FROM THE TOWN ADMINSTRATOR’S DESK
By Gregory T. Federspiel
It’s time for updates on a number of different topics and projects!
The Pine/Bennett/Bridge and Central Streets Intersection: The trial round-about at this intersection certainly generated a lot of discussion. Some 77 formal comments have been received to date with 18 in favor of a round-about at this location, 56 against, and 3 general comments that did not lean one way or the other. The Downtown Improvement committee is recommending that, instead of proceeding with a round-about installation, an all ways stop configuration be established. Under this new proposal, stop signs would be installed at the end of each of the four streets that converge at this intersection. The Selectmen will hold a preliminary discussion on the results of the trial and possible next steps at their meeting on Monday, June 25.
Summer Street: The state is milling and repaving Route 127/Summer Street from Hickory Hill to Gloucester’s Magnolia Woods recreation area. The work will continue through much of July, depending on weather. While one lane of traffic will be maintained, travelers along this section should expect delays. We will pass along updates on the progress of the work as the state provides us with them.
Pedestrian Bridge on Lincoln Street: After many delays mostly due to the time it took to reach agreement with the insurance company of the trucker who hit the overpass, the work on the pedestrian bridge should be completed in July. The School District has worked hard to get to this stage (the bridge is part of their lease agreement with the Town.) When the Town does the milling and repaving of Lincoln Street we will be able to lower the road to gain additional clearance which hopefully will prevent damage to the structure in the future.
Lincoln Street: This year’s paving project will focus on redoing Lincoln Street. The plan is to repave the road this August. Improvements to crosswalks and the sidewalks are anticipated as well though to what extent will depend on the price of the bids we receive.
Central Street Culvert and Tide Gate: Design and permitting work is about to get underway for the eventual replacement of the stone arch culvert. This process may well take 18-24 months to complete thus construction is still a ways off. We continue to be successful in securing grant funds to complete our analysis of Sawmill Brook and, along with designing solutions to the Central Street crossing, we will be able to develop solutions for improving the function and aesthetics of the tidal pond out behind the Fire Station. Both efforts are the first steps in better managing flood conditions within the Sawmill Brook watershed which is our primary source of inland flooding. We will need to work our way upstream enlarging other culverts and improving acceptable flood zones over the course of the next ten years or so to fully address all the issues.
New Elementary School Project: The School Committee will be voting on the final recommendations of the School Building Committee by early July in order to submit the proposal to the state’s school building program. Final approval from the state is expected by the end of August. A special town meeting will be held October 15 that will seek voter approval of the project. A ballot vote to approve the funding of the project is slated for the November 6 state election. Efforts to include new space for our various Park and Recreation Programs and a new Senior Center are now focusing on a potential stand alone building rather than additions to the proposed new school given the space constraints, expense, and the complications of state and district funding versus what needs to be only Manchester costs (which we anticipate will have a large grant and/or private funding component.) More details on these efforts will be presented soon.