Residents Express Concern Over $5.8M Dale Drive Shoulder Project

CASSADAGA — Concerned Cassadaga residents Robert and Sharon Bykowski recently wrote a letter to the Cassadaga Village Board, expressing their concerns for the imminent $5.8 million Dale Drive project.

The letter was sent to other entities — the Chautauqua County Planning Committee, Audit and Control Committee, Public Facilities Committee and Public Facilities director; the Stockton Town Board; and Citizens for a Better Cassadaga.

The letter addresses the Bykowskis’ displeasure with the approval of the shoulder-widening project without a presentation to the village board or Dale Drive residents. When the project was first proposed, the pair suggests, there was enthusiasm and opposition in the village.

The letter then went as far as to accuse the village board of conducting the newest attempt at this project in a “secretive” manner, despite later acknowledging that they did, in fact, hear from County Legislator Mark O’Dell on April 23.

“Shouldn’t those of us who will be most impacted be considered? Shouldn’t a very detailed plan be shared with all residents before approving over a half a million dollars on a rural residential road?” the letter asked.

“It should be noted that any law enforcement official will tell you that by widening the road, vehicle speeds will increase, rendering this project to be a detriment to public safety rather than a safety project,” the letter claimed. “In our 32 years here on Dale Drive, there have not been any pedestrian accidents. Why is that? Could it be that a paved road that is rural in appearance makes folks who walk, bike-ride and drive more cautious?”

New York State Troop Commander Eric Balon of the New York State Police gave his opinion on the matter.

“I have never seen a situation where a wider road increased speed. Road surfacing improvements, such as resurfacing, may,” he said, but then admitted, “I don’t know of any studies done on that.”

Asked if making travel lanes smaller had any impacts on speed, Balon stated, “I doubt it will be an issue. … I don’t know of any studies that compare speed vs. road width.”

The New York State Department of Transportation, he added, would have more information on that.

Additionally, the letter states that it is a paved road that makes pedestrians safer. Dale Drive, when the project is complete, will still be paved.

Village Board member Amanda Kalfas said, “I appreciate that our residents feel comfortable enough to discuss how they feel about certain things to their board. I would have to say that I am personally excited that we were chosen to have this happen in our community.”

Mayor Mary Jo Bauer agreed, and added, “While we will assist in in-kind services, we are not spending the village residents’ tax dollars specifically on that project at this time≥”

The village, as stated, had zero input on this project. As previously reported, the venture was one that was restarted by Citizens for a Better Cassadaga and brought to the county. While the CBC was the frontrunner in this second attempt, it is important to note that it is up to the county to agree that it is a worthwhile project to move forward with.

The Cassadaga Village Board is also not obligated or legally bound to notify village residents of any work that is going to do be done on that, or any, county road.

“We like to keep communications open, and we like people to know when we know something, but the bottom line is we don’t know anything, so we haven’t really had anything to tell at this point,” Bauer said.