Patrons of the Rosendale Theatre, the Rosendale Farmers’ Market and other visitors who rely on the large parking lot adjoining Willow Kiln Park in downtown Rosendale may soon have to get used to new restrictions on vehicle access. A survey of community traffic concerns recently conducted by deputy chief of police Scott Schaffrick concluded that “Hardenburgh Lane should become a one-way street, as it cannot support two-way traffic flow and has a high volume of traffic with the municipal parking lot behind Main Street.” The survey results were presented to the Rosendale Town Board at its September 10 meeting.
At present, most traffic in and out of the lot occurs on Hardenburgh Lane. The intersection where motorists exit the lot onto Route 213, between the Garden House and Vision of Tibet, provides poor sightlines, especially to the west, which can result in long waits for the parking lot to empty after the conclusion of a movie or other downtown event. There is currently only one other access to the lot: the narrow, unofficially named “Canaltown Alley” that leads between the Big Cheese and the Belltower, typically used for ingress only. “The entrance by the Belltower is a right-of-way, not a roadway,” said town supervisor Jeanne Walsh. Both routes are also heavily used by pedestrians, which, noted councilman Ernest Klepeis, is “potentially one of the largest risks we have in town.”
“In conducting the survey, the rural charm of the various communities was also taken into account, as many of the country lanes within the town are not subjected to a heavy flow of traffic. As such, the installation of one-way signs or limiting the directional flow of these roadways is not needed at this time, but should be reevaluated with population growth,” wrote Schaffrick in the cover letter to the Police Department report. Hardenburgh Lane was the only exception that he recommended within the entire town.
“It’s not easy to come up with a solution for a road that was designed for horse-and-buggies,” said Walsh. “We’ve looked at a lot of options, including land acquisition.” One possibility was to turn the towpath following the former D & H Canal into an access road, emptying onto Route 213 near the Keator Avenue bridge over the Rondout Creek, but that “raises historic [preservation] issues,” noted the supervisor. Councilman Chris Pryslopski said, in reference to the remains of the canal – already partially buried in spots paralleling Main Street – that “It’s possible to cap a historical resource if that’ll preserve it.” Walsh cited “a lot of opposition” from downtown residents when such options were raised in the past.
The board discussed the pros and cons of Hardenburgh Lane and Canaltown Alley as routes in or out. While the current traffic flow rarely sees cars exiting by the Belltower, some members thought that the sightlines for exiting from Hardenburgh were more hazardous, since the Vision of Tibet building is set closer to the curb. “Egress is tougher,” Walsh acknowledged. “But it won’t be easy to get everybody to agree.”
Several other recommendations in the police report will be far simpler to implement, such as cutting back shrubbery that has obscured stop signs in various places in the town. The very wide tee-intersection where Breezy Hill Road ends at Hickory Bush Road seems to be confusing to motorists, and Schaffrick suggested several possible remedies, including narrowing the intersection, making it a three-way stop or installing “a traffic roundabout with a small raised section in the middle.”
Calls by residents for a reduction in the speed limit from 55 to 40 miles per hour on the section of Route 32 that passes the Rosendale Recreation Center, between Madeline Lane and Grove Street, were cited without further comment in the report. The town has submitted requests for this reduction to the state Department of Transportation in the past and been refused. Councilman Pryslopski suggested eliminating the southbound passing lane on Route 32 at that point, to be replaced by a multimodal bicycle and pedestrian lane “connecting Tillson to the Rec Center and the village.”
“That was turned down some years ago, when we asked for something for the [Park Crest] senior center,” said Walsh. “The DOT will not help us with that.”
The Town Board now awaits superintendent of highways Bob Gallagher’s review of Schaffrick’s recommendations before taken further steps to implement any major traffic changes. ++