Road paving in New Canaan approved, police cost questioned
How many cops does it take to pave a road? Apparently, about $50,000 worth, according to Assistant Director of Public Works Tiger Mann at the Board of Selectmen's special meeting on Friday, April 12.
The board approved a $748,000 paving project with Norwalk-based Grasso Construction Inc. to repave Bickford, Horton, Oenoke, Old Rock and White Oak Shade lanes; Hawthorne Road; and St. John's Place.
In total, about 9,000 feet, or 1.7 miles of small streets will be milled, reclaimed and repaved.
Mann said the town received four bids, three of which were close to each other, and that Grasso was the lowest. Mann said the town has used Grasso before, in 2008, and was satisfied with its work.
But the Board of Selectmen did not seem satisfied with the amount for police protection contained in the bid: $50,000 for police to control traffic on the streets.
"So, whenever we get police presence it's always OT?" Selectman Nick Williams asked Mann, who answered affirmatively.
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"I've been working on that issue a little bit," said Selectman Beth Jones, who has been critical of police overtime expenses in the past. She said she has spoken with Police Chief Ed Nadriczny about whether a non-police flagger, who would come at a much cheaper rate, could be used instead of an officer.
"It seems a little bit that if there's a policeman available, they need a policeman, and if there's not, a flagger will do" she said. "A lot of these are not busy roads."
Mann mentioned that the Town Charter requires police to be the first choice in the hiring of safety personnel.
Chapter 54-41 states: "In order to protect the public from accidents and to minimize the impediment of vehicular and/or pedestrian traffic within the limits of any town or state roadway within the limits of the Town of New Canaan, the Chief of Police or his/her designee may require that traffic control services and/or devices be employed by the person or entity conducting such work or responsible for such activity ... Traffic control services may be required for excavation work, for which a permit has been approved. They may also be required for any contractors' and/or utilities' operations which are engaged in work that disrupts normal traffic or pedestrian movement."
Police at a public works site do provide more coverage in the case of an emergency, First Selectman Robert Mallozzi noted.
"If we have a bank robbery or a fire, they take off. It gives more opportunity to have extra men," he said.
Another benefit is that police, being plugged into the radio network, can call for emergency services in places with no cell coverage, Highway Superintendent Mose Saccary added.
The board also approved $51,000 for a sidewalk ramp project in the Putnam Road area.
This project included $10,000 for police presence on site.
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