BY SARAH WHITAKER
Special to the VOICE
No new downtown parking
Anyone who heads to Pelham Town Square on a Thursday evening in the summer or when a particularly interesting Library program is scheduled knows there is a need for more parking in the area.
While Public Works staff couldn’t find any additional parking spots on the downtown square, they will paint the spots that do exist to make them known to drivers cruising the downtown area in search of a legal parking space.
Staff went looking for additional parking on Pelham Town Square as part of the municipality’s 2017 Strategic Plan, which calls for the creation of an environment that would help businesses thrive. Staff looked at parking stall dimensions, site lines, emergency vehicle requirements, access to driveways, and the future reconstruction of the Station Street intersection. Based on those criteria, no additional parking spots could be found.
To “aid slightly,” staff recommended painting lines where parking is already permitted on Pelham Town Square — for two hours along the southern straightaway of Pelham Town Square, on the plaza side, and 30 minutes on the northern straightaway.
Andrea Clemencio, Director of Public Works, explained that while some of the areas on the square appear to have plenty of room for parking and good site lines, the addition of vehicles parked there would block driver views and increase the risk of accidents.
The recommendation to paint the existing parking spaces, which was accepted by Committee of the Whole, would be in addition to the 2017 street marking plan which is already at the maximum budget for this year of $35,000.
Clemencio said staff would try to include the additional work, approximately a half day of painting, in this year’s budget if there is room, or a project currently slated for this year’s street marking program changes. If not, it will be part of the 2018 program.
Snow clearing in jeopardy
Winter is coming and Pelham may not be able to handle it.
Due to a budget shortfall for this year, the Town will likely not meet minimum service levels for snow clearing in the first months of winter without major changes to the winter operations and the budget.
The 2017 winter operations budget, approved at $502,261, was meant to cover the end of last winter and the beginning of the coming season. That half a million dollars, however, is not expected to cover winter maintenance for the end of 2017 at the levels Pelham residents currently enjoy.
In addition to the fact that weather in Pelham is notoriously fickle and can’t be predicted with 100 percent certainty, the addition of contracting sidewalk clearing added costs to the 2017 budget as did the addition of new roads and sidewalks.
The shortfall is exacerbated by the need for two new snowplows — one that was not in service in 2016 and another that is due to be replaced this year.
The shortage of trucks and additions to the snow-clearing operations impacts the length of time it takes to clear Pelham’s roads, which has a significant impact on how often roads can be cleared during a single snow event.
Staff recommended the lease of additional fleet vehicles to meet the current service standards. The other options to consider include purchasing new vehicles to meet current standards and outsourcing the clearing of urban roads to a contractor.
In response to a question by Mayor Augustyn on why the option to purchase, which is cheaper at the outset, wasn’t recommended, Public Works director Andrea Clemencio explained the Town is moving toward leasing all vehicles so as to spend small amounts of capital every year for leasing rather than larger amounts every few years on major purchases.
“It’s not unusual to be over-budget, that happens at times,” said Councillor Papp in response to the report. “What’s important is we are ready.”
Councillors did not choose any of the options on offer, but agreed with a motion by Councillor Richard Rybiak that the “twists and turns” of the issue required a dedicated meeting to discuss the long-term implications.
Emmett Street plan accelerated
Residents of Emmett Street will not be getting any short term relief from flooding of their properties. Pelham Town Council has instead chosen to move up reconstruction of the street to provide a long-term solution.
Several property owners on Emmett Street have complained to the Town that during rainfalls water runs down the street, overflows the ditch and culverts and causes flooding of their properties. In an effort to resolve the concerns councillors asked Public Works staff to find a solution to the flooding that can be implemented sooner than the 2019 scheduled full road reconstruction of Emmett Street.
Pelham’s Director of Public Works, Andrea Clemencio, explained that rain water currently crosses Pelham Street and runs down Emmett, causing the flooding, adding the long-term plan for storm water management in the area is for water to be rerouted down to Port Robinson Road where storm water construction has taken place to accommodate those flows.
In a report to the Committee of the Whole on August 21, Public Works staff recommended moving up reconstruction of Emmett to 2018, noting any short-term action would simply move the water problem to other areas of the neighbourhood.
Clemencio noted the project would still need to go through a prioritization process, that all capital projects go through, before being scheduled.
In response to questions from councillors, Clemencio noted the long-term reconstruction would not likely cause flooding issues further downstream because it is part of a larger plan and culverts have been designed and constructed to accommodate the flow when the water is rerouted.
She also noted that some small pilot projects on individual properties have been effective but they are not suitable for every situation on the street.
Noting extreme weather events are not likely to slow down, Councillor Peter Papp said he looks forward to prioritization of the project in the budget as the committee accepted staff’s recommendation to move up reconstruction of Emmett by a year to 2018.