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Westfield looking to engage in Complete Streets initiative

January 11, 2017
By Amanda Dedie - , Westfield Republican

The village of Westfield board is looking to beautify the village and town streets by potentially partnering with the Chautauqua County Health Department and the Chautauqua County Health Network to engage in a Complete Streets initiative.

Lisa Schmidtfrerick-Miller from the Chautauqua County Health Department and Shelly Wells, RN, Community Project Coordinator for the Chautauqua County Health Network, described how "Complete Streets" - a.k.a., more aesthetically pleasing streets - can make for safer streets as well.

According to Schmidtfrerick-Miller, a complete streets initiative helps makes streets comfortable, safe and convenient for all users to travel via automobile, foot, bicycle or transit. There are safety benefits, health benefits, reductions in pedestrian accidents and injuries, aesthetic benefits, and even helps residents become more aware of that a community has to offer.

Article Photos

Photo by Amanda Dedie
Lisa Schmidtfrerick-Miller, from the Chautauqua County Health Department, presents Complete Street concepts to the Westfield village board.

"When we're talking about complete streets, we are really talking about adopting a way of looking at your roads and looking at your streets and a way of moving forward," said Schmidtfrerick-Miller.

Examples were shown of streets in Jamestown - specifically, Third Street, where parking lanes were not clearly marked, drivers experienced road rage, and it was difficult to see around trees and to cross streets. Schmidtfrerick-Miller commented that even just painting clear parking spaces on the street has improved traffic.

"These ideas don't always have to cost hundred of thousands of dollars," Wells said. "Bike lanes were painted in to narrow the lanes and narrow the shoulder

big open spaces tend to make cars pick up speed and go faster. So the narrower the lane, there more things there are to look at. Those things slow traffic down."

Wells and Schmidtfrerick-Miller also gave examples of future projects, such as the pier by Dunkirk, where they hope to implement crosswalks, building murals, bicycle racks, road islands (so people can cross halfway and be able to stop before crossing the last two lanes), curb posts, flowers, flags and more.

"(These are) easy things that will slow traffic and help people feel more comfortable," Wells said.

Schmidtfrerick-Miller then explained how aligning with Complete Streets can save the village money while partaking in a number of improvements, and gave other municipalities as examples.

In Villenova, for example, with its lake project, the New York state Department of Transportation put in a crosswalk and median near TJ Maxx, with a sidewalk from Mall Boulevard to Shady Side Avenue, and the village didn't have to pay a cent for it.

"New York state was only going to do the Villenova Lake Project. All they were gonna do was take down that old pavement, put down fresh pavement, paint it what it was and be on their way," Schmidtfrerick-Miller said. "After they met with the village and saw the village's commitment to this they said, 'we'll work with you on this.'"

"Complete streets policies are not retroactive, so we're not suggesting that you go back and fix everything. It's not committing you to any certain level of doing work like that, but it is about considering future improvements," Schmidtfrerick-Miller concluded. "We know that planning for complete streets has great opportunities in leveraging grants and leveraging the work that New York state department of transportation does."



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