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BUSINESS OPERATORS VIEW DELAWARE AVENUE PLAN

Parking meters, aesthetics and money for improvements were the hot topics Thursday evening at an informational meeting of the Delaware Avenue Streetscape Committee and the Ken-Ton Merchants and Friends organization.

A pictorial view of the plan to refurbish Delaware Avenue was unveiled to business operators, who packed the Village Board's chambers before the floor was opened for questions and suggestions from the community.

"A streetscape is not rocket science. The elements are just some things you want to combine that make sense together," said Mark V. Mistretta, a Wendel Duchscherer partner and landscape architect.

"We're not going to do anything to hurt businesses. It's all to enhance and improve the aesthetics of the village," he said.

Mistretta and his associate David Kenyon detailed an early draft of the plan. It calls for aesthetic and practical enhancements in the business district as well as improving the use and appearance of the area around Delaware Avenue and Delaware Road.

"This whole project does not work without the involvement of each and every one of you in this room," Mayor John W. Beaumont said. "And it really needs that total commitment of not only everyone in this room, but also the people who were not able to be here tonight."

Business owners seemed generally pleased with the overall plans for installing classic street lighting, foliage and signs; refurbishing sidewalks; and upgrading parking meters.

"I think we've got a much bigger asset than anybody can imagine. We're the only place on Delaware Avenue where there are (storefronts)," said Ron Alsheimer, president of Plaza Group of Delaware Avenue. The multiphase project includes both Delaware and Elmwood avenues in Kenmore. The village already has obtained $400,000 in state money and hopes to attract additional funding.

Discussion also turned to the long-debated topic of parking meters on Delaware Avenue.

Anthony D. Decillis, vice president of the M&T Bank branch on Delaware Avenue, proposed a solution that gained wide acceptance: "user-friendly" meters that afford motorists a "free 15 minutes." More time would have to be purchased.

"I saw it in Palm Beach. They roll up in their Rolls-Royces and run into Tiffany's. They're multimillionaires, and they don't have a quarter," Decillis said.

Planners agreed to look into Decillis' suggestion.

Mistretta said the next step involves preparing cost estimates and drawing up an overall project budget before completing design plans.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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