YORKTOWN, N.Y. - A plan to have traffic on Commerce Street flow one-way will be presented to the Town Board at its Feb. 23 work session.
Yorktown Chamber of Commerce President Eric DiBartolo, who will present the idea, said having one-way traffic will make the town more walkable, giving it a “village-type” feel, similar to Katonah.
“I just think we can really enhance the town tremendously—the Heights area—by doing that,” DiBartolo said.
At the moment, DiBartolo is only asking the board to consider his proposal on a trial basis. Traffic would flow in one direction from Friendly’s to the firehouse, he said. If successful, he will also request diagonal parking spaces along Commerce Street.
“It will help businesses,” DiBartolo said. “Let’s say you stop at 7-Eleven and then you want to run over to the bank or you want to run up to Starbucks and get a cup of coffee, you can just park and walk. It would be a very comfortable feeling to walk.”
Another change DiBartolo is proposing is the elimination of left-hand turns onto Route 118 from Downing Drive. Not only will these changes reduce accidents, DiBartolo predicts, but it would also force motorists to seek alternative routes, such as Kear Street and Underhill Avenue.
“We’re trying to bring people through that area,” he said. “You have a lot of businesses there, a lot of stores there, and it’s like a dead zone.”
The corner of Underhill Avenue and Front Street, where the highway department is presently located, has been targeted as an area of development by Supervisor Michael Grace. The supervisor has proposed a privately developed commercial/residential building known as Depot Square. The highway department would be moved to Greenwood Street.
While the change would bring more motorists through the area, DiBartolo, who was highway superintendent for 16 years, said his proposal is unrelated to Depot Square.
“I’m in favor of Depot Square; I think the highway department should have been moved when I was there,” he said. “If it works to that, too, then it works to that, too.”
DiBartolo said motorists coming from Hanover Street may be inconvenienced because they can no longer continue onto Commerce Street. Instead, they would have to take a roundabout way to reach 7-Eleven or other businesses in the area.
DiBartolo said he mentioned the idea years ago, but that he “dropped the ball” because he didn’t think the previous board members would seriously consider his proposal. Archived Town Board meeting minutes show the idea was discussed as far back as 2002.
“We’re just trying to get a village feeling, make it like a downtown Yorktown; somewhere you walk through, rather than drive through,” DiBartolo said.
Also a former fire chief, DiBartolo said the fire department, located at the end of Commerce Street, once studied the additional response time if one-way traffic was implemented. He said the change would delay the department by 17 seconds.
Highway Superintendent Dave Paganelli, DiBartolo’s successor, said the change would not affect the operations of his department.
“From a highway department standpoint, we’d have no trouble maintaining the roads, regardless of the flow of the traffic,” Paganelli said. “My concern would be whether it would be a benefit or detriment to businesses already in existence. Also, being aware of the fact that it was discussed during the creation of the comprehensive plan under the Cooper administration around 2000, it certainly bears looking at through a fresh set of eyes.”
Adding to the village feel, DiBartolo said he will also request street lights on Downing Drive.
The Feb. 23 work sessions begin at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall meeting room, 363 Underhill Ave. The agenda will be released on yorktownny.org. closer to the meeting date.
“I think it’s a win-win,” DiBartolo said. “I’m curious to see what the Town Board feels about it and what the residents say.”