Proposed Pocket Park, Bike Lanes Show Main Street Plan’s Love For Harris Hill

UPDATE (1/24/18): The Town of Clarence Planning and Zoning Department has posted the PowerPoint presentation used in the meeting online. You can access the presentation materials here.

This is the end of the update. The original article continues below:

Last year’s adoption of the Vision: Main Street plan by the Town of Clarence marked a significant milestone on a years-long effort to bring Main Street in Clarence back to the Future. To this point, however, it’s been private projects and community involvement that have taken the lead. That’s about to change.

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In his State of The Town address on Thursday afternoon, Supervisor Pat Casilio revealed that the Town as been working the New York State Department of Transportation to include bike lanes and other components of the Vision: Main Street plan as a part of a proposed resurfacing of the western portion of Main Street beginning at Transit Road and running east through the Hamlet of Harris Hill. The Supervisor also shared that plans will be going out to bid for the sidewalk project between Transit Road and Sheridan Drive. Both projects are slated to begin this summer.

Together, the changes will represent concrete progress in Main Street’s transformation from a car-centric highway to an inclusive, multi-modal district that’s a destination in its own right.

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Later that evening, a well-attended informational meeting at the Harris Hill Volunteer Fire Company want even further. The event was the first opportunity for public input on a plans for a “pocket park” along Nottingham Terrace from Main Street to Oakwood Drive.

Town Planner Jonathan Bleuer was on hand to explain the concept of pocket parks in general and the specifics of how the plan developed from the experience of last summer’s successful Connecting Clarence Street Festival and an effort to restore the historic pillars flanking the historic neighborhood entrance.

Bleuer gave the example of the Clarence Hollow Farmers’ Market as a pocket park. The concept works as a public space that connects a neighborhood to an existing facility such as Main Street. The proposed Nottingham Terrace pocket park would replace the existing one-way entrance to the neighborhood with areas for seating, recreation and group activities, including a larger space at the southern end of the park where Bleuer suggested “you might meet for yoga on a Saturday morning.”

trip counts

While this meeting was preliminary, and many details remain to be worked out, a lot of work has already been done measuring traffic flows through the community to ensure minimal disruption to Harris Hill Gardens. A slide in the presentation noted that Nottingham Terrace received the least amount of vehicle trips of the seven existing entrances to the neighborhood, and that the space would still be usable by pedestrians and cyclists for access to and from Main Street.

Neighborhood Linkage

Better yet, funding could be available directly from the DOT as a part of an existing state programs. The overall program would include elements of improvements to Main Street, the pocket park and a bike route connecting Nottingham, Sunset Park and a dedicated path along Wehrle Drive to the existing West Shore bike path. The “Neighborhood Linkage” aspect of the plan would include a bike lane, street lighting and trees. With all of these elements included in the proposal, funding would be available through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program.

Small Group Input

For residents concerned about preserving the historic entrance to their neighborhood, Supervisor Casilio, himself a resident of Harris Hill, reminded those in attendance that the DOT has expressed concerns about the existing Nottingham configuration as “too close to Harris Hill and Main Street,” and noted that other alternative available to the DOT could include moving the Nottingham intersection further to the east.

Overall, this first public foray for the plan seemed very positive, and the Town seems genuinely interested in delivering on the promise of Vision: Main Street with public spaces that preserve historical elements while linking the Harris Hill Gardens neighborhood to its business district.

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One thought on “Proposed Pocket Park, Bike Lanes Show Main Street Plan’s Love For Harris Hill

  1. Our kids call this entrance the ‘secret short way’. It really isn’t any shorter but it’s the one entrance that I think only the locals know and sometimes use. BTW it’s not a one way entrance. It is striped to enter from both the east and west. It’s just that most people use it when they are traveling east on Main St. I have a few issues with this. I find it odd that we tear out the existing pillars, build new ones in a different location, add two more that were never there and call it historical. You just ripped out everything that was historical and erased what was there and deposited an entry that pays no homage to what has been there for years. I think you should build on what is there and maybe restore what is there and design something as a counterpoint to that or complimentary to it. That huge arch also does not say pedestrian. It it really designed for cars and then we throw a few bollards at Main St. to prevent cars from using it, but they can if we need to. If you want a park then make it a park and remove the vehicular access period. This park will require a lot of maintenance. What is the towns plan for that. Will it be properly maintain in the tenth year as it was in the first year or is this just an other ribbon cutting opportunity that will get forgotten after the first few years. Finally it’s nice that they are suggesting this but I have a more basic issue with how the town has maintained Harris Hill. Years ago when they repaved the streets a decision was made by somebody to just mill off a couple of inches and overlay new asphalt. But they didn’t overlay it with base and a top coat. It appears that only the base was installed and now we have some of the roughest streets in any sub division in all of Clarence I think. You can hardly skateboard one the streets. Spaulding Lake has streets that are smooth as glass. What the hell happened in our neighborhood? If we are going to spend any money I think it should be used to restore the streets first before we spend it on a park or path that will be hardly used.

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