"Alligator cracked" pavement at the Department of Public Works site. / Photo by Thane Grauel
“Alligator cracking” at the Public Works yard. / Photo by Thane Grauel

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — The Public Works Department spends a good deal of time and effort paving the town’s roads.

But its headquarters has been a bit neglected. The asphalt hasn’t been replaced since the late 1990s, Public Works Director Peter Ratkiewich told the Board of Finance on Wednesday night.

Soon, the Parsell Public Works Center off the Sherwood Island Connecticut will get a fresh coat of asphalt. The Board of Finance approved a $440,000 appropriation to resurface much of the facility.

A portion of the complex, south of the administration building, was repaved last year, Ratkiewich said.

Elgin Pelican street sweeper. / elginsweeper.com
Elgin Pelican street sweeper. / elginsweeper.com

“It’s a surprisingly vast amount of pavement that’s down there, that’s why we’ve broken it up over a couple of years,” he said.

The pavement, especially near the salt shed where heavy equipment operates, is broken up into about 6-inch blocks, but is in place, Ratkiewich said. “That’s what we call alligator cracking.”

 “At this point it’s about 25 years old, I run heavy loaders, trucks, over it every day, and it’s really due to get taken care of,” he said.

Roads typically get 4 inches of asphalt, but the resurfacing at the public works yard will get 5 inches, because of the heavy equipment. The old asphalt will be recycled.

Once the paving’s done, the department should have some shiny new equipment to park on it. The board also approved appropriations for the DPW to replace three pieces of equipment:

Trackless MT7 multipurpose vehicle./ tracklessvehicles.com
Trackless MT7./ tracklessvehicles.com

• $300,000 for the replacement of a 2008 Elgin Pelican street sweeper. The town owns two and has been leasing a third for a few months for peak season. But, Ratkiewich said, leasing is no longer an option so the department would like to buy a new Elgin, and keep the old one as the third unit.

• $225,000 for the purchase of a Trackless MT7 multipurpose machine. It cleans sidewalks around town year-round, and is useful in clearing ice and snow in winter, Ratkiewich said.

“We really need a machine like this to take snow off sidewalks after it’s been sitting for two or three days,” he said. “You do roads first, then parking lots, then sidewalks. That sidewalk snow can turn into ‘snowcrete.’ ”

“It’s a fairly heavy snowblower that can chew into ice and snow to keep the sidewalks clear,” Ratkiewich said.

“These are getting close to the cost of a Ferrari,” quipped board member Brian Stern.

John Deere 5105M. /deere.com
John Deere 5105M. /deere.com

• $172,000 for the purchase of a John Deere 5105M 4-wheel-drive tractor. It mows grass and brush along town roads, and with a flail-arm attachment, can reach over guardrails to do its job.

All of the DPW appropriations were passed unanimously. They will now head to the Representative Town Meeting, the town’s final funding body.

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.