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Darien Board of Selectmen will discuss sidewalks for next year's budget

Published 10:23 am, Sunday, November 25, 2012
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Comments from Holly Schulz, of Hoyt Street, about sidewalks generated considerable discussion at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday, Nov. 19.

Reading from a piece of paper, Schulz questioned what specific solutions have been implemented to alleviate the long-documented pedestrian safety concerns.

"The existing structure for how (sidewalk installation and reparation) is handled in our town is broken," Schulz said. "Hoyt Street residents shouldn't have to ask for something like this to happen."

Schulz went on to say that Darien has not added any major new sidewalks in more than 25 years, and that where sidewalks, crosswalks and signage should go should be determined by the Department of Public Works, as well as the residents.

"Continuing to not have a plan to fund and follow will only prolong the stagnation and the ire of those who work on bringing these issues to light," Schulz said.

Selectman David Bayne asked if the board would consider sidewalk budget in the upcoming budget-setting season.

"The police have been keeping records over the years of several different requested new sidewalk projects," First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said. "None of them have been moved forward."

In light of the new sidewalk installation policy, Stevenson said she's asked Bob Steeger, director of public works, to take all of the proposed sidewalk projects and run them through the policy, which allows residents to petition the town for sidewalk additions and assigns a points system to prioritize where each request would fall on the sidewalk projects queue.

"I want to use that as the starting point in our budget discussion on capital expenditures on sidewalk installation," Stevenson said. "I prefer at this point in time to continue to gather the info we need to gather."

She added that she was committed to trying to move signage and better lighting forward, regardless of the outcome on how the board decides to prioritize sidewalks.

"But I want all of these sidewalk projects to be discussed in their entirety. I don't want to do one project independent of another," Stevenson said.

There is no time frame for when the residents will begin to see actual changes, but Stevenson said "signs are quicker than lighting, we're at the mercy of (Connecticut Light & Power), but I will try to get a time line."

mdavis@bcnnew.com; 203-972-407; twitter.com/megdariennews