Plans to make Main Street in Williamsville a more walkable commercial strip moved ahead Monday with the groundbreaking of a new pocket park.
The small park will be located between the Williamsville Library and Village Hall in an area that has been used as one of two driveways for the library. The other driveway will remain.
Town and village leaders say the park will give village shoppers a respite from the traffic on Main Street and provide a place to read a book, have a cup of coffee or just chat with friends.
“We are creating a pedestrian culture on Main Street that will improve the quality of life for our residents and ensure a more dynamic commercial atmosphere for our businesses,” Williamsville Mayor Brian J. Kulpa said.
Kulpa said the park is a “major step” in the village’s Picture Main Street plan, which aims to turn the high-traffic stretch into a more pleasant shopping district for pedestrians.
The park could also serve as a base for an advanced pedestrian signal that, if approved by the state, would be the first of its kind in New York.
The signal would help shoppers more quickly and safely get across the five-lane Main Street, a journey that with traffic can be harrowing even at traffic lights.
The park, to be completed next month, is a joint effort between the village and the Town of Amherst, which owns the driveway and the library building. All supplies will be donated, and work will be performed by village workers and volunteers.
“Creating opportunities for pedestrian access and enhancing the character of our communities are major priorities,” Amherst Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein said. “We are happy to be a part of this project and will continue to work hard to make future opportunities like this possible.”
The library has been looking for an outdoor space where patrons can enjoy “a drink, conversation or just a quiet place to read,” said Village Justice Jeffrey F. Voelkl, president of the Amherst Library Board.
Other aspects of the $7 million Picture Main Street plan, including traffic-calming elements and the development of the area around the historic Williamsville Water Mill, are being reviewed by the state, which controls the Main Street corridor.
Those efforts got a boost last week when Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., came to Williamsville to suggest that two specific federal funding pots could be tapped for the project.
Williamsville expects to hear back from the state about its Picture Main Street plan later this year.
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