As the community around his Indian Springs Road home has continued to grow in numbers over the past two decades, Shawangunk resident Peter Meisel has grown increasingly concerned about the 55 miles per hour speed limit on the county road outside his house. The twisty road has no shoulders, and the homeowner has frequently seen cars barreling through the area.
After Meisel informed the Shawangunk Town Board about the issue, the council unanimously approved a resolution during its meeting on Aug. 15 to ask the county to request that the state Department of Transportation study the speed limit on Indian Springs Road. The resolution is the first step in a process that will most likely stretch out over a number of months. “We have a form that we have to fill out which we send to the County Department of Public Works Commissioner (Thomas Jackson) and then if he agrees with it, he’ll just forward it to the state and they do a study and approve it,” Town Supervisor John Valk said. “It can take six to eight months. We had one on Bruyn Turnpike near the highway garage. We just got notice of that four or five weeks ago. I think we asked for that last fall.”
Meisel said he made the initial request to lower the speed limit because the current situation is untenable. “I’ve been there for 20 years now and in the past it was very rural, but there’s a lot more houses there and a lot more children living there,” he told the board. “Even today we were dealing with an issue with garbage pails all over the road and there was an accident. I was cleaning it up and almost got plastered three or four times by people speeding down the road going above 55. There was a State Trooper right next to me and he said, ‘What are these people doing?’ So not only does the road bend a little bit, but it’s also very hilly, so there’s a lot of hidden driveways. People are flying down that road and it’s extremely dangerous. There’s a lot more driveways now than the last time they looked at it.”
Shawangunk Police Chief Gerald Marlatt explained during Thursday’s meeting that it’s been over three decades since the last time the state explored lowering the speed limit on Indian Springs Road. “I think the last time the speed was in question on that road was the early ‘80s and a request was put in to have a reduction there, as well as Oregon Trail Bruyn Turnpike,” he said. “It was denied back then by the state. More than enough time has passed and more than enough population increase would warrant it being revisited. Frankly, all of the roads in the town besides state roads should be less than 55.”
Valk noted that the relatively high 55 mph limit was a rarity on Shawangunk roads. “It’s a county road, but it is a rural road,” he said. “The more I thought about it, it’s the only section, along with a part of Albany Post, it’s the only section through here and Walker Valley that’s 55.”
Shawangunk is partnering with the Watchtower Farms group to refurbish the handicap ramp outside of Town Hall. The town will pay for the materials, while the organization will donate the labor for renovation. The work is projected to begin on Sept. 23, and could last for six weeks. “Moisture got in and the brick popped off and it’s really falling apart,” Valk said. “So it’s got to be rebuilt. We had the same thing with some of the landings at the bottom of the stairs and they did those a few years ago. Now they’re going to do the whole ramp over for us and put new brick in. We’ll pay for the materials and they’ll do the labor. It’s going to be expensive with the materials alone. I can see us putting $10,000 in that easy. Brick isn’t cheap.”
During the renovation work, visitors who normally need to use the ramp will be directed to enter the building through the community room and will be able to use the elevator.
The board accepted the resignation of Planning Board Vice Chair Kristine Pedersen during Thursday’s meeting. The town board will fill the vacancy, and is currently looking for suitable candidates for slots on a number of town councils. “We have an opening on the planning board and the zoning board,” Valk said. “So we’re looking for people who are interested in the positions. With the EMC (Environmental Management Council) we always have positions open and also the Climate Smart Committee. So we’ve got to recruit some people who are interested. A lot of people are qualified, but they’re too busy to donate their time. So we have to find the right people.” Valk added that the board will probably wait until the council’s reorganization meeting at the end of the year to appoint the new planning board member.