There is no doubt that construction will slow down traffic flow to and from the Cooperstown schools as classes begin on Sept. 6.
One project is about to come to a close, but another is about to begin. In anticipation of the impacts the projects might cause, a public safety village committee meeting was held to discuss potential plans to make sure things go as smoothly as possible. CCS’s superintendent and members of the operations and grounds board committee attended the Aug. 16 meeting. Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz said the Gateway Project, which involves Linden Avenue, the road leading to the middle/high school, is scheduled to be completed in September, possibly before school starts. However, a second project is set to begin on Walnut and Chestnut streets.
“The schools will never be inaccessible,” Katz said. “There will be inconveniences, though. That is something that is unavoidable. People should expect delays and congestion.”
School traffic will be impacted, but the plan is to make it as pain-free as possible, Katz said. “We can’t not do the work,” he said. “Everyone will have to be attentive. 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.”
CCS Superintendent C.J. Hebert said the district is willing to work with contractors and the village to modify traffic flow.
“We want to do our part so that there is a successful completion,” he said. The Gateway Project is intended to make “significant” improvements to the entrance to Cooperstown from the south. The plan is to develop a parking area to divert parking 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.
Hebert said discussions have been held about possible alternative bus routes and plans.
“As of right now, it is my understanding, and with speaking with Brian Clancy (Department of Public Works superintendent) that there is about a 50/50 chance that it (Linden Avenue work) will be completed prior to the start of school,” he said.
There may be a need to have traffic flow into and out of the school in a one-way manner -- by either having vehicles come in on Linden and out through the Gateway parking lot onto State Highway 28 or vice versa, Hebert added.
“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 tools at our exposal (website and software that makes calls to parents) to let people know.”
According to Katz, updates on the projects will be posted on the village and school websites.
The Walnut and Chestnut work is slated to begin in early September, according to Katz. He said there will be traffic control.
Katz said the engineer wants to do as much work as possible this year. A sub base needs to be put down and allowed to settle, Katz explained. Then, he said, streets can be paved. The goal is to have work wrapped up before winter begins in November, according to Katz.
Hebert said a good amount to time was spent last week at the public safety meeting discussing the potential ramifications of this project. There are plans to communicate with board of education members with a follow up discussion at the Sept. 5 meeting, he said.
“There are a lot of logistical ramifications and safety considerations that have to be fully explored and discussed so there is an appropriate contingency plan prior to the start of a project of this scope,” Hebert said.
The duration of the impact is going to be fairly long, according to Hebert. He said the plan is to halt construction in November for the winter, but work will start again in April and is expected to continue through June.
“It will certainly have a major impact on the school and that was the reason for the initial meeting that we had,” he said.
Inconveniences such as noise impacting learning in the classroom will be hard to determine until construction begins, according to Hebert.
“The one wing is pretty close to Walnut Street, so hopefully the schedule will be such that it will have a minimal impact to classrooms that are closest to it,” he said.