Holley urges community to write letters about bad sidewalks

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 15 September 2016 at 9:39 am

Testimonials can help bolster grant application

HOLLEY – Village residents learned more about Holley’s efforts to obtain grant funding to help pay for replacement and construction of sidewalks.

The Village Board had an informational meeting Tuesday evening just prior to the regular meeting of the Village Board.

Tom Lajewski of J. O’Connell Associates attended the meeting and explained that the village is applying for a federal Transportation Alternatives Grant (TAP) grant and that a show of public support through the writing of letters – which will be included with the application – are vitally important to the village obtaining the grant.

“The support is 20 percent of the grant points,” Lajewski said.

He explained that letters should be dropped off at the Village Office, 72 Public Square, by the end of September. Those writing letters should discuss their use of sidewalks for transportation to church, a restaurant, for appointments, visiting the library, dance class or getting to the canal. Current sidewalk conditions, which make using the sidewalks difficult and result in safety concerns, should also be included, he said.

Lajewski explained that it is important for the letters to be personalized with comments regarding how the condition of the sidewalks impacts the letter writer directly.

“I would also encourage other people (outside) the village to write … people who visit,” Lajewski said.

The TAP grant is an 80/20 matching grant. The 20 percent of the cost shouldered by the village could come as in-kind services from the Department of Public Works, Lajewski said.

Mayor Brian Sorochty echoed Lajewski when asked by resident Kerri Neale if the cost of the project would impact taxes.  The mayor explained there is the potential that if the project is large enough, some of the 20 percent of the village’s cost might be paid for through bonding.

Currently the village and O’Connell Associates are working on a scope for the project considering, “what it would take to do all the sidewalks and then pair it down to something realistic. The village will make a decision on what you can handle,” Lajewski said.

“The sidewalks are a mess,” Trustee Connie Nenni said. “This is our best option at getting them fixed.”

She noted that faculty and staff at the Holley Central School District are being encouraged to write letters as teachers often plan walking field trips in the village and residents walk to and from school events and the Fitness Center.

During the supervisors’ meeting prior to the informational meeting, Holley Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti told Village Board members they will need to develop a maintenance plan for sidewalks once they are in place.

“There are some significant decisions this board has to make,” Vendetti said. Those decisions include the extent of the work to be done in addition to how the sidewalks will be maintained.

Vendetti estimated the cost of replacing all needed sidewalk at $1.9 million.

Lajewski said it would be a couple of years before any construction began and even then the project would likely be done in several phases.

During the business portion of Tuesday’s Village Board meeting, trustees approved paying Chatfield Engineers $6,000 for preliminary engineering costs related to the TAP grant application.

Trustees discussed contacting state Senator Robert Ortt to see if funds might be available to the village to help cover engineering and consulting costs related to the grant application.

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