New London cements plans for new sidewalks

New London — The city plans to spend $1 million this year on sidewalk repair and replacement projects, and the Public Works Department has released a list of priority areas for 2020.

The work will be performed by Colonna Concrete & Asphalt Paving, a company whose contract was extended by the City Council after waiving the city’s bidding process.

Colonna has been working on various projects in the city since 2014. In addition to sidewalks across the city, Colonna was hired to work on the municipal parking lot and led a massive drainage and park improvement project at Greens Harbor Beach.

Public Works Director Brian Sear said Colonna has agreed to maintain existing prices from 2019, which have been in place each year since 2014 and include a $8.25 per-square-foot cost for concrete sidewalks.

Councilor John Satti was the lone vote in dissent of the contract with Colonna during a Feb 3 meeting. He expressed dissatisfaction with the city allowing Colonna to take city granite curbing from the city for its own use or sale.

The sale of New London granite pulled from city streets by Colonna in 2017 led to some debate among councilors at the time about whether the city should be keeping it, selling it themselves or using it for future work. Colonna, however, was tasked with disposing of the granite under the terms of its contract.

Sear said he has since expressed to Colonna that the city was not comfortable with the sale of the granite, and the company now typically crushes the granite for sale or use. 

Asked why the city was not keeping the granite, Sear said the city is not in a position of handling the massive granite slabs — three to four feet wide — and does not have the equipment to move or room to store. The city already has a stockpile, he said. 

“The time, the labor, the machinery involved, the potential risk management exposure we would have in doing all that — for us to kind of be in that business, there’s no value in that.”

Colonna replaces granite only when needed and uses smaller, more adjustable pieces as replacements.

Sear said the city regularly researches current market prices for the work, and Colonna’s prices are lower than state and municipal average.

The initial priority list for sidewalk replacement includes portions of South Ledyard Street, Elm Street, Lincoln Avenue, Ashcraft Road, Terrace Avenue, Perry Street and Willetts Avenue.

Sear said along with recommendations from the Pedestrian Advisory Committee, there are a number of factors taken into consideration when areas for work are chosen — safety, connectivity and density of housing and proximity to places like schools.

The Pedestrian Advisory Committee’s recommendations included places like Lower Boulevard, Lincoln Avenue and Glenwood Avenue.

The money for the sidewalk work will come from the $2.6 million expected to be borrowed later this year. The money is earmarked for various infrastructure projects.

Mayor Michael Passero said that under his administration, he has attempted to spend between $2 million and $3 million a year on roads, sidewalks and park infrastructure projects “to catch up on our deteriorating sidewalks and roads.”

g.smith@theday.com

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