SARANAC LAKE - The village and the Saranac Lake Central School District have added their support to a grant application for funding to improve bicycle and pedestrian access to Petrova Elementary School.
Franklin County plans to apply to the state Department of Transportation's Safe Routes to School Program for money to rebuild the sidewalk on Olive Street, from Broadway to William Street, and to extend the sidewalk on Lake Street from Mulflur Road to state Route 3.
Jamie Konkoski of the North Country Healthy Heart Network and Sue Patterson of Franklin County Public Health recently outlined specifics of the proposal at a Saranac Lake school board meeting. They said they were partnering in the application with a broader group of stakeholders, which also includes the county Department of Transportation, the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board, the Petrova Parents Club and area law enforcement.
"The idea behind it is the community gets together, the school and the municipality get together, and the goal is to create a safer walking environment for everyone, but the focus is around school buildings, particularly elementary schools," Konkoski said. "The other part of it is to encourage kids to walk and bike to school."
Konkoski said there will actually be two different applications submitted by the county. The first is a combined infrastructure application for both Saranac Lake and Malone, which will include the funding request for sidewalk upgrades. A second application would help pay for education and enforcement efforts.
"We would work in the school and do some curriculum with the kids," Patterson said. "The video club would like to do a video on safe use of crosswalks, bike safety, bike rodeos and hand out bike helmets. We're hoping village police will be on board and do some enforcement around the school areas once we get things up and running."
"Even if we don't get awarded the money for the sidewalks, we can still do all the education and encouragement activities," Konkoski said.
Paterson said the county would first have to front the money, then it would get reimbursed by the state.
The school board passed a resolution supporting the application. Board President Debra Lennon noted that the district has been without one of its "safe routes" to Petrova Elementary and the Saranac Lake Middle School since the LaPan Highway footbridge was shut down last year, and demolished on Aug. 31. The state plans to build a new bridge at the site, either this fall or next spring.
"This is a perfect time for all of this to be going on and for us to have this conversation, especially now since we don't have our footbridge," Lennon said.
At its meeting last week, the village Board of Trustees also endorsed the application.
Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.