Bond authorization finalized for “Whidden Hill” project

Despite concern expressed about the rate of spending on capital improvement projects in the city, the aldermen have had a “change of heart” and have taken action to authorize the mayor to float a $1.5-million bond to reinstate a water main replacement and street repaving program for the Whidden Hospital Hill area.

The aldermen voted 5-2 Tuesday night to approve the bond measure, which will cover the costs of replacing aged water mains and making long overdue street repairs in the Whidden neighborhood on the following streets: Fremont, Garland, Lawrence, Rich, Lincoln, Harvard, Cedar, Bennett, and also Hancock Terrace and Magnolia Court.

Supporting the bond legislation were Millie Cardello, Chuck DiPerri, Michael Mangan, Sal Sachetta and Joseph McGonagle. Opposed were Michael Marchese and Robert Van Campen.

The common council gave its approval to the reinstated project last week on a 14-1 vote. Only Lorrie Bruno was opposed.

Several months ago, the DeMaria administration sought the city council’s approval to borrow $5.6-million for a massive capital improvement program that included a major water main replacement undertaking in the city, but the alder-men cut $1.5-million from the borrowing measure.

That ended up causing the Whidden neighborhood to be axed from the project. Residents in the area made known their displeasure loud and clear at a ward meeting recently.

The common council – which had solidly backed the full $5.6-million bond issue proposal – urged the mayor to consider filing legislation to replenish the $1.5-million that had been eliminated by the aldermen.

Mayor DeMaria appeared before the aldermen Tuesday night regarding the latest bond request and said: “I’m not asking – I’m begging you to pass it”.

The mayor explained that the water mains and repaving project in the Whidden area “needs to be done together.” He reasoned that it doesn’t make sense to repave the streets without doing the water main work because the city doesn’t want to be in the position of tearing up new streets later to do the badly needed water main work.

Ald. Van Campen, however, stood firm in his support of curbing capital improvement spending.

“We have to provide relief for our taxpayers, said Van Campen. “We have to slow down the rate of spending on these types of projects”.

But Mayor DeMaria stressed that the extra $1.5-million he was seeking “will not cause any added debt to the water/sewer enterprise fund’.

The chief executive said the funds are already being carried as a line item which is built into the budget.

Now that he has secured the necessary bonding authorization from the city council, the mayor said he anticipates construction in the Whidden area will begin in the spring.