The condition of Warwick’s roads caused debate at last Thursday’s budget meeting. With Mayor Scott Avedisian budgeting $450,000 to repaving, council members Edgar Ladouceur, Steve Merolla, Steven Colantuono and Joseph Solomon and members of the public all thought that repaving of roads deserved more funds.
Ladouceur brought up the topic of repaving roads, asking why there were not more funds allocated to fixing the roads, especially after this harsh winter that worsened the roads considerably. A few members nodded their heads in agreement.
Colantuono said, “Most of the calls I get for my ward are about the condition of the roads.”
It was explained that with $450,000 approximately three miles worth of roads could be repaved. With about 500 miles worth of road in Warwick, Councilman Merolla quickly estimated it would take 166 years to have completely repaved the streets of Warwick.
Mayor Avedisian said the issue of repaving roads and whether or not to take more money on the project or work within the budget comes to a “philosophical question.”
“Potentially, you are not creating 15 years of payments for a road that doesn’t have that shelf life,” he said.
He mentioned that a lot of repaving of Warwick’s roads could be shared with the sewer authority and National Grid when they tear up roads for construction.
Two members of the public, Michael Martino and Diane Sylvia, came forward to speak about Major Potter Road and the danger it poses to the community. They said it is almost impossible for two cars to pass at the same time.
Martino said, “This road, in its current condition without snow or ice, is just as dangerous as if it had three feet of snow.”
Sylvia said, “The road is sinking. I fear for my grandchildren and my family.”
The two both questioned what it would take for the city to repair the road. Would it be a tragedy?
Ladouceur said, “This is asking the director of Public Works to fight an endless uphill battle. They can’t win when we are asking them to work with a piggybank instead of a checkbook. It doesn’t make sense.”
Solomon then said that we should look into the systems in other cities and communities on how to deal with the issue. He mentioned that in Providence the money is allocated to the council members, who then divvy up the money within their own wards, choosing the streets themselves that would be repaired.
Robert Cushman stepped forward for the public and said, “It is amazing we haven’t funded our own roads. It is unrealistic.”
He said that there were other aspects of the budget that could spare some money so that there was more for repaving roads.
“We need real reforms for real results,” he said.
After the budget meetings, Merolla said that he was going to propose to have $2 million allotted for road repair at last night’s final budget meeting.
“We end up chasing our tails because you need to have a plan in place.” He said. “I’d like to see us invest this $2 million for this year and then look into bonding or increasing the budget for it again next year.”
Should the council approve an additional $2 million for road resurfacing without making cuts elsewhere in the budget, they would need to increase the residential property tax an additional 20 cents per $1,000 of valuation.