Buttonwood residents pleased with planned repairs

The Lambertville street will be milled and resurfaced, drainage improvements will be made, all curbs will be replaced, and sidewalks will be redone in tinted concrete.

By: Linda Seida
   LAMBERTVILLE — About 20 Buttonwood Street homeowners filled the small public meeting room in City Hall Monday to find out what kind of changes they’ll see this summer as their street undergoes a major renovation.
   Most were pleased by what they heard when the engineer overseeing the project, Stanley Schrek of Schoor DePalma, presented a revised plan based on input given by Buttonwood residents about a month ago.
   The length of Buttonwood Street will be milled and resurfaced, and drainage improvements will be made. All curbs will be replaced, and sidewalks will be redone in tinted concrete. Some upgrades even will be offered to property owners as well as tree replacements.
   "I think it’s great," said resident Mary Jean Palco. "It’s a chance to beautify the street."
   She noted, though, the summerlong project will make for a messy neighborhood until work is completed. She paused and wondered if it might be better to reschedule the painting of her house, which is scheduled for spring.
   While painting might be better afterward, other projects should be done before the work starts, Mayor Dave Del Vecchio advised. A five-year moratorium will be in place on some types of projects once the work on Buttonwood is completed, such as the conversion of a home from oil to gas.
   "It’s going to be a messy process," the mayor said. "It’s going to be an ugly process. Construction always is. But at the end of the day, it’s a good thing."
   No one really groused about the mess the work would bring to the street.
   "You gotta break some eggs to make an omelet," said one of Ms. Palco’s neighbors, who declined to give her name.
   The mayor and Mr. Schrek noted homeowners will be accommodated regarding their choice of some upgrades. Property owners can, for example, choose to keep the same type of concrete or brick sidewalks they currently have. Or, those who have concrete may convert to brick if they choose, but they will have to pay for the upgrade.
   The cost of the brick upgrade could cost between $600 and $800, according to City Clerk Mary Sheppard. Buttonwood Street homeowners who want to upgrade to brick should make their choice known by calling Ms. Sheppard at City Hall by Friday, Mayor Del Vecchio said.
   When construction is under way, Paul Cronce of the city’s Road Department will be a liaison for property owners with questions, complaints or problems related to the project, according to the mayor.
   Many of the street’s decades-old sycamores and "other dirty trees" will be removed, according to Mr. Schrek. Replacement trees, their types still to be determined, will be planted, he said.
   Officials hope to go to bid on the project in April and award a contract in May, according to Ms. Sheppard. If all goes as planned, work is expected to start in June once school is out for the summer.
   "We’re on a pretty aggressive schedule," Mayor Del Vecchio said. "We want to get this done this summer so it doesn’t conflict with school."
   A $250,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation is financing the work, according to the mayor.