Town Board hears two proposals for underground and “streetscape” improvements to hamlet

Designs for Chappaqua hamlet in 2014; work to begin 2015
Rendering of Starbucks intersection by WSP, viewed from Sotheby’s corner; Starbucks’ is at bottom of photo, the Greeley House at top center
November 8, 2013
by Christine Yeres

On Wednesday, Town Board members heard presentations by two soup-to-nuts engineering firms capable of replacing the Chappaqua hamlet’s ancient water and sewer lines as well as making long-discussed, more visible improvements to sidewalks, crosswalks and landscaping. The town has set aside $6.5 million in its capital budget for the project, the design of which would take place during 2014, with construction phased over a five-year period starting in 2015.

In planning the project, the engineering firm should be prepared to limit the areas of disturbance and phase construction with a view to impacting the life of the hamlet as little as possible.  The town has mapped out six discrete zones within the targeted area which runs along South Greeley from Washington Avenue (town hall and library) to King Street, crossing over to North Greeley as far as Bischoff, and along lower King to Allen Place and upper King to the condos at 150 King Street.

Two firms responded: WSP, whose representatives are located in Briarcliff Manor; and VHB of White Plains.

Surface improvements in landscape, lighting, sidewalks, curbing and crosswalks—many of which were identified in previous studies commissioned by the town by Vollmer, Project for Public Spaces and Pouder Associates—had been put on hold until the underground work could be accomplished.  No sense, the thinking went, in making over sidewalks only to tear them up for upgrading of underground waterworks.

In their responses to the RFP, both firms operated under the assumptions—provided by the town—that

1. there were to be no traffic lights in the hamlet, and

2. the Y intersection leading to the Quaker Road bridge is not changeable. 

Both firms showed Town Board members animations of traffic flow between the Starbucks intersection and Pizza Station.  One recommended a stop sign for southbound traffic coming down King Street, pointing out that with no stop required the constant flow of traffic down King Street onto South Greeley at peak traffic times allowed for no gaps that would permit cars coming from the train to make a left onto and across the bridge.  Each firm assured Board members that they were familiar with the inner workings of NYS DOT, whose permission would be required for any alteration to King Street/Rte. 120, a State road.

• It occurred to each of the firms to regularize the Starbucks intersection by eliminating the right-hand slip lane on its southeast (Petticoat Lane) corner.

• It may be possible to add to sidewalks too narrow by stealing from a more generous sidewalk across the street.

• The wide-open intersection of King and Senter streets at the Horace Greeley House would benefit from a “diet”—slimming down the width of the road by bumping out the sidewalk at the King Street Restaurant & Bar.

• One firm showed a fountain in the center of the triangle with seating around it, the other showed a fountain on the Petticoat Lane corner, filling in the right-hand slip lane now there.

The RFP states that while the town is price-conscious, it “does not make professional selections based solely on fee.”  Expertise and experience of the firm itself and of the personnel assigned to the project are factors as well.  In responding to the RFP, both firms had access to the town’s existing plans of the streets and infrastructure. There was no discussion of cost during either presentation.

Rendering of Starbucks intersection by WSP

Rendering of a fountain in the triangle, by WSP

Rendering of Starbucks intersection by VHB

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