WHEATFIELD – The Wheatfield Town Board committed Monday to supplying $189,000 in matching funds if a state grant is obtained to build a sidewalk on Krueger Road, where a teenaged pedestrian was killed in a hit-and-run accident.
However, residents on Krueger Road and surrounding streets may ultimately have to cough up the money because the town may create a special tax district to pay for the sidewalks, rather than put the expense into the general town budget to be paid by all taxpayers.
“There’s a good possibility that residents on Krueger Road, are going to have to pick up $189,000, just so there’s no surprises,” Councilman Gilbert G. Doucet said.
Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said there are about 674 homes in the area bounded by Niagara Falls Boulevard and the North Tonawanda border, between Ward and Nash roads.
They can’t be taxed for the sidewalks without their consent. Town Attorney Matthew E. Brooks said about 75 percent of the affected residents must approve, and a public hearing is mandatory.
Krueger Road is where 16-year-old pedestrian Ryan Fischer was killed by a hit-and-run driver in November 2014. He is believed to have been walking just inside the traffic lane, because at the time there was very little space between the pavement and a drainage ditch. Since then, the town has filled in the ditch with level ground over a buried drainpipe.
Cliffe said Monday’s vote was necessary for the town’s application for $945,000 from the state, but whether there will be a Krueger Road sidewalk district is yet to be determined. He said he doesn’t want to tax all town residents for the sidewalk. The match is 20 percent of the grant.
“We can’t go any farther with the application unless we do this,” Cliffe said.
Town grant writer Bernie Rotella said it will take several months to obtain grant approval, and if it comes, the Town Board will have to vote again to accept the funds.
Brooks said it would also take several months to create a sidewalk district.
Krueger Road resident Debbie Fadel said she was frustrated by the delays. “I don’t understand. This is safety,” she said.