FAIRFAX – The Town of Fairfax held a special meeting Monday night to preview a coming vote over funding for the first phase of their sidewalk project, the culmination of years of stop-and-go work from the town dating back almost a decade.
If approved, the article, asking for permission to use $100,000 leftover from the previous year’s municipal budget, will afford the town the last funds needed to begin the $400,000 construction of Phase I of the town’s sidewalk plan.
On top of that, the article asks for the residents’ permission for the selectboard to borrow further borrow another $75,000 to put toward the sidewalk project.
Currently, Fairfax has $300,000 set aside for the project. Town manager Brad Docheff has sought $175,000 in grants to make up the remainder of the funds needed and expressed he’s confident about his grant applications.
That said, the $175,000 article would afford the town some security going forward with its sidewalk project in case the grant applications fell through, Docheff said. The article clarifies this by stating the funds are secured for use “if so needed.”
“I don’t want to bank on [those grants] and go to construction without secured funds,” Docheff explained.
Phase I of the town’s three-phase sidewalk plan stretches from the corner of Hunt Street and Main Street in Fairfax’s village to Rainville’s Collision & Repair just south of Fairfax’s town offices.
Existing sidewalks along that stretch of road – most of which are deteriorated and have long been noncompliant with the American Disabilities Act – will be restored and extended. New sidewalks will be added beyond the current sidewalk path’s terminus at the corner of Rich Street and Main Street.
Phase I also aims to better tie the Fairfax Community Center, a 170-year-old Baptist church currently undergoing restoration to serve as a community center, into the town’s infrastructure.
The town originally budgeted for Phase I of the town’s sidewalk plan in 2012, when the town was awarded a grant that would have paid for the majority of what was, then, a $292,000 project.
But since the awarding of that initial grant, the project fell into a sort of purgatory, marred by personnel changes in both the town and at the state level, changing regulations and a statewide project backlog following Hurricane Irene.
Since then, engineering and construction prices have only increased, something Fairfax officials have warned residents about ahead of next week’s vote.
The threat of hikes in construction costs are what’s spurred Fairfax to aim for sidewalk construction next week, guaranteeing a completed project phase before costs go up with next year’s construction season.
The selectboard agreed with Docheff in pursuing an early deadline for construction, as both selectboard chair Steve Cormier and vice chair Randy Devine said they supported getting Phase I of the town’s sidewalk plan started sometime in August.
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