The village of Ossining will host a public meeting this week to discuss plans for a roundabout at a five-way intersection in the village’s downtown.
The meeting will be held on April 6 at 7 p.m. at the Ossining Public Library and will include a question-and-answer session, along with a discussion on how the village can move forward with plans to transform its downtown.
Mayor Victoria Gearity stressed that this meeting will not be a legislative session nor a work session.
“We won’t even bring a timer,” she said.
The scheduled meeting follows the village of Ossining’s announcement on March 8 that Village Clerk MaryAnn Roberts had rejected a petition submitted in an effort to force a voter referendum on the project, which would be constructed at the intersection of Spring, Main, Brandreth streets and Central Avenue.
Filed by the Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce, the petition sought a public vote on whether to defund the project’s previously approved $500,000 bond.
At a March board meeting, trustees chose to table the proposed roundabout project.
“We began a cooling off period, and it has not yet fulfilled its purpose,” Gearity said. “The board is continuing to reach out to community members and responding to the voices of Ossining residents in real time.”
Gearity has said that the traffic circle would provide safer flow for cars and crosswalks for pedestrians. Opponents, including business owners, cited the traffic circle’s potential effects on safety, parking, traffic and economic development in downtown among their concerns.
“In this moment, nothing is irreversible with regards to the roundabout,” Gearity said. “Nothing has been dug up. Nothing has been defunded.”
The board intends to invite bids from contractors regarding the full cost of the roundabout, something opponents of the project had previously questioned. Gearity did not disclose a timeline for when those bids would be solicited, but said the board has until early May to decide if it plans to move forward with the roundabout or defund it. The board also plans to establish a work group made up of members of the community to guide the process.
When asked whether she anticipated this strong amount of backlash regarding the roundabout when the project was first proposed, Gearity said, “Yes and no.”
Gearity was aware that many roundabout projects are “notoriously unpopular” before they are built.
“Knowing that Ossining residents tend to be more engaged than in most communities, it’s not surprising to have a high level of engagement on this topic,” she said.
However, Gearity called the “animosity and adversarial nature” that seemed to divide Ossining “unfortunate and divisive.”
Still, Gearity is optimistic and believes the community is beginning to come together, adding that the “adversarial tone that was the hallmark for much of this public discussion is shifting to a collaborative tone.”
“Whether the future development (of Ossining) will include a roundabout that is constructed this summer or not remains to be seen,” she said. “Either way, that infrastructure project is only one component of a much larger vision.”