Thursday, August 13, 2015

Planning & Zoning Comm. Rossitter: Remove "Inconvenient to shovel" Sidewalks from Wesleyan Hills

Editor's Note: This letter was sent to elected & city officials including department directors, and the mayor, and therefore is subject to FOI. We have amended the post to say it was not a "Letter to the Editor" to "Letter" after receiving an email complaint from Comm. Rossitter that her letter was made public.   The letter &  petition referenced is on file with the public works dept. & town clerk . We asked Rossitter, upon her complaint, why she wished her letter not be made public and if she wished to respond via a published commentary, but she declined.

A link to the letter sent by Comm. Rossitter with her letter below, from Mr. Richetelle asking the sidewalks be removed and replaced with grass addressed to Public Works Director William Russo is here: 

"Letter":
In the 1980s when the last streets in Wesleyan Hills were being developed, P&Z began to require sidewalks—at least on one side of the road to be constructed by developers.  Asphalt sidewalks were placed along the roadway (with no grassy area between the road and the sidewalk) on one side of the cup-de-sacs of Blue Meadow, Blue Hill, and Blue Acres.  Also along the busy main road of a small area of Blue Road between Blue Meadow and Long Hill Road, a small area along Long Hill Road, and along Laurel Grove Road from the intersection of Daniel Street to the entrance to the Wadsworth Park and Randolph Road intersection.

This past snowy winter,  the handful of homeowners along the Blue Road sidewalk complained that shoveling the sidewalk in front of their homes was impossible because as soon it was shoveled, plows filled it in as the sidewalk abuts the street with no curb or grassy area.  Walking children to the school bus or walking with strollers was very hazardous.  (The incredibly large snow piles last winter quickly left roadways all over town very narrow last winter, an unusual event for Middletown.)  The city never asked them to keep the sidewalk clear.  The Wesleyan Hills Association would’t clear them as it does with the development’s pathways (which are behind houses) for a variety of important reasons.

This spring, Glenn Richetelle, a recent resident of Blue Meadow Rd., was upset with the rough appearance of the sidewalk in front of his house and made inquiries of the homeowner’s association (Wesleyan Hills Association) about the ownership of it because if it was his, he was planning on removing it. He was told it belonged to the city.  He was told by William Russo that the sidewalk could be removed by the city and replaced with grass if he could get the signatures of the six other homeowners on his street to agree to have it removed.  His neighbors agreed as they said no one used the sidewalk and it was a liability with the requirement that it had to be shoveled.

He also approached the homeowners along the other three streets with the asphalt sidewalks and they also signed on.

(A few years ago, Middletown’s Public Works Department removed the asphalt sidewalk along Laurel Grove Road and replaced it with grass because the sidewalk no longer met current sidewalk standards and doing so would encroach on the already small front yards of the homeowners too much. That sidewalk was never shoveled anyway by anyone inconveniencing a few  walkers but not anyone needing it for school buses.  However, this now forces all to walk in this relatively busy roadway which is particularly scary near Redbud Road where the roadway narrows considerably meaning you are walking within inches of whizzing autos—some leaving nearby Mercy High School.)

Director of Middletown Public Works William Russo is now making inquiries as to whether P&Z or the Wesleyan Hills Association has any problems with removing the sidewalks.

As the president of the Wesleyan Hills Association I will be putting it on the agenda of the Board of Directors meeting scheduled for August 10.  Personally, I doubt anyone cares about the sidewalks on the cup-de-sacs, but I wonder about the small Blue Road area involved.  Blue Road is a busy road with some drivers using it as a short cut from Route 17 to Jarvis and other Middlefield business locations.  The road is narrow and has curves somewhat limiting visibility.   Long Hill Road is an even busier roadway.

What are the rules about sidewalks and how should old sidewalks that do not conform to present day requirements (such as a grassy area between the street and the sidewalk where snow can be placed) be treated?  Removing the sidewalks is probably the best option, but the Association would like some guidance. The petition is below.

Joyce Rossitter
Wesleyan Hills Board of Director


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