Park Path To Be Replaced

BERLIN– Town officials are moving forward with plans to replace the walking path at Stephen Decatur Park.

Elected officials said Monday the scrap tire walking path at the park would be replaced with asphalt. Though alternatives were discussed, asphalt was deemed the best long-term solution.

“We could possibly get 20-25 years out of asphalt,” said Jimmy Charles, the town’s director of public works.

Though officials agreed to pursue replacement of the aging walking path at the park last fall, they decided this spring to look at the possibility of using crush and run gravel rather than asphalt. Staff said that the contractor advised that would equate to savings of about $20,000 but that it would not last as long as asphalt.

“The crush and ruin would require more maintenance than asphalt,” Deputy Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said.

Mike Wiley, chair of the town’s parks commission, said elderly residents were worried the possibility of a gravel path. Laura Stearns, another parks commission member, said she thought asphalt was the best affordable option. She added that the poor condition of the path at the park was what had inspired her to join the parks commission.

“That park is my happy place,” she said.

She said she’d slipped and fallen on the existing path, which is cracked and buckled in places and gets slippery when wet. That experience prompted her to worry about the potential for a lawsuit related to the path.

She believes replacing the current path with asphalt would be an improvement for the town’s residents.

“It’s not ideal but it’s a heck of a lot better than stone dust,” Stearns said.

Councilman Jack Orris thanked the commission for its input. Mayor Zack Tyndall said that with the council’s consensus plans for the asphalt path would move forward.

The project is being done in conjunction with street work approved by the council last fall. Paving is set to occur on Stevenson Lane, the east section of Graham Avenue and Decatur Street.

While the condition of the scrap tire path, built in 2009, has been a cause for concern for years, there hasn’t been funding to repair it. While replacing it with asphalt will cost about $80,000, set to come from an increase in highway user revenues from the state, replacing the path with in-kind material would cost more than $400,000.

Bohlen said that she was waiting to hear from the contractor regarding the project’s timeline, which could be impacted by material delivery times.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.