Berlin Planning Needed Street Repairs

BERLIN – The Berlin Mayor and Council considered a variety of street- and water-related items at the Dec. 8 Berlin Mayor and Council meeting. They are summarized below.

– Berlin will pursue promised street repairs on Vine and Grice streets and Graham Avenue this year with work planned for spring 2009.

“We definitely did budget money to upgrade these streets this year,” said Mayor Gee Williams.

Plans call for staff and engineering consultants to visit those streets and begin making plans for improvements in mid-December.

“That’s the first step in the process,” said Williams.

The town has over $200,000 set aside for professional services related to the street repairs.

“It was in fact budgeted,” said acting town administrator Mary Bohlen.

Berlin could go to the bond market for the remainder of the street project funds as it does roughly once a decade. 

After the preliminary engineering, bids will be solicited in early spring.

Williams said that should be an ideal time for the town to seek competitive bids, given the lack of construction business in the region due to the recession.

Plans also call for major work on Harrison Avenue, which connects Main and Broad streets, but going forward on the project will be complicated by ownership and configuration issues.

The town does not own the entire street, and the road has an unusual curve at its junction with Broad Street, which will be a challenge, Williams said.

– While Berlin will pursue major road improvement projects, the council decided against running an irrigation line under a local street to the veterans’ memorial garden to save $1,800 plus labor costs.

“We all want water there, but do we need it?” Councilwoman Lisa Hall asked.

Under present economic conditions, Hall does not see the point of paying for the extension.

Hall, who works in property management, said that in her experience, installing a public water source is asking for trouble.

“It’s just something else to take care of because they will not leave it alone…I’m not against the vets or anything like that. I just don’t think we need it,” she said.

Water and Wastewater Director Jane Kreiter said there have been issues in the past with this practice.

“We have had situations in the past where we had hydrants and water fountains in the parks and they were vandalized,” said Kreiter.

The public has asked for a water spigot at the veterans’ memorial for years, she said. Watering the memorial garden now requires running hoses from the Calvin B. Taylor House museum or nearby homes.

Hall suggested that public works could spray the garden from a vehicle-based water tank.

Williams instructed Public Works Superintendent Mike Gibbons to make the memorial garden watering part of the town’s maintenance routine in summer.

The town should be taking care of the garden itself, not depending on private citizens to do it, Williams said.

– Some private citizens are asking for less water service, Kreiter reported this week, requesting that their irrigation meters be removed to save the $12.50 per month fee.

“I felt it was a reasonable request especially in today’s [economic] environment,” said Kreiter.

Once removed, the property owner may not ask for reinstallation for three years or until the property changes hands, to prevent people from asking for seasonal removals and reinstallations. Under the new policy, reinstallation would cost $175.   

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