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Panel envisions aesthetic overhaul

Meeting focus on ways to beautify one of Bethlehem’s major corridors

Example of 340 Delaware Ave. in Delmar before and after further improvements.

Example of 340 Delaware Ave. in Delmar before and after further improvements.

— Town officials and community leaders making up the Delaware Avenue Improvement Group met last week for the first time.

The focus of the community meeting held Thursday, March 6, at Bethlehem Town Hall was to give an overview of the future design goals for Delaware Avenue and to discuss what could be done now by the community and business leaders to help with the beautification project as the town awaits funds from a federal grant.

“We’re here to work together in a partnership to see what we can do to improve the Delaware Avenue corridor,” said co-chair Jennifer Kilcoyne, who is also president of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce.

In June of 2012, town officials went on a walk with members of the Garden Club, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and Kiwanis to see what kind of improvements could be made to make the corridor look more appealing. Kilcoyne said the group was now gathered to make those plans come to fruition.

The town was awarded a $1.2 million grant in January as part of the state’s Bicycle, Pedestrian and Multi-use Enhancement Projects initiative. The grant is through the federal Department of Transportation’s Transportation Enhancement Program, and the funds are expected to be used to turn the town’s Delaware Avenue Hamlet Enhancement Study into reality.

An overview of the project was presented by Rob Leslie, the town’s planning director, who also encouraged the town to apply for the grant in August.

The entire project is estimated to cost around $3.1 million. The TEP grant is for $1.2 million so the town will need to make up the remainder of the cost unless additional funding can be found through grants or fundraising. Construction is not expected to begin until 2015.

Suggestions made in the original plan include upgrades to sidewalks and the addition of bicycle lanes, as well as decorative lighting and better landscaping along the road.

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