Happy Ending in Sight for Chester’s Lincoln Lane

CHESTER – Lincoln Lane has been given official board of selectmen approval to become publicly owned, once it meets town standards, and residents were given a break on its construction cost because of a couple of calls made on their behalf.

Residents of Lincoln Lane have been meeting repeatedly with the board of selectmen and planning board over the last few months, looking for help in finishing their road. The most recent meeting with the selectmen on Thursday, July 11, may have been the last, as the pieces have fallen into place.

While most developers complete their subdivision roads to town standards, so as to allow their care to be taken over by the town, such wasn’t the case with Lincoln Lane. Developer George Abdallah of Abdallah Construction has reportedly walked away from the subdivision and retains private ownership of its street. Residents have complained about lack of routine maintenance and care on their street, especially during winter months.

And in another not to type situation, the town doesn’t have enough funds in a performance bond to complete that work. Performance bonds are developer funds kept by the town to ensure that work is done as dictated by approved subdivision plans. As each step of a project is completed, portions of that bond are released back to the developer.

In Lincoln Lane’s case, however, only $7,800 is left in the bond, and estimated road completion costs $16,000. When it was clear that they were getting nowhere with Abdallah, residents met with the planning board to see what could be done for their unfinished road. From the start of that process until the end, most town officials and town counsel said the matter simply wasn’t, legally, their responsibility.

But in recent weeks a solution was arrived at with the help of $5,600 from town engineer Dubois and King. Residents raised red flags on the engineer and said its employee had incorrectly estimated how much pavement was laid on the street, and thus caused the release of too much of the bond funds. Planning board chair Brian Sullivan has spoken in defense of the engineer, saying the company has been working with the town for a long time and clearly states that it gives estimates on bond-related road inspections.

Residents Deborah and William Hesketh and Rob and Leann Russamano were at last week’s meeting to meet with the selectmen. As reported by the Tri-Town Times, at a previous planning board meeting residents were told that they would need to make up the difference of the $7,800 bond plus $5,600 Dubois and King agreed to contribute, in order to complete their road. However, at the selectmen’s meeting they were told they may not need to add any money into the till after all.

At that meeting it was also made clear that one portion of the process would require at least one resident of Lincoln Lane to petition the board of selectmen to accept their road as public. Such was done, and selectmen unanimously and formally approved that request July 11.

Selectmen chair Steph Landau explained that the contractor set to perform road work for the town this summer was asked if he could cut a deal with the town for Lincoln Lane, seeing that he was already in town. That plan worked out, and in place of an estimated $80 per ton for asphalt, Brox Industries can do the job for $68 per ton. That reduced tonnage cost brings the price of the Lincoln Lane paving job to under $13,000, or the combined sum of the bond and Dubois and King’s contribution.

This summer Brox is set to complete work on Shepard Home and Birch Road under the direction of the highway department. Landau made it clear that no public funds were being used to complete the road, and that Lincoln Lane was a unique case in that it was always intended to be a public road. There are private roads in town, explained Landau, that don’t necessarily fall into the same situation that Lincoln Lane does.

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