Villa Road solution meets in middle of road compromise
A four-year-long dispute between two northwest Rochester neighborhoods over commuter traffic has been resolved with a middle-of-the-road solution.
The city council voted 5-2 Monday to impose a plan blending elements of the competing neighborhoods' wants — speed tables to slow traffic on Villa Road, through the 55th Street Estates neighborhood, with a 10-foot-wide pedestrian path added on one side of the road, requested by the nearby North Park and Orchard Ridge neighborhoods.
"I realize this is not the perfect model," said council member Bruce Snyder, who represents both neighborhoods.
But it was a compromise between what the two residential areas, north of 55th Street Northwest, apparently wanted.
Residents of the 55th Street Estates neighborhood, a rural-style, large-lot neighborhood of 30 homes built in the 1970s and annexed by the city in 2001, asked the city to take steps to reduce traffic speeds and volumes from the nearby neighborhoods, for whose residents Villa Road is a convenient travel route to 55th Street.
The city installed speed bumps on a trial basis in 2007 and 2008 to test if those would reduce traffic speeds. They did — at least marginally, according to neighbors.
"Maybe if we put the speed tables in, the safety would be good enough that we don't need that (the pedestrian path)," said Bruce Kaskubar, a resident from 55th Street Estates.
Residents of North Park and Orchard Ridge, neighborhoods comprising hundreds more homes lying west and north of 55th Street Estates, argued for installing sidewalks separate from the road, instead of installing speed tables. The council's action instead would install the pedestrian path on the same pavement as the road, alongside it.
"Separate the pedestrians and the vehicles, and the biggest problem is solved," said Jeff Rieder, a nearby resident. "Speed doesn't make too much of a difference after that."
But while North Park and Orchard Ridge argued for a path separate from the road, residents of 55th Street Estates resisted sacrificing a wide-enough strip from their properties to make room for that much. The council-adopted plan calls for widening the right-of-way by seven feet, with an additional 10-foot strip to serve as a drainage easement.
Residents in 55th Street Estates pointed to past promises given them by then-Mayor Chuck Canfield, at the time of the annexation, that the rural character of their neighborhood would be protected.
"We were assured," said David Arrindell, a 35-year resident of 55th Street Estates. "We could see where we were protected in this environment."
Roger Rishavy, another 55th Street Estates resident, had his own reason to protect his property from a widened sidewalk plan — his garage, he said, lies close enough to the road it would be "almost impossible" to use it if he sacrificed too much land for sidewalks. The city will have to attempt to widen the road without harming Rishavy's garage.