Vavrek responds to letter opposing Pepper Street project bonding

Editors Note: A town meeting vote set for 7 p.m. at Town Hall Monday night to determine whether a proposed $5 million bonding project to improve Pepper Street has been changed. As a result of a petition, the Pepper Street project will now go to referendum. The town meeting scheduled for Monday will take place without a vote, followed by a public information session.

In response to the proposed project, town resident Bernard Sippin wrote a Letter to the Editor, which appeared in the Jan. 24 edition of the Courier, opposing the deal. Because the letter was written a week before the anticipated town meeting vote, First Selectman Steve Vavrek was given a chance to respond. Below, he addresses Sippin’s comments (in bold) individually:

 

Upper Pepper Street was repaved by the town of Monroe not more than two years ago.
Yes, this is true. However only some portions of the total run were overlaid with an armor coat. What happened was Public Works was getting so many complaints about the road, they decided that they could not wait for this project (expected to be constructed in 2017). Therefore they treated the existing roadway with a thin surface coat or armor coating which made the roadway more drivable but is only projected to last less than five years. This is because treatment of the subsurface layers was intentionally not provided due to the exorbitant costs. There are many more problems with the existing roadway than are apparent at this point. Essentially, the recent overlay was only intended as a band aid to appease the users until the real work (this project) could be done

The north end was widened to over 36 feet with new drainage installed and a dangerous corner removed over six years ago, and both are in excellent condition.
Yes, that is true. That is why that portion of the roadway is not in this project. This project involves the portions from Cambridge Drive down to Jockey Hollow Road, and just the intersection of Pepper Street and Main Street.

Drive there yourself and see it. Can someone tell me why they want to rip it up and reconstruct it for $5,000,000?
The explanation is above. Also, the Town has slated this section of Pepper Street to be reconstructed way back when the area was re-zoned commercial. From a planning perspective, the Town is obligated to have infrastructure that will appropriately support the zones that are approved/created. Pepper Street was originally built to service residential uses. Now that there are commercial uses, the geometry and structural cross section needs to be upgraded to adequately and safely support commercial traffic.

They will tell you because the state and the federal government is paying 80% of the cost, and the town of Monroe will only be responsible for $500,000.
Actually, the Federal Government will provide 80%, the State 10%, and the Town 10% through a competitive funding program. If Monroe doesn’t take advantage of this much needed funding, another Town or the State would get the funds.

Well, why don’t they spend the money on roads in the town of Monroe that need new paving?
Because the funds are not available for that. The work has to comply with the funding parameters (coordinated through the Greater Bridgeport Regional Council) and are only available for “on-systems” roads. These are roads that the GBRC and Town have classified as supporting regional traffic and therefore have a higher priority for funding. In addition, the funds are typically available for large projects that involve major re-construction or construction that would otherwise be very difficult for the Town to fund. Just “paving” is not within the fundable parameters of this program.

The majority of traffic coming onto Pepper Street is from the mining operation off of Cambridge Drive in the industrial park. Park on the corner of Cambridge Drive and Pepper Street and watch it. The reconstruction will require over 50,000 yards of process and gravel. That will be supplied by the same developer who requires the road to be constructed.
This is not true. This project must follow federal bidding requirements and has no connection or obligation to local businesses.

He will be making money on that reconstruction. He owns the mining operation in that industrial park and should be responsible for any damage to the town road in front of that development.
Again, the town has a legal responsibility to support approved development on the surrounding existing Town roads. The Town cannot legally require a developer to improve “off – site” roads. ….And in this case, the improvements will support the other surrounding commercial development as well.

You and only you are paying the federal government and the state of Connecticut for any expenses they make over $500,000. Just the cost of the engineering on this project is $536,000.
The design fee is included in the available funding.

According to the original contract, which is over 90 pages long, around 1988, when Rowland was governor, the town of Monroe asked about funds for the reconstruction of Pepper Street. At that time Pepper Street was in terrible condition. Since then, all the construction has been basically finished. The majority of the industrial traffic is coming from the Kimball industrial development, and was to be directed to the north so all the truck traffic would be directed on and off of Route 25, otherwise much of the truck traffic would have gone south into the residential zone.
Yes, and that section, with the exception of the proposed turning lane and signal improvements at the intersection of Main Street and Pepper Street, have been completed and are not in this project.

At this time, most of the industrial buildings located on Upper Pepper Street are empty, closed, for lease or for sale, and they are right on the developed and widened part of upper Pepper Street. Also, the town of Monroe has already committed to finishing the extension of the road from the north end of the Kimball industrial development into Fan Hill Road, at the financial expense of Monroe, when it should be at the expense of the developer.
This described extension of the roadway was proposed by the developer, and will be at the developer’s expense, not the Town’s.

How come nobody is looking into this situation? If there was ever a waste of money to raise your taxes, this is it.
Taxes will not be raised as a result of this project. In fact, the project will result in a great savings to the Town.

In addition to the work as mentioned above, the town will get the box culvert just north of Jockey Hollow Road upgraded and replaced (a great cost savings to the town in avoiding future local expense), and the missing section of the multi-use trail built between Grant Road and the northerly side of Northbrook Condominiums. This services local needs for much needed safety improvements by getting the trail off Pepper Street and into a separate off-road trail matching the other portions of the regional trail system….all with 90% funding.

This project is a fantastic opportunity for the town and will result in cost savings, much needed safety and environmental improvements, infrastructure support for economic development and stability, traffic control, physical support for prior Town planning and re- zoning decisions, and facilities that provide other modes of transportation and recreational opportunities for the residents of the Town. It is the right thing to do.

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  • Vera Karger

    It requires a lot of time and patience to research a topic like this, so I’m pleased that Mr. Vavrek and Town Council have done this for us. My ears perk up when I hear that our tax dollars are coming back to us, especially for such a useful project.
    We should not let this opportunity pass. I’m in.

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