2012-02-02 / Front Page

Surveying for bike path begins next week

Engineers need to examine reservoir, submit wetlands application to state agency
BY TIM RIEL

A contract has been agreed upon between the town and Pare Corporation, the civil engineering firm that was recently hired to complete the design phase of the crossisland bike path. The connector will link Jamestown Shores with the downtown village, by way of the North Road Reservoir.

“We went with Pare because they are currently the town engineer for the reservoir,” said Bob Sutton, chairman of the Bike Path Design Committee. “They are familiar with the land, so that’s probably the biggest reason we chose them.”

At its Jan. 10 meeting, Sutton presented to the Bike Path Design Committee qualification submissions from eight different companies vying for the contract. Along with Mike Gray, the director of the Department of Public Works, and Justin Jobin, the town’s environmental scientist, Sutton mulled over the proposals prior to the meeting. Gray, Sutton and Jobin each graded the submissions. They were planning to interview the top three companies, but Sutton said they only picked two because they “were so clearly far ahead of the other six.” The companies that were interviewed for the job were Pare Corporation and Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc.

Pare Corporation estimated that it could do the work for $19,000; VHB estimated the task at $21,000. Both Gray and Sutton said that the $2,000 difference had nothing to do with their decision. The project has $21,000 in the capital improvement fund, so both companies were within the budget. (The $21,000 line item was approved by Jamestown residents at June’s Financial Town Meeting.)

“We selected an engineer based on their qualifications, not based on price,” said Gray. He added that he was impressed in both interviews, but they had to choose one.

“Both have experience working with the Department of Transportation and on bike paths,” Gray said. “We liked Pare’s approach and what they said they were go- ing to accomplish. That’s not to say that VHB was not qualified. They both were. We just liked the spin that Pare had on it.”

Sutton had a similar take on the decision. “Both were qualified and both had good experience designing bike paths,” he said. “Also, they were both experienced in dealing with the Department of Transportation and the DEM, which we were looking for. VHB had a little more experience with bike paths, but Pare had more experience with the dam.”

Pare’s primary responsibility will be to submit a wetlands application to the state Department of Environmental Management. The application will ask for a permit from the DEM allowing the town to build on the southern corners of the reservoir, which have been flagged as wetlands.

According to Gray, Pare will begin surveying the land next week. There will be subsurface test pits set up, which are used to assess the soil. He said that they are shooting for sometime in mid-April to submit a wetlands permit application to DEM.

So after the application is submitted, will it be approved? Both Gray and Sutton are optimistic.

“Anytime you work with wetlands it presents a hurdle,” said Sutton. “But in this case, there is already an existing roadway there now. What we’re hoping for is an insignificant alteration, which is a technical term that means the impact is light enough that we won’t have to go through the complete permitting process.”

Gray said that the town had the wetlands flagged a couple of years ago by a biologist. What that means is, a biologist goes out in the field and marks what is wetlands based on the vegetation. Following the identification of the wetlands, Gray had preliminary talks with the DEM about the viability of any construction being allowed there.

“It’s informal, not an application process,” Gray said. “We just go there and say, ‘This is what we have. What do you think?’ We came out of that meeting with a positive outlook that the project might be viable.”

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