Staff writer Susan Elan wrote this article about Putnam Couonty stopping work on a commuter parking
Putnam legislators voted last night to cease work on a commuter lot under construction at Route 6 and Mount Hope Road in Mahopac. ( Ed’s note – this is adjacent to the Putnam Trailway entrance and would be used by cyclists to access the trailway network. )
Many of the 50 residents who packed a small meeting room at the County Building in Carmel said they want the project abandoned because it would add to traffic congestion at the busy intersection, create noise and light pollution in their neighborhood, damage drinking water quality and lower property values.
“We support commuter lots so people can earn a living but not in my back yard,” said Tilde Zimmerman, a Mahopac Ridge resident.
County Executive Robert Bondi is expected to veto the resolution to shut down work at the Mahopac Park and Ride, one of five currently under construction in Putnam.
But Legislator Dini LoBue, R-Mahopac, who proposed the resolution, expects to have the six votes necessary to override the veto. Last night’s vote was 5 to 3. Legislator Sam Oliverio, D-Putnam Valley, did not attend.
The Bondi administration and the three legislators who voted against the shutdown say the county could be on the hook for the $643,000 already spent at the site. That number could soar to $1 million if the cost of restoring the site is included, they say.
Furthermore, the legislature’s decision could jeopardize funding for four other commuter lots currently under construction in Kent, Patterson and Southeast, Deputy County Executive John Tully said yesterday.
Putnam has received about $3.4 million in federal and state funds for five commuter parking lots including the one in Mahopac. Only the Mahopac lot, which abuts a residential neighborhood, has generated controversy.
Some legislators who voted last night to shut down the site said they favor a compromise that would allow for 20 parking spots off Route 6 with additional commuter spots added off Willow Road.
LoBue said she tried to broker a deal with Bondi to reduce the original 60-space lot to 20, but after securing the agreement of residents, Bondi reneged.
“We have to send a message to the county executive tonight or they’ll try to pave it next week,” LoBue said.
Bob Laga, a civil engineer who helped mobilize his neighbors to oppose the project, said he is no longer interested in compromise.
“I am very glad the legislature voted to cancel the Mount Hope project,” Laga said. “I hope the county executive realizes this is a bad situation and abandons the project and restores the site.”
David Wilson the president of Westchester Cycle Club and candidate for Carmel Town Board has alerted WCC members to make their voices heard through an email. Wilson said, “Access to bike paths is under attack in Putnam County, and we need your help to convince town and county leaders that they need to consider the needs of those who use the bike facilities. So far, officials have only heard from residents who don’t want cyclists and pedestrians parking near their homes. The officials need to hear from the cycling community about how bike trails fulfill an important recreational need in our society and are part of a healthy community that encourages nonmotorized transportation.”
Wilosn also pointed out to the membership another parking issue in Carmel. “The second issue concerns parking on Willow Road and Willow Spur, at the Trailway in the hamlet of Carmel. The Town Board voted unanimously last week to ban all parking on these streets, leaving just seven spots in a small lot. It is far too few. There is a public hearing on their proposal Wed., Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. at Carmel Town Hall, 60 McAlpin Ave., Mahopac. It is essential that we have people attend the public hearing to show the Town Board that cyclists and pedestrians need access to the Trailway. The board’s action goes against the recommendation of Police Chief Michael Johnson, who said cars can safely park on the northside of Willow,w here there’s room for about 12 cars.”