, Newburyport, MA

October 18, 2013

Council gets update on sidewalk improvements


---- — NEWBURYPORT — City officials Tuesday night accepted a report from Mayor Donna Holaday focusing on roadway and sidewalk projects of the past few years.

The mayor’s update focused on road and sidewalks improvements completed or planned for calendar years 2012 to 2014. The annual report is of interest to councilors, since constituents across the city will continuously voice concerns and questions about sidewalks.

During the past two years, half of the municipal meals tax has been earmarked for the improvement of sidewalks, and that new revenue source appears to have increased the expectations of some residents.

Holaday noted that all city roadway projects are funded by Chapter 90 state appropriations.

The mayor said the city was allocated slighting more than $1 million over that two-year period, $522,000 in fiscal year 2012 and $519,000 in fiscal 2013, for local roadways.

The following projects have been completed, or are nearing completion, in calendar year 2012 and 2013: Coltin Drive and Wilkinson Drive, $78,471; Mulliken Way, $53,051; and Jefferson Street, Jefferson Court and Lancey Court, $298,000.

The report said that other related services done through Chapter 90 in 2012 and 2013 were linestripping, $56,505 and project inspection and oversight services, $25,000.

The following roadway projects have begun and/or are scheduled to be completed in 2014: Merrill Street, $450,000, Purchase Street, $190,000 and cracksealing, $50,000.

Holaday said that a request for $50,000 is pending to repair areas that are too large to patch and too small to be eligible for Chapter 90 funding.

If approved, the report said work will include a Shandel Drive trench repair; Ferry Road at Noble Street surface repair; and Federal Street sectional repairs.

Other potential road projects for 2014 “subject to level funding from the state and a timely release of the city’s Chapter 90 appropriation in spring 2014,” are as follows: Willow Avenue, Brooks Court, Stanley Avenue, Jackson Street, Bromfield Street and Carlton Drive.

Regarding sidewalks, the report noted that most sidewalk repairs are funded through municipal accounts. Local funding for fiscal years 2012 through 2014 will total $679,310.

A relatively new source of revenue comes from the municipal meals tax.

Fifty percent of all local meals tax receipts have been allocated to sidewalk maintenance since the council approved the measure two years ago. As a result, $218,748 was appropriated through the 2013 supplemental budget process based on FY12 actual receipts.

The council approved an additional $100,000 supplemental budget request to fund sidewalks repairs in FY13 and there is a pending FY14 supplemental budget request for $60,000 toward sidewalk repairs.

The report said that in calendar year 2012, sidewalk projects included Ocean Street, Lafayette Court, Kent Street, Currier’s Court, Liberty Street, Essex Street, Brown Square, Prospect Street from State to Lime, State Street and Greenleaf Street.

Councilor Bob Cronin asked that more attention be given to areas away from the downtown and in other parts of the city.

Councilor Tom Jones suggested that better care be taken of sidewalks on Merrimac Street, a lengthy thoroughfare included in his Ward 4.

In calendar 2013, the following projects were finished, or will be completed: Congress Street, Temple Street, Middle Street, Wilkinson Drive, Mulliken Way, Coltin Drive at Low Street, Toppans Lane at Low Street, Monroe Street at Carter Street, Orange Street at Federal Street, part of Milk Street, Bromfield Street at Hancock, Parsons Street at Prospect Street, parts of Prospect Street, Allen Street at Prospect Street, and Market Street at Pleasant Street.

The report said that tentative projects for 2014 may include Bromfield Street at Hancock Street, Park Street at Harris Street, Water Street at State Street, State Street at Garden Street, Middle Street at Center Street and Unicorn Street at Pleasant Street.

The report was assigned to the Neighborhood and City Services Committee and the Committee of the Whole for discussion in coming weeks, and perhaps recommendations.