RYE, N.Y. -- Rye officials will consider potential changes to the central business district in an effort to improve pedestrian accessibility and parking.
The bond referendum approved by voters last year included several projects to upgrade the streetscape in the downtown area. These include reconstruction and curb replacement at Smith Street, new stop signs and crosswalks at the intersection of Purchase Street and Elm Place, as well as a new sewer line under Locust Avenue.
The city is now in the early stages of considering further scenarios to improve the downtown area, according to city planner Christian Miller. Working with a central business district improvement group made up of members of the planning commission, the Chamber of Commerce and business owners, they are looking at a number of plans and options. Some focus more on increasing parking, some on pedestrian enhancements, and others on traffic control.
Any enhancements made would be long-term solutions, designed to last at least 50 to 60 years, Miller said. There are a lot of factors to take into consider before anything is implemented, and it is important that there be a consensus among stakeholders, he said.
"These are places of social interaction," he said. While Main Streets used to focus on being places to get goods and services, he said that there is more to it than that. "The Main Street of the future is one of community identity, of community interaction. That's why these design principals and considerations are really relevant in terms of preserving the health and economic viability of the downtown."
Some of the options would see three-way crosswalks installed, increasing sidewalk space or removing traffic signals. There was some talk about making Smith Street a one-way road.
"As it stands right now, this is not a detailed plan. The details matter a lot, every grade within a fraction of an inch matters, every tree you specify, the underground utilities, all those things matter," he said.
Miller said that the city would be looking to start implementing some improvements next year. The timing may be a challenge to nail down. If construction takes place in the summer, when it normally would, it would have to be done after the sidewalk sale but before school starts up, so the city may look at a different time of year to implement the changes.
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