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Last week Waitsfield officials and landowners learned that there was a problem with the alignment of the town’s new sidewalk, currently being installed in the village and Irasville. Eighteen years in the making, planning, funding, engineering and approving, the sidewalk project got under way last fall and work resumed this spring. Now work has stopped on a section just north of Full Circle Auto and continuing down to the Fuller House.
The plans call for the sidewalk to go where there are utility poles. Moving the poles to the inside (towards the river) of the project will imperil the street tree canopy. Moving one new pole to the Higgins property (on the west side of Route 100 across from Maclay Architects) might avoid killing the trees at the Maclay and LaRochelle properties, but it won’t help the Lowe property or add particular value to the Higgins property.
Creative ideas were generated when the select board discussed the problem this week and getting all the players in the same room with accurate surveys is the right and logical way to come up with a solution that works.
That is going to mean project delays and that’s never good and may well be costly. Right now a solution has to be found and the work needs to be completed and the project concluded.
But the fact remains that serious problems exist and errors and mistakes were made. A member of the select board said this week that that whole section of the sidewalk was not surveyed properly and as a result the sidewalk was not planned properly.
Obviously not, if plans call for it to be laid where utility poles are planted (and have been planted for more decades than the sidewalk was in the planning phase).
Real harm has been done to the town and to the people who own the affected properties. There may be some way to mitigate the impacts for some landowners but definitely not all of them and assuredly not the Lowes.
Mistakes were made and now some answers are needed. When all is said and done, those answers should be forthcoming.