This week, we took a look back at the top events that shaped 2015 in our towns. But as we head into 2016, we have our own list of things we’d like to see take place.
For starters, the Town of Bethlehem and its police department need to make peace with each other. The rancor between town Supervisor John Clarkson and the police union over continuing budget cuts has been going on for too long. It’s time for the two sides to find some common ground and work with each other to provide a level of service that both serves the public’s best interest and doesn’t come at too high of a cost to the town.
Also, we’d like to hear that Bethlehem’s Vista Technology Park will be getting more tenants in 2016. Landing Monolith Solar’s headquarters was a nice first step, but more like-minded corporations must be secured in order for the high-tech business park to live up to its billing. We know Vista is not only in competition for high-tech factories with places such as the University at Albany and Malta’s Luther Forest, but also with many more tech parks across the United States. However, patience is starting to wear thin in the town. Deliver the goods, or face the wrath of people who see Vista as a white elephant.
The Town of Colonie needs to continue examining the Albany Shaker Road corridor and find ways to improve traffic flow, especially at rush hour. The stretch from Crumitie Road to the Northway entrance has been notoriously bad for many years, and yet there has been little done to mitigate the traffic that crowds the mostly two-lane road between the hours of 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Addressing traffic flow is more important than adding any more development along or near Albany Shaker Road.
Along Central Avenue in Colonie, the problem has been motorists hitting pedestrians at night as people try crossing the four-lane thoroughfare without using crosswalks at intersections. Increasing the number of crosswalks might seem like a natural solution, but it would create problems with traffic flow. A better solution would be to look at the antiquated street lights that dot either side of Central Avenue and seek a better lighting system to help motorists see everything around them more clearly. This won’t eliminate the problem, but it will go a long way towards cutting down on the number of accidents and near misses.
Finally, more should be done in the residential part of our towns to make them more pedestrian friendly. There has been progress on this front with more sidewalks built and opened in Selkirk, Guilderland Center and Newtonville in 2015. But, our towns can’t rest on these laurels. In other neighborhoods off the main roads, people and cars must share the roads. Slower speed limits help only if motorists are willing to obey them. Giving pedestrians more miles of sidewalks to provide a buffer between them and motorists is the surest way to keep them safe.
Let’s hope 2016 brings us all of these things and more.