At the proposed greenway project’s most recent public meeting on Jan. 28, nearly 300 community members filled the MacArthur Elementary School gymnasium. There, some expressed concerns for residents whose neighborhoods would be affected by the pathway construction.
The proposed $18.8 million greenway will connect Downtown Binghamton with Binghamton University’s main campus from Murray Hill Road. The path will run alongside eastbound traffic on Vestal Parkway, where it will connect to an already existing segment of greenway that goes across the South Washington Street Parabolic Bridge leading to Downtown Binghamton.
At Tuesday night’s public hearing, sponsored by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), a 45-minute-long presentation explaining the project details was followed by a public comment portion. Chris Papastrat, a former Binghamton Southside council member who currently lives just east of University Plaza, voiced concerns shared by area homeowners.
Papastrat said he spoke up at the meeting on behalf of the people who live around the neighborhood.
“The integrity of the neighborhood is primary and the concerns of those neighbors that live there should be a primary concern also,” Papastrat said. “Because, at the end of the day, they’re the ones impacted and they’re going to be living there seeing what happens on a daily basis.”
Binghamton City Council Member Joe Burns, who currently represents the Binghamton Southside area where the greenway will be constructed, spoke out last week, before the most recent meeting, about his concerns regarding how the area will look after the project is finished.
“I haven’t seen a drawing of what Vestal Avenue will look like if they do that little artery out, what the signage will look like,” Burns said. “You know, they got these ugly signs out now, pointing out walkways, and they glow paint, they glow in the daytime. They’re very ugly. So what will they put at that walkway?”
Papastrat pointed out that regardless of how much planning goes into a construction project of this size, residents will be affected.
“People that design the drawings, it may look good on paper, but at the end of the day, they’re going to be gone, but those people still have to deal with that impact on a daily basis,” Papastrat said. “I think it’s a primary concern that their concerns are taken very, very seriously.”
Burns said he is also concerned about the proposal to use eminent domain to take land from his constituents to construct the path. He also objected to the use of Ivanhoe Road for parking by people driving to the proposed access point, and said he would prefer if the access point at Ivanhoe Road was removed from the plan.
“But if it’s a deal-breaker, then I guess we have to have it,” Burns said. “I love the idea of connecting BU to Downtown.”
Richard Jannaccio contributed reporting for this article.