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Making sidewalks better in Kent

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

There are few things in life as enjoyable as watching workers work, especially those who are now out in such great numbers in the region doing new or rehab construction. Thankfully, there are plenty of people, including official inspectors, who are willing to keep close watch on the quality and process of work being done all over. One project that is benefitting from such scrutiny is the one in Kent, where new sidewalks are finally becoming a reality after years of careful, rigorous planning and discussion in the town.

Of course, for the workers out doing what they’re being asked to do, it can be difficult to hear criticism as they proceed with a project. But catching any glitches while the work is being done could prevent the necessity of dismantling and redoing that work down the line.

Our reporter, Leila Hawken, has been covering the meetings where lengthy analysis of the ongoing work has been happening in the past weeks, at both special and regular meetings of the town Board of Selectmen. (See the Lakeville Journal issues of Sept. 1 & 8.) This kind of local news coverage benefits town projects like the Kent sidewalks as much as the evaluation of those watching the work come together. If any potential problems are out in the open, it’s much more likely they will be solved before they become too thorny.

Some of the complaints by the observers, including Streetscape Committee Chairman Mike Gawel and others on the committee, included incorrect compaction of gravel, varying thickness of concrete curbing, faulty application of concrete, and more. Gawel also felt there had been less frequent inspection of the work than there should have been.

As many added their thoughts to the ongoing discussion on the sidewalk quality, the town and construction company are going through checking the boxes to be sure questions are sufficiently answered and problems addressed. Yet the change in granite supplier to one in North Carolina, which meant a different color than would have been expected from a New England company, surprised the Streetscape Committee members. Still, during this time of supply chain issues continuing for all kinds of construction materials, any post-COVID project has to expect changes and delays during its implementation.

Because the residents and committee members in Kent have been willing to keep track of the sidewalk as it is being built, the end result will be better than it would have been without their close watch. Thanks to all who made sure the $500,000 state grant is used well and will lead to a better, safer walk in downtown Kent. They set a good example for other watchdogs of municipal projects.

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