WATERBURY — When snow plows mound snow on curbs, some Naugatuck Valley Community College students find themselves walking on busy Chase Parkway to reach their campus.
At any time of year, walkers often feel the breeze of cars passing close by, according to Student Government Association President Iralis DeJesus.
“That’s how close the cars are to us,” DeJesus said during a press conference at the school Wednesday.
More than 100 cheering students joined school and city leaders for a walk down the busy road in front of the school, rallying for sidewalks.
During a press conference before the march, Mayor Neil M. O’Leary announced the city would split an estimated $250,000 cost to install a sidewalk along a portion of the desired route.
This will span from the campus’ west entrance to just beyond the east entrance, near where Chase Parkway takes a sharp right over Interstate 84 at the junction with West Main Street.
Despite some playful prodding from college President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, O’Leary didn’t commit to a schedule.
“I am a very happy woman this afternoon, because I know the mayor will get it done,” said De Filippis, turning to O’Leary. “You’ll get it done quickly right?”
O’Leary laughed. “You’re always raising the bar,” he said.
Samuel Gold, executive director of the Council of Governments of the Central Naugatuck Valley, said it’s likely the sidewalk could be built in the summer 2015.
The sidewalk will tie in with other improvements around campus. NVCC plans to freshly pave the drives throughout its campus interior, and install interior sidewalks and lighting in 2015. The city and college will work together to build a new bus shelter along Chase Parkway this fall.
The new stretch of sidewalk will be a boon to students, but will still leave the college unconnected to other areas of the city by sidewalk. A particular problem is a blind curb were Chase Parkway meets West Main Street. A steep hill on the roadside leaves just enough room for a narrow foot-worn path.
“It really sucks when it’s snowy, because there’s no room and you have to walk in the street,” said Grant Lionello, a 30-year-old student making his way along the curve to get home Wednesday afternoon.
College and city officials want ultimately to stretch sidewalks east around that dangerous curve, and west to the Middlebury town line, but those are much trickier areas and will be costlier.
Unlike the stretch of Chase Parkway immediately in front of the college, construction in those areas would require buying or taking private property, officials say. The city and school would also have to seek state transportation dollars. All of this could take years.
Sen. Joan V. Hartley, D-Waterbury, said the college and its supporters decided to start with a portion they could accomplish in short order. Once complete, this could help leverage state transportation money steered by the Council of Governments. After all, Naugatuck Valley is a regional facility, serving students from other area towns represented in the council, she noted.
“What’s that they say? The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step,” De Filippis said.
Contact Michael Puffer at email@example.com.