The Hamilton Five-Way Intersection Task Force will hold an open meeting at the Hamilton Public Library on Wednesday, February 3 to begin what will be an ongoing community discussion on improving the chaotic intersection at the heart of town.
From noon to 8 p.m., Hamilton residents and Colgate students are invited to share their suggestions with representatives from Elan Planning and Design, Inc., the consulting firm that has been selected to propose development ideas for the site within the next six months.
Dr. Susan Malfino is a Hamilton business owner who serves on the Intersection Task Force as the Hamilton Pedestrian Safety Committee Representative. She explained why her Committee is anxious to improve the five-way intersection as soon as possible.
“One of the things I think people in Hamilton often forget is that this intersection involves a major state route,” Malfino said. “There are so many motorists passing through that aren’t familiar with the town, who don’t know to expect a pedestrian crossing from Adventure Bikes & Board to Nichols and Beal. There’s a real danger there, and we want to be proactive. We don’t want to wait until there’s a fatality to do something.”
Malfino emphasized that Elan was awarded this contract with the understanding that they would need to consider input from residents. There will be regular public meetings with Elan held throughout the next six months.
“They aren’t going to swoop in out of nowhere and change things without asking anyone,” Malfino said. “They are very open to figuring out the true needs of the people who live and work in this community, and making it a real interactive process.”
The Pedestrian Safety Committee is also engaged in a “Crosswalk Watch” program, which encourages motorists to be more mindful about the crosswalks in town.
“Motorists just don’t stop at crosswalks in Hamilton, with the exception of the one outside the Post Office,” Malfino, the designer of this public safety initiative. “Even outside the Post Office, I know there have been accidents there with pedestrians and motor vehicles.”
One of the crosswalks that the Committee is most concerned about runs between Huntington Gymnasium and Reid Athletic Center.
“We met with the Chief of Police [James Tilbe] to discuss possibly changing the speed limit from fifty-five to thirty miles per hour in that area,” said Malfino. “Hopefully that will alert incoming motorists to the fact that even though it’s a state route, they’re coming into a village.”
Senior Elena Dowling explained that she avoids crossing the street in that area.
“Usually if I’m at the crosswalk near Huntington, I have to wait until all the cars have passed. No one stops there really. And I definitely wouldn’t cross at night if there’s traffic. I think it’s pretty difficult for cars to see the crosswalk at all.”
Colgate students are encouraged to attend Wednesday’s meeting to share their input on improvements to the Five-Way Intersection.
“It would be great to have students there,” said Malfino. “They make up such a significant part of our population that I think it’s important that they get the chance to contribute.”