Pedestrian infrastructure committee appointed
The Board of Selectman voted unanimously Monday night to approve nine members of a new Pedestrian Infrastructure Advisory Committee to engage residents about projects to recommend that might improve pedestrian and cyclist safety.
Frank Adelman, chairman of the RTM Public Work’s subcommittee on pedestrian safety, said he other RTM members succeeded in coming very close to fulfilling the board’s preferred membership specifications for the body, including finding four RTM members, three of whom sit on the finance and budget, public health and safety, and planning, zoning and housing committees.
At Adelman’s suggestion, the board also voted to expand the size of the committee from seven to nine members to accommodate two additional people to take part in vetting projects.
“Staffing the PIAC was a real challenge but our subcommittee is pleased to recommend this slate of volunteers to you,” said Adelman, who is also vice chairman of the RTM’s Public Works Committee. “... Our search process was rapid and intensive to solicit volunteers.”
With the approval, the committee immediately began work by planning its first meeting for Wednesday, June 30, at Darien Town Hall.
The committee will be an executive committee that reports to the Board of Selectmen and is responsible for promoting, “pedestrian activity that is safe, convenient, and attractive,” as described by Darien’s Plan of Conservation and Development.
The first task of the group will be to develop a presentation for the Board of Selectmen by December outlining short- and long-term improvements town leaders can include in the 2016-2017 town budget. The group is expected to meet with various demographics, including downtown users, employees of downtown businesses, commuters, students, and other groups in crafting the proposal.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson and other board members acknowledged the challenge posed by the selectman’s call for specific qualifications which were intended to ensure group membership reflected diverse knowledge and interests spread geographically through town.
“I know our qualifications were very stringent but I do believe in the end it will end up being a really good process because of that,” Stevenson said.
The committee is intended to ease the administrative barriers for residents seeking pedestrian improvements such as sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes that are posed by dealing with half a dozen different town departments including public works, police, and land use in pitching ideas, Adelman said.
“The Public Works Committee(of the RTM) has seen a variety of people become frustrated,” Adelman said. “This is a committee that is on the executive side that can hopefully help prioritize projects for the Board of Selectmen to consider putting in the budget.”
The nine members of the committee selected from 12 candidates interviewed are: Ted Hawkins, a member of District 6 RTM and the RTM’s Planning, Zoning & Housing Committee; Terry Duffy, a District 5 RTM member and of the RTM’s Finance and Budget Committee; Holly Schulz-Amatruda of RTM District 3 and the RTM’s Public Health & Safety Committee; Bert von Stuelpnagel, a District 1 RTM member and of the RTM’s Town Governance Structure & Administration Committee; Beth Harmon, a non-RTM member who lives in RTM District 6; Jennifer Morgan, a non-RTM member who lives in RTM District 4; Susanne Handler, a non-RTM member who lives RTM District 2; Pat Morrissey, a non-RTM member who lives in RTM District 3; and Joanna Garrett, a non-RTM member who lives in RTM District 6.