When initially reviewing the plans for a new Stewart’s on the corner of North Chestnut Street and Henry W. Dubois Drive, the Department of Transportation (DOT) found that a new traffic light would be needed.
The DOT’s initial findings had potential to jeopardize the Stewart’s plans, according to Hudson Valley One, calling for the $500,000 light to be paid for with the Stewart’s check. According to the Village Planning Board Chair Eve Walter, the DOT is currently reviewing other alternatives to the street light and has yet to make a final decision on the matter.
“It will be a while before we have any final decision about the light,” Walter said. Currently we are focused on the placement of the building.”
At the Village Planning Board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15, members decided the DOT needed to be consulted when Chuck Marshall and Dr. Philip Grealy, the traffic study consultant with Maser Consulting, came before the board to discuss the Stewart’s plans.
At the meeting Dr. Grealy mentioned how the DOT in recent years discouraged people from having two lanes at a lightless intersection and they would need to be consulted in order to add turning lanes at the intersection. A letter was requested from the DOT regarding the possibility of adding lanes at the intersection.
The intersection still raises concern among New Paltz residents with opinions currently divided over whether a street light is necessary.
“I believe there is concern that the traffic light will help with the flow of traffic,” said Mayor Tim Rogers. “I think a traffic light at that location would be helpful for bicycle and pedestrian users. The challenge that exists is who will pay for that street light or that traffic light.”
Rogers said an alternative to adding the light would be to only allow those exiting the Stewart’s property to make a righthand turn.
New Paltz resident Martin McPhillips said he knows the intersection very well and does not believe there should be a stoplight installed because he said the intersection is not “ready” for one, instead drivers should be discouraged from making a left at that intersection.
“Local drivers should know how to get around New Paltz [and] avoid bad driving choices,” McPhillips said. “A left turn off of DuBois onto North Chestnut during busy hours is a bad choice.”
However, other residents such as Ivy Miller Sciandra and former resident Bertsy Kerrt believe that the traffic light would be helpful because it would make the intersection safer and easier to make a left.
Kertt specifically, believes that the intersection has needed a light for years, in order to protect pedestrians and bicyclists.
She explained that about 30 years ago, her childhood friend was hit while riding her bike by a woman who was making a left hand turn out of the Village Pizza parking lot on that intersection.
“[Her] mom had bought her a helmet that day,” Kertt said. “Her head cracked the windshield of the car, she was bruised. But walked away from the accident.”