Granville Then & Now – New crosswalk ramps on Main Street

By Erik Pekar, Town Historian

Last week’s heat wave was certainly the “dog days” of this summer in the Granville area. A heat wave stayed around for just over a week, starting two Sundays ago, July 17, through to last Sunday, July 24. Heat and humidity featured every day, with daily highs peaking well over 90 degrees. Some locales in the vicinity broke their high temperature records. Rain came through midday Thursday, July 24, in a few spurts of downpours. This had little effect on the heat, and it quickly rebounded before day’s end. The heat retained well enough overnight a couple times that the nighttime low didn’t go below 70 degrees. The heat wave eventually broke, and the temperatures moderated down somewhat cooler. The wave was over, and just about everyone welcomed the change.

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The removal and replacement of old curb ramps on Main Street last week brings to mind the origin of those curb ramps. Originally, crosswalks on pavement had no ramps, and one stepped up or down over the curb between the crosswalk and sidewalk. Curb ramps became popular in the 1980s, as part of a wider movement for increased accessibility. The first set of ramps in Granville were an initiative from the Granville Lionesses.

Planning for the curb ramps began in late 1985. The project committee had to go through approvals and seek permits before ramps could be placed. This included permission from the owners of property abutting the sidewalk where the ramps were to be located; approval from the village, which maintained the sidewalks; Washington County, and from NYSDOT, since Route 149 is a state highway. The approvals likely cleared by the end of the summer in 1986. The Lionesses then set out to find someone to pour the concrete and make the ramps; they selected Lee Thomas.

The ramps were installed by early October of 1986. The village took out the curbing. Thomas and his employees poured and formed the concrete, adhering to state specifications of the time for such ramps. The original six ramps were the two near the bank at the corner of Main and North Streets, one in front of the village building, two by American Hardware and one by Sears and Roebuck. These ramps for the crosswalk crossing Main Street at North and Church Streets, the crosswalk along Main Street crossing North Street, the east end of the crosswalk along Main Street crossing Church Street, and the north end of the crosswalk crossing Main Street at River Street. The bank building is now set to be Land Craft Wellness, the village hall on North Street is now a residence, the 15 Main building that housed American Hardware at the time is now vacant, and the Sears catalog store’s building at 100 Main was torn down for the Main Street bridge replacement project in 2006.

Lioness Jean MacEachron was quoted at the time, saying that “the idea was to do something that would benefit the community. We figured the ramps would be of value.” MacEachron added, “the project … should help those in wheelchairs, the elderly and mothers with baby carriages.” More ramps were constructed within the next few years. The ramps were later replaced over time, including more modern ramps at the crosswalks at Main and River Streets as part of the bridge project. These newer curb ramps also have a plate of “truncated dome” bumps, which are termed as a form of “tactile paving”, acting as another accessibility aid.

Work on removing the old curb ramps on Main Street started last Monday, July 18, and ended the next day. Concrete for the new ramps was poured last Tuesday, and the new ramps opened for use midday last Thursday, July 21. The new ramps were installed in front of 15 Main Street, the Granville Post Office, the former town hall, both sides of the rail trail crossing, and across the street the 79 Main Street building. Other ramps at crosswalks along Route 149 through the Village of Granville were replaced over the past two years.

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Granville has had good fortune this year with its summer concert series at Veterans Memorial Park. Granville wasn’t so lucky for the past couple of years. No concerts were held in 2020, for reasons beyond anyone’s control, and a few were canceled last year due to weather. Of particular note from last year’s cancellations was the July 29 concert, due to forecasted rain; the call made was the right one, as a torrential downpour came through about 6:30 and lasted for about an hour.

Every concert scheduled so far this year has been held. The New York Players appeared on June 30. Daryl Magill and Sass and Brass made their return on July 7, playing Granville for the first time in three years. This particular group has been considered the flagship of the series for some years, is a popular show, and was a favorite in promotion by the Sentinel’s publisher emeritus John Manchester. The Hand Picked Band played on July 14. Fiddle Witch followed on July 21, although with a somewhat smaller audience, likely due in part to the extreme heat that week and earlier forecasts that called for rain showers later that day. The Whiskey River Band plays at tonight’s concert. Hopefully the good, sunny weather on concert nights continues through the end of the series.

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A Granville business reached its first milestone. The Granville Family Diner has now been open for a year. Owners Matthew and Candy Baker opened the diner on July 5 of last year at 70 Quaker Street. It moved to its present location in the Big Lots strip mall at the start of December, formerly the longtime location of AJ’s Restaurant.

Over the first year the diner has been successful. “[It’s] doing very well,” said Baker. The offerings have not changed, although more specials like wing night have been added, and a Sunday breakfast buffet is in the works. The banquet room is popular once more, and has been used for many a party, celebration, or event. At other times, its bouncy house has become popular for the kids that play in it and their parents.

A new addition has been made; the bar reopened in early June. With this development, all of former AJ’s is now open once more. It is being run as a clean and fun establishment, which Baker likened to the “typical neighborhood hometown bar.” New equipment has been added to entertain the clientele. Free rides home are offered for those who need them. Baker is making sure that it is run clean, adding, “that’s the way it’s staying. No rowdy nonsense, no fights, no drugs. We’re not running that kind of bar. If you want to argue and fight, go somewhere else.”

The Bakers are enjoying owning and operating the diner. “[We] like it, it is fun,” said Baker, adding “we’re pretty much dedicated to it, and we like doing it.” He said they are thankful for the support of the community. They are also supporting the Granville community, by welcoming benefits and similar events to be held there.

The Granville Family Diner’s dining section is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The bar section is open from noon until closing. Congratulations to Matthew and Candy Baker on reaching a year in business, their reopening of the bar, and best of luck to many more years.