Sidewalk grant awarded in Newark Valley

Sidewalk grant awarded in Newark Valley

Pictured, are various photos of the current sidewalk on Whig Street in Newark Valley. (Photos by Keri Blakinger)

Sidewalk grant awarded in Newark Valley“It’s been a good year for Newark Valley and grants,” said Mayor Jim Tornatore. Indeed, just weeks after being awarded a $100,000 grant for help with demolition of the Ladder Factory, the village got word that it will be receiving over $200,000 in funding for a sidewalk project on Whig Street.

On Oct. 26, the village got a letter from the New York State Department of Transportation indicating that Newark Valley had been selected as a grant recipient through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). The TAP grants, which are federally funded, include an 80 percent reimbursement by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), leaving the village to pay for the remaining 20 percent. Hunt Engineers estimates a total project cost of just over $265,000 for around 3,000 linear feet of sidewalk. In some places existing sidewalk will be replaced, while in other areas sidewalk will be installed for the first time.

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Oct. 27 announcement, the FHA will contribute $70 million toward sidewalk and trail project across the state. Out of the 68 grant recipients, Newark Valley is the only municipality in Tioga County. The village portion of the grant will be paid by property owners along the affected portions of Whig Street.

Tornatore said that, given budgetary constraints, the money could not be paid as a tax and will instead be paid by Whig Street residents as a user fee. He explained, “The reason it couldn’t be a tax is because this total project is around $260,000 and $212,000 is from the state. The difference is a little over $50,000 so the village could not come up with that in tax because we don’t have that much in reserves and we have to deal with the tax cap.” If the money were added as an expenditure in next year’s village budget, Newark Valley would exceed the tax cap.

Tornatore said that he had been wanting to do a sidewalk project for some time, but with the water project and the municipal building restoration project going on, a new sidewalk project had to take a back seat. He explained, “After the water project was done we said, ‘Well sidewalks have been very important to the village but yet physically there’s a number of streets that can’t have sidewalks — the ditches are too close or the houses are too close to the road.’”

After some initial discussion, last spring Tornatore created a sidewalk subcommittee to evaluate the possibility of a sidewalk project. Sharon Weed, Bob Stevens, Sandy Carlin, Sindy Morse, and Laurie Boldis all volunteered their services for the subcommittee and, after looking into the matter, they decided that Whig Street was the best place to start on sidewalk improvements. Tornatore said that Whig Street is one of the town’s busiest streets and added, “A lot of the kids walk on Whig Street and it was felt that it was a matter of safety.” Thus, the village decided to apply for the TAP grant they were ultimately awarded.

Tornatore emphasized that the project will be good for the village as a whole, saying, “I believe in walk-able communities. I think that no assessor ever adds to the assessed value because of sidewalks, but I believe it does improve the intrinsic value and footprint of the village.”