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Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, June 14, 2012
Airport Road to get paving money

by Alice Wilkinson

Although much of the 20 miles of road in Stonington can be bone-jarring, at their June 11 meeting, the selectmen decided that Airport Road is the only road to pave this year.

The selectmen had played with the idea of sending out a bid comprising four roads that need work: Airport Road, Pleasant Street, Fifield Point Road and Pump Station Road. Road foreman Ben Wilson was at the meeting armed with numbers: Airport Road, $119,600; Pleasant Street, $5,040; Fifield Point Road from Sand Beach Road to the knoll, $11,385; Pump Station Road $12,764.99. That comes to a total of $171,214. The town has $120,000 for paving in the budget.

The costs are estimates, based on the cost of asphalt. Wilson used a working figure of between $80 and $90 a ton, depending on where the work was to be done. One controlling factor is that the more the equipment for paving needs to be moved, the more the job will cost.

Selectman Evelyn Duncan suggested that all four roads be put in the bid with the proviso that the town could choose which to do, depending on cost. Her reasons were that if Airport Road turns out to be too expensive, the town would have another choice, and that even if Airport Road was the only one done this year, at least the selectmen would have some idea of the cost of the other work.

The 6,500 feet of Airport Road being considered runs from the Dump Road to just east of the Medical Center driveway. Wilson said that there likely would be enough material left to do a “shim” coat on the 600 feet of Pleasant Street.

He was adamant that the town should concentrate on primary roads, citing the amount of traffic they get and the costs of repairing them when they break down, in contrast to the secondary roads which, he asserted, could remain in their current condition for years.

Duncan said that one of the problems with the roads generally is they were not engineered to handle the kind of traffic they are getting.

Before yielding to Wilson’s plan of doing just one road this year, Selectman Richard Larrabee asked if it was possible to take some money out of surplus to do all the work, but there was no enthusiasm for having a special town meeting to get permission.

Ultimately the selectmen voted 4-1, with Selectman Chris Betts voting no, to approve Wilson’s proposal and limit the bid to Airport Road.

After the vote, Wilson said that since the Bobcat, which has needed repair recently, is used 75 percent of the time by the transfer station and only 25 percent of the time by the road crew, mostly for sweeping, the cost of maintenance should be split. The selectmen agreed.

Betts told the selectmen that the hydraulic lift at the transfer station had been replaced. The selectmen approved the purchase of a new waste-oil burner for the town garage. Including a rebate, labor and installation, the price comes to $5,000. The selectmen approved the purchase, and were happy to note that there had been $6,000 in the budget for the burner.

Preparations for the Fourth of July are already under way, and Billings-Pezaris said she had lined up two or three bands, and that so far the food was looking good: various entities will be supplying nachos, snow cones and popcorn; barbequed ribs, pulled pork and sirloin tips; hot sausage sandwiches; crab and lobster rolls. She is still looking for vendors for ice cream and French fries. Any group interested in selling food should get in touch with the town office.

In response to questions from visitors about where the town hall is, the town hall will be getting a sign, although it’s not clear yet what it will say. The choices are Town Office, Town Hall and Municipal Offices. Larrabee said that the sign had better not have a boat on it, or summer people would be coming in to buy lobster.