Mt. Pleasant Street not so pleasant for some residents
Rockport — Questions about Rockport’s plans to fix a section of Mount Pleasant Street were brought to the select board Jan.13 during the public hearing portion of its monthly meeting at Rockport Opera House.
Jack Lane, a resident of Mt. Pleasant Street, addressed the board regarding concerns about sections of the road that, at times, are impassable, creating potential problems around the safety and welfare of the people that live on the road.
“A year ago, Seth and Jennifer Upham, Tom Levasseur and my wife and I appeared before this board and expressed our concern for the threat of our health and safety posed by the condition of Mt. Pleasant Street,” he read. “We are the homeowners centered on the dirt portion of this road. This board showed genuine concern and stated that monies would be allocated for a long-term repair plan for our road.”
He continued, “As of this date, according to Steve Beveridge, no such plan or allocation has been directed by the board; you have done nothing to alleviate the horrendous condition of this road.”
Lane told the board that in the 104 years his family has maintained a farm on the road, they have seen other major portions of the road repaired by covering the surface with asphalt.
“I personally remember the ruts that require long-term repair and those conditions still exist today. The mud and ruts on our road are at or near to impassable by ambulance or fire truck,” he said. “We currently have among us medical conditions that can require immediate medical attention. Our so-called street is a threat to that support.”
Chairman of the Select Board William Chapman said he recalled Lane approaching the board previously about the conditions of the road and said there are a number of issues coming during this budget cycle that the board has to address.
“I do know that our public works has been directed to pay attention to the road and they do make several passes every year to smooth it out because of the condition it creates due to weather event like we had the past couple of weeks and I hope that our public works has sent a grader up there at least once to try.”
Chapman said because of the large amount of snow, the ice storm and a few days of abnormally high temperatures, he was sure the road in question was "a mess."
Chapman also mentioned he recently heard of an ambulance call that detoured the ambulance through South Hope because the weather had made the road impassable.
“In the short term the best we can do is to get an engineering study done to see what it would cost to do it, because we don’t even have a good rough estimate,” said Chapman.
Board member Geoffrey Parker noted, like other projects, it takes time to come up with a figure to put on a bond issue.
“So is this clearly a whole other [budget] cycle before we start as a best case scenario,” he said.
Lane replied by saying “Last year you said it would be this budget cycle.”
Chapman admitted Lane's assessment was correct but said he did "not have an answer for that.”
Town Manager Richard Bates said he personally had not been to look at the conditions of the road since before the winter weather but made it clear the town was going to take a serious look at making improvements.
“I’m not 100 percent sure that we can get together kind of a ballpark estimate to give you an idea,” Bates said to Lane. “Mike [Young] and I have driven up that road numerous times and I just texted Mike to say let's drive up there before our department meeting.”
Parker suggested the issue be put on next month's agenda to allow more time for serious discussion and to come up with an estimate for the costs of the repair.
Board member Ken McKinley said one of the things the board had discussed in the past was an infrastructure bond that would cover many of these types of projects.
“One of the items we had discussed previously was some sort of infrastructure bond that would catch some of these larger projects around town that are difficult to fund in one budget year and these certainly seems like it would fall into this category,” he said.
Chapman agreed to add the discussion to next month's agenda. If the entire dirt portion of the road can't be fixed at the same time, specific sections that are worse than others should be addressed more quickly, he said.
Lane said he already had spoken with Young and both agreed there are two or three spots that need some attention right away.
“We both agree that there are two specific sections, if not three, that have to be dealt with,” Lane said. “It would be ridiculous to do this as one project; the engineering that has to be done is sub-surface. An engineering plan does have to be developed and a long-range plan for funding needs to be done.”