— Cooperstown students return to school in two weeks. and one of the biggest changes the teachers, parents and students encounter may be making their way through a construction zone.
Linden Avenue, the road to the middle/high school, is a part of the Gateway Project and is closed. Construction is scheduled to be completed in September, possibly before school starts, but even if it is, a new project is set to begin around the corner on Walnut and Chestnut streets.
The Gateway project will develop a parking area to divert congestion from downtown and residential areas, improve the infrastructure of Linden Avenue, support the trolley system and provide for increased safety of all pedestrian and vehicle traffic flow.
The second project will address continuing efforts to improve the sewer system and reduce inflow and infiltration.
The village board decided to do the second project now as long as work was being done on Linden Avenue because sewer and water lines have to be connected.
Officials had hoped the project could be completed at a time that would not greatly impact school traffic.
“We tried to get the bid out earlier, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. It is not something we could have planned for six months ago, but everyone is committed to making it go as smoothly as possible,” said Mayor Jeff Katz.
The village and school have discussed the situation and are working to make the students’ return to school as smooth as possible.
“We plan to stay in close communication with the village and the contractors on these projects and if it appears that the traffic will be impeded we will certainly use all communication tools at our disposal to let people know,” CCS Superintendent C.J. Hebert said this week.
Certainly, it would be easier for everyone involved if construction could have been completed when school was not in session, but as Katz pointed out, things don’t always go as planned. The streets leading to the middle/high school and the elementary school are congested enough without adding construction vehicles and activity to the mix, but there is little that can be done to avoid it.
One thing that would help is the elimination of unnecessary automobile trips to the school. Students should consider walking or taking the bus instead of driving or getting a ride from a parent. Walking would be better for the environment, improve the health of the walkers and help to relieve some of the traffic congestion during construction.
One thing is certain; everyone will need to remain patient as the community works through the construction phase.