Brandon approves $572,000 to rebuild Union Street sidewalk


BRANDON — Union Street residents in Brandon are on track to have a new 750-foot section of granite-curbed sidewalk running from the south end of the Hannaford’s Grocery to a recently renovated sidewalk just north of the railway tracks — on both sides of the street.

The combined 1,500 feet of sidewalk is estimated to cost $572,000, and will be partially paid with a $300,000 federal grant the town applied for and received in 2020. The bid for the project was awarded to DuBois & King, Inc. of Randolph and South Burlington, which estimates construction will begin and be finished in 2024. The next year and a half will be spent finalizing the construction plans, and working with residents along that stretch of road to be sure construction plans involve minimal disruption to those residents’ properties.

At Monday’s selectboard meeting, Brian Breslend, project leader for DuBois & King, led the selectboard through three options for the project: 1) doing nothing and leaving the sidewalk as it is; 2) building a five-foot wide sidewalk with granite curbing that is a foot wider than the older sidewalks, allowing for bicycle and pedestrian use and two-way travel with adequate room, as well as a 3-foot grass buffer between the sidewalk and the roadside at a cost of $272,000; and 3) a similar sidewalk but with no built-in curb, so the grass buffer would slope into the roadside, at a cost of $553,000, but with the possibility of added costs and greater impacts to personal property.

After a 20-minute presentation and discussion of the options, the board took questions of the proposal from the public. Union Street resident Shirley Markland questioned whether her property boundaries were accurately noted in the plans, to which Breslend said that the property boundaries game from federal coordinates that were “notoriously wrong” and said the company would be working with each property owner to ensure property boundaries were correct and other property issues were worked out before work began. Markland also was concerned that a tree she had recently planted at a considerable cost was pegged for removal without due cause. Breslend and Town Manager David Atherton said they would revisit the site plans to see how her concerns could be best addressed.

Anytime we can fund a half-million plus dollar project without having it go on the property tax, that’s a win for Brandon residents.

David Atherton

As no other citizens had concerns or comments with respect to the sidewalk project, the selectboard moved to approve the second option, which was approved unanimously. Funds for the project will come from a $300,000 federal grant, with the remaining $272,000 coming from the town’s local option tax fund, which is a penny tax on retail sales within the town. Atherton said that fund currently had about $500,000 in the bank, and has been generating about $235,000 to $250,000 annually. To that end, the property will not be financed through the town’s property tax.

“Anytime we can fund a half-million plus dollar project without having it go on the property tax, that’s a win for Brandon residents,” Atherton said.

As for the necessity of the project, Atherton said that while the stretch of sidewalk was not a critical element for the town, it was “definitely needed.” Currently, the sidewalk there is not ADA compliant, has inadequate curb cuts, presents some dangerous options for bikers and is undersized.

The new sidewalk, he said, would hook up with recently reconstructed sidewalks that extend across the railroad tracks all the way south to the town’s water treatment plant, which is a popular biking route on south to Pittsford’s coverage bridges on rural and scenic roads, which parallel Route 7, but with much less traffic.


In Atherton’s Town Manager report, he noted:

• the Arnold District Culvert replacement project had gone out to bid with a pre-bid meeting on site on May 18, and bid openings set for June 3;

• he had received two of the three appraisals for the next round of property buyouts on Newton Road. Both property owners were satisfied with the appraisals, he said, and will be moving forward with the buyout process;

• reported that the caution sides for the Sanderson Bridge were stolen and would be replaced. The signs had been placed at the intersection of Long Swamp and Short Swamp Road. “It’s unfortunate,” Atherton said, “because the signs were custom-made for the town and not inexpensive” and were put there to deter lost truckers from attempting to drive into the bridge.

In recreation department news, Atherton reported:

• more than 160 kids were playing on 13 baseball teams this spring-summer season;

• that Kindness and Safety Day would be held at the Neshobe School on May 14 and was a great way for the community to reconnect with the school following two years of Covid-related isolation. The event features OMYA’s free bike helmets give-away that usually draws a crowd;

• and that archery practice was back at Estabrook Park starting in June each Thursday. Other summer recreation programming can be found on the website.

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