Stockton seeks easements for new sidewalks

Replacement project among improvements planned for coming year

By Linda Seida
   STOCKTON — The borough is asking about 20 property owners to grant easements for an improvement project along Bridge Street.
   The town wants them to allow the disturbance of several feet of ground in their front yards for the purpose of sidewalk replacement, according to Borough Council President Michael Hagerty.
   ”We’re not taking, just disturbing,” Mr. Hagerty said. “If they say they don’t want us to do that, we’ll figure out another way.”
   The sidewalk replacement is just one part of the improvements coming to Stockton that are scheduled to be completed by 2008.
   A $2 million grant awarded last year by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission will pay for the sidewalks and other safety features that will benefit pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicles. These include the resurfacing of Bridge Street, the construction of water infrastructure improvements at Bridge Street, new sidewalks and streetlights, traffic-calming measures and a new park-and-ride facility on Railroad Avenue.
   In an earlier meeting with borough officials, residents of Bridge Street voiced no objections to their yards being disturbed, according to Mr. Hagerty.
   Now officials will ask property owners to sign a document that will grant the borough an easement allowing the work to proceed. Councilman Neal Esposito said he would go door to door to meet with property owners.
   Mr. Esposito made similar visits to homes on Mill Street when the borough needed easements there before undertaking road and drainage improvements. “He made sure we had every piece we needed,” Mr. Hagerty said.
   Property owners can ask questions and voice concerns during a public hearing on Sept. 24. The hearing is scheduled during the council’s agenda meeting that begins at 7:30 p.m. at Borough Hall, 2 S. Main St.
   Some aspects of the project will be governed by regulations set forth by the State Historic Preservation Office, Mr. Hagerty said. Other aspects could be a matter of residents’ concerns. For example, perhaps a property owner wouldn’t want a mature tree disturbed.
   ”To go around one of those big trees in a front yard, we might need to bring a sidewalk a foot closer to their yard,” Mr. Hagerty said.
   The council introduced an ordinance Aug. 27 authorizing the borough to acquire the easements. A final vote is expected after the Sept. 24 public hearing.