Neighbors in the Canals section of Long Beach are relieved that the city is moving ahead with desperately needed rehabilitation of their roads and sidewalks.
The City Council approved $104, 925 in design funds for the reconstruction of Vinton and Kerrigan streets, north of East Pine Street between East Pine and the Bay, and Boyd Street, between Chester and Pine streets, at its Oct. 19 meeting. The city signed a contract with the Brookhaven-based L.K. McLean Associates to do the work.
The work involves reconstruction of roads, curbs and sidewalks, along with replacement of underground utilities such as water and sewer pipes and the storm water drainage system, said Kevin Mulligan, the city's commissioner of Public Works.
"We want to rehabilitate as many roads as the city can afford," Mulligan said. "We have to be proactive in rehabilitating the roads, which is cheaper than responding to an emergency."
The city surveys the city roads every five years to determine which are the worst and in need of reconstruction. Vinton Street was last rehabilitated in 1929 "and a section of the sewer is already failing," Mulligan said.
While the city expects to complete the designs by next spring, the money to actually reconstruct the roads has not yet been allocated. But the city could possibly
get a grant or receive some funding from a stimulus package because construction-ready projects are eligible, Mulligan added.
Each block is estimated to cost about $700,000 to rehabilitate, and the city tries to complete about $1.5 million in road reconstruction each year. The city has already committed about $72,000 in design funds to renovate Illinois Avenue, between West Park Avenue and West Beech Street, as well as the 600 block of West Market Street. The total cost to revamp all the streets under design will be about $3.5 million.
"We have several projects on the shelf and we want to begin construction on as many as we can next year," Mulligan said.
Canals residents said they are thrilled that the design phase is underway.
Alex Michelman, a 14-year resident of Boyd Street, said residents were satisfied that the City Council listened to their grievances and with its resolution. "We are happy that we have been put on the short list of street rehabilitation," Michelman said.
He noted that the road could not handle the amount of rainfall at times due to the poor drainage, eroding the roadbed and causing it to sink.
Michelman got involved after the city issued him and other residents summonses ordering them to fix crumbling sidewalks and driveway aprons. He said the poor condition of the road was undermining the condition of his sidewalk and he took photographs to prove it. "The changing elevation of the street was taking the sidewalk with it," he said.
Michelman noted that the poor conditions of the sidewalks became a liability issue with the city since Boyd Street is home to a day care center and it particularly posed a danger to mothers pushing baby carriages. "I have young children and I found it important to get involved," he said.
Mindy Warshaw, another Boyd Street resident, said that she paid to have her sidewalk repaired about 12 years ago "and 12 years later it's falling apart."
She petitioned the city in 1998 for rehabilitation because the drainage on her block was so poor.
"I would like to see the street fixed because it's so dangerous," said Warshaw, who has lived on the block for about 19 years. "The sooner it gets done, the better. It's really detrimental to the safety of the kids on the block."
An accountant, Warshaw believes that now is an excellent time to do the roadwork, since the cost has become cheaper in the present economy. "Contractors are begging to get a job," she said.