The 1.47 mile funded NYSDOT funded Ridge Road sidewalk project continues to move along to construction later this fall. The $1.4 million project will include new sidewalks, on-road bike lanes, street lighting and landscaping improvements. The sidewalk from Five mile Line Road to the village of Webster will be connected so that residents will be able to walk or bicycle from the village along Ridge Road to Five Mile Line Road after competition.
This project will be connecting with some sidewalks that where put in last year after the competition of the Hard Road and Five Mile Line Road intersections. Also, as part of the towns planning process, businesses along this corridor are required to provide sidewalks that the town will be connecting to. Such businesses are Webster Plaza, which installed sidewalks on their property, and Towne Center which also has provided sidewalks along Holt Road as part of the approval for the project.
Before my time as supervisor, both Republican and Democratic Supervisors made the townwide decision that sidewalks were not needed in the town of Webster. Instead they invested taxpayer monies in the well invested Webster Police Department. They decided to invest in protecting all of Webster instead of providing sidewalks in areas as subdivision where being built.
The town of Penfield, on the other hand, took a different approach. They decided to go with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department which is paid for in our county taxes and not take the cost of a police department in their town local tax bill. This left them with the money to provide sidewalks throughout their town. As you can see, these are two different thought processes, with two different outcomes.
The Webster Police Department cost to residents is about $1.90 out of their $5.16 per thousand Webster tax bill. The Penfield tax rate is at $2.78 per thousand without the added expenses of a police department. The difference is that Webster residents have a dedicated police force and not the high cost to maintain sidewalks. Again, two different thought processes.
Now if an older subdivision wanted sidewalks, the town of Webster would be more than happy to form a sidewalk district for them and bond the needed cost to provide sidewalks to that subdivision. The payment of the bond would then be put on the area resident’s town tax bill for 20 years or until the bond was paid off. We can also do this with street lighting inside subdivisions if residents wanted to pay the cost of the lighting bill annually.
I have heard that some residents think that it is now the town’s responsibility to go back and undo what was done years ago by providing a sidewalk plan to “re-sidewalk” the entire Town of Webster. This will be a nightmare in the way of raising your town taxes. At $35-$50 per square foot of sidewalk, it will cost millions of dollars to re-sidewalk Webster’s 261 lane miles of roads. Just the Ridge Road project alone is costing $1.4 million for 1.47 miles of sidewalk. I am sure that you can imagine how much it would cost to re-sidewalk the town.
This is not even taking in to consideration the upkeep and maintenance of the sidewalks in future years, and what the highway budget will need to be to accommodate this yearly. So, homeowners must balance the cost of the sidewalks with the increase in taxes on their property in the years to come.
This is a daily balancing act that the Town Board and the department heads face between services, safety of bicyclists and walkers, and tax dollars. Unfortunately, 100 percent of Webster residents are not always going to agree on the solution.
As always, if you have any questions about your town government, please feel free to contact me during regular business hours at (585) 872-7068; or email me anytime at