Schenectady continues to smooth out wrinkles in sidewalk program

Deteriorating sidewalks on DeCamp Avenue and Union Street in Schenectady earlier this month
Deteriorating sidewalks on DeCamp Avenue and Union Street in Schenectady earlier this month

SCHENECTADY — The city is again absorbing cost overruns for its controversial sidewalk replacement program.

The city will now charge DeCamp Avenue homeowners $55 per linear foot of sidewalk after cost estimates again came in higher than anticipated. 

“That would put the price back in line with estimates for the sidewalks given to residents on the street,” said Finance Committee Chairman John Polimeni last week.

Early city estimates residents used to drum up support for the special assessment district put costs at $2,700 per 50 feet of sidewalk.

But projected costs soared to as high as $83.55 per square linear foot last month, or $4,177 per 50 feet, after the contractor requested more money.

As originally bid, the Decamp Avenue portion of the broader paving project amounts to $486,412. 

Of this, the initial cost to residents was $164,767, with the balance of $321,645 left to the city.

It’s unclear if the city has reached a deal on price with the contractor, but in any event, the city will only charge residents $55 per linear foot, and absorb the rest.

The City Council is expected to hold a public hearing on June 8 to amend the price tag — not to reauthorize the program, which some lawmakers said should be scrapped entirely.  

The city previously absorbed overruns on Ardsley Road.

Officials pledged to step up communication with DeCamp Avenue residents and will distribute letters to every homeowner. 

“A letter will be hand-delivered to every single resident or house to make sure that info is received by individuals,” Polimeni said.

DeCamp Avenue will be paved at the same time the new sidewalks are installed. While work on island curbing will be included, costs will not be assessed to homeowners, said city Engineer Chris Wallin. 

Despite the overtures, some have soured on the program, said resident Laurie Bacheldor.

“There’s a lot of hesitance,” Bacheldor said. “They are feeling that the communication was so poor they’re not confident in the trust of this.”

Many want to opt-out, she said, and the bumpy road has not only divided the street, but also her household because her husband is no longer supportive of the effort.

“As you come door to door, just know that you will have some that will be very happy, and others who are probably going to be very disappointed,” Bacheldor said. “It has been two years since we signed that petition.”

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County

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