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Yarmouth residents can't curb displeasure about street work

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Yarmouth residents can't curb displeasure about street work

YARMOUTH — A resident of Cousins Street, unhappy about addition of concrete curbs in the neighborhood, is leading a petition drive to have the curbs removed along Birchwood Avenue.

Vincent Fuerst, who lives at the corner of Cousins Street and Birchwood Avenue, said in addition to circulating the petition, he plans to speak to the Town Council at a meeting on Thursday, Oct. 7. He said the petition process may not be worth the effort, but he wants to share his discontent with councilors. 

"I know the project has been completed at this point," Fuerst said. "But I shudder when I look at this (work) compared to other streets in Yarmouth."

The petition asks the Town Council to halt construction and replace the curbs that are installed in Birchwood Avenue. It claims the curbs damage the suburban and island character of the street, could cause damage to vehicles and pedestrians and could reduce home values.

"The 8-inch cement curbs that have been installed are obtrusive and completely unfitting to the character of the neighborhood," the petition says.

Of the first 12 residents who signed the petition, three live on Birchwood Avenue.

Town Manager Nat Tupper said since the construction is now complete, the council will consider the petition a request to remove the new curbing.

Prior to this work, Tupper said drainage ran down the street and onto lawns and driveways. The solution was to add curbs to the street to direct water into catch basins and drains.

Public Works Director Erik Street said he initially wanted to use a “Cape Cod”-style curb with a low profile and relatively low slope, but at the last minute he said he discovered the curb would have been too wide and the already narrow street would be have lost a foot.

"I feel badly for having to make a decision like that at the last minute, but the road was too narrow for that curb mold," Street said.

The new curb is about seven inches tall, is made from slip form concrete and will stand up to snowplows much better than bituminous curbs, he said. Once the finish pavement is placed, the curbs will be about five inches tall, Street said.

The project started in August 2009, when a section of Birchwood Avenue heaved due to lack of drainage. Street said residents were notified that repairs would be necessary and would take place over the next year.

Letters notifying residents that curbs would be installed and the street would be paved were sent out this August. 

"It is hard to anticipate everyone's concerns or questions in a notification letter, so we always make sure an on-site meeting or one-on-one phone call is available," Street said in an e-mail Monday. While large projects often include a neighborhood information meeting, Street said this project was relatively small, so letters were the only form of communication.

Fuerst said while the street "still looks nice," he is concerned that it is completely different from the other streets on Cousins Island and said he has no doubt the tall curbs will be damaged by snowplows during the winter months.

"It changes the whole character of the street," Fuerst said. "It seems like overkill."

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net