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Palmer Street improvements could cost between $230,000 and $660,000

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WATERTOWN — It could cost as much as $660,000 to get rid of the potholes and add sidewalks along a section of Palmer Street.

In a March 31 memo, City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk determined it would cost between $230,000 and $660,000 for road improvements along a deteriorating stretch of Palmer Street, depending on the scope of the work and who does it.

The project will be discussed at tonight’s City Council meeting, which starts at 7, in the third-floor council chambers of City Hall.

The subject of fixing the privately owned stretch, which has not been well maintained and is riddled with potholes, came up at a City Council meeting last month. Its deteriorating condition also has been the source of complaints for years.

The Palmer Street section between Arsenal and Emmett streets already is under the city’s jurisdiction; it became a city-dedicated street in 1897.

Most recently, council members have been divided about possibly making some improvements to the road, but not to the standards of turning it into a dedicated city street. Neither storm sewers nor water lines would be part of the project.

According to Mr. Hauk’s report, it would cost $660,000 for a contractor to repave that section of street and install both curbing and sidewalks, and $570,000 if only the paving was completed. If Department of Public Works crews completed only the repaving, it would cost $230,000, and $300,000 if sidewalks and curbing were added, Mr. Hauk wrote.

The cost estimates are “very preliminary,” he said, adding that they do not include the cost of acquiring any private property that would be needed.

Under any of these scenarios, the road would not be expanded to 28 feet wide as dedicated city streets must be, Mr. Hauk said.

“We would just build a road like it is now,” he said.

Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns and Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham have contended that the narrow street without sidewalks is unsafe because many children live in the 70-unit Palmer Street Apartments.

Ms. Burns remains optimistic that her colleagues will proceed with the work. After the subject came up at the March 17 meeting, Brian H. Murray, who owns the apartment complex, said he would donate part of the road in question to the city because he believes some of the street is unsafe.

In 2012, Mr. Hauk put a $1,173,232 price tag on making major Palmer Street improvements that would include widening the road and installing sidewalks and sewers. The price did not include acquiring property for the project.

Determining ownership also is a problem with taking over the road. In the past, the city tried unsuccessfully to figure out ownership of that section of the road.

The city has had trouble determining the actual owners of two other sections of the street. The ownership of a section between Emmett Street and the apartment complex and another portion north of it may be in question because the city was never able to resolve that issue when it looked into it in 2005.

In the past, Palmer Street residents have been divided over the issue.

In other business, the council will be asked to approve a $35,000 annual salary for the deputy city clerk position. A successor for retiring Elyse A. Frezzo is expected to be named tonight.

On Friday night, city officials would not identify who will be appointed to the position, saying that news will be released tonight.

Mrs. Frezzo’s last day is April 29. More than 40 people applied for the job; eight applicants were interviewed.

The deputy clerk is responsible for filing and issuing birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, business licenses and dog licenses, performing wedding ceremonies and providing administrative support to City Council.

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