Shelton's next Riverwalk phase may begin later this month

Construction on the next phase of the Riverwalk could begin in the next few weeks. On Oct. 7, the Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to approve $300,000 for the project on Canal Street.

Phase Two will go from just north (toward the dam) of the Birmingham condominium building to the end of the Shelton Avalon apartment complex.

A 900-foot brick pathway will start on Canal Street and go between these two residential properties, then continue along the Housatonic River behind the Avalon property.

Plans call for the Riverwalk on this side of Bridge Street to eventually continue farther north toward the dam.

Should take 6-8 weeks to complete

Mayor Mark Lauretti said the initial construction phase of installing the walkway and lighting could be completed by sometime in December, depending on weather.

“Our goal is to get started by the end of the month,” Lauretti said.

Other officials said construction should take from six to eight weeks to complete. Landscaping will cost extra and be done at a later date, Lauretti said.

The low bidder to construct the project was Vaz Quality Works of Bridgeport, at $236,000.

The city will purchase the clay-brick pavers directly with some of the $300,000, a move that should save money. Funds also will be spent on administrative costs to oversee the project.

City money will fund the project

City officials have decided not to tap into federal funds allotted for Riverwalk work to complete this phase of the project, but to use city funds through bonding instead.

They said this approach should lead to the project being completed much sooner and lower its cost by up to 70% — estimating that to follow grant requirements could drive the cost up to almost $1 million.

The federal funds will remain in place to be used on future phases, officials said. “We’re saving taxpayers at least a half-million dollars,” Lauretti said.

The city still has about $1.3 million left in outside grants to spend on Riverwalk work in the future, aldermen were told by James E. Ryan, president of the Shelton Economic Development Corp.

Using the design-build method

Vaz Quality Works will work with engineering firm Milone & MacBroom and landscape architectural firm Tate & Associates on the project.

Another firm, Rotondo Engineering, had previously been retained for the job but its contract later was terminated.

A design-build approach will be used, meaning the design and construction phases of the project will be pursued at about the same time. This should speed up the process.

Ryan said Lauretti has pushed for Phase Two to be completed as soon as possible, and all the needed rights-of-way and land-use approvals have been secured.

“It’s great to see the government seize the moment,” Ryan said of the timeline.

Lauretti praised Avalon for its role in Phase Two of the Riverwalk. He called the company “a good partner” for doing some grading work with land behind its complex to prepare the site for the walkway.

Walkway width,  materials to be used

The new section will be 10 feet wide, while the existing section in Veterans Memorial Park is up to 12 feet wide, said James Tate of Tate & Associates.

Tate said the new red-colored clay pavers to be used will be “much harder” than the concrete pavers used on Phase One.

Therefore, he said, there is less chance of chipping or discoloring over time. “It will be the same color 100 years from now,” he said.

Tate also noted the project will be compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

When aldermen asked about future maintenance costs, Lauretti said the walkway will be maintained just like all city properties. “It’s hard to put a dollar amount on it,” he said of the cost of that obligation.

Future plans for the riverfront

While Phase Two will not directly connect with Phase One, future plans call for the Riverwalk to be extended from Veterans Memorial Park to Bridge Street, as well as from the Avalon property to the dam property at the end of Canal Street.

Lauretti said the Riverwalk work, combined with the current rebuilding of Canal Street in the same area, will encourage future private development.

“In the spring, you’ll see real progress that will inspire what will go on farther up the street toward the dam,” he said.