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Sidewalks to Get Up Close Look in Selectmen's Walking Tour

The Hamilton Board of Selectmen plan a walk to look at the width - and condition - of some of the town's sidewalks.

Hamilton Selectmen will take a walk around downtown this summer to take a look at sidewalks in the area.

Voters at Annual Town Meeting in May approved spending $50,000 on improvements to sidewalks in town. Nearly half the 16 miles of sidewalks in Hamilton are in poor or fair condition, according to Director John Tomasz.

On Monday at , Tomasz asked Selectmen for guidance in spending that money. In particular, he asked the board to come up with a standard width for any of the repaired sidewalks.

“Some decisions need to be made about what we want to do,” Tomasz said.

Selectmen said it was hard to visualize the difference in the widths and agreed that it would be best to go out and look at the different widths of sidewalk, in person. Selectmen Jen Scuteri said she wanted to “see, touch and feel” some downtown sidewalks before making a final decision.

Jeff Hubbard, a selectmen, said wider sidewalks look more like “city sidewalks than small town” sidewalks.

Town Manager Michael Lombardo said it was important that whatever Selectmen decide that it choose a width that would be applied consistently.

Also under consideration is what areas of town sidewalks will be improved. Selectmen initially began its consideration about the downtown area and Tomasz used the sidewalk along Hamilton Avenue as an example of the different issues with sidewalks – from its varying widths, bumps and cracks and encroachment from plant growth.

Lombardo said he wants to hear from Selectmen how far it wants to go outside the downtown to work on sidewalks, and said he can put together a list of sidewalks that are heavily used.

Tomasz and Lombardo said another issue is bushes and other landscaping plants encroaching on sidewalks. Lombardo asked the board whether it might consider a bylaw regulating the growth of bushes into sidewalks.

Essex Street resident Duke Seaver suggested Selectmen look at building a sidewalk along Essex Street between Forest Street and School Street. Seaver said he frequently sees mothers with baby carriage and children on tricycles making their way along a sidewalk-less Essex Street, coming from the Forest Street neighborhoods near Chebacco Lake headed to the playground on School Street.

“There’s plenty of room there,” for a sidewalk, Seaver said.

Also at Annual Town Meeting in May, voters approved constructing a study of the feasibility of building a sidewalk and bike path along Essex Street. Tomasz said on Monday that he is still collecting quotes for engineering firm that would construct the study, which the extent of property that the town owns along the road and the best side to build a sidewalk.

The exact date and time for the Selectmen’s walk has yet to be announced.

R Pizzano July 24, 2012 at 11:46 AM
This "Walking Tour" appears to be just another exercise in making excuses for doing absolutely nothing on this issue this year. The standard widths for sidewalks in Massachusetts towns are typically 4 feet for a small side street like Hamilton Ave., 5 feet for a minor road like Union St., 6 feet for a major road like Bay Rd. It's really not that complicated. The Town does not need a new bylaw to cut back encroaching bushes or tree branches across on a sidewalk on a public right of way; they just need someone to actually come out with some hedge clippers or a pole saw and do the trimming. I would invite the Selectman and Town Manager to stroll down the Woodbury St. path this summer. It is rutted out, covered with poison ivy, blocked by fallen tree branches in places and gaily decorated with numerous piles of horse manure. Maybe they can bring some rakes, shovels and herbicides with them and actually earn some of the money that we are paying them. Now that would be a news story.
Bob Gray July 24, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Sounds like a good project for a "volunteer group"! "Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country"
Michelle Bailey July 24, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Are you kidding? Do you really want the responsibly of the maintenance of the town roads, sidewalks, and greenscapes to be the responsibility of volunteers?
Bob Gray July 24, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Nothing wrong with a few volunteers cleaning up the sidwalks in front of their house. I mow and clean in front of my house even though it's State and Town property. Have some Community pride......
Bob Gray July 24, 2012 at 11:53 PM
You ever notice how some people will just try to see the negative side of suggestions and Ideas??
R Pizzano July 25, 2012 at 03:02 AM
1) Much of the Woodbury St. pathway was actually constructed by volunteers. Tim Ford Sr. contributed a lot of building materials and Tim Ford Jr., plus other Boy Scouts did the work. This pathway was Tim Ford Jr.'s Eagle Scout project. Other residents donated professional services and money. 2) The Essex St. path project has been entirely a volunteer effort, with several local engineers donating their time and money so far in the design and permitting process. 3) Almost all of the funds for the new playground are coming from private donations. It's time for the Board of Selectmen and the Town Manager to roll up their sleeves and get to work. They have off site "planning" meetings every so often. How about an on-site "doing" meeting where they actually get some real work done?
Michelle Bailey July 26, 2012 at 12:03 PM
In celebration of the 22nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, maybe the selectmen should navigate the downtown sidewalks using a wheelchair, a white cane, or other reduced mobility. For some a bad sidewalk (or no sidewalk) is unsightly or inconvenient for others it is an obstacle to daily living.
Anne Sweeney July 27, 2012 at 04:16 PM
I think Bob Gray has a good idea along with R Pizzano. Having more volunteers and citizens helping out and working in conjunction with Public Works, get's people involved. Brings about a culture of community and volunteerism.
kerstin locherie August 18, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Spend the $50,000 on our rancid water supply. Everyone has great water, but Hamilton ? We are surrounded by ponds, lakes, watersheds and rivers. It's been raining for days and with all our technology we cannot retain water ? Imagine all the state and federal matching grant money we could get ? That is if Hamilton, like other cities and towns who have a great Town Solicitor and Staff to accomplish these goals ? Hamiltons attorney cannot even offer a more presentable picture of herself, let alone represent General Pattons Town, or Alexander Hamilton. We are a disgrace to our history.

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