Various stretches of the Hillspoint Road sidewalk. / Photos by Thane Grauel
Stretches of the Hillspoint Road sidewalk. / Photos by Thane Grauel

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — One of the town’s most popular sidewalks will soon be torn asunder for a major overhaul.

The haphazard sidewalk on Hillspoint Road, from Compo Hill (opposite Old Mill Beach) to Hales Road, will be completely redone by the Department of Public Works.

The project has been in the planning stages several years, but was delayed, and costs have increased in the meantime, Public Works Director Peter Ratkiewich recently told the Board of Finance.

The department sought, and got approval from the board, for a $473,000 appropriation May 17.

“This is a request that has been waiting for funding for a long time,” Ratkiewich told the board.

“There is an existing sidewalk there but it has topography issues, it has width issues, it has a lot of handicap issues,” he said.

He said that in 2017, his predecessor, Steve Edwards, applied for a $309,647 grant, which at the time was enough to cover the cost, with a small match from the town.

Various stretches of the Hillspoint Road sidewalk. / Photos by Thane Grauel

But costs have increased.

The price tag is now $430,000. Ratkiewich said, and with a 10 percent contingency, he was requesting a total of $473,000.

“This sidewalk is sort of a no-brainer,” Ratkiewich said. “It’s wanted by the entire neighborhood in the Hillspoint area, because it does lead to Old Mill Beach, and it will sort of complete a portion of the sidewalk network that we’ve been trying to make continuous all the way from the Post Road down both Hillspoint and Compo Road South leading to Compo Beach, Old Mill Beach and Longshore.”

Board member Nancie Dupier asked if the project involves just replacing what’s there.

Ratkiewich said it’s more than that.

Various stretches of the Hillspoint Road sidewalk. / Photos by Thane Grauel

“There are some sections are two-foot wide,” he said. “Our goal is to make it four-foot wide for handicapped access, and in most places, five-foot wide.”

Member Sheri Gordon asked about the two-foot wide areas, and walls next to those portions.

“Where we can, we’re going to expand the shoulder,” Ratkiewich said.

Stop sign and crosswalk changes will be made at the Old Mill Beach intersection, Ratkiewich said in response to Gordon’s questions.

Dupier asked about the construction timeline.

“If I go out to bid, I may start at the end of summer,” Ratkiewich said. “But I’ve been working down there a couple years — there is no good time to work down there, except in the middle of winter, and even then, everyone is commenting to us, please clear the sidewalk, we still want to walk down there.”

“There’s always pedestrian traffic there,” he said.

“It’s not gonna be pretty, no matter when I do it,” he said. “Even going into fall, fall is like summer down there.”

“I have to get work done in warm weather,” Ratkiewich said.

Thane Grauel grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond for 35 years. Reach him at editor@westportjournal.com. Learn more about us here.