Sounds of construction herald spring on Main Street in Tisbury
While some Islanders heard pinkletinks this week, on Tisbury's Main Street, the sound of jackhammers heralded spring's arrival.
Over the next three to four weeks, Tisbury's department of public works (DPW) plans to complete a three-year project to redo Main Street, with sidewalks constructed, curbing replaced, and the road repaved in the block from Spring Street to Center Street.
Next week, Stop and Shop patrons and downtown shoppers should be prepared to face more than the usual hunt for parking spaces in the Water Street parking lot, as the DPW expects to begin major construction to install the infrastructure for underground conduit. DPW director Fred LaPiana estimates the work will take one to two weeks.
P and P Masonry workers tackled sidewalk removal on Tisbury's Main Street last week, launching the town's springtime projects. Photo by Janet Hefler
The Main Street project involves replacing and constructing sidewalks, and making them handicapped accessible. Some of the sidewalk work includes a portion of the brick walkway along the west side of the street. On Tuesday, Mr. LaPiana met with some of the business owners to get their input regarding the amount of brick to retain in the final configuration.
The sidewalk construction also involves providing electrical ties for underground installation. Once the sidewalks are completed, the section of Main Street from Spring to Center streets will be repaved and restriped.
Cullen Electrical of Marshfield is performing the electrical work. P and P Masonry of West Tisbury is constructing the sidewalks, for which Goodale Construction Company in Oak Bluffs provides a special concrete mix.
Goodale's has been very accommodating, Mr. LaPiana said, as the company must stop production of regular concrete when producing the type specified by Tisbury, because it requires a different kind of stone, plus dye. A special treatment must be used on top of the concrete once it is poured so that the stone will be exposed for a more natural look.
The Water Street parking lot project, slated to start next week, got the go-ahead from voters at special town meeting last month. They approved spending $49,000 to install underground ductwork in the lot and Cromwell Lane. The ductwork will allow for future placement of electric, telephone, and cable television lines and street-light service lines.
Mr. LaPiana said work planned for next week involves installing two large concrete electrical vaults, 14 by 7 by 8 feet, each weighing 16,000 pounds, and three smaller hand-holes, about 4 ft.-square, underground in the parking lot. Then conduit will be run in between all of the boxes.
"There will be some traffic adjustments as we go through that process," Mr. LaPiana said. "It is not anticipated we'll close the parking lot, but we will have to adjust traffic flow as need be to accommodate the construction."
Anticipating the rocky road ahead, Tisbury Police Chief John Cashin joked in a phone call on Tuesday that he should have planned a trip to Florida next week.
Shopkeepers on Main Street and their patrons got a taste of things to come on Monday, with parking spaces blocked off and sidewalks torn up. Around noontime, the noise of jackhammers replaced the usual sounds of a bustling lunchtime crowd in Mocha Mott's.
"Parking is crucial for us - if people can't park, they don't come in," said co-owner Tim Dobel, as he looked around at the few customers in the shop.
Mr. Dobel said he would have liked something in writing about the construction plans from the DPW and certainly more than the few days' notice he was given.
The DPW notified businesses last Friday. However, Mr. Dobel was not in Mocha Mott's that day or over the weekend, so he did not find out about the construction until he came in on Monday morning.
"If I'd known sooner, I would have put less staff on today," Mr. Dobel said. "We could have coordinated closing our store for maintenance with the construction work. If we were going to close for a day, this would have been the day to do it."
As the co-owner of another Mocha Mott's in Oak Bluffs, Mr. Dobel said he thinks the Oak Bluffs DPW does a better job by notifying businesses of impending projects in writing a few weeks ahead of time and seeking to minimize the disruption.
In-between answering phone calls in the bathroom to escape the sound of jackhammers, another storeowner (who asked not to be identified) said it would have made sense for the DPW to do the construction during school vacation week.
However, as Sioux Eagle, owner of Sioux Eagle Designs, pointed out, school vacation brings visitors - and shoppers - to the Island. "There's never a good time," she said philosophically, adding that, "It's better now than in June or July." Despite the inconvenience, Ms. Eagle said she is happy that the new sidewalks will provide much needed handicapped access.
In response to the criticism, Mr. LaPiana said his department notifies businesses in writing when possible, but that construction projects are largely weather-dependent. Scheduling them can involve a narrow window of opportunity in which to work, he said.
Mr. LaPiana said he didn't notify businesses two weeks ago about possible construction on Main Street this week, because he had no idea at that time what the weather would hold. "The town pays me well, but not to be a weatherman," Mr. LaPiana said with a smile. Just last week there was a snowstorm, he pointed out.
"This is the earliest possible time we could start construction, due to the cold weather we had over the month of February," Mr. LaPiana said. School vacation week would have been impossible, he added, because it was too cold to dig or pour concrete.