ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Construction is set to begin in April on a major Lark Street infrastructure project. While there is a level of excitement over the plans in the neighborhood, the makeover is making some business owners nervous.
Matthew Wagner has been with the family business, The Waldorf Tuxedo Company, on the corner of Lark and Lancaster streets for decades. He has major concerns with the impact of curb “bump-outs,” which will restrict parking near intersections, as part of the plan.
“I can’t afford to lose any parking spots, because people have to carry stuff,” Wagner said, “you know, wedding parties and stuff like that. I’m not for that.”
City officials acknowledged the loss of about a dozen parking spots, but feel the Lark Street corridor as a whole is getting a much-needed upgrade that will improve its quality for businesses, residents, and visitors.
According to 6th Ward Common Council Member Gabriella Romero, “the vast majority of people really support this project.” She pointed out that there have been years of public comment and inside stakeholder meetings that occurred before a February 1 public hearing where some residents brought forth parking concerns.
Residents like Jeff Crumpton are optimistic about the plan. He said parking needs and pedestrian safety are both important, and compromises have to be made.
“I think this plan will actually help increase business, and will help freshen the area, and bring it back to life,” Crumpton told NEWS10.
Tom “T-Bone” Martin, owner of Lark Street Tattoo, has seen the area go through transformations since being there in the 90’s. He pointed out that, being one of the only cross-town thoroughfares, Lark Street uniquely combines oftentimes heavy traffic, with visitors coming to enjoy its restaurants and stores, and a residential population. It’s not the first time the city has tried to improve things.
“We went through this back in 2002, when they tore the street up, and they chopped down all the trees, and they put in the cobblestones,” Martin said, “and we’ll just have to adapt.”
Those cobblestone intersections will be removed, and stamped asphalt strips will be added in an effort to calm traffic. The plan also includes planting new trees, adding string lights, mill and fill on the pavement, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant sidewalk ramps.
Residents are still able to view renderings and maps of the project, and submit questions or comments via an online forum. The project is scheduled to conclude in September 2023.