Chatfield's city park has new sidewalks all around and through, thanks to improvements being done there. Ken Baker Construction of Wykoff lays out the new concrete.
Chatfield's city park has new sidewalks all around and through, thanks to improvements being done there. Ken Baker Construction of Wykoff lays out the new concrete.

Chatfield residents have been enjoying some "smooth stepping" on the sidewalks in and around the city park.

"Sidewalk repair is part of the annual work plan of the city's public works department," said Chatfield city clerk Joel Young, explaining why the sidewalks in Chatfield's city park were torn out and replaced a week ago.

Young related, "Unlike most cities, the city of Chatfield has taken on the financial responsibility of maintaining and replacing the public sidewalks, rather than assessing those costs to homeowners. On average, the city spends about $20,000 each year on sidewalk repairs and replacement, and we expect that, once all the sidewalk work is completed this year, the cost will be in the area of $45,000."

Young added that the maintenance of those sidewalks is dealt with in the context of all the sidewalks in the city.

"Each year, the public works director identifies a priority list of sidewalks for repair," he continued. "If I remember correctly, it was within the past couple of years that city park walks started bubbling up, and this year, obviously, the job got done."

Young pointed out that while the park's sidewalks were replaced, doing so was a precautionary measure.

"Actually, most of the individual segments of concrete were in relatively good shape, but there was a great deal of settling that had taken place over the years," Young explained. "When one segment settles, or tilts, trip hazards present themselves and, in the case of the park, those trip hazards were many."

The sidewalk replacement will make traveling through the park smoother for those on foot and those on wheels. "Handicap ramps had been installed previously," he stated. "It will definitely be more safe due to the elimination of the trip hazards and, because the boulevard is being filled in along Third Street, it will be easier to maintain, too. There were extra handicap ramps installed elsewhere, though, in conjunction with the street overlay work that was completed on Fourth, Fifth and Sixth streets."

The city waited until after Western Days, or in mid- to late August, to repair the city park sidewalks for a reason.

"In order to allow for the cost to be as low as possible, the city allows the contractor to have some flexibility when it comes to scheduling the actual work. In this case, the earliest time that the work could have been done was about two weeks prior to Western Days," Young said. "We chose not to do so at that time because of the amount of disturbed ground and new soil that would have been in place during the celebration, causing mud and dust, and so forth."

Young also noted that the city hasn't finished all of its maintenance work scheduled for 2013.

"There is still a fair amount of sidewalk work to do this year. Sidewalk will be replaced along Bench Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets in front of Lakewood Apartments. Sidewalk sections that have heaved around the downtown tree locations will be replaced, tree grates will be installed and trees will be planted, and then there are a number of small sections of sidewalk that will get replaced here and there. The city crew will start winterizing the swimming pool, too. It is likely that there will be another sanitary sewer repair or two completed, as well."

The Chatfield municipal swimming pool closed for the season and will undergo some updates. Aug. 17 was the last day for swimming this year.

"The pool is kept open as long as possible, and the return of lifeguards to college is the primary reason the pool closes when it does," Young said. "The most likely of updates is the replacement of a heater and a pump, or two, with costs in the area of $15,000 to $20,000."

Young summed up the expenditures and replacements. "All of this work is considered routine. While there may be a specific location that has been on the list, it might be better to understand that this type of work is never completed," he explained. "Sidewalks continue to break and heave, sewer lines wear out, and there is never enough money to handle all of the issues immediately - this is simply an ongoing process."

Young concluded, "We want people to be safe when they travel the streets and sidewalks, and we want it to be as convenient as possible as people move about town. In addition, we hope that residents can be proud to call Chatfield their home. The cost of maintaining sewer lines, streets and sidewalks is high, and it is hoped that the residents know that an effort is made to spread improvements throughout the community while also addressing urgent demands as necessary."