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Sturbridge follows an historic pathway

Those seeking brick as a more historically-correct material won the materials debate for the sidewalks along the Town Common. Christopher Tanguay. (click for larger version)
July 13, 2010
STURBRIDGE — In a split decision, the Board of Selectmen voted Monday to have brick sidewalks installed along the Town Common section of Route 131 — a decision some see as financially unsound.

Whether that concern is just a precaution or turns out to be reality is yet to be seen.

Selectmen began their discussion about various types of sidewalks that could be installed instead of the traditional, gray, poured concrete that was originally planned.

When the board resumed discussion at a work session on Monday, a motion for a brick walkway that would extend from the newly renovated Center Office just past the Publick House along the eastbound lane of Main Street and in front of Town Hall and extend to just beyond the Town Common along the westbound side, was approved by a 3-2 vote.

In favor of the brickwork were Chairman Ted Goodwin and selectmen Tomas Creamer and Mary Dowling. Opposed were selectmen Scott Garieri and Mary Blanchard.

Costing up to $175,945 according to the state Department of Transportation, Garieri said he voted against the bricks because of potential costs that may become the responsibility of the town.

"It's $200,000 for sidewalks that the town could end up being on the lamb for," Garieri said.

There is a contingency fund factored into the state's $4 million Route 131 resurfacing project, according to Town Administrator Shaun Suhoski. If additional change orders exceed 10 percent of entire project cost, the additional dollars from the sidewalk may have to come from the town.

"The determination will be based upon the final cost of the project," Suhoski said. "The state doesn't know the final cost of the project either if they run into something unforeseen."

If the project does exceed the allotted budget, Suhoski said, "They could seek reimbursement from the town for the added cost of the brickwork."

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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