News Feature

Stonington
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 28, 2017
Crews get to work on Main Street water project

A place for new water lines

A worker uses an excavator to dig a hole on Main Street as part of the installation of new water lines.

Photo by Monique Labbe Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Rich Hewitt

Despite a delay in the pre-construction work downtown, crews from Vaughn Thibodeau construction company have installed a temporary water line to serve water company customers connected to the water main.

Crews also have installed an electric sign directing motorists to use Cemetery Road as a bypass to get downtown.

Town Manager Kathleen Billings stressed that the downtown businesses are still open and there are still visitors coming into town. The construction crews will ensure that there is safe access to all of the businesses downtown during the project, she said.

The project, which will replace 1,620 feet of 8-inch water main along Main Street from Robbins Street to the end of North Main Street, will generate some waste materials from the excavation, and the contractor wants to know what to do with it. Selectmen discussed possibilities for using the rock and dirt from Main Street, including using it as a base for a new road behind the public works garage or as a base for a long-discussed salt/sand shed. They postponed a decision until they learn how much of that material the project will produce.

Hagen Dock

Selectmen at their September 11 meeting discussed options to deal with concerns from fishermen about riprap left along the base of Hagen Dock after last year’s reconstruction project. Selectman Donna Brewer said that fishermen often ground out their boats at low tide and they are concerned that the sharp rocks could damage their vessels.

“We’ve got to clean that up and get it back to where it was,” Brewer said.

The riprap was used by construction crews as a base when they replaced the granite block wall of Hagen Dock. Billings said that initially the town had not planned to allow boats to ground out there once the project was completed. That changed as the project progressed, but the project did not include funding to have it removed. Billings estimated it would cost between $20,000 and $30,000 to remove the stones.

Although the riprap runs along the base of the dock for about 50 or 60 feet, Selectman John Robbins said the fishermen only use a small area. He suggested the town could remove it in just that one area. No decision was made.

Parking

The town made exactly zero dollars from parking tickets this summer following the implementation of new parking regulations downtown. Selectman John Steed said the town had budgeted $6,000 for enforcement of the new parking rules. The town had anticipated making some of that back from fines.

According to Billings, there was little enforcement due to high turnover at the Sheriff’s Office. The department was not able to provide the officers to do parking checks, she said. There were only two days of enforcement and no fines for that period, Billings said. She said the town spent little of the $6,000 allocated for enforcement.

Chairman Chris Betts said he’d heard a lot of complaints about the new four-hour parking limit on Main Street and at Hagen Dock, much of it from fishermen. On the other hand, business people seem to like the new rules, according to Billings, who said those downtown businesses need the turnover on Main Street in order to keep quality operations viable in the town.

Fishermen have parking available at the commercial fish pier, but the problem has been that there are more boat owners and crew than spaces.

Robbins said the town might need to investigate developing additional parking at the fish pier.

“If we could get parking increased over to the fish pier, then the tourists can have Main Street,” he said.