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.