Council will vote on Main Street proposal – with a few extras
An extra $340,000 for colored uplighting in the trees. An additional $110,000 for protective fences around the new planters.
The Concord City Council requested those details this week on a list of extras that could tack $730,000 onto the cost of the Main Street project. The councilors tabled a decision Monday night that could have moved the project forward, but they’ll convene again July 30 to finally vote it up or down.
When Monday’s meeting moved into its fourth hour without a vote, Ward 6 Councilor Allen Bennett spoke up.
“I think what we’re doing is we’re making it more and more difficult to make the decision and move forward,” Bennett said. “We can sit here and second guess ourselves for the next two or three months. We need to make a decision.”
During nearly three hours of public comment Monday, residents, merchants and property owners dissected the project’s details. The council then suggested several extras to what would increase the current $10.22 million proposal to $10.95 million. Those include:
∎ $340,000 for colored uplighting in the trees that would line Main Street.
∎ $100,000 for a specialist to coordinate the uplighting and other sources of light on the street.
∎ $180,000 to move the clock tower.
∎ $110,000 to put fences around the new granite planters.
The added dollars would appease some requests made Monday night to add back elements that had been deleted to save money.
“The lighting really adds a lot for really a little bit of expense, compared to the total cost of the project,” Ward 10 Councilor Dan St. Hilaire said Monday.
Other longtime concerns about daytime construction and parking, however, have not been answered with changes to the proposal. Downtown building owner Steve Duprey suggested adding a surface parking lot to the plan, but the councilors did not ask for those numbers for the next meeting. Even so, downtown property owner Remi Hinxhia said yesterday that his tenants are circulating a petition to protest the design that will eliminate the five parking spots in front of his two neighboring buildings on North Main Street.
“To take all this parking away, it’s a recipe for disaster for me,” he said.
As the meeting closed near midnight, Mayor Jim Bouley thanked those who had submitted public testimony or spoke before the council.
“For those people who don’t think that we listen, I think we do,” Bouley said. “For those people who don’t think we’re open, I think we are.”
In its original form, the Main Street project would have redesigned and rebuilt 12 blocks of Main Street. The budget was projected to be $10.35 million, which included about $7.8 million for general construction and $2.5 million to bury utility lines on South Main Street. After two unsuccessful attempts to hire a contractor who could execute that job under budget, city staff negotiated a $10.22 million alternative with Severino Trucking Co. of Candia. Their proposal preserves many of the city’s original ideas, such as wider sidewalks and accessible entrances to businesses, but it shortens the project to nine blocks and does not include heated sidewalks as hoped.
That latest design went to the council, which will continue to hear public comment on its details at the next meeting. The council will then vote on several of the staff’s recommendations, such as paying for the project with nearly $500,000 in traffic and impact fees, and using $2.5 million earmarked for burying utility lines on South Main Street for general construction instead. The councilors will also decide on the $730,000 in extras, which could be amended at the meeting.
City Manager Tom Aspell said those extras would be paid for with general obligation bonds, which would be felt by the taxpayers.
“You will have to pay the bill eventually,” he said.
If the council votes to go forward with the project, Aspell said city staff will finalize Concord’s contracts with the federal government and Severino Trucking Co. Then, construction could begin.
But for that, the staff needs a vote.
“We had hoped that we would be doing it today,” Aspell said yesterday.
(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)