Since the money was awarded to the village, the lead agency for the project is village government.

Now that the project is close to getting underway, Mayor Curran is cautiously optimistic. “It’s really exciting,” he said of the idea that ground might be broken in September.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

 

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