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Sidewalk projects will not include Paonia park

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At the June 28 town meeting, Paonia trustees voted to award three sidewalk construction proposals, totaling $46,285.26, to C&N Construction, Inc., of Delta.

Projects include:

• Construction of 211 linear feet of two-foot pan curb and gutter, 731 square feet of concrete sidewalk, two handicap access ramps, and moving and resetting of signs on the south side of Fourth Street between North Fork and Orchard avenues, for total cost of $11,810.39;

• Construction of 50 linear feet of curb and gutter, 200 square feet of sidewalk on the 200 block of Grand Avenue and a handicap access ramp in front of Paonia Physical Therapy at a cost of $3,318;

• 2,261 square feet of sidewalk, 535 linear feet of two-foot pan curb and gutter and one handicap access ramp in eight sections of Second Street and Grand Avenue at a cost of $31,156.87.

Money will come largely from the sidewalk fund, which is funded by a monthly $3 fee attached to in-town water and sewer bills and approved by voters in 2014. The board already unanimously approved $35,000 -- $30,000 from the sidewalk fund and $5,000 from the Capital Improvement Fund -- for 2016 sidewalk projects. The motion to approve the projects included approval of $11,285, of which $2,500 will be paid from the sidewalk fund, $4,000 from the General Fund account for street repairs, and $5,500 from the Capital Improvement Fund.

Trustees rejected a $19,768 proposal to construct 2,825 square feet of 5-foot wide, 4-inch thick concrete sidewalk on the south side of Paonia Town Park adjacent to the concrete irrigation ditch. Following a motion to approve all four projects, trustee Suzanne Watson moved to amend the motion to eliminate the park proposal. "I see that as kind of an optional project at this time," said Watson. "It's not repairing our infrastructure that's deteriorating."

Watson also expressed concern over building sidewalks over park tree roots, pointing out the town is already struggling with that problem.

Trustee Bill Brunner expressed concern about the proximity of the sidewalk to the ditch, which could invite injury. He said voters approved the sidewalk fee, which he noted grew out of property owners' concerns that they would be required to pay for sidewalk repairs on their property. Brunner said he believes they were approving sidewalk repairs over new construction.

In addition, Brunner expressed concerns over fiscal responsibility. "I think we should take the money we're collecting and use it as wisely

as we can," he said, suggesting that citizens would approve of the town spending some of the street repair money to fix the potholes.

Trustee David Bradford reminded trustees that the park section of sidewalk was identified in the Paonia Pathways Report, the guiding document for sidewalk projects, and was seen as a way to alleviate safety issues for school kids loading and unloading at the bus stop at the entrance to the park and Teen Center.

Citizen Paul Douglas and Mary Bachran supported rejecting the park project. "I am very concerned with the deplorable state of many of our sidewalks, said Bachran, an avid walker, citing costs and suggesting that the sidewalk doesn't address bus stop concerns. She said the money would be better spent on sidewalk repair.

Douglas said the sections being approved don't directly address safety. He urged trustees to suspend some of the projects up for consideration and put that money toward improving safety, including the intersection at Fifth and Grand. The intersection is slated for re-alignment to improve safety for pedestrians and students on their way to and from school.

Addressing safety concerns is complicated by the tree issues, said Bradford. "We could switch to any number of those suggestions that you have, Mr. Douglas, and we'd be overwhelmed with people angry that we're talking about doing something with trees. And we'd be dragging it out ad nauseam..." Under those circumstances, the recommendations are the best for moving forward with sidewalk plans, he said.

Citizen Elaine Brett suggested the money would be better spent repairing streets, starting with Third Street, which has numerous potholes, many related to water main break repairs done over the last year. Drivers are having to weave to miss potholes, and "moguls and washboards," make it dangerous for riding a bike, said Brett, who said she recently hit the pavement after hitting a pothole while riding her bike on Third Street. "I hope you're not sacrificing funding for those repairs."

C&N Construction is expected to begin work this August.

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