From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 106, Number 6 - February 5, 2009
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Residents concerned over sidewalks, curbs and snow

by Stephen Crane

Sidewalks, curb slopes and snow removal topped the list for many of the citizens who attended the public workshop held last Thursday at Town Hall, which barely had room for the 35 or so residents in attendance.

The meeting was held to address the concerns that arose last fall over the Phase III Water and Sewer Project construction at the southwest end of Pinedale.

At that time, swales were being installed on Shanley Ave. that had many in that area unhappy with the limiting effects of the swales, since they could not be parked on and narrowed the streets considerably.

“We’re all here because you didn’t like that idea,” said Mayor Stephen Smith to open the discussion. “We’ve figured out a way to do it without the swales, and we want your input on how that’s supposed to look.”

At the beginning of the Phase III construction project, AMEC was hired to perform an independent drainage master plan of Pinedale. As an engineering and consulting firm, AMEC proposed a number of ideas that could ease the drainage concerns

in Pinedale.

“We tried to work with (AMEC) to get some of (those ideas) into the construction project, rather than do one thing and come back and have to do something later on,” said Brian Gray, who works for WLC, the local engineering firm that was contracted to work on the water and sewer project. “Most of you know them as swales.”

Aaron Murray, a project engineer from AMEC, was also on hand to present the new alternatives that were being proposed for the drainage project.

“There’s basically three techniques that are used,” said Murray, “infiltration, detention and conveyance.”

The swales are a part of the infiltration technique, “which is really trying to mimic what it was before (the land) was developed,” according to Murray.

The land soaks the drainage water before it even flows off the property.

There is also an underground infiltration option that would provide the same function.

“It might be a rock bed or it might be just some plastic storage modules that store the water,” said Murray. “It does the same thing as the swales, but you don’t see anything.”

The detention option would require “some kind of regional pond where it’s stored and then released at a slower rate,” continued Murray.

And the conveyance approach would entail simply providing pipes and gutters that would transport all drainage water to downstream rivers and water systems.

“All of (the options) have the same goal, and that’s not to flood private property,” said Murray. “There’s a lot of alternatives to get to the overall goal, and we can do it in a way that hopefully meets what you want to see in front of your house.”

Finding a consensus on that question of neighborhood appearance was difficult, as many had very different ideas of what they wanted the drainage system to look like. Some thought that underground storage would be impeded by the deep freeze and fine soil that could clog the drains. Others thought that the town needs to develop underground conveyance, similar to those in other cities.

“We have such narrow streets, that was a concern of a lot of people,” said resident Chris Thomas. “Why can’t somebody just come up with something with normal streets, underground storm drains, like in every other city?”

But one message did arise repeatedly from many in the audience.

“We don’t need sidewalks,” said resident Gary Stevens. “Who here wants sidewalks?”

Most members of the audience agreed.

By taking out the sidewalk stipulation, property owners would have more room for off-street parking, after last fall’s construction narrowed the streets considerably.

The open ground would also decrease the runoff from impervious surfaces and increase the absorption rate.

Widening the current curb and gutter system was suggested as a possible way to incorporate those two desires — more parking and wider streets.

And if sidewalks were a demand of the town, one resident suggested that instead of the current perpendicular curb, extend the curb and make the angle a much subtler 30 degrees, which would allow people to utilize the space for parking, while still maintaining the proper drainage angles and pedestrian surfaces.

The fact that spring melt contributes such a significant portion to the drainage problem, had many also wanting to see the town improve its snow removal abilities.

“Snow removal is part of the solution and the problem,” said resident Wendi Schwartz. “All it would have to do on the part of the city is invest in better snow removal equipment,” echoed Thomas. “It seems like it’s such an easy thing.”

“We’re going to relay all of this back to (the mayor and town council),” said town engineer Eugene Ninnie. “We’re taking factual information, your comments. No sidewalks, that was one of the big things…we’re taking it back to them.”

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