DERRY — The recent efforts to improve Hilda Avenue has led to a larger discussion of how the town plans to improve former private roads near Rainbow Lake and throughout town.
Councilor Mark Osborne brought up the issue at a recent Town Council meeting, noting that he had been contacted by several residents of Hilda Avenue concerned about the state of their road.
Since that time, the public works department has taken some steps to improve the safety and condition of the road at the intersection of English Range Road, including cutting vegetation to improve visibility.
Public works director Mike Fowler said the town will also pave a portion of the road apron at the intersection when it paves Cove Road later this season.
Fowler said the condition of Hilda Avenue points to the issue officials have in addressing many roads the town has taken control of at Rainbow Lake and in other areas during the past decade.
“The history of Rainbow Lake is that the town inherited those roads through a court order back in 2003,” said Fowler. “Quite honestly, we have struggled with the best way to stay on top of these roads. They are gravel roads and low volume roads, but when it rains, we have to go in and try to perform maintenance.”
The town plans to pave some of the gravel roads to reduce future maintenance costs, Fowler said.
A limited annual paving budget means blacktopping all desired roads will take time.
Paving the entire Rainbow Lakes area would cost about $1 million, he said, which would be close to the entire town paving budget for the year. Fowler said it will be five to seven years before the entire Rainbow Lake area is paved.
“This is a function of having other roads in town, such as Crystal Avenue and Birch Street, that have much higher volume and these are roads that are going to require attention,” said Fowler.
Councilor Brad Benson suggested the public works department come before the council with an update on its plan and schedule for paving the former private roads in town.
“In the last four or five years, we have acquired a lot of town roads that are not up to town specifications, and most are not paved,” said Benson.
He said it would be helpful to have a ranking of the order in which the roads will be paved.