WHEATFIELD – A hit-and-run driver killed a teenage pedestrian on Krueger Road three years ago, and the fallout from that tragedy continues.
The driver was eventually apprehended and served a jail sentence.
The victim's mother filed a lawsuit against the driver.
And the mother was accused in early March of trying to run over the hit-and-run driver.
If there had been a sidewalk on Krueger Road at the time, it's possible none of this might have occurred.
Now comes word that a sidewalk could be in place next year on the road where the teen was killed.
A list of state-funded road and bridge projects that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo released last week included $756,000 for Wheatfield to construct a sidewalk on Krueger Road, where Ryan Fischer, 16, was fatally injured in November 2014.
Lisa Fischer, Ryan's mother, was arrested March 6 on charges of trying to run over the hit-and-run driver, Anthony J. DiFilippo, in the latter's driveway.
Fischer also has a wrongful death lawsuit pending against DiFilippo, who is serving a five-year probation term on his guilty plea to leaving the scene of a fatal crash without reporting. DiFilippo also served a six-month jail sentence.
Police concluded Ryan Fischer was walking in or right next to the traffic lane, because there was no sidewalk or shoulder.
There was only a narrow strip of grass between the pavement and a deep drainage ditch. After the fatality, the town filled in the ditch with dirt to provide pedestrians with an escape route.
Wheatfield Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said that the state grant will pay 80 percent of the sidewalk's estimated cost of $945,000.
He said neighborhood residents will be asked to pay extra property taxes to cover the remaining 20 percent of the cost of the project, or $189,000.
Cliffe said that works out to an average of $14.34 per year for the next 20 years, based on the 659 homes on Krueger Road and nearby residential streets. That doesn't count properties on the major roads nearby, such as Nash and Ward roads and Niagara Falls Boulevard.
Cliffe said the Town Board will consider the creation of a special taxing district in that area, but only if residents are willing. The boundaries of the district also are subject to discussion, he said.
"There have been some people who have called the town, written the town, talked to their (board) members, who say they don't want to pay anything, not a nickel, not a dime," Cliffe said. "But there were 600 people who signed a petition (for the sidewalk) twice. I have to listen to both sides, and ultimately it will be the people in that area who will make the decision as to whether to proceed or not. And that's the way it should be."
Cliffe said the town doesn't have the money yet, or even an official notification of the award. He said given the state's usual red tape, he doesn't expect any construction on the sidewalk this year.
Meanwhile, a schedule of the process to create a special district is expected to be available at Monday's Town Board meeting. The timeline will include a public information session and a formal public hearing for residents, Cliffe said.
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