Flower St. Sidewalk Project’s Cost Jumps

BERLIN – Costs are rising on the Flower St. sidewalk project as additions are made to the work.

The Berlin Mayor and Council approved the addition of work costing another $32,742 Monday night.

“It just keeps growing, doesn’t it?” said Councilwoman Paula Lynch.

The increases are not surprising, said Council Vice President Gee Williams.

“The $175,000 grant has turned into almost a $600,000 project,” Lynch said.

Actual costs on the long-awaited walkway have increase two and three-quarter times as much as the original Community Development Block Grant meant to fund the work, from $175,000 to roughly $488,000, according to Berlin Administrator Linda Bambary.

The changes approved at this week’s council meeting are the replacement of the existing sidewalk in front of Shore-Up to depress the sidewalk between Schoolfield St. and Maple Ave. for driveways, and to widen the driveway depression in front at Phyllis Purnell’s property.

The sidewalk in front of Shore-Up is the only existing sidewalk on that side of the street and looks out of place with the new walkway, Bambary said.

“The sidewalk in front of Shore-Up looks really depressed,” said Councilman Elroy Brittingham, who lives on the street and has kept a close eye on the sidewalk work.

The Shore-Up sidewalk was laid when the building was still Flower St. Elementary School and has been there, Brittingham said, since he attended sixth grade.

As part of a beautification project, citizen Marge Coyman and helpers removed dirt from that sidewalk a few years ago.

“I don’t remember any cracks in that sidewalk. Really it was in excellent condition other than being filthy from years of dirt,” Coyman said during the meeting’s public comment period.

Coyman suggested that the town could spend the thousands of dollars to replace that sidewalk on trees or other efforts to improve the aesthetics of Flower St.

The project’s contractor and engineers proposed the replacement of the Shore-Up sidewalk, Cardinale said.

The increases are eating into the sidewalk project contingency funds, said Bambary. Later she estimated half the contingency funds have been used to date.

“We’ve got that to fall back on,” Berlin Mayor Tom Cardinale said. “We still have maintained a pretty good budget on this thing.”

The work should be complete within 30 days, Bambary said.

“When it’s all said and done it’ll be something this council can be proud of,” Cardinale said.