Kent's Eire Street on list for resurfacing, reconstruction

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The downtown street, used for public parking and the source of several complaints, topped the list of streets expected to be resurfaced this year.

Council's Streets and Sidewalks Committee held a work session Tuesday to discuss the 1998 resurfacing budget, which totals $406,000. The list of streets to be resurfaced also includes Dodge Street, Forest Drive, Harvey Street, Manchester Avenue, Paulus Drive, Pearl Street, the south end of Silver Meadows Boulevard, Stinaff Street, and Wilson Avenue.

Fourteen other streets are also expected to see asphalt repair, sealing or other preventative maintenance, bringing the street program to about $575,000.

The resurfacing of the driving lanes on Erie Street are expected to cost $34,000. However, the repair is expected to be only a temporary measure until next year, when the street is expected to be reconstructed, with new curbs and sidewalks.

It is unclear who would pay for the reconstruction of Erie Street. The city's existing policy calls for property owners to be assessed for major reconstruction projects, but council's finance committee is expected to review the city's assessment policy at a meeting tonight.

Gene Roberts of the city's engineering division told council Erie's problems go far beyond the surface of the road. The curbs are broken, driveway aprons are uneven, sidewalks are broken up and in some cases, property owners replaced their own sidewalks incorrectly, with the edge of the sidewalk extending into the road surface.

"The only thing representing the presence of a curb is the yellow paint," he said, showing council a slide of a section of Erie Street where the curb is broken.

City Engineer Al Brubaker recommended resurfacing the driving lanes as a temporary measure, while doing design work so the street can be reconstructed next year.

"Our road crew is going to spend a lot of time just patching that if we don't do something," he said.

Councilmen Dan Kamburoff and Wayne Wilson discussed resurfacing the road and repairing the curbs without any repairs to the sidewalks. But Roberts and Brubaker said the curbs could not be replaced without replacing the sidewalks as well.

Brubaker said fixing the curbs and not the sidewalks could create a "trip hazard" because the new curb would be about two inches higher than the sidewalk. And he said none of the curbs could be replaced without some design work.

"We can't even tell a contractor to make it as high as it was," he said. "We have no way to tell how high it was."

Councilman Ed Pease said he favored doing no resurfacing on Erie until the street could be designed and reconstructed, but Councilwoman Aimee Lyle said she hated to see the street delayed, saying it might take much longer than a year to resolve debates over who would pay for the street.

"We have a policy of taking care of our downtown and parking," she said. "The city's got parking on that street, and we charge for it. I do know people who have been injured down there."

Councilman Jerry Fiala called Erie Street "one of the worst eyesores in the downtown area."

"It's a downtown street," he said. "We ought to be proud of it."

The committee also discussed a $90,000 sidewalk program. Sidewalks, curbs and drive aprons on Highland Street would consume $86,000 of the budget, and the rest of the money would be spent making spot repairs on North Mantua Street and up to 28 other streets.

In some cases, residents who have been asked to replace their sidewalk but who have failed to do so will be assessed for the cost, but in other instances, where tree roots have destroyed the sidewalk, the replacement of the sidewalk will be funded by the city, Brubaker said.

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