OSSINING, N.Y. -- When it comes to putting a roundabout in downtown Ossining, both sides are drawing their lines in the sand.
The Village of Ossining is pursuing the roundabout, which would be funded via a $500,000 bond at the intersection of Main, Spring and Brandeth Streets and Central Avenue. The Ossining Chamber of Commerce is opposed to the roundabout and has launched a petition drive to put the issue to voters. Construction is set to begin this summer.
The Chamber must collect 2,146 signatures- 20 percent of registered voters in the village- by Friday, March 3. The village board voted 3-2 to move forward with the roundabout in November.
Mayor Victoria Gearity said the roundabout will save money long term and make Ossining safer for pedestrians.
"Roundabouts eliminate long-term expenses related to upgrades in traffic light technologies," Gearity said. "Roundabouts provide better and safer traffic flow for cars, save gas, and reduce carbon emissions. Roundabouts provide crosswalks that are safer for pedestrians."
Gearity warned a referendum will cost thousands in taxpayer dollars and could have severe consequences for the village if approved or rejected.
"If the result of the referendum is that the funding stays in place, we will have lost weeks in preparing to ensure smooth management of a major infrastructure project in our downtown," Gearity said. "If the result of the referendum is to de-fund the project, it means there will be no upgrade to that intersection this summer at all. And likely we will be stuck with a sub-standard intersection for a couple of years". By the time we do go out for a bond to do the upgrade, interest rates and construction costs will almost assuredly be higher than they are today."
Chamber President Gayle Marchica accused the village of being tone deaf. She fears a roundabout will negatively impact local businesses.
"The last thing we want is to keep traffic moving," Marchica said. "We want people to stop, park and look at what Ossining has to offer so they can eat and shop."
Marchica also questioned whether the cost will end up being only $500,000, fearing it will end up costing several million. A roundabout in Glens Falls cost $9 million, Marchica said.
"People feel deceived," Marchica said. "There is a great lack of trust in our village government. Qualifications are being questioned. The chamber has never been consulted."