Consultant Presents Traffic Concepts for Part of Fred Wolfe Park
Representatives of BL Companies, the consultant that reviewed traffic safety and other issues at Fred Wolfe Park, recently updated the public on their preliminary findings at the Jan. 24 meeting of the Orange Parks and Recreation Commission.
Landscape architect Dominick Celtruda welcomed any comments from those in the audience, many of them neighbors of the park, who have been plagued with traffic issues for year. In addition to questions of ingress and egress, neighbors also brought up the problem of cars entering at night, theft, damage by ATVs and more.
BL Companies was hired at the request of the Fred Wolfe Park Committee, to review existing conditions, in particular regarding traffic and parking and to “develop recommendations for safe access, circulation and parking for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles,” and to “provide recommendations with specific focus on the playground and associated improvements.”
Transportation engineer Michael Dion presented results from a traffic count performed during a week in October. Traffic counts varied widely from one day to the next, but even at a peak volume of 116 vehicles per hour, it is not a volume that would be considered overwhelming for a typical two-way roadway.
He said there were six crashes reported in the last five years, with no patterns and, thankfully, no fatalities.
Even so, traffic calming measures are among the recommendation they will be making in the report. Those can include multiple stop signs, speed bumps, pedestrian crossings and more.
One of the issues brought up repeatedly during the meeting, both by the presenters and the neighbors, is inadequate sightlines when exiting the park through the newly created Oakview Drive access road. The recommendation here is to channel traffic in such a way, that vehicles can only turn right onto Ridge Road.
Celtruda also recommended to utlilize striping or other methods to create some structure in the parking lots, both those for the soccer fields and for the lacrosse fields.
He said he received an aerial picture taken by a drone during a tourney last year that showed 76 cars parked in one lot, 81 in the other.
“It’s a perceived parking issue,” he said, adding that if the lots were better structured, they could easily accommodate 250 vehicles.
Celtruda introduced four traffic concepts, ranging from slight improvements to the current configuration to a total re-routing of traffic around the perimeter of the playground, and invited feedback from the audience.
He emphasized that these were merely concepts, and not to be considered as a new master plan. The consultant’s focus, as it was requested by the town, was to be on the south-western corner of the park, including the playground and safe navigation in its vicinity.
“The masterplan really needs to be revisited,” he said. “Times have changed; the uses in the community have changed since 2013.”
The plans they developped won’t hinder “future growth, conservation, preservation or development,” of the park.
Tom Pisano, president of Orange Soccer Association, who has butted heads with the town over the lack of safety considerations at the park, expressed his enthusiasm.
“This is a fantastic thing we’re doing,” he said. He also talked about the need for light as a security measure, and possibly a surveillance camera.
Most of the neighbors who spoke at the meeting did not support the idea of field lighting. But they all agreed that more needed to be done to keep unwanted visitors out, especially at night. John Bakis, one of the neighbors, proposed to install a simple gate that could be locked at sundown.
Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Jim O’Connor explained that the Soccer Association is allowed to bring some lights on one field in the fall to make up for daylight savings time, but there is no plan to install lights beyond that.
Nick Calcaterra, a resident on Hollow Drive, said that the facility should have more than the two existing entrances.
“Whatever plan we come up with – it shouldn’t preclude another entrance coming in,” he said.
Celtruda said the plan is to take the comments into consideration and develop a draft study by end of January. State Rep. Mary Welander, who was in the audience, recommended to take things slowly.
“I caution you not to rush this through,” she said. Instead, she recommended to allow for more public input in order to come up with a well-thought-out plan. Welander had facilitated a $200,000 state bond issue for the park playground, and pledged to be a partner with the town going forward.