Fenwick Sidewalk Project Comes With Higher Price Tag

FENWICK ISLAND – The town’s plan to install sidewalks along Coastal Highway has been a goal for over a decade, and the council last month’s approved the installation of sidewalks in front of Town Hall.
During the Sept. 27 Fenwick Town Council meeting, Town Manager Merritt Burke brought in a second round of bids to conduct the Town Hall Sidewalk Improvement Project. Burke recommended the bid be awarded to Clean Cut Pavers in the amount of about $34,000.
The project includes two sections of sidewalk and four handicap accessible ramps in front of Town Hall on Coastal Hwy. The project will be one piece to the total sidewalk project in the Town’s Comprehensive Plan to have sidewalks installed up and down the highway in Fenwick Island.
Burke explained the engineer’s estimate for the Town Hall Sidewalk Project was $23,000 to $25,000, but the first and second round of bids came in higher from $31,000 to $34,000.
Tony Smith of Clean Cut Pavers justified there are two rain gardens and other beautification items included in the project to be done in front of Town Hall as well as construction associated with maintenance of traffic, such as signage, that is required by the Delaware Department of Transportation (DEL DOT).
Vice-Mayor Gene Langan questioned if the state had been asked to support the sidewalk project by installing the ramps on the corner of Bayard Street and Coastal Highway and Cannon Street and Coastal Highway.
“It would be economically feasible if we didn’t have to do those ramps, and the state did those ramps,” Langan said.
Councilman Todd Smallwood had a hard time swallowing the $34,000 price tag.
“This lot is the easiest property to add a sidewalk … when you start adding up these numbers per block where is that going to leave us? I just cannot justify spending $34,000 to do a sidewalk,” Smallwood said.
Mayor Audrey Serio relayed she had witnessed a mother with a stroller and an infant walking beside her from Town Hall to Cannon Street who was struggling because of the current layout.
“I thought to myself, this is really embarrassing that people cannot walk down a sidewalk to get out of the way of traffic, and be safe, particularly people with small children,” she said.
Councilman William Weistling pointed out recent developments are increasing foot traffic in front of Town Hall, such as the Ropewalk restaurant using the parking lot about a block away, and the new Cannon Street Park nearing completion.
“I am real torn on this,” Weistling said. “We have saved a lot of money in the past with different projects … I am leaning towards voting for this because we need something out there with the new park and the increase in the pedestrian traffic.”
Councilman Gardner Bunting also said he has been debating the cost of the project and had hopes the state will still commit to the two ramps.
“That is a disappointment,” Bunting said. “If they would do the ramps, I would have been a lot happier but I also see an increase of usage and because of the safety factor I would like to go ahead with it.”
Langan added he too had to contemplate the cost but he is ready for the project to move forward.
“We need to start the sidewalk project somewhere because we really need sidewalks along Route 1. We should start here and see what else we can get done,” he said.
The council voted 6-1, with Smallwood in opposition, to approve the Town Hall Sidewalk Improvement project. Clean Cut Pavers was awarded the project with a bid of $34,000. It will commence work soon by installing a sidewalk and four ADA ramps in front of Town Hall. The work is projected to be completed before the holiday season.
Burke concluded he will contact state representatives to initiate action in the state assisting with the ADA ramps on the corners of Bayard and Cannon on Coastal Highway.
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