Bike, pedestrian plan’s final draft presented

Project includes purchase of Acme property and changes at Cavallo Park, Bridge and Union streets and the Lambertville Station area

By: Carl Reader
   LAMBERTVILLE — The City Council Monday night heard and saw plans of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Committee for the improvement of both biking and walking in town.
   Kendra Lelie and Michael Brown, planners for Thomas Scangarello Associates Inc., presented drawings of changes proposed for various areas of the city, including the old Acme property, Cavallo Park, the area of Bridge and Union streets and the Lambertville Station area.
   "This is the final draft plan we’re presenting to the city," Mrs. Lelie said.
   The overall plan includes making sidewalks accessible to the handicapped, improving crosswalks with luminescent paint or perhaps brick, offering public bathrooms, establishing information centers and generally providing for the general welfare and comfort of those who move by bike or foot in the city. It includes a barrier-free access to the canal path at the old Acme as well as public bathrooms at that site. Park benches also are part of the program.
   Of the $381,000 approved for the bike and pedestrian program, a state grant pays $335,000 with the rest of the final cost paid for by the city. The original source of the money was the federal government, but the money is routed through the state Department of Transportation. The state Historic Preservation Office has to approve any changes to the original plan, such as using the money at the old Acme site.
   "The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Committee met five times to review plans for certain sections of the town," said Councilwoman Cynthia Ege, who got the project going and stuck with it through all its stages so far, including finding funding and helping with the designs for it.
   Mayor David Del Vecchio said the council was not ready to approve the plans before finding out what the costs would be. He later pointed out bids for two city projects had run over recently, the bids for Ely Memorial Field and for North Franklin Street.
   "Let’s find out money wise where we are before we get too far along," he said.
   The mayor said the town was committed to the project and would find funding for it. He agreed with Mrs. Ege that just because council might be uncertain of how to fund certain parts of the project it didn’t mean the city wouldn’t do the project.
   "We’re not going to be able to do everything for the $335,000 approved for the project," Mrs. Lelie said. "We have to prioritize."
   The drawings presented by Mrs. Lelie and Mr. Brown showed a pocket park in the central business district with signs and bike racks at the old Acme property. Mrs. Lelie said it would be a place to stop, relax and find out where to go in town. It’s designed for people coming off the canal path who need to orient themselves as to where they’re headed in Lambertville.
   Near Cavallo Park, Mrs. Lelie described another pocket park with bike racks and sitting walls. At Bridge and Union streets, there will be more sitting walls and benches, with brick paving, unique lanterns and lighting that will spruce up the area. Mr. Brown described a "much more elaborate introduction" to the city at the Lambertville Station area, including sitting walls, an information kiosk, shade trees and decorative lighting.
   Mrs. Lelie also suggested a sprucing up of the turning area onto Bridge Street from Route 29, including trees, street lighting and a sign welcoming people to Lambertville. All that would have to be coordinated with the DOT.
   "Most people don’t want to see gas stations as their first impression of Lambertville," Mrs. Lelie said.
   There are two gas stations at the corners of Bridge Street and Route 29.
   One portion of the plan that bothered some council members was the removal of the wall at the bank parking lot.
   "It’s a drive-through," Councilman Steve Stegman pointed out. "That’s probably why the fence is there."
   Councilwoman Marie Warford said the city could be asking for trouble if it took the fence down as part of the project.
   "For years we had a terrible time there for years with kids coming causing problems," she said.
   The mayor and council asked Mrs. Lelie and Mr. Brown to figure the costs of the project as presented before the city goes forward with it.