Avery Dirt Path Could Be Extended to Walnut Street
The School Building Rehabilitation Committee is debating how to resolve an issue frustrating neighbors.
Ten neighbors of the new Avery Elementary School construction site expressed more frustration and disjointed opinions on how the School Building Rehabilitation Committee should deal with a large dirt path behind their homes.
Neighbors were pushed over the edge last month when consturction crews cut down about 40 trees without notifying neighbors or even the committee.
Homeowners now say their privacy is gone, and each neighbor that spoke at Monday's meeting favors replanting, but they disagree on what to do with the pile.
For the first time, the SBRC broached the possibility of extending the dirt path about 300 feet to Walnut Street, which would go behind four Whiting Avenue homes.
The idea to extend the path would lower the planned end-product down from eight feet, which neighbors initially worry would allow unwanted people looking down into their yards.
The dirt left by construction crews will not be made into a biking or walking path, but the SBRC has been instructed not to leave it in such shape as to prevent that use down the road, Butler said.
"It's not one of our design goals to put in a walking path there," said Butler.
Associated costs include relocating the fill to Walnut Street and extending a drainage pipe.
While this would reduce the amount of fill behind some of the neighbors homes, one Hazlenut Place neighbor expressed worry about creating a problem for more homeowners.
"I don't want anymore people invovled in this than what's are already here," said Bill Daley. "All we are doing is multiplying this."
Consigli representatives are beginning to collect bids on how much it would cost to haul the fill off-site, but initial estimates pinned it at $250,000 to remove all of it.
"We have to keep some, I just don't know how much. You just have to do something to finish off the project," Butler said.
Several neighbors spoke in favor of removing the fill, and at least one neighbor said with the trees gone, the path is the only thing maintaining partial privacy.
"Originally, yes, I wanted it all taken away. But now, obvioulsy with the view, some slope with trees at the top my give us some more privacy," said Denice Kresker.
After the meeting, Butler indicated that the budget to fix the situation is a zero-sum game. The money spent taking away the fill would mean less money for trees, and vice versa.
"Until we have all those pieces of the puzzle together, we don't know what we're going to be able to put in its place. We're hoping when the bid comes in that we will have the ability to do both. To remove some soil and plant some trees," Butler said.
Architectural renderings, re-evaluated grading plans, and tree removal and replacement behind the homes was not budgeted or planned for, which has the committee seriously weighing their options.
Butler indicated that the town could seek some repayment from contractors who removed the trees without notice.
Now the committee just has to decide what to do and when to do it. Derek Moulton, a committee member, warned of the upcoming winter season and that if the committee missed an opportunity now to rectify the situation, the path portion of the project would extend into the spring.
Consigli Construction and some members of the board indicated, however, that they want to wait until all information - bids, Walnut Street plans and tree costs - are collected before making a decision.
"It's best for everyone to get the options on the table," said Steve Tolley. "We're going to understand the cost of all those things. Once we have those pieces of the puzzle together and in front of us, I think we can make a better decision.