City council candidate: Watertown wasting money on curbing

Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 5:50 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Is Watertown wasting money and time on the current curbing it’s putting in different areas of the city? One city council candidate thinks so.

Watertown winters take a toll on curbs.

“Spike on curbs like this. They get hit. They get broke every winter season. Every year,” said city council candidate Ben Shoen.

A contractor, Shoen says the damage can be chalked up to the type of curb Watertown uses.

“So it gets hit by a plow, it gets hit by a vehicle and it breaks. Then we’re constantly repairing these curbs,” said Shoen.

It’s through a method called pin-on, or spike-on curbing where concrete is poured over rebar that has been bent into a desired shape. That means the curb sits directly above the existing blacktop instead of extending underground.

“Being that it’s on top of the ground, there’s nothing to hold it in place. The rebar is very small, like 3 eighths of an inch. It doesn’t have any strength,” said Shoen.

The pin-on method does save money, costing around half as much as a traditional curb, and it’s quicker to do. Shoen says it’s just a shortcut that’s costing time and money.

“There’s things we could be doing instead of spending money on curbing that’s not necessary,” he said.

Shoen’s idea is to improve sidewalks since many of them have fallen into a state of disrepair around the city.

“If we have the labor to do curbing, why don’t we transfer that and make it sidewalk labor instead and spend the money where people can actually get some good usage out of it,” he said.

Department of Public Works Superintendent Pat Keenan says the money saved from the pin-on method makes it worth the tradeoff.

“Excavating a street to put full-depth curbing on it versus not doing anything, I mean, this is a compromise between those two things,” he said.

Keenan did acknowledge that pin-on curbs are not as durable but in the end, even traditional curbs would require repairs after a north country winter.