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Town of Tonawanda eyes its first 'complete street'

The Town of Tonawanda could have its first "complete street" accommodating motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and people with disabilities as early as 2018.

The town is using Parker Boulevard, between Englewood Avenue and Sheridan Drive, as a "pilot project" for its complete streets policy, said James Hartz, director of community development.

Complete Streets accommodate all modes of transportation by using sidewalks, landscaping, parking, bike lanes and motor vehicle lanes. Buffalo was the first city in the state to adopt a complete streets policy in 2008, when city leaders pledged to add features to help bikes and pedestrians whenever they reconstructed a road. Now, more than 100 municipalities have adopted such policies.

Tonawanda's draft policy is currently under review by the Planning Board, and about 800 people responded over the summer to a survey on how they want the town's streets to look going forward, Hartz said.

"Parker Boulevard was one of those streets identified as a street that people were looking for further improvements on – for traffic calming and to be inclusive of all modes of travel, including ADA compatibility, sidewalks, the whole 9 yards," he told the Town Board during its afternoon work session.

After reviewing 11 submitted proposals, the Town Board on Monday picked Buffalo-based T.Y. Lin International to be the consulting firm on the Parker Boulevard project. The firm's cost of $125,000 will be paid for with federal Community Development Block Grant funds. Three other proposals were less expensive, but officials rated T.Y. Lin International's proposal the highest.

The firm will draw up preliminary designs of a new Parker Boulevard, which could include bike lanes, ADA-compatible sidewalks and ramps, narrow travel lanes and roundabouts. It will also reach out to all property owners on that stretch of Parker for their input, assist with grant applications to seek funding for construction and perform final design and construction inspection services.

Councilman John A. Bargnesi Jr. said a makeover of Parker would connect to a planned "loop trail" around Lincoln Park and the town's new Rails to Trails path. Hartz said the planning and design process would take about a year, with construction taking place sometime in 2018.

Also Monday, the Town Board enacted a new law that establishes a $100 fee any time the town's contractor is called in to cut grass or clean up debris at a vacant property. The surcharge, which will be added to the property's tax bill, is aimed at making up for the cost of housing inspectors' time, said Carl R. Heimiller, supervising code enforcement officer.

The town annually receives between 400 and 500 complaints about overgrown grass and debris, he said.

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