Sidewalk side-tracked

By Phil Crossman | May 12, 2017

In 1987, the Vinalhaven Board of Selectmen hired an engineering firm to design a sidewalk to replace a dangerously deteriorated asphalt walkway leading from this island’s downtown to the ferry terminal.

Plans were developed and paid for, but nothing was done. In 1995, the town’s Sidewalk Committee was asked by the board to develop plans for a sidewalk from town to the terminal.  A plan was submitted, but nothing was done.  In 1998, the board asked again that a plan be developed for a sidewalk from the village to the ferry. A proposal was submitted, but nothing was done. In 2005, the board asked the Sidewalk Committee to make recommendations concerning the condition of the town's pedestrian pathways.

The result was an astonishingly comprehensive, 26-page report (Condition Assessment & Maintennance & Development Plan) that identified 32 sidewalk components and eight areas that desperately needed sidewalks but didn’t have any. First among these was the area from town to the ferry terminal. The report was largely ignored, although one of the 32 sections, from Cottage Street to Clayter Hill Road, was beautifully built and featured a wall of Vinalhaven granite.

Since then the longstanding and, I might add, long-suffering Sidewalk Committee has been repeatedly asked for recommendations and its response has always been the same as all recommendations for the last 30 years — a sidewalk from the village to the ferry terminal.  A few years ago, after again receiving that recommendation, the board commissioned construction of a new sidewalk in an area (Water Street) that the report had identified as not a priority and the Sidewalk Committee had agreed it was not a priority.

A year later it commissioned a similar project (Atlantic Ave., from Leo’s Lane to the top of the hill).  The next year, the board had a sidewalk built from the village to Harbor Wharf, a third of the recommended distance to the ferry terminal.  In each case, we used the same contractor and got excellent results.

We have now paid thousands to have plans engineered for completing the sidewalk to the terminal, but no sidewalk is being built. The Sidewalk Committee recommends we finish the walkway to the ferry.

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