© The Stoneham Independent

STONEHAM, MA - Mass. Water Resource Authority (MWRA) officials again pledged to restore any and all damaged Oak Street properties to pre-construction conditions, while the water provider also released a firmer re-paving timeline for residential side streets in North Stoneham.

During a public forum last Tuesday at the Robin Hood School, MWRA Executive Director Fred Laskey, acutely aware of building neighborhood resentment over the substantial impacts of a pipeline project in and around Oak Street, assured residents his agency's presence in the neighborhood is coming to an end.

For the first time, MWRA officials also circulated a complete list of roadways that will be repaved in their entirety to mitigate the impacts of stashing heavy equipment and building materials on side streets in and around the primary North and Oak Street pipeline route.

According to Laskey, after contractor Albanese D&S and agency officials finish the process of sanitizing the 48-inch main this month, the entire focus will shift to restoration and cleanup work. Roadways will be patched and overhauled beginning in July, before they are completely paved in August before the start of a new school year.

"In August, we hope to finish up, and then we'll be out of there and you'll have brand new streets," said Laskey. "I had a gentleman come to me tonight about debris in his driveway. If you have something like that, come talk to us and we'll get it out of there."

The full list of restoration work will include the repaving of the following public ways in the area, according to documents distributed at the recent gathering:

• George Street;

• Northgate;

• Virginia Lane;

• Sherwood Road;

• Myopia Road;

• Bonad Road;

• Forest Street;

• Sycamore Road;

• Magnolia Terrace;

• Weld Road;

• Oakridge Road;

• Kimball Drive;

• Victoria Lane;

• Nottingham Road;

• Unicorn Road;

• and Royal Street.

Not included on that list is Oak Street, which will ultimately be the town's responsibility for repaving.

The MWRA presentation took place just a week after a pair of Oak Street residents lodged a series of new complaints regarding the project, which involved the entire length of Oak Street being excavated so a 48-inch main could be buried under the public way.

After a full season of near continuous work by Dracut-based contractor Albanese D&S, which began with the installation of temporary water connections in the area in April of 2017, Oak Street residents awoke last month to find crews punching back into the pavement to plug a series of leaks in the new pipeline.

According to Laskey, who acknowledged the project has been botched by poor communication and a series of preventable mishaps, neighbors have shown a remarkable amount of patience over the past year.

"I want to apologize to you for the frustration and headaches we've caused you," said Laskey. "It's very frustrating for us, costly for the contractor, and a headache for all of you. Frankly, we've never had anything like this ever happen before on one of our construction projects."

Though repeatedly offering his sorries to neighbors, the agency head vehemently denied allegations that the recent excavation activity in recent months had resulted in a federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violation over stormwater treatment issues.

Those claims, the subject of the rumor mill, had been repeated by an Oak Street resident during a Board of Selectmen meeting earlier this month.

"There were issues raised about whether we were in violation of EPA rules. I want to assure you we have the appropriate permits from the EPA," said Laskey. "We talked to the EPA about the speculation we had a permit violation. We did not, so I want to assure everyone that we've done this right."

Also this week, MWRA officials advised residents that extraordinary property damage reports must be filed out with the water provider, in order to jumpstart the reimbursement process.

That claims process generally relates to issues outside of impacts caused to front lawns and driveways as a result of storing equipment on the public way.

For example, a number of neighbors have claimed their home foundations and walls have been cracked by the amount of blasting and drilling activity during the work. There have also been issues with flooding and cases where fences were wrecked by vehicles.

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