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Transportation Panel's Ideas to Come in June

'Connecting eastern Putnam to western Putnam has been a long-running problem,' officials say, and a new committee will identify 'workable solutions on how the east-west connection can be successfully achieved.'

A new task force aimed at improving transportation across Putnam County will take public opinion into an account, according to its head.

"We're going to look at how we can reach people and how we can run a county-wide transportation system effectively, efficiently and affordably," Chairman Vincent Tamagna, who anticipates a "multi-year phase-in" of any updates, said.

The Putnam County Transportation Task Force features more than half a dozen people, including the commissioners for health and for social services, as well as the director for Putnam's Office of the Aging. Officials announced the panel's creation earlier this month.

No one sitting on the trustee boards for the Village of Brewster or Town of Southeast is on the task force. That fact did not go unnoticed during a conversation on Brewster10509, a Yahoo group with hundreds of subscribers.

"While the Hub of the Harlem Valley, and probably the poster child for a commuter's oasis in the Village of Brewster, including transportation, and things within walking distance, the east side of the county is sadly forgotten," Erin Meagher wrote, acknowledging that one of the task force members is active with Brewster Chamber of Commerce and downtown developments. "...Wouldn't it make sense to say, have a rep from each municipality, Metro North [Railroad], PART and HART [Housatonic Area Regional Transit] too?"

But Tamagna said no one sitting on any town or village boards is on the panel. Legislators will be informed of the group's progress, though, Tamagna said. And the public will have a chance to attend meetings and share opinions, he added.

Those meetings will come later in the process. The committee is operating in four phases, according to officials: Establishing an advisory board and organizing the task force into subcommittees, conducting interviews and surveys, examining the data and formulating recommendations, and then incorporating public outreach. Recommendations are due to an advisory board, which will create policies, in June.

Here is part of what officials said about the task force in a press release from the office of County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

Identifying commerce and economic development zones and making sure public transportation is linked to each is another concern for the Transportation Task Force (TTF), just as linking tourist attraction sites and events within the county to various forms of public transportation, whether it be rails, trails, bikes, buses or trolleys.

Marie Davis-Williams February 26, 2013 at 02:00 AM
I would like to see adequate shoulders on all the major roads throughout the county to allow for safe walking and biking. I live in Carmel exactly one mile (a walkable distance) from a Metro North Station. I commute daily and have to drive my car to the station because walking along Stoneleigh is so unsafe. This county is amazingly beautiful. It would be nice to be able to safely explore more of it at a slower pace by foot or pedal.
Ashley Tarr (Editor) February 27, 2013 at 03:45 PM
The only time I'm on foot is when I'm working in the Village of Brewster. But I agree, Marie—it'd be nice to be able to ditch the car more often. One more thing worth mentioning: When I spoke to Tamagna, he told me he and Anthony Ruggiero, Putnam's commissioner of planning, development and public transportation, rode the PART bus for two hours one day last week. They spoke to the driver and riders, and plan to do so again many more times in the near future. Anyone out there take the bus regularly? I've never been.
Ashley Tarr (Editor) February 27, 2013 at 04:11 PM
And here is a quote from a member of the Yahoo group Brewster10509: "I downloaded the county budget and keep it handy on my computer for reference. County government is bloated and costly and I find it obscene that no consideration is being given to what's happening to the taxpayers including the ever escalating cost of gas, heating oil, food and other real necessities. Many people I know have to decide whether to pay their taxes or heating bill, yet nobody from the County seems to give a damn." Another member said he and his family depend on local buses to get around Putnam, and that it's not an easy task.
Ann Fanizzi March 08, 2013 at 12:18 PM
While attempts to unify the disparate sections of Putnam County is laudable, the reality is that twenty miles separate Carmel and Cold Spring. Georgraphy, demographics and even values separate the two ends of our county. And it is these intangibles that also must be recognized and factored into any plan to unify the county..
Ann Fanizzi March 08, 2013 at 12:20 PM
I wish to add one more telling point. At Thursday night's Town Board meeting, Councilwoman Lynne Eckardt asked Legislator Gross if any residents from Southeast was part of the task force. He was unaware whether any were.

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