The second phase of Townsend’s streetscape project is already in the works.

It was at the end of last September that the first phase of the $589,000 street and sidewalk beautification project on Main Street was finalized after some delays.

DelDOT representatives said that the project’s second phase is currently in the concept design stage, but that overall the project will be handled differently than it was last year.

The details

According to DelDOT, the next phase of the streetscape project will extend from where the first phase left off (just east of South Street) to Townsend Elementary School.

The project will include replacing the curve and sidewalks, adding lighting and updating signs.

The cost of the second phase of the project hasn’t been determined yet. Streetscape projects in Delaware are funded by federal grants, which make up 80 percent of the aid, and 20 percent of the funds come from state grants. The total cost for each project is capped at $1 million. DelDOT will have the final cost analysis for the second phase of Townsend’s streetscape project by January 2017.

DelDOT’s Towsend Streetscape Project Manager Todd Pryor said that adding benches and trash cans are currently not part of the project, but could be if the department receives those requests from the community.

Project management

DelDOT will manage the entire second phase of the project – from selecting the lowest bidder to overseeing the contractor’s work.

During the first phase of the project, Townsend’s engineer Owen Hyne of the firm Remington, Vernick & Beach Engineers oversaw the work of the contractor, Grassbusters Landscaping. Hyne reported to the town’s mayor and council with updates and progress reports while the work was taking place.

But the town faced a number of problems with Grassbusters Landscaping after residents showed up to council meetings to complaint about a range of issues – from soil that grew weeds which had been dumped on residents’ front yards, to the project’s poor craftsmanship.

Grassbusters finished the project almost four months behind schedule, but one more problem still loomed ahead. Earlier this year, some residents began to raise concerns about the “scaling” or deterioration of the surface of one of the new sidewalks.

In a May, Townsend Councilman Rudy Sutton said that the deterioration was due to the concrete mix that had been used. The concrete had been brought and poured by the contractor, according to the town and DelDOT.

Currently, the Town of Townsend and Grassbusters are in the middle of a contractual dispute regarding issues related to the first phase of the streetscape project.

Details of the ongoing dispute could not be obtained after two requests for information.

“The town has been advised by counsel to not comment on an ongoing contractual dispute with our contractor,” wrote Townsend Mayor Jermaine Hatton in an email to the Transcript on Dec. 4.

Furthermore, no complaint has been legally filed in court, according to Townsend’s attorney Fred Townsend III.

Timeline for second phase

DelDOT held a public workshop on Nov. 4 in Townsend to obtain feedback from the public on the second phase.

According to Pryor, his office is using the public’s input as well as comments from the town to move forward with the design process which could take another 14 to 16 months.

Once the final design is completed, the competitive bidding process will begin.

“Likely a responsible low-bidder will be awarded the contract,” Pryor said.

DelDOT Planning Division Assistant Director Jeff Niezgoda, who oversees streetscape projects across the state, said that his department will make sure that the contractor for the second phase sticks to the contract guidelines.

“We’ll evaluate the low-bidder for the project….The contractor has to follow and conform to our contracting requirements and that’s all that we have to say about that,” Niezgoda said.

Once the contractor is selected, the project could break ground by the fall 2017.

As to any future plans to extend the streetscape project all the way to Summit Bridge Road (Del. Route 71), Pryor said that could happen in future phases.