BEACON FALLS — The list of roads town officials are hoping to repair through a bond package has grown to three.
In April, the Board of Selectmen discussed a plan to bond up to $2.3 million for road repairs. Burton Road was the first road officials put in their sights. Highland Avenue and Noe Place are now on the list, as well.
Town Engineer James Galligan explained at Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting that the plan is to reconstruct Highland Avenue and reclaim Noe Place, in addition to the work on Burton Road. He said the work for all three roads is estimated to cost $2.1 million.
The reconstruction of Highland Avenue includes milling and replacing the pavement, widening the road near Laurel Ledge School, and reconstructing portions of the sidewalk, Galligan said.
Galligan said the profile of Highland Avenue is flat and it does not allow the water to run directly to the gutters and drains, which leads to potholes and cracks.
“The pavement is pretty well destroyed,” Galligan said.
Galligan said the work will also include relocating some telephone poles along the road.
“The telephone poles are in the street. I’m surprised people don’t drive into them more often,” Galligan said. “Even though they don’t, they don’t belong there.”
The work on Highland Avenue is estimated to cost $525,000, Galligan said. He said the town received a $200,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant to pay for part of the work.
First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the combination of the STEAP grant and the bond will allow the town to completely reconstruct Highland Avenue.
“Between the two, from the entrance on Burton Road all the way to the end of the cul-de-sac, it will take Highland Avenue to a place it hasn’t seen in years,” Bielik said.
As for Noe Place, Galligan said, there is a lot of water that comes off the hill along the street and the pavement has broken up over the years.
Noe Place needs to be completely reclaimed, Galligan said. This means the pavement needs to be dug up and replaced.
In addition, the median that is currently along the road will be removed, he said.
Galligan said he expects the work, which encompass 800 feet of road, to cost approximately $155,000.
Officials previously discussed a plan to issue a 10-year bond and pay it back using the money the town receives from the state for road work and $500,000 from a general fund surplus transfer.
On Wednesday night the Board of Finance discussed the bond package.
Board of Finance Chairman Jack Levine said the board was supportive of the idea when it just included Burton Road and didn’t see why the board wouldn’t support the inclusion of these two other roads.
The Board of Selectmen now needs to vote on the bond package before sending it to the Board of Finance for its official blessing.
After that occurs the bond package will need to go to a town meeting to be approved.
Congratulations to the Board of Selectmen for taking a forward looking direction towards upgrading the town’s infrastructure by expanding the number of roads that are on the list to be fixed. Beacon Falls has approximately 30 miles of roads, many of which are in immediate need of repair. While the current proposal is a bold step forward, a true long-range plan to address the remaining road infrastructure (including water & sewer upgrades) and other issues should already be “shovel ready”.
My comments are biased as I look toward 2021, which is the 150th anniversary of the town’s incorporation (June 30, 1871). As the acting president of the Beacon Falls Historical Society, I would like to see planning for a ‘150th celebration’ to begin within the next year at which point will be a short five years away. I actually see this celebration beginning in 2016, which will be the 100th anniversary of the Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Company hiring of the Olmsted Brothers landscape architectural firm, who planned and laid out the streetscape on the “Hill” section of town, which comprises Highland Ave, Maple Ave, Wolfe Ave, North/South Circle, and the related side streets.
A plan to fix all the roads listed above by 2021 in anticipation of holding an event to celebrate this key anniversary in our town’s history is a plan I see worth supporting. A part of the long-range plan should also incorporate a final determination of what to do with the Wolfe Ave property. As a representative of the Historical Society, I/we would like to see the Tracy Lewis house rehabilitated and put into service for the community. The longer the house and carriage house remain unheated and ignored, only leaves the community two options: sell the property or tear the buildings down.
Not having a plan for the property and by this I mean there has not been a vote to approve actually building something, I find it difficult to justify razing the buildings. Removing the house will reduce the value of the property as the house is a significant part of the property, regardless of individual opinions of the house itself. It must be noted that a formal plan & cost estimate related to renovation of the house has never been done. The Baily study assumed the worst case cost associated to fully stripping the interior of building and not the practical case of how buildings are normally renovated, cutting tracks in the walls, replace utilities and sealing the walls with wallboard.
I would like to suggest that the town set a long range plan to fix all the above mentioned streets over the next five years, have a community approved building plan for a building project on the Wolfe Ave property, and appoint a committee to plan and execute a 150th Anniversary celebration of the town.
Michael A Krenesky
Acting President of the Beacon Falls Historical Society