Consultants Reimagine Scarsdale Village
- Wednesday, 15 June 2022 13:48
- Last Updated: Thursday, 16 June 2022 10:01
- Published: Wednesday, 15 June 2022 13:48
- Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 5315
(Updated June 16, 2022) Consultants from FHI Studio made an initial presentation of their preliminary ideas to improve Scarsdale Village, enhance safety on Sprague, Popham and Crane Roads and improve pedestrian and cyclist safety on Fox Meadow Road. The presentation was made via Zoom on Tuesday evening June 14, 2022.
Mike Ahillen from FHI Studio explained that they have set up a separate website at Scarsdalemobility.com where residents can give input and comments.
The group was retained by the Village to improve “Placemaking,” in the Village which they define as creating spaces for gathering and events and passive spaces that people can enjoy on their own.
In addition, they were charged with improving mobility, on Sprague, Crane and Popham Roads where residents complained of unsafe conditions from vehicular traffic, along with Fox Meadow Road where some would like to see traffic calming and safer routes for pedestrians and cyclists.
In order to gather information for their study, FHI conducted a walking tour and audit, met with Village Trustees, and use drone imaging to analyze traffic patterns.
They identified the following as their top priorities:
-Activated spaces for gathering for all ages
-Emphasis on sustainability – in design as well as transportation
-Improving multi-modal connectivity to parks and neighborhoods
-Improving safety and traffic circulation
-Parking considerations and other community needs
They identified needs for vibrancy, outdoor dining, car free spaces, pedestrian and bike lanes, friendly gathering spaces, improved landscaping and lighting.
They also referred to previous traffic studies, crash history, traffic volume data and drone studies to understand vehicular and pedestrian traffic at peak times as well as driving speeds.
Among their key findings were:
Gathering spaces are a critical need to increase vibrancy in the Village Center.
Spencer Place, Boniface Circle and Harwood Court offer opportunities for placemaking.
Popham Road needs to be redesigned and can be used for multimodal connectivity
Improved pedestrian and bicycle access to the Village Center is a goal.
Adam Tecza from FHI presented initial concepts in order to get feedback.
He prefaced the presentation by stating their goals for the Village which are:
Connect the east and west village center
Reinforce the Village Venter east core
Identify new and different community spaces
Explore road closures and pedestrian priority streets
Make the Village Center more attractive
In order to accomplish these goals the consultants considered circulation, access to businesses and for deliveries, costs and implementation.
Tecza then took participants on a virtual “walking tour” of a redesigned village and presented several schemes for the redesign of downtown.
In the opening design, the Village clock would be moved, a prominent sign identifying Scarsdale would be installed, streets and sidewalks would be the same height (eliminating curbing) and there would be more seating, and plantings. The dining tent would become a permanent glass covered structure that could be opened and closed depending on the weather and locked at night to allow for storage. They envisioned colorful seating in a central gathering place.
For special events and functions, the parking spaces on the left side of the street could be tented for booths, tables and activities.
Further down the street, they envisioned a fountain and raise crosswalk leading into Chase Park. There would be space for food trucks, possibly a farmers market and benches. They recommended relocating the war memorial to Chase Park.
Their vision is to create a continuous pedestrian space from the train station all the way through to Chase Park where they suggested the installation of a splash pad, which has interactive fountains for kids.
In order to accommodate the street closures and the pedestrian walkway, they suggested a new circulation path for traffic.
See below. In this concept those leaving the Village on Chase Road – heading south – would only be able to make a right – no left. A traffic circle would be added on Chase Road at the intersection of Harwood Court, and from there only right turns would be permitted. East Parkway would be one way from south to north.
In terms of parking, the consultants said that the Village has already lost 12 parking spaces due to the dining tent. Their plans would cause the additional loss of three more, for a total of 15 spaces. They plan to add some more spaces by using straight rather than angled parking spots.
Though there was limited time for public comment, some residents were able to participate. Cynthia Roberts from Autenreith Road was concerned about the trees and green space in Chase Park, which she said, “is the green oasis that make Scarsdale a Village in a Park.” She said it was “ impractical to put a splash park there due to the shade and the trees.” She said, “Any actions that would compromise the trees should be thought about carefully.” Instead she said, “Add more trees and greenscape to any streetscape.”
Ken Rilander questioned the assumptions on traffic and circulation. He said, “View the village as a snapshot at various points in time. You should look at the Village during peak drop off and pick up times for the train. It is like no other time of day. Between 8 and 9 am Popham Road is heavily congested.”
A called identified as David said, “If you close off Chase Road, you cut off access to two parking lots on Overlook Road.”
Trustee Karen Brew expressed concern about the proposed traffic pattern and also said “I am not sure merchants would support eliminating parking spaces as it will limit their customers access. We need more rather than less parking.”
Mayor Jane Veron asked for improved access to the Freightway Garage. She said, “We need to provide alternative parking because people are uncomfortable walking to Freightway.” She also said, “When we do have events in the park, we have to call them off when it rains. It would be good to have a covered space in Chase Park.”
Trustee Gans added, “Traffic data is important. People have to have a way to get to the train. Shopper parking is tougher for me to analyze. Making the Village pedestrian friendly eliminates parking which is critical for local businesses. How do you evaluate the central tension between being pedestrian friendly vs. having available parking.?”
Trustee Lewis thanked the consultants for a “thought provoking analysis which has generated great conversation.” He said, “if we want to attract the kind of retailers we would like we need more activity.” He asked the consultants to address Freightway and also asked, “How do people reinvent parking? How do you repurpose Freightway? Should we consider a skating rink in the winter? And other fun activities?”
Trustee Ahuja inquired about the method used for the traffic study.
Responding for FHI Parker Sorenson said, ““A lot of it is done by hand – you observe and count. We did collect data in the afternoon. This is a conceptual presentation. The Village might want to model this further.”
Sorenson then turned to a conversation about proposed traffic calming measures for Sprague Road. He said the challenges are vehicle speed, rolling stops, the width of the roadway, topography, and visibility.
In order to slow down the traffic and reduce the volume the consultants have a range of measures in their tool kit.
Among these are:
-All-way or four-way stop signs
-Neighborhood traffic circles
-Chokers (A choker is an isolated narrowing of one or several traffic lanes created by the installation of horizontal deflections in the center or on the sides of the road.)
-Chicanes (A chicane is a series of alternating mid-block curb extensions or islands that narrow the roadway and require vehicles to follow a curving,
-Traffic diversion – half closure – create one way at certain juncture
-Traffic diversion – full closure
The consultants then presented an array of schemes utilizing some of the above at various intersections of Sprague Road to slow traffic. Ideally, they explained, a speed management measure will be installed every 300-400 feet or every block and a half to two blocks. Another technique is to reduce the radii of the curb to cause drivers to slow down when turning.
During comments, Jeanine said, “There are lots of accidents – a car even hit our house once.
Sprague is already very narrow. What about all the cars that park in the street – making it even narrower?
The consultants then discussed Popham and Crane Roads. On Popham they noted that the right turn lane into the CVS parking lot was not heavily used and might be repurposed. They also suggested that some of the same measures suggested for Sprague Road could be employed. They said Crane Road was a challenging thoroughfare to manage and said speeding signs, a roundabout or turning it into a one way street might help reduce driver speed and safety.
Last, the consultants offered suggestions for safe pedestrian and bike traffic on Fox Meadow Road. They noted that the two lanes of traffic are now 15 feet wide each, and that they might be reduced to allow space for bike and pedestrian lanes separated by a planting strip on both sides of the road.
Comments on social media did not favor the update. Readers expressed concern about drop off and pick up at the Scarsdale Train Station, the concept of an outdoor mall, preservation of Scarsdale's historic Tudor style architecture, the additional loss of parking spaces and "fixing what is not broken."