The Village of New Paltz has made headway on a public works project to highlight the village’s history of support for the LGBTQIA+ community. Interest in the project, a proposed pride crosswalk, was generated by the community at large during Pride Month.
“What’s noteworthy, if New Paltz does something like this, is that we’re doing it because we have a history connected to the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Village Mayor Tim Rogers. “In 2004, former Mayor Jason West performed some of the first same sex marriages in the U.S. We’re not just celebrating Pride Month, we’re celebrating pride as well as the historic events in New Paltz’s past.”
While there is widespread support for the crosswalk, from both the community and the Village Board, the project has been held up due to logistics in cost and jurisdiction on certain roads within the village.
Rogers addressed the combination of state, county and village roads throughout the village and how same potential locations for the crosswalk, such as the intersection by Starbucks and P&Gs, may require cooperation at a state level.
“If we have time we’re going to try and get approval from the state,” said Village Board Trustee Don Kerr. “Plattekill Avenue, once you get out of the intersection itself, is a village road and the pride parade does take that road on its route. But concerns have been expressed that that may seem like putting the crosswalk in the closet.”
Kerr has spearheaded efforts to implement the crosswalk, working closely with the Hudson Valley LGBTQIA+ Community Center and its Executive Director Jeff Rindler.
The Village is hoping to install the crosswalk by the next New Paltz Pride Parade, a goal which Village Board Trustee KT Tobin said the board was committed to achieving.
“All of us are regular marchers in the pride parade,” Tobin said. “This is part of our identity, to be part of this movement.”
The Board is currently working to determine not only where, but how the crosswalk will be implemented. Materials and maintenance costs are factors being considered.
The Village is using other communities as examples for the most cost-effective and maintenance friendly options for the crosswalk. Paint and thermoplastics are potential options for the coloring, though the New Paltz Department of Public Works (DPW) has expressed a greater interest in thermoplastics due to the tedium of painting the rainbow crosswalk. These thermoplastics have been used in communities such as Key West and Atlanta. The Village is researching their implementation in the harsher climates of the northeast.
“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel.,” Kerr said. “The folks in the Dept. of Public Works said thermoplastic would be the way to go.”
The Village is looking to open the project to donations from the community for the costs of material, with the DPW being tasked with the installation.
Considering the nation’s heated political climate, Mayor Rogers said it would be “prudent” to budget funds for unexpected maintenance in the case of vandalism, though such an event seems unlikely in New Paltz.
“I’m optimistic that there’s support from the community,” Rogers said. “Jeff and Don seem motivated to engage community members who would like to contribute to the project.”