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Smart’s Paving Plan Passes
by Thomas MacMillan | Jul 3, 2012 8:19 am
Posted to: City Hall
In the name of transparency and fairness, city lawmakers Monday night created a new way to divvy up city money for sidewalk repair, street paving, and tree trimming.
Those key constituent services will now be controlled by a four-person committee comprising two aldermen and two DeStefano administration staffers. The new system is the result of a nearly unanimous vote on a new ordinance amendment by the Board of Aldermen at the meeting Monday night in City Hall.
The vote marks the culmination of a six-month quest by Wooster Square Alderman Mike Smart, who has been looking for a way to wrest control of several key city services—trees, paving, sidewalk repairs—from the administration.
Smart has accused that the administration of using its power over those three constituent deliverables to reward or punish aldermen, by fixing sidewalks first in the wards of cooperative lawmakers, for example. The administration has denied engaging in such political governance.
• The city will every four years survey the city’s streets and sidewalks to rank their condition and post the results online. A new “City Resources Allocation Committee”—with two aldermen and two administration staffers selected by the mayor—will use the rankings to decide which streets and sidewalks the city will repair each year.
• The committee will also consider the advice of city aldermen, each of whom will submit to the committee a list of priority repairs needed in her ward.
• The paving and sidewalk funds will be in two pools each. The city will have emergency paving and sidewalk funds for “urgent and unforeseeable projects” requiring “immediate remedial action.” The city will also have general paving and sidewalk funds totaling $750,000 and $1 million, respectively.
Money for trees works slightly differently. The city’s 30 aldermen will split $160,000 in new bonding 30 ways. That’s about a week’s worth of tree-trimming per ward, Smart said. Aldermen will decide where they think it ought to be spent in their wards, and submit plans to the committee.
The city will continue to have a parks department capital budget for general care and trimming of street trees.
East Rock Alderman Justin Elicker (pictured) objected to the way the proposal handles tree-trimming. He said not all wards are created equally when it comes to arboreal needs. For instance, his ward, which “will be gigantic” when redistricting takes effect next year, has far more trees than, say, downtown’s Ward 7, he said. Tree-trimming money should not therefore be simply divided 30 ways equally, he said.
Downtown Aldermen Doug Hausladen also spoke against the bill. “I think we’ve created an unnecessary additional process,” he said. The Board of Aldermen already has the City Services and Environmental Policy Committee, which could do the work of the new City Resources Allocation Committee, he argued.
Several other aldermen spoke in favor of the plan, saying that it improves government transparency. In the end, Hausladen and Elicker were the only “nays” in a 22-2 vote of approval.
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Corruption. Instead of more oversight on the administration, the BOA just seized a chunk of money to dole out to their constituents.
I hope they spend the money wisely. Seems the city has a tendency to overpay for things.
I can’t wait to see them down my street. I will feel safer when the streetlights are trimmed.
Increasingly seems like Hausladen and Elicker are the only two aldermen capable of holding and sustaining and independent thought. The tree proposal in particular is completely idiotic. Time to halve the number of aldermen and bring some accountability to this hairbrained group.
Tree trimming and sidewalks should be prioritized based on economic development and health goals - not based on politics.
The sidewalks that support the thousands of jobs on Whalley Avenue, for example, should take priority over sidewalks in front of an Alderman’s house.