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Monday, December 31, 2012

Longtime resident echoes aldermen’s concerns about cost, accounting of city sidewalk replacement

NASHUA – A resident has added his voice to the chorus of dissent on how the city is paying for – and tracking money spent on – its project to replace Main Street sidewalks.

The project is taking too long and costs too much, and its funding isn’t being adequately tracked, resident Mike Chrissis said. ...

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NASHUA – A resident has added his voice to the chorus of dissent on how the city is paying for – and tracking money spent on – its project to replace Main Street sidewalks.

The project is taking too long and costs too much, and its funding isn’t being adequately tracked, resident Mike Chrissis said.

“Why is the city paying overtime for a project that has no deadline?” he said.

Chrissis raised his concerns at a recent meeting of the city’s Board of Public Works. His concerns echoed those that some aldermen raised in meetings this fall. Those aldermen questioned why the city can’t break down the exact amount of dollars spent on manpower, fuel, vehicle depreciation and other costs for project. City officials have estimated the project will cost roughly $2 million.

Chrissis likened the project to the Broad Street Parkway and acquisition of Pennichuck Corp. water utility. Chrissis opposed the parkway and believes the city is underestimating its cost. Chrissis, a 26-year resident, also opposed acquiring the utility. He believes some problems associated with it, including the handling of the so-called Parcel F, and a potential rate hike, have resulted from a lack of accountability.

There are similarities between those two projects and the sidewalk project, Chrissis said during the public comment period of the BPW meeting earlier this month.

The lack of accountability “could lead to financial chaos and continued major disruptions in Main Street traffic for a much longer period than anticipated” Chrissis said. “If it takes a whole paving season to complete 1,175 linear feet of curbing and 950 linear feet of sidewalk, how long is it going to really take to complete this project? We can’t be sure because there is no written plan.”

City workers began replacing crumbling brick sidewalks this past summer. So far, sidewalks have been replaced from Canal Street, over the Nashua River bridge to Pearson Avenue.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau has said it’s difficult to pull out the project cost because it’s absorbed into other accounts in the Division of Public Works budget, such as manpower, material and overtime.

Chrissis, as did other aldermen, questioned whether it might have been cheaper and more timely if the city had put the project out to bid rather than using city workers.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashua
telegraph.com. Follow Meighan on Twitter @ Telegraph_PatM.