SOUTHINGTON – Road repairs were a hot topic at the Town Council meeting Monday, with several councilors expressing dissatisfaction with the effectiveness of crack-sealing efforts.
The roads were last paved using a method called “ultra-thin bonded wearing course.” All States Materials Group, of Sunderland, Massachusetts, performed the work, which was more expensive than the previously used chip seal.
Residents often complained in past years that pieces of the chip seal would break off into the road. However, according to Town Councilor Mike Riccio, the new seal still has the same issue and has led to worse degradation of the roads.
“I’ve gone to check out the roads that used this new process and they are in seriously bad shape,” said Riccio. “As bad as chip seal was when it was first put down, this is not better. It costs more and right now, in the middle of the winter, the roads are in worse condition.”
Council Chairman Chris Palmieri said there have been issues with the contractor’s work on Michael Drive and the town is withholding payment for the project.
Town Manager Mark Sciota said the contractor has taken responsibility for the crumbling seal on Michael Drive. He said the Public Works Committee will have a discussion next month on what sealing method to use going forward.
Councilor Dawn Miceli added that the crumbling seal has been a topic of ongoing discussion at public works meetings, with many residents expressing dissatisfaction.
“It’s such a cold winter this year and potholes are everywhere,” said Riccio. “It’s atrocious.”
Sciota said his phone is “lit up” with pothole complaints.
Councilor John Barry told the council that he had received many complaints about the chip seal as well, with chips in the road making it difficult for children to ride bicycles.
“Town staff and experts in the field are working to come up with a solution,” he said.
In a separate issue, Riccio told the council that two vehicles have been seen “all day” at the electric vehicle charging stations at the library and municipal center.
“They are being wildly abused by a small group of individuals,” he said.
Palmieri said the town doesn’t have a formal policy on the use of those stations. Sciota said he would look into creating one.
The council also agreed to set a public hearing for its first meeting in March on a proposal by the STEPS Coalition to raise the legal age for purchasing vaping and tobacco products to 21. Cheryl Lounsbury, of the Ordinance Committee, explained that vendors would be subject to unannounced random checks. Those caught selling to underage people could eventually have their licenses to sell suspended or removed.
Palmieri said Hartford had passed a similar ordinance. He said vaping in local schools has become an epidemic, with 61 incidents last year at the high school and 19 at the middle school. So far this year, there have been 21 incidents at the high school and 14 at the middle school.
“It’s awesome for our community to be stepping forward in this direction,” said Miceli. “It’s a trend with young people that’s pretty scary and can have long-term repercussions.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.