Silver Creek board hears all about Complete Streets

SILVER CREEK – The Silver Creek Village Board seemed receptive to a presentation on the concept of “Complete Streets” at its meeting Monday.

Lisa Schmidtfrerick-Miller from the Chautauqua County Health and Human Services Department attended the meeting to inform the board about what Complete Streets are and what they can do for the community.

Schmidtfrerick-Miller previously met with the planning board and has been in contact with Mayor Nick Piccolo and Highway Foreman Ralph Crawford in planning what could work for Silver Creek.

She explained the Health Department is targeting children ages birth to 18 to try to prevent obesity and chronic disease. One of the ways it is doing this is by encouraging walking and biking to school.

She defined Complete Streets as streets designed to be safe, comfortable and convenient for all users.

“We have seen that if there are safe places to be active, people will be more active,” she said. “It really is like; if you build it, they will come.”

Schmidtfrerick-Miller said around one-third of the population does not drive. This includes children under driving-age, the elderly and individuals not able to afford a car.

She said in Silver Creek 4.9 percent of households do not own a car. This number is lower than in Jamestown or Dunkirk because the need for driving is greater in a smaller community like Silver Creek.

She said Silver Creek has many streets that accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists, however while touring the village she did find some areas where the village may like to improve.

One example she gave was across Howard Street by Rite-Aid. She said she observed cars barely stop before turning right onto Route 5 West and not look for pedestrians looking to cross. She said in this instance the village could ask the state Department of Transportation to look into solutions like a crossing signal.

She explained Complete Streets does not mean changing every street, only the ones that do not accommodate the regular traffic – cars, bikes and walkers.

She said this can be done through sidewalks, bike lanes, curb extensions and even landscaping can affect how fast traffic travels on a road.

“When you make streets for cars, you get cars. When you make streets for walkers, you get walkers. Businesses want people walking by their stores,” she said.

She said Complete Streets is less costly during construction, rather than retrofitting but having a policy in place can aid in residents health, safety, and promote a community vision.

She said she can help the village develop a Complete Streets Policy, create a report of needs and priorities, identify potential funding and assist in grant applications.

“I am asking the board to consider adopting a Complete Streets Policy with realistic goals,” she said.

Piccolo said the village has many walkers and he already has some ideas of areas that could use improvement.

Resident Daniel Drozdiel said the town of Hamburg worked with the DOT to make Route 62 more accessible for all and it has resulted in a lot of private investment in the area.

Piccolo said he wants the Planning Board to be involved the in development of the policy and identifying where work should be done.

The board also heard a presentation from Hanover Assessor Darlene Fox on registration for Basic STAR. Fox said homeowners ages 64 and younger must register for the Basic STAR exemption by Dec. 31. She said a letter should have been sent out and residents can register online or by phone. Informational brochures will be available in the village clerk’s office as well as the assessor’s office in the town hall. Any questions can be directed to the assessor’s office Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by stopping by or calling 934-2552.

The board will meet on Oct. 21 for its regular meeting.