BY ANGELA MATUA
Hamilton Beach residents were stood up.
The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) failed to make their appointment at Thursday’s Hamilton Beach Civic Association meeting, turning what should have been an informative session on a capital project into an airing of residents’ grievances.
The DDC was scheduled to unveil designs for a project to repair major corrosion and tidal flooding on James Court after residents rejected the first plan. However, the agency cancelled only a few hours before the meeting was set to take place, according to Hamilton Beach Civic Association President Roger Gendron.
Gendron said the project manager retired earlier this month and that the DDC was not sure if they could bring someone who could update residents on the specifics of the plan.
“We can talk about it all we want but DDC is not here to answer for themselves tonight and that’s the problem,” Gendron said. “I don’t care if they stood a guy in here with a target and said ‘We don’t have anything, take your best shot,’ but they didn’t do that and that’s wrong.”
Residents decried the last design plan, which was presented to them at a Jan. 22 civic meeting. The plan called for adding a bulkhead to the end of the street and up to two feet of asphalt to some parts of the roadway, thus elevating the street bed. This heightened road would force homeowners to bury or reconstruct the first few steps leading to their home if the steps are located on the sidewalk.
Patricia McCabe, a representative of state Senator Joseph Addabbo, relayed the lawmaker’s disapproval over the DDC no-show.
“He’s very, very upset with DDC,” McCabe said. “This is what his exact words were: ‘Make sure everybody at the meeting knows, he will be back at the district tomorrow, he will speak to the commissioner. They will get answers within the next week. They’re going to hold them to the time frame of this project.’ He’s as angry as you are.”
Rich Lynch, a Hamilton Beach resident who lives on James Court, said that the project manager had a responsibility to inform residents of the plan before his retirement.
“It’s kind of embarrassing from their point of view that it was a changing of the guard but the guard didn’t know he was in charge or something,” Lynch said.
Craig Chin, borough planner for the Department of Transportation, was in attendance but could not update residents on the plan because the DDC didn’t provide the DOT any updated plans.
“It’s DDC that we have to hold their feet to the fire,” Gendron said. “And believe me when I tell you I will.”
A DDC spokesperson reportedly told Gendron that they will attend the next Hamilton Beach Civic Association meeting on Aug. 20 to unveil the plan.
The DDC did not respond to requests for comment.