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No sidewalks for condos

Would create issues for driveways

By Scott Bellile

New London city officials said sidewalks cannot be installed in front of five condominiums along East North Water Street.

Putting in a sidewalk would require the residences’ driveways be redesigned in a way that would make them too steep, Public Works Director Jeff Bodoh said.

Sixteen condo owners and tenants of the Twin Rivers Condominium Association signed a letter May 11 requesting the city extend a downtown sidewalk east of the North Water and Pearl streets intersection to where the condos end. They stated a sidewalk would give residents a safer walk to downtown because the road is too narrow with little shoulder space.

Barbara Gruening, president of the Twin Rivers Condominium Association, appeared at a joint parks and recreation committee and board of public works meeting June 6 to make the request.

Bodoh stated in memos that the driveways are currently at slopes near or above 10 percent. Installing 5-foot-wide sidewalks at a maximum cross slope of 2 percent to meet accessibility standards would require the driveway slopes be increased well beyond 10 percent.

He along with Mayor Gary Henke recommended driveways stay under 10 percent, or else lower vehicles like small and mid-size cars could strike the asphalt upon entering or leaving.

“Unless you all drive Jeeps or SUVs, you’re going to be hitting the front end coming in,” Henke said.

Another option would be to replace the driveways completely. They could be redesigned to an approximately 6 percent slope, but Bodoh wrote this would be “very expensive.”

Gruening and the association offered to maintain the proposed sidewalks if in exchange the city would abandon considerations of building a trail along the Wolf River behind the residents’ properties.

“We are concerned that if a walkway is developed on that right of way it will be detrimental to our association,” the association wrote in the letter. “We have concerns regarding the maintenance of the right of way, ability to protect our property and river docks, noise, concerns that the majority of our owners/residents are elderly and some disabled with bedrooms that will be within feet of the right of way. We are also concerned about policing the area as there have been problems in the past in our area and in the area behind the gas station.”

Henke said the city has invested a quarter-million dollars in a right-of-way easement behind the condos since former City Administrator James Patrick’s tenure in the late 1990s. Henke told Gruening until the city can gain ownership of a couple privately owned parcels surrounding the condos, a trail won’t be coming anytime soon.

“I doubt as if we’re going to see a trail in my lifetime through there, just because there’s no place or way to get to it,” Henke said.

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