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Town may trim costs from tree replacement

James Rada
Emmitsburg Dispatch

(1/18) If commissioners use town staff to repair some of the damaged sidewalks, Emmitsburg may save some money from the original cost estimate and may more quickly make sidewalks safer for walking.

“We’ve already had people fall,” said Commissioner Cliff Sweeney. “One lady who is a music teacher tripped over the sidewalk. She fell and had to have surgery on her hands. She almost lost her livelihood.”

The commissioners decided at their Jan. 2 meeting to have town staff make cold patch repairs to the worst sections of sidewalk now and then next fiscal year (beginning July 1, 2007) start the actual sidewalk repairs. Removing the concrete was part of the $271,350 cost estimate for the entire project, but if town staff does the work, a potential for some cost savings may exist.

“We have the material, the equipment and the labor force,” Sweeney said. “It will definitely save the town money. Why should be we spend money when we have a maintenance crew in town that can help?”

Mayor James Hoover was more reserved in his estimate. “While there may be savings, it will probably be at best 25 percent (of the concrete removal estimate),” he said.

Town Manager Dave Haller doesn’t think there will be any savings. “What we’re doing is minimal,” he said. “It’s a stop gap. We’re eliminating the trip paths.”
The three were in agreement that the main reason to have town staff make temporary repairs now was to improve safety. However, while the cold patch may make the sidewalk safer, it won’t look good until the final repairs are made.

“It will look like hell,” Hoover said. “It will look horrible, like a checkerboard sidewalk.

This is because cold patch is a dark color while the sidewalk cement is a light color.
Haller added that the sidewalk repair also creates a chance to fix another problem the trees can cause. Now that the trees are maturing, their branches are beginning to hit the roofs of nearby houses and could potentially cause damage. Haller said the town is considering purchasing smaller “almost dwarf” trees. They would still provide shade and look nice, but wouldn’t grow as large.

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