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Town briefs residents on Downtown Streets projects

PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR DAVE FORD discusses a driveway cut and landscape modifications to Attorney Bradley Helfert’s Glendon Street property. Helfert suggested several minor changes, Ford approved and Helfert signed his memorandum of understanding form for the anticipated water line and drainage project. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
June 16, 2011
WOLFEBORO — Lehner Street resident Norman Simons walked down the street to the Community Center on June 7 at 5 p.m. in response to an invitation from Public Works Director Dave Ford. Simons and all residents owning property along Lehner, Union, School and Glendon Streets had received letters from the Department of Public Works to fill them in on upcoming roadway and sidewalk renovations.

Voters have approved funding to replace the 100-year-old waterlines and improve drainage along those streets in phases.

The process began as early as 2007 with a warrant article for $130,000 for studies and design work. In 2009 waterlines along South Main Street and Pleasant Street were replaced as were the old lines under Union and School Streets. In 2010 voters approved $600,000 for further water main replacement and $600,000 for drainage work.

Ford also applied for a $150,000 Safe Routes to School grant to improve existing walkways, add sidewalks where needed between Carpenter School and Foss Field, and otherwise improve safety. That process has entailed the distribution of 23 memoranda of understanding forms that all have to be signed before bidding can commence.

With an unsigned memorandum of understanding in hand, a drawing of the intended construction in front of his house and a photocopy of a concrete block retaining wall, like that to be built a few feet from the roadway there, Simons took a look at the drawings running the length of the tables.

Ford's staff had also laid out pages of photos of each person's property and placed them under the appropriate sections of drawings, color-coded to point out existing sidewalks, new sidewalks, landscaping changes, and driveway cuts.

"I'm not signing a blank check, am I?" asked Simons.

Ford pointed out the changes on the drawing that applied to him and the two discussed the project as it applied to him and his neighbors. With reassurance that what he saw was what he was going to get, Simon okayed an easement allowing the town to take responsibility for the retaining wall and narrow strip of land between it and the road.

The angled crosswalk that crosses the street near Simon's house will be replaced by pedestrian crossing by the corner of Glendon and Lehner where they can see and be seen when starting across the road. And he no longer has to worry about them being so close to his driveway.

There are other changes planned as well. School Street between Union and Glendon Streets will be one way from the Union Street side. There has been discussion of eliminating or limiting parking on Union Street, which runs between Main and Lehner Streets. There will be new sidewalks on the community center's side of the street down to Glendon, and driveway cuts will be modified to improve drainage. Landscaping adjustments will follow.

Ford says the roadway will be totally rebuilt, following the water main replacements, some sewer repair and underground utility construction upgrades.

The $1.5 million project will go out to bid in the fall, according to Ford. He anticipates about a year of construction, followed by tending to a punch list of smaller tasks and a year of dealing with any issues that come up.

If all goes well, Ford says the project could possibly start in late fall and continue through the winter and into spring, depending on the contractor and weather conditions.

Electrical services will not be interrupted, and the water supply will only be disrupted perhaps once or twice for a couple of hours during the switch over to the new lines once they are all in place.

Residents welcomed the long-anticipated improvements.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
Armen Kevorkian
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