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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, September 18, 2008
By Saranac Hale Spencer
GUILDERLAND A two-lane road will likely loop behind the public library here to connect traffic to Winding Brook Drive, which has a street light at its intersection with Route 20. Members of the library board objected strenuously to the proposal, which the planning board passed last Wednesday.
The road is to be built by Atlantic Pacific Properties, developer for nearby Glass Works Village.
“Just anecdotally, you talk to anybody” about making a left-hand turn onto Route 20 from the library’s current exit on Mercy Care Lane, said Guilderland’s town planner, Jan Weston. “It’s suicide.”
It’s a difficult intersection, the library agrees, but building a road in the town’s right-of-way, known as Paper Street, behind the library building would disrupt the library’s recently constructed reading sanctuary. What should be done, said library trustee and chair of the Long-Range Planning Committee, Robert Ganz in an interview yesterday, is Mercy Care Lane a private road owned largely by St. Peter’s, which has a facility located near the library should become a town road, bringing it up to town specifications and connecting it to Winding Brook Drive.
“It’s a very roundabout way,” Weston said of the proposal, responding through The Enterprise. “It is a private road on private land,” she said of Mercy Care Lane, adding later, “We’d have to eminent domain it at this point.”
The town had a right-of-way on Paper Street before the library was built, she said, and Guilderland has asked the developers of the Glass Works development to build the road as a condition for development. “Glass Works, they don’t need to build it for their project,” she said; the developers are doing it because the town asked.
The 327-unit development, with 190,000 square feet of retail and professional space, which echoes some New Urbanist principals, is planned for a 57.55-acre parcel near the library.
“We think this is antithetical to Glass Works Village,” Ganz told the planning board at its meeting last week, since the road might encourage residents of the community, billed as being walkable, to drive to the nearby library.
“Most traffic that would utilize that road would be library traffic,” Guilderland’s supervisor, Kenneth Runion, said yesterday.
According to Ganz, the library had reached an agreement with Runion in February, the terms of which were that the town wouldn’t require the Glass Works developer to build the road behind the library and the library would withdraw its objection to the project before the town board was to vote on the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which the board accepted unanimously on March 18.
“Whether they have an objection to the project is kind of irrelevant,” Runion said yesterday. He remembered meeting with library representatives in February, but said that it produced no agreement. During that meeting, Runion said, the library representatives did say that it would ask the state’s department of transportation to limit left turns out of Mercy Care Lane onto Route 20.
A May 21 letter from the DOT in response to the library’s request says, “We… reviewed the accident history at this location for the 65 month period from January 1, 2002 to May 31, 2007. There were seven reported accidents involving left turning vehicles out of Mercy Care Lane.” It goes on to say, “Based on our observations and the accident history, we have determined that a left turn restriction from Mercy Care Lane to Route 20 westbound is not warranted at this time.”
“We are undecided as to our course of action,” Ganz said. “We want to be good neighbors.” He called the road a short-term solution and concluded, “ We’re in a quandary.”