BY ANDREAS YILMA
NAUGATUCK — Borough officials have approved a new five-year plan to pave roads and will also look toward upgrading sidewalks.
The Board of Mayor and Burgesses on May 2 approved a paving schedule with the first roads on the schedule to be paved this spring. Some of those roads that are slated to be either mill and paved or miro-paved this spring include Golden Hill Street and its extension, Stanley Street, Hughes Street, Aaron Street, Union City Road, Andrew Avenue, Andrew Mountain Road and Melbourne Street. The full five-year paving schedule that is more of a seven-year plan that runs through to the fiscal year of 2029-30 and can be found on the borough website.
Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said several years ago the borough started with a major enhancement of the municipality’s road improvement budget. Now with a lessening reliance on outside contractors, more work is able to get done in house.
“What’s different from how it was in the past and what we’ve been doing continuously for the last six years is that in addition to the money that we put into the budget and we appropriate, our street department workers are now doing a lot of work that used to be done by private contractors, catch basins, things like that,” Hess said.
“We also include all of the LOCIP money and town road aide that comes from the state, instead of using it for contractors, we use it and put it directly into the road paving budget.”
Public Works Director Jim Stewart said the street department is using its paving manager program and tracks the Road Surface Rating.
“Several years ago, we did analysis of every street in town and it gave us the RSR, which is the Road Surface Rating, and that computer every year will lower that rating,” Stewart said. “So 100 is a road that is perfect, it’s just been paved. A 50 is road that’s pretty much completely shot, needs to be reconstructed and a 0 is basically impassable.”
Stewart said many years ago when some road workers came in and analyzed everything, the borough’s RSR was at about 64 but since then the overall borough rating is at about a 78.
“We have made significant improvements,” Stewart said.
Deputy Mayor Robert A. Neth said it’s important to note that residents should know that there have been major upgrades over the years.
As officials have made progress on thruways for cars, their eyes are now set on the walkways for pedestrians.
Hess said the borough has budgeted $200,000 in this year’s budget to begin a townwide sidewalk improvement program.
“Some of the factors related to sidewalks are interrelated with the roads that are being improved. There’s a variety of other factors, safety, condition but we’re going to come up with a recommendation for a town wide improvement program,” Hess said.
Officials are expected to work with the borough attorney on a new sidewalk ordinance that will replace the existing and outdated one. They will also talk about how it will be funded and assessments.
“It’s a very huge project. It will take… possibly eight to 10 years,” Hess said. “It’s a $22 million project in today’s dollars. So we obviously can’t tackle it all at once but we have to start somewhere.”
Hess envisions that this year will be more of a pilot program where borough officials adopt the ordinance, see how it works, tweak it and then advance it in the budget annually. As it moves further, they’ll take comments, tweak it and develop something that works.
“You got to have a plan before you start really using it and part of that other plan we know, we need an ordinance with a little bit of teeth in it,” Burgess Charles Marenghi said. “Right now, our ordinance equates if someone’s not doing what they need to do with their sidewalks, we have the ability to say stop or will say stop again.”