Winter’s toll

The city of Dunkirk’s Department of Public Works is addressing the pothole problem. Street paving was discussed at Monday’s Public Works Committee meeting in City Hall.

DPW Streets Supervisor Michael Porpiglia said the city is working to “rectify the situation with hot in place” paving. The city has plans to do complete reconstruction, including new water lines, on East Seventh Street and Washington Avenue, between Seventh and Fourth streets. There are also plans to work on Plover Street. Porpiglia said the city’s plan is to do the big projects first and eliminate any “black” fire hydrants – those that have no flow anymore – in and around the HUD district.

Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak asked DPW Director Tony Gugino if the city had a complete list of streets to be paved. The DPW has not completed this list, but they do have a brief outline. He said the list the city had in 2013 is a good starting point. The city does need another street inventory after the past winter, Gugino added. Last year the city was doing an inventory of city streets under former city engineer David Manzella. The city was ready to go to bid but was held up when Manzella announced his retirement.

Gugino said the major projects on Seventh Street and Washington Avenue will probably eat up most of the funds, adding there is over $600,000 in CHIPS funding with HUD repayment. He said there will be money left over for street repairs. He said he is waiting on written approval for additional funding from the Community Development Block Grant. Once this written approval is received, the DPW will move ahead with other projects.

“We will have to get by with some patching this year on some of the (streets) we’d like to really reconstruct,” he said.

One of the challenges facing the DPW is a lack of manpower and available hours to pave. Gugino said with the city’s daily required tasks and emergencies that arise, it is hard for workers to keep up with paving. He proposed to the committee to utilize overtime funds; that budget line is only 7 percent expended thus far. He suggested using workers on overtime on a Saturday to “patch like crazy.” Councilwoman Stacy Szukala, who is the committee chair, said she would have no problem if that’s what it takes to fix the streets.

“Based on my experience … if I have to patch the streets at the pace with the available days I have on straight time, I probably wouldn’t get half the city done before Thanksgiving because of all the other things that take precedence over that, sink holes, storm drains, open holes all over the city.” Gugino said.

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