Vernon Town Council sends road improvement plan to referendum

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Thu., Oct. 17, 2013
Llynwood Drive resident Laurie DiMauro said her street is possibly the worst road in Vernon. Photos by Steve Smith.
Llynwood Drive resident Laurie DiMauro said her street is possibly the worst road in Vernon. Photos by Steve Smith.

The Vernon Town Council voted unanimously to send to referendum a bond for $27,637,000 for a road improvement plan to take place over the next six years.

Public Works Director Robert Kleinhans said the town has spent only about $100,000 per year on road surfaces, and outlined the plan, which will tend to 219, or 54 percent, of the town's 405 roads. Approximately 66.92 miles, or 59.4 percent of the town's 112.58 miles of roadways are included in the plan.

Depending on the current surface, varying levels and types of re-surfacing will be done on the roads.

“One of the many goals of this program is to keep good pavement in good shape, and prolong [its] life,” Kleinhans said, adding that good surfaces in the past were not kept up well, and now need more-extensive rehabilitation.

The town has used an experienced DPW truck driver to evaluate every road, and then used road-assessing software to develop a matrix to plan out what the town's road-assessing priorities should be.

Town Finance Director James Luddecke said that while interest on the bonding will cost the town closer to $40 million for the project, that number is offset in the savings the town will see.

In the public comment portion of the public hearing, many residents spoke in favor of the plan, calling it overdue, and lamenting that the town had not addressed the road needs in a more-routine manner. “I take notice of the fact that ultimately this project, because of borrowing costs, will cost the town half again as much as the actual dollar value of the work that is going to be done,” said resident Bill Dauphin, urging future town councils to look for longer-range, proactive plans for infrastructure needs.

“The condition of our roads has been a sore spot with many of my neighbors over the last several decades," said resident Robert Hurd. “I think this may be a small start, but it's a valuable one.”

Resident James Krupienski said more specificity – detailed plans for each road – should be provided in the road plan, and cited past instances where approved bonding plans did not yield expected and approved results. “Ordinances need to be specific,” he said. “The ordinance before you is not. To say that five specific roads will be reconstructed and that 216 or 219 others will be renovated in some way is not a specific bond ordinance.”

Several residents living near the Bolton Lakes section of town said their roads have been among the worst in town for many years, and the plan doesn't prioritize them. “It is horrific,” said Llynwood Drive resident Laurie DeMauro about her neighborhood's roads.

Cubles Drive resident Edie Chernack said that her street was first paved about 50 years ago, and hasn't been paved since. She added that she has inquired several times over the years about getting improvements done to Cubles Drive and others near Bolton Lake. “We have been coming to the town government for 10 years,” Chernack said, “and every time we have been given one excuse or another.”

Anchorage Road resident Fay Risley said she has lived there for 40 years and said she has repeatedly asked for improvements. “There is no reason why some of those roads can't be fixed enough so they are passable,” Risley said. “All we want is a road that we can drive on.”

“The roads are abominable,” said Janine Gelineau, also of Anchorage Road. “We've literally had cars fall apart on our roads. We see parts of vehicles on the road.”

Mayor George Apel said that because of ongoing construction in the Bolton Lakes area, the roads there are not yet able to be included on the matrix, but hopefully they will be within the next few years.

“That area really needs to be investigated,” Apel said, adding that lake-area residents should continue to press the Town Council to get their streets added to the reconstruction plan. “That's not a small job. Those roads are not to the standard of what roads should be.”

The referendum was set for Jan. 28, 2014.

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