What do the Village of Monroe trustees think?

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MONROE — It’s not just Village of Monroe Mayor Neil Dwyer who makes the decision on whether to grant permission using the dormant portion of Gilbert Street Extension to the South Orange Family YMCA for a second egress to the facility.

Trustees Carey Alley, Debbie Behringer, Irene Conklin and Dorey Houle also have a say in the matter when the full Board of Trustees eventually takes a vote on the Y’s request.

The Photo News asked the trustees to respond to a short list of questions as the board’s review of the proposal continues.

Their responses appear below:

What is your position on the Y’s request for a second egress, which according to Y officials say is required in order for it to continue with its building expansion and remain in Monroe?

Alley: It is unfortunate that with all the amazing benefits that the Y has provided to our residents that they would consider leaving if not granted the requested access as is currently proposed. The Y is a pillar of the community and what we are dealing with here is a situation that was designed improperly for its current use from the beginning. As it stands now, we are dealing with a hazardous entrance and exit for patrons and motorists alike. A complete solution for that area of the village is my hope and not a quick fix solution to get the expansion underway.

Behringer: The YMCA is a wonderful asset to our community. My family has enjoyed many of the amenities offered at the Y, including birthday parties, Drop and Dine and Beat the Streets. While the current egress is challenging, there are many factors to take into consideration when responding to their request for secondary egress.

Conklin: I am a huge supporter of the Y. I believe it to be one of Monroe’s greatest gems. I am hopeful for a resolution that meets the needs of the residents and businesses it may affect.

Houle: The safety of the residents of the Village of Monroe and those who travel through Monroe is a priority for the Board of Trustees. We understand the challenges that the current access creates for motorists entering the YMCA.

In your view, what’s the easiest obstacle to overcome?

Alley: Our businesses and the safety within our village boundaries are of utmost importance. We will look at this from all angles but when analyzing something as impactful as restructuring the traffic flow through the village and risking losing the Y, there is no easy obstacle. When we view this as a potential safety issue, it should not be easy. It should be comprehensive and it should be right.

Behringer: There is no easy obstacle to overcome as balancing the safety of our motorists and pedestrians requires a comprehensive plan that is well thought out.

Conklin: I don’t know of any easy obstacle.

Houle: Maintaining the safety of those who live, work and visit in the Village of Monroe is not always an easy task. The Board of Trustees does not identify any part of this situation as easy.

What’s the most difficult obstacle to overcome and what ideas do you have to address it (them)?

Alley: Foreseeing the potential impact of a plan prior to implementation is very challenging. It is fairly straightforward when you visualize the roads as we know them, adding a traffic device and turning lane. The variables including the 180 uninhabited homes in Smith Farm and the additional traffic that Chabad will bring to the Gilbert Street area, all pouring out onto that same traffic device combined with the traffic for the Y, are most difficult to visualize and are those future pieces that would add additional traffic to an already overburdened vessel. This is not just about granting the Y access that they need. The larger picture is that this is a village issue where we have to determine what is going to make the most sense now and further down the road.

Behringer: Part of our challenge in identifying a solution is understanding how an increased membership at the YMCA will change the traffic patterns.

Conklin: In my opinion, the most difficult obstacle is time. As a new board, we are learning about many of these issues for the first time. This project has been years in the making and we were not kept apprised of meetings and agreements that may have been made. This being said, a great deal of pressure has been placed on us to answer questions and make very important decisions that most have had years of knowledge and time to review and make. I know time is not favorable in making this particular decision, so I would ask for patience while we do our job.

Houle: As safety is our priority, identifying possible solutions may take some time.

What are you planning to do, as part of your due diligence, to become fully knowledgeable about the project (i.e. speak to the Planning Board or Y officials, tour the site, report review)?

Alley: Our board is working diligently reviewing reports, doing field assessments and taking time to speak to those who have answers to our questions. We all have friends and neighbors that are patrons or employees of the Y so we all have a vested interest. Village residents are very passionate about the impact the Y has had on their lives although the conversation about the entrance has been an issue from the day the Y was built. It is unfortunate that it was placed where it currently exists to begin with and a proper ingress/egress was not provided with the original plans as the growth and eventual expansion has been anticipated since the inception of the Y.

I feel there is an opportunity to work on an option that may not necessarily be the easiest and most cost- effective but one that would be safer for patrons and motorists alike. Additionally, I would like to see a plan that enhances the flow of traffic. With all of the changes Monroe has encountered, our village infrastructure is not equipped to handle the volume of cars and the many ingresses and egresses currently in place safely. I am encouraged that we may have an opportunity to be able to work alongside our county and state legislators to find a long term solution that benefits our entire village.

Behringer: The Board of Trustees of the Village of Monroe is doing its due diligence to provide for the safety of all those who pass through the village. We are carefully reviewing the facts presented to us.

Conklin: I plan to visit the actual area in which the egress is designated to go. I will continue to review the maps and reports supplied to me by the Y’s engineer.

Houle: We are communicating with those agencies who oversee the safety of motorists and pedestrians so that we can understand the various elements involved in remediating these challenges. Once we have reviewed all facts associated with the YMCA’s request for an alternate egress we will have a meaningful conversation with the board of the YMCA which will hopefully lead to a mutually amenable solution.

How would you rank the Y’s request in terms of other Village issues/requests/priorities?

Alley: The Y has taken a front seat above many other village issues over the course of the past few weeks and our board has been doing its part to find a solution. Patrons of the Y and comments from the public were addressed at the village Board meeting on Jan. 15. Since then, we have heard from many others and their opinions regarding the proposed plan and will continue to make ourselves available to find a solution that works for everyone. This is not just a Y issue; this is a village issue where we are tasked with the determination of what is going to make the most sense for future Monroe.

Behringer: There are many important matters that the Village Board must address. The safety of motorists and pedestrians is a priority for us and we will endeavor to provide for a safe and beautiful Village of Monroe.

Conklin: I do not rank requests. I treat each issue/request as they should be treated: individually. I try to consider all possibilities and look “outside the box” for possible solutions. I will do the same for the Y.

Houle: We understand the value the YMCA provides to Monroe and appreciate the opportunities it offers to the businesses and residents of the Village, many of whom enjoy the benefits afforded through a membership to the YMCA. In an effort to maintain the safety of all Village residents and visitors, the Board of Trustees will give this matter its careful consideration and develop a solution that will provide for the overall benefit of the Village of Monroe.

- Nancy Kriz

In about 1941

MONROE — It’s been 78 years since Gilbert Street Extension was a connector road.
The portion of Gilbert Street Extension now filled with brush and which the Heritage Trail crosses over, hasn’t been used as road since about 1941, according to Town Historian James Nelson.
Nelson provided The Photo News with a scan of the 1933 plans from the Erie Railroad for the road crossing eliminations in Monroe, showing the Gilbert Street Extension.

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