The Department of Public Works will no longer be required to install planting strips when sidewalks are repaired or replaced.
For years, the town’s sidewalk replacement ordinance had called for grassy area to be put in when sidewalks are replaced or repaired, but sometimes the strips became barren and would turn to mud, especially when the sidewalks are low enough for cars to park on.
Councilor Angeline Kounelis said many people in her district town have complained about planting strips not working.
“Residents in the East End have seen a tremendous impact with this policy,” Kounelis said. “Every time a panel (of sidewalk) is removed and replaced asphalt is removed and grass strips created.
“They are not taken care of, residents don’t want them, and it creates mud pits.”
Under the proposed changes, the superintendent of Public Works would have the discretion to decide if a location is not appropriate to have a planting strip.
“This is untying our hands from having a one-size-fits-all policy,” said DPW Superintendent Gerry Mee.
Changing the ordinance has been discussed for years. As the proposed changes came to the council, some Councilors heard from advocates of preventing stormwater from going into storm drains, and instead percolate through the grassy area.
Councilor Susan Falkoff said she supported giving the DPW superintendent leeway, but she worried that a future superintendent may not be as committed to putting in grassy strips.
An amended change to the ordinance was proposed by Councilor Aaron Dushku, which emphasized that having grassy planting strips is preferred, but the DPW superintendent would still have the ability to recommend something else.
Mee said keeping the asphalt would be the exception.
“It is not going to be easy to request an asphalt border,” Mee said.
The Council adopted the change with Dushku’s amendment unanimously.