Hearing Set On Sidewalk Plan
Hearing Set On Sidewalk Plan
By Steve Bigham
The Borough Historic District has set a July 11 public hearing on an application for a certificate of appropriateness for the installation of sidewalks at five different locations within the Boroughâs historic district. Those locations are 3 Church Hill Road, 5-7 Church Hill Road, 1 Glover Avenue, 4 Main Street, and 6 Main Street.
The hearing will be at 7:30 pm in the conference room at Town Hall South.
The commission scheduled the hearing following a request from Borough Board of Burgesses member Jay Maher, who has spearheaded the sidewalk project in the center of town. That project stalled last week after the projectâs managers discovered the Borough Historic District actually extended down Church Hill Road. Historic district rules state that any visible changes or improvements to properties in the district must be deemed appropriate by its commission.
This week, Mr Maher said he does not plan to use concrete at the five sites as he had previously planned. Instead, he will propose to the commission a âstamped concreteâ with a color that appears similar to that of flagstone. Mr Maher said the material is similar to what the Borough put down in 1992 on the western side of Main Street just up from the police station.
âWhat weâre talking about is very similar to Bomanite,â he said.
Most of the sidewalk on Main Street (in the Historic District) is made of Bomanite. Borough business owners/residents like Newtown Bee publisher R. Scudder Smith say the entire historic district should have that material, including Church Hill Road.
Mr Maher said Trumbull Construction Company is not certified to lay Bomanite and a second contractor was unable to do the work in time. Also, he said, the stamped concrete is cheaper. Therefore, the borough opted to go with StampCrete International from Liverpool, New York.
âProvided the Historic District Commission signs off, Iâm confident weâll have a guy there immediately thereafter to finish the job,â said Mr Maher, who estimated the change in plans would increase costs by 40 percent.
The project is scheduled to be completed by August 1. âWe wonât be taking any steps backwards. Weâre confident it will still fall within our budget. If necessary the borough is prepared to fund the rest through capital reserves,â Mr Maher said.
The sidewalk project along Church Hill Road was put on hold two weeks ago after it was discovered the borough planned to pour concrete sidewalks in front of The Bee. Late last month, concrete was used for the sidewalks along Glover Avenue, Queen Street, and the area along Church Hill Road to the east of the newspaperâs offices.
âPeople didnât realize The Bee was part of the historic district,â Mr Maher explained last week.
Since then, the borough has worked to rectify the matter and has filed its application for a certificate of appropriateness with the Historic District Commission.
According to Historic District Commission Chairman Stephanie Gaston, there is no regulation prohibiting concrete sidewalks in the historic district; however, there appears to be an understanding that concrete is not the most appropriate material for the area.
âI canât say what the outcome of a public hearing will be, but I do know concrete would not be our favorite material there,â Mrs Gaston said last week.
Three weeks ago, the borough sidewalk project kicked off. It involved the installation of 3,500 linear feet of sidewalk within an inner loop of the borough. The job is designed to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment within âdowntownâ Newtown.
Borough Historic District members are Betsy Kenyon, Chuck Fulkerson, Renee McManus, John Shannon, and Stephanie Gaston.