FONDA - Montgomery County officials on Tuesday effectively denied a proposal to study the possibility of building a highway from Thruway Exit 28 in Fultonville to Route 30A near the Johnstown Industrial Park.
Fulton County previously agreed to pay $100,000 for the study, which also would be funded by $400,000 in federal money. Fulton County, however, needed Montgomery County's approval before the study could go forward.
The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday allowed a resolution for the study to die after no supervisor would sponsor it.
Supervisors took no action on the resolution after they heard some local residents express concerns about the potential highway, which officials refer to as a "connector highway" bypass. Residents said the highway could pose safety problems, and they saw no benefit for Montgomery County.
Fulton County officials today were unhappy with Montgomery County's inaction, but said the project isn't over yet.
"We'll definitely look into other options," Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman William Waldron said today. "I'm very disappointed Montgomery County failed to take action on it at this time."
Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz said, "First, we need to find out if there were specific issues and concerns that were raised."
He said the state Department of Transportation may have to be contacted to determine if Fulton County can continue its efforts to do the study without Montgomery County's support.
"Fulton County obviously has supported this endeavor," Mraz said.
Montgomery County wouldn't have to pay anything for the study, but its approval was needed because both counties would enter a joint application for the study's funding.
Mohawk Supervisor Greg Rajkowski withdrew his sponsorship of the resolution after listening to residents Tuesday.
Most of the residents in attendance at Tuesday's meeting live on or around Switzer Hill Road and oppose the idea of a bypass highway.
Kim and John Hildreth, and their son Marshall, openly expressed their opposition.
"I don't think it's reasonable," Kim Hildreth said. "I hope there will be legitimate concerns of property values, safety and the people of Switzer [Hill] Road in general."
Marshall Hildreth said he is concerned about safety. He told the board about how he was almost hit by a tractor-trailer earlier the previous school year when getting off his school bus. He told the board Switzer Hill Road already is dangerous, and transforming it into a highway would make it more dangerous.
"The bypass will risk the safety of students as well as the residents," Marshall Hildreth said. "I know I'm a child, but I think I should have a voice in this, and I feel, in general, the bypass would have no benefit to the county."
John Hildreth told the board he and Kim work in Albany and choose to live in Fonda because of the rural surroundings. He said the bypass would give them no reason to stay in Montgomery County.
Fonda Mayor Bill Peeler spoke in favor of the study, however, and wanted the board to approve it.
"We have the most impact of the amount of traffic coming through the village, yet we have the smallest voice about passing these bills. The folks that have concerns, that's premature," Peeler said.
Ryan Weitz, Fultonville's historian, agreed with Peeler.
"This study isn't saying 'let's build the bypass,'" Weitz said. "It's purely a study. None of the money is going toward construction."
Amsterdam Town Supervisor Thomas DiMezza said the bypass would be unrealistic and offer no benefit to the county.
"This is the third time I've said this is a pipe dream," he said.