Berlin Sidewalk Project Facing Funding Deadline

BERLIN – Although designs are complete for the eagerly anticipated Flower St. sidewalks, the town will need to rush to finish the project before the end of November grant funding deadline.

The project has already received one extension. A second extension on the funding is unlikely without mitigating problems, like major storms, preventing the completion of construction before the deadline.

“Everything would have to go very smoothly,” said Berlin Administrative Director Linda Bambary. “The extension was to the end of November. We’ll be cutting it close.”

Councilman Dean Burrell inquired about the status of the project at Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting.

“It’s getting more complicated every day,” replied Berlin Mayor Tom Cardinale.

Bambary said the project has not been without its obstacles.

“We have the design drawings and we have identified properties that will have trees or shrubbery removed, more than the disturbance of the sidewalk area,” said Bambary. “We thought we had enough easement area that already existed, but once they engineered it they discovered there’s not enough width.”

Bambary estimated that 47 properties would be affected.

Before the town approaches property owners to purchase easements, officials will meet with outside utilities, such as cable, telephone, and gas, to discuss improvements to be made while the ground there is torn up and whether current easements are adequate.

Letters will then be sent to property owners detailing the impact of the work on the particular property and offering compensation.

A neighborhood meeting on the project will be held at an undetermined point in the future

Sufficient funds for the project are in doubt with additional stormwater work not anticipated earlier found to be necessary.

“We know we’re going to be overbudget,” Bambary said.

The town budget, to be passed in two weeks, includes funds for the overrun, she said.

The town will be holding its breath against snags in the easement purchases, problems with contractors and anything that could delay the work.

A community development block grant of $183,000 was awarded to fund the project, which was expected to be complete months ago.

The sidewalk will be constructed along 3,369 feet of the south side of Flower St.

Residents have been calling for sidewalks on the street for decades.