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LETTER: Still Looking for an End Game on Lathrop Street

Jared Robinson addresses continuing construction issues in his neighborhood.

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Jared Robinson.

From missed deadlines, to to , to nighttime dumpster thieves, to , to creating a and , I’ve been on the front lines of all this “War on Ward 2."

Lathrop Street was initially used as some sort of forward operating base for Newport’s heavy machinery and large material storage. The damage caused by this equipment has been literally felt in this neighborhood for almost two years. When a car hits the trenches that were dug up and poorly repaired, our houses shake, our walls crack and our property values plummet in an already down market. Enough was enough. I took it upon myself to speak up in defense of our neighborhood. I started small: contacting our ward councilor, the city engineer and carbon-copying the mayor and her aide. . After that, some lovely to get our faces out there and seen. It was at that point I decided it was time for an open forum for people to voice their opinions and complaints with the hope that our representatives would join in to discuss. I created the Salem Ward 2 Community page (originally Salem Ward 2 Residents Association). While we haven’t been lucky enough to get any of our representatives (aside from Ward 5’s Josh Turiel and candidate Darek Barcikowski) to participate, we’ve garnered a reasonable amount of activity from Salem residents. I try my hardest not to make it just about Lathrop Street (and I would love to have more contributors for the site, so feel free to let me know if you’d like to be heard as a neighborhood contributor). I feel that we’ve been hit the hardest.

If you go through some of our photos on the Facebook page and the articles linked above, you’ll see the destruction caused by Newport Construction simply keeping their materials and equipment on our street through all four seasons twice over. A street that rarely flooded now floods with consistency. People’s cars take serious damage on our street from the holes and cracks. My wife’s car picked up some sort of slice of metal in her brand new car and we had to pay to get a new tire. I’ve heard from other residents that their suspension has failed on them due to the construction and the holes on Lathrop St. On top of that, there were the piles of dirt, sand and gravel that would lay dormant for weeks at a time. Even when they finally "removed" it all, there was still thick layers of sand and dirt that the "cleaners" missed as well as plenty of trash like coffee cups and Box O’ Joes that the construction crews left behind inside their concrete tubes as if they were trash receptacles; trash that I eventually went out and picked up by hand. They even left us with a few broken pallets to look at as well.

Then came a ray of light. We heard that the city was working with Newport and the MassDOT to repair Lathrop St. We received a letter from the city engineer stating:

"Dear Residents of Lathrop Street,

This correspondence has been prepared to provide you with an update of the planned paving improvements for your street. As the Bridge Street project continues towards its completion in a few weeks, the City appreciates the patience you have shown, as your street has been significantly impacted by the project. For the past few months, the City has been working with MassDOT and its contractor, Newport Construction, to develop an acceptable pavement improvement plan for your street.

We are pleased to inform you that we have agreed to a scope of work that will repair and re-grade the sections of Lathrop Street that have been impacted by the Bridge Street construction. The scope of work for the improvements, includes, but may not be limited to, the following:

• Removal of all water and gas main-line trench pavement
• Removal of all lateral trenches in roadway and sidewalk pavement
• Replace pavement sub-grade materials to existing material depth on adjacent roadway and sidewalk
• Final grade and machine pave all prepared areas with new pavement
The work above will be done in phases and should start within the next week. On the days when Newport is working, it is important not to have any cars parked in the roadway. No parking signs will be posted in advance of construction and no-parking will remain in effect until construction is complete for that day.
You will always have access to and from your driveway and parking will be allowed on the street after work hours; however, as the project progresses, certain activities may require limited access or parking, on those occasions you will be given advanced notice if you are to be affected.

In closing, we thank you again for your patience as this important project progresses to completion. If you have any questions, or would like additional information, please call the Engineering Department at the number above.

Very truly yours,
David H Knowlton, P.E.
City Engineer"

Soon after, the construction crews moved in and started marking up the street and sidewalks with paint. Some of the neighbors were ecstatic to see this. One mentioned that he thinks the only thing that’s going to get fixed is the areas they marked. I had been told prior to the letter above that we would have our street repaved, but looking back it was more of a “We are TRYING to get your street repaved." So when I saw the letter above, I thought it was acknowledgement of that statement. It was then pointed out to me this line “Final grade and machine pave all prepared areas with new pavement." The prepared areas were the lined areas. The only part that was lined and prepared was the central trench, not the sides of the road that were also damaged by Newport. Not only that, but only a few areas of the sidewalk were to be repaved. The next day our concerns were brought to light when Newport started filling in the prepared areas and nothing more. I wrote a hasty email to all the councilors, the engineer, the mayor and her aide stating that this isn’t going to cut it. The gas company had already done this trench pavement two years ago and it failed almost immediately. I asked if I was simply jumping the gun because maybe there was another plan to grind all of the damaged pavement down from and repave the whole street from curb to curb. I thought it odd that they would repave 60 percent of the street and leave the other 30 percent in disrepair. Not to mention all the damaged and missing curbstones that came with all these years of construction. The gas company had dug up a multitude of curbstones to lay their new lines and never returned them. In many areas up and down the street, the sidewalk is giving way into the street with no curb to hold it back.

Today [Tuesday] I received the following email from the city engineer:

"At this time, the improvements for Lathrop Street are limited to what I described in my 6-21-12 notice to abutters (attached for reference). While it is understood that the roadway has seen extensive construction, unfortunately MassDOT and i could not come to an agreement for the preferred solution, a curb to curb overlay. As we've discussed, I've been working with DOT for months on possible scenarios; unfortunately the city has limited funds to contribute to that project and in the end, DOT was willing to repair the trenches, not the parts of the road and sidewalks that were not impacted by the project.

However, when the Bridge Street project is complete, the city will evaluate the condition of the street and sidewalk and possibly incorporate future improvements into its annual city-wide paving program. Please note that the current improvements would be necessary for the curb to curb scenario, so that effort will not be lost."

At this point I wrote back that they still aren’t fixing the damage they caused and submitted many of the photos I’ve taken over the past two years to him.

Councilor Lovely also got involved:

"If Lathrop St is not being paved curb to curb then that is unacceptable especially with what the neighbors have had to put up with the street being used for the reconstruction of Bridge Street."

Now we’re back into a no-end-game situation and again the neighbors have grown restless with the mismanagement of this project and the disrespect it holds on our neighborhood. Again we’re left with half fixes that already sound temporary at best. One local reader said it best: "On the plus side, that makes Lathrop a much less attractive cut through." If only that were true; despite a 4-inch trench dug in the middle of the road, cars still speed up and down it well above the posted limit and with complete disregard for the 'Go Fast Get Fined' signs that I’ve posted at the entry of our street. Even during major construction we had a Volvo take the corner too fast and hit the parked excavator and then speed off.

This letter to the editor is my latest attempt to draw attention to this ailing neighborhood. This needs to get fixed. This is a gash that needs stitches, not a band aid. Band aids fall off. Please stitch our neighborhood back together. I simply can’t stand back and watch our neighborhood treated this way during the construction only to have it neglected at the very end as well.

Jared Robinson

Lathrop Street

Jared Robinson July 12, 2012 at 11:25 AM
well, they're out paving the 'prepared areas' today... so Lathrop St is closed. Since writing this, I spoke to a resident who tripped on the trench that was dug and left that way for over a week and he claims he ripped the tendons out of his ankle. I advised him to file a claim with the city if he has doctor's notes (which he said he did)
Amy Mckeehan July 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Jared, thank you so much for taking the time to take pictures and articulate the frustration that we have all been feeling in the Bridge St. Neighborhood. I too, have the same frustrations about Cromwell St, where I am a home owner. We were also promised a newly paved street as well since they dug a large trench to install a new fire hydrant at the end of our little street. In installing this hydrant, they removed a large established shrub and backfilled the whole area with gravel, what an unsightly mess. I am thankful for having a hydrant so close to my home now, but the installation was not communicated to us at all and to this day, the hydrant and gravel surrounding it has not been attended to. Since we are a small dead end street, we have the opposite problem of Lathrop, we are consistently ignored and forgotten about. We have had equipment parked at the mouth of the street on many days, which has resulted in trash and recycling not being picked up, package deliveries being delayed and God forbid any emergency apparatus had to visit! The things we have all had to live with the past 2 years is a bit much to ask of a community that from the beginning was attending planning meetings, participating in design plans and truly excited about the future of our neighborhood. I realize now those meetings and promises were nothing but bureaucratic smoke being blown. By the way, Cromwells re-paving consisted of "smearing" the left over asphalt at the mouth of the street, how lovely!
Drew Meger July 12, 2012 at 12:55 PM
so many holes in ward 2 i think dave knowlton is digging for pirate treasure i tried to ask him about it but the parrot on his shoulder would not stop squawking
KlassySalem July 12, 2012 at 01:09 PM
I recently read the RFP for the city paving program for this fall. It's interesting to note that Beacon St, which is one over from Lathrop, is on the schedule to be repaved this year, while Lathrop is not. I took a little bike ride over there to check out the two streets, and it's clear that Lathrop is in much worse condition than Beacon. Beacon's no prize, but Lathrop is a disaster. How one can look at those two streets and decide that Beacon is in greater need is beyond me.
Donna Albino July 12, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Jared, thank you for all you do to improve our neighborhood. I live on Beacon Ave, which runs between Lathrop St and Beacon St, and I've been very interested in the plans for all the side streets on our side of Bridge St. Only the first quarter of each side street has gotten new pavement, to even out the surface around access hole covers, leaving the rest of the road in pitted condition. Thanks for dropping the note in my mailbox with contact info for all the people who might be able to influence the plan; I intend on contacting all of them today.
Jared Robinson July 12, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Thank you. Please make your voices heard on our facebook page and by contacting our councilors and the mayor. Kimberley Driscoll, Mayor – 978-745-9595 x5600 – mayor@salem.com Jason Silva, Chief Administrative Aide – 978-619-5603 – jsilva@salem.com Michael Sosnowski, Ward 2 Councillor - 978-745-6182 - michaelsosnowski@verizon.net Kevin R. Carr, Jr. Councillor At Large - 978-430-9898 - Kcarr42@gmail.com Thomas H Furey, Councillor At Large - 978-744-5963 Joan B. Lovely, Councillor At Large - 978-745-4796 - Joan.Lovely@verizon.net Arthur C. Sargent, III, Councillor At Large - 978-745-1055 - sargeatlarge74@aol.com
Erin Cyr July 12, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Amy, thank you for reminding me that this has been TWO YEARS. That's really a lot to ask of a neighborhood and street. As I type this the crews are outside my house standing IN my garden slapping the sidewalk together in a manner that will fall apart with the first snow. I don't understand why the choice was made to pave the street in such an unsustainable manner. Once the plows hit this street this winter this street will be a giant mess again and the city will tell us there are no funds for repairs.
Amy Mckeehan July 12, 2012 at 02:57 PM
don't forget the summer months we had garden hoses bringing water into our homes because they were replacing the water pipes.... brushing my teeth with warm water that tasted like rubber was just stellar! I also should have bought stock in Downy Fabric Softner for all it I had to use on my clothes to kill the smell....
Jared Robinson July 12, 2012 at 06:19 PM
and as it degrades, photos will be taken...
Matt Carter July 13, 2012 at 01:37 AM
I have to say something. OK. To start yes this was a 2 1/2 year project but that is till faster than MassDOT's estimated 3 Year project. Now to let everyone know that the gas lines, sewer & water lines were not initially part of the project your town decided to add all that in the middle of what was already a massive undertaking. Second that I have seen your photos and have looked at them closely and saw that all that equipment you are looking at and taking pictures of is not Newport Construction but Cardillo of Wakefield Ma who did the sewer work for the Town of Salem. If you want to sue you should sue them and not Newport. This is what happens when things are added to a project that were not in the initial design plans.
Jared Robinson July 13, 2012 at 01:21 PM
so, here's the repair photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.398730870183042.88793.240985099290954&type=3
Jared Robinson July 13, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Hmm, good point. I was always under the impression that Cardillo was just renting the equipment to Newport... and at the same time, the MassDOT never said it WASN'T them after sending them the photos
Amy Mckeehan July 13, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Cromwell Photo's being loaded as well.............. raised structures, potholes, loose ahphalt.......... OH MY!
Jared Robinson July 13, 2012 at 02:37 PM
If anyone has some streets that need attention, let me know and I'll come snap photos
Amy Mckeehan July 13, 2012 at 02:55 PM
FYI -- these photos were taken this morning, July 13th.
Jared Robinson July 13, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I could come down and tear that in a few minutes by doing a burnout in my Buick Roadmaster :D
Amy Mckeehan July 19, 2012 at 10:02 AM
Cromwell has a No Parking sign up for an "event" today. I have been home sick with Strep Throat all week and noticed workmen surveying the street... I'll keep everyone posted on our big event ...
Jared Robinson August 16, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Letter from the city regarding Lathrop Reconstruction: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=410382779017851&set=a.394596010596528.87674.240985099290954&type=3&theater
steve brewer September 25, 2012 at 08:05 PM
hello jared are there any pictures from the past few weeks of lathrop. i broke my ankle and had to have a metal plate put in to fix my fibula and ankle. im laid up for atleast 5 weeks before i can even put weight on it. my neighbor also fell yesterday and has a huge gash in her leg. this is crazy! thanks , steve 8 lathrop
Jared Robinson September 25, 2012 at 08:51 PM
the street was paved from curb to curb from late August until September 14th. On September 14th the manholes and drains were raised. From September 15th through September 23rd, nothing was done. September 24th, the sidewalks were dug up and the curbstones were moved in leaving a trench. This trench existed from about 4pm 9/24 to about noon 9/25 September 25th, the trench was filled with concrete. When did you break your ankle? Nothing on the street was different for about a month and a half aside from them raising the manhole covers on September 14th. I can look through my photos but I'd need a date. Are you talking about when they paved the center of the road and then came back and trenched that up? That was in late June.
Jared Robinson September 25, 2012 at 09:00 PM
also, all the photos have a timestamp on them from when I uploaded them. Most were done within a day or two of me taking them. To find the timestamp, over over the little clock icon On August 9th, they painted the street for repaving work. August 16th, we got a letter of intent to repair the entire street including sidewalks (in what was originally supposed to be 1 week to 10 days... it's been SIGNIFICANTLY LONGER) On August 17th, they stripped the entire road of pavement On August 21st, they repaved the entire road with a FIRST LAYER of pavement from curb to curb.
Karen September 25, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Well, I totally understand the frustrations..just needed to put 2 tires on my car because of our road and I fell last night and ripped my knee apart because the main water pipe was raised and they never even spray painted it or put a cone. I had to go down today and tell them today that they need to do something, very dangerous. So, it appears they spray painted them after my complaint. I took pictures of unpainted water pipe and banged up knee. There is no street light by there so it definitely should have been painted. First the signs say they will be completed by August 31st now the signs are taped over for additional time. Unbelievable.
Jared Robinson September 25, 2012 at 09:34 PM
My wife has lost 2 tires in the course of 100 days because of this.
john September 25, 2012 at 11:03 PM
I understand your frustration but emailing the mayor is a waist of time because she will not answer.Jason has too many irons in the fire with his second job in Beverly so the only ones worth contacting are the councilors. As for your tires,send the city the bill and ask why we pay excise tax for road use and have our cars damaged by the lack of upkeep. You should also have your car checked for other damage while they replace your tires. What do they think this is,the NFL?
Karen September 25, 2012 at 11:18 PM
I feel her pain, not right and a hefty expense. Never mind the shocks from trying to get into driveway. They didn't even care that I fell last night because of there lack of attention.

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