The Village of East Aurora would see two new welcome signs and snazzy improvements to two old alleyways along Main Street, while the Roycroft Campus would get new landscaping, reconfigured parking areas and pedestrian pathways.
It would all come as part of a $770,141 federal grant that has been six years in the making.
Talk of the Transportation Enhancement Program – Federal Highway Administration money funneled to the state Department of Transportation – has been ongoing for so long that many local leaders are hoping it eventually will lead to actual improvements that have been planned for years but continually delayed.
Some leaders have even left office while the grant has been in the works, and few want to openly discuss what has led to all the delays to date. In six years, only the design and engineering work have been completed.
The Village Board last week amended the grant contract, extending it two additional years since it was set to expire Monday. At the same time, an additional $15,000 left over from the village’s Main Street reconstruction project is being added by the DOT to the project’s pot of money. The village is lead agent for what’s known as the TEP grant, which dates to 2006.
In all, the original grant totaled $755,141 before the village included the additional $15,000 left from the Main Street reconstruction for a new total of $770,141. The additional local share is $229,750, which Roycroft and the village will be expected to contribute, said Village Administrator Bryan Gazda.
Gazda expressed hope that despite the series of delays, the necessary DOT approvals will be in place and the project put out to bid next year so some of the work can begin next year. He stressed that until the village and Roycroft are actually told the total cost of the improvements, no one is exactly sure how the costs will break down. The DOT covers 77 percent of the costs, while the village and Roycroft will be responsible for 23 percent of their individual costs.
“The goal will be to get some of the work done in 2013,” Gazda said. “We’re not going to wait to put this project out to bid for a year.”
However, Gazda knows that the project likely won’t be fully completed until 2014.
“We can’t wait for it to get done,” said Christine Peters, executive director of the Roycroft Campus Corp. “The [parking area] is unsafe and unmarked. It wasn’t kept up and needs to be improved to improve the appearance of this historic landmark.”
On the Roycroft Campus, the money will be used to reconfigure parking areas, provide additional landscaping, restore a grassy area and develop pedestrian pathways. Additional parking will be created behind the print shop and next to the copper shop where the area now is like a muddy pit. Parking also will be available at the gateway area across from the old chapel.
Peters said none of the work has been done yet, though the Roycroft group already did sewer and water line improvements as well as an archaeological dig in 2010. “We were hoping the new work would start in the spring, but the village is still working on some easements,” she said.
For the village, two alleyways – one between Vidler’s Five & Dime and Rahn Jewelry and another on the north side of Main near Paine Street – will be enhanced with steel archways, lighting and landscaping, Gazda said. An information kiosk also will be installed near the pocket park across from the campus at the corner of Grove and Main streets.
In addition, the village will replace a “Welcome to East Aurora” sign near the 400 Expressway’s Route 20A exit and have it more closely resemble the village sign near the Bank of Holland on the West End entry way from Orchard Park into the village.
A new welcome sign will be installed on Center Street across from the American Legion post on vacant land. That’s the spot where the village is still negotiating an easement for the parcel to allow for the welcome sign.
Once all the easements are finalized, the DOT will submit a formal package to Albany. Review could take up to 12 weeks before money is actually allocated to the project and local officials are allowed to put it out to bid.