May 12 2016
Selectmen Vote for High Quality Sidewalk on Bedford Street in Split Decision
By: Rich Hosford
The Board of Selectmen voted to go with a higher-quality sidewalk for a stretch of Bedford Street if a $250,000 Town Meeting warrant article is passed.
The question before them was whether to use granite and concrete sidewalks for the stretch of Bedford Street from Cambridge Street to Terrace Hall Avenue or to use the cheaper option of asphalt with bituminous curbing and get more sidewalk for the money.
Last year Town Meeting voted to up the funds for sidewalk repair from $50,000 to $100,000. Department of Public Works Director John Sanchez said doing this stretch, which is highly visible and part of the parade route for the town’s Memorial Day observances, will cost $350,000 if they go with the granite curbing and concrete.
Sanchez said concrete and granite costs about $85 per foot while asphalt runs at about $30 per foot however they last much longer and are more durable against damage.
The board voted to go with the granite and concrete but it was a 3-2 split decision. Selectmen Chris Hartling, Joe Morandi and Bob Hogan voted in favor of the more expensive materials while Mike Runyan and Chairman Dan Grattan voted against.
Those in favor of the granite and concrete argued that Bedford Street is a highly-visible and important road in the heart of the town. They also said they had feedback from residents urging them to go with the higher-end material.
“What I’ve seen is an outcry for granite and concrete,” Hartling said.
Hogan said he was initially concerned about spending the money on the higher-end material but had heard from enough residents to be persuaded.
“I also indicated a concern about spending that much money for 6/10 of a mile but after talking to a number of people over the last two weeks, I think I’m going to support it,” he said. “I think it’s a project we can do and should do.”
Runyan, who had argued for a long stretch of sidewalk by going with asphalt, said that they can’t go with the more expensive option every time a sidewalk decision has to be made.
“I put things in two categories, things we want and things we need,” he said. “I think this is more like a thing we want. Be mindful in December when we set the tax rate, we’re looking at millions over the course of the next several years.
All agreed that moving forward they should come up with a clear policy as to which roads should get which types of sidewalks.
“I think there are some sidewalks that should be granite and concrete and I think we need to sit down and figure out which ones those are,” Morandi said. “But I don’t think they all need to be that.”
Town Meeting should vote on the warrant article asking for $250,000 for the project next week.