ALBERTON -- Safety and liability concerns were at the heart of the Alberton Town Council’s decision during its July meeting to replace the cobblestone along the Main Street sidewalk, Mayor Michael Murphy commented Monday night.
The mayor opened the monthly meeting with a prepared statement about the July decision and acknowledging it had caused some concern in the town.
The decision to replace the cobblestone, he said, was due to the deteriorating condition of the sidewalk. He said the cobblestones were snow and ice traps in the wintertime and was uneven with depressions of up to three inches between the curbing and the rest of the sidewalk.
“In this day and age where we can easily be held liable in account of unsafe walking areas, we are required by law to practice due diligence,” the mayor insisted.
“Whenever we recognize there is a safety issue, or when we receive complaints we must act upon them, as failure to act and remedy the situation puts us liable.”
The mayor’s opening statement helped diffuse the situation.
Alberton Business Association president Geoffrey Irving, who led a small contingent from the business community, said he appreciates the decision was based on safety concerns, but he expressed the association’s disappointed the town had not consulted or advised the businesses before proceeding with the project.
Prior to Irving’s comments, councilor Natasha Dunn, who sits on the business association in another capacity, offered to be council’s representative on the association. Irving said the association is seeking a council solution to a perceived disconnect between council and the business community and suggested having a council representative on the association might help with that.
The mayor indicated council will consider the suggestion.
Mayor Murphy and councilor Dunn each presented a proposal on new uses for the old cobblestone which is being taken up. Dunn suggested a cobblestone path along the town pond and Murphy proposed a design in cobblestone by the town cenotaph along with a couple of walkways of cobblestone leading to the cenotaph. No decision was made on either proposal.
Murphy, in his opening remarks, also noted that the majority of residents in town now are seniors and some of them have mobility issues. He said the town has already added another disabled parking space along Main Street. He expressed hope the new sidewalk will be more user friendly for them and safer for all. He noted pedestrians tended to walk on the hard concrete instead of the cobblestone anyway.