With the understanding that one option or the other for upgrading the intersection would be determined by the Board, Maser Consulting offered this slide presentation at the October 13, 2016 work session. They compared the advantages and disadvantages for either a conventional signal or a roundabout. The cost was found to be about the same. From the perspective of pedestrian safety and traffic flow, the roundabout was better. The roundabout is also better for the environment, and expands sidewalks to allow for increased plantings and public gathering space.
Roundabouts can work very well in downtown settings. This video shot in the Glens Falls roundabout, includes interviews with local business owners, police officers, and a journalist identifying a myriad of benefits they were surprised to be experiencing, including this statement, “What I think was not foreseen by a lot of folks was, [it’s] fantastic for pedestrians…plus it’s a signature thing for Glens Falls.”
Ossining’s Historic Preservation Commission Chair, Joanne Tall called to our attention the roundabout the Glens Falls as an example of one that is located in an historic downtown. It can be disconcerting to consider a big change to a community, particularly in a way that is tangible like an intersection where we all walk, drive and shop. Once a roundabout is in place, there tends to be a very a positive response. This was certainly the case for the roundabout in Glens Falls.
Even a single lane roundabout like the one coming to the heart of Ossining’s downtown, requires a slightly larger footprint than a traffic signal. Space is often not a limitation in rural areas. Downtowns that are developed on all corners, typically don’t allow enough space to construct a roundabout. Because two of the corners of our downtown intersection are undeveloped, we have flexibility that is not typical for a downtown Village. In November, a number of business owners and members of the Historic Preservation Commission joined the Village Board and the engineers on a site visit through the five corners intersection to see the parameters of the roundabout design, including where sidewalks will be shifted and expanded.
At the November 16, 2016 meeting the Village welcomed Howard McCulloch, roundabout expert from the NYS DOT, to provide a presentation and engage in a conversation about roundabouts. A significant portion of his presentation focused on pedestrian safety. In fact, roundabouts are the NYS DOT’s preferred option for all intersection upgrades because studies demonstrate that they are so much safer for pedestrians.
When people hear the term “roundabout” they often think of large, fast, dangerous rotaries. A “modern roundabout”, particularly a single lane roundabout like this would be, are significantly safer for both vehicles and pedestrians than conventional intersections. The Wisconsin DOT offers this video about roundabouts, including data about the safety of roundabouts, particularly for pedestrians.
At the February 1, 2017 meeting, the Village Board passed a resolution to fund the roundabout. Village Corporation Counsel Stuart Kahan provided the following remarks regarding the guidelines for a permissive referendum.
Mayor and members of the Board of Trustees, on this evening’s agenda, there are two bond resolutions, which include language that the resolutions are subject to permissive referenda. I wanted to take a few minutes to detail to the Board and the public what is a public referendum and how the process works according to New York’s Village Law.
With a public referendum, voters in the Village have the right, during a specified time period, to petition the local government requesting a vote on a particular resolution approved by the Board. Not every resolution is subject to a permissive referendum. New York law lists those matters which are subject to a permissive referendum. Among the matters subject to a permissive referendum are certain bond resolutions as detailed in Local Finance Law section 36.00.
The process for a permissive referendum is detailed in New York’s Village Law section 9-900, et. al. The procedure is as follows: