Smithfield Road residents say they welcome new sidewalks

Smithfield Road residents say they welcome new sidewalks

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Comments by one town councilor about parking issues on Smithfield Road are prompting a reaction from residents who say they have no problem with the town installing a sidewalk in front of their homes.

Last month, Councilor Claire O’Hara expressed concern during a Town Council meeting about parking on Smithfield Road, where she said residents were parking on the sidewalk despite a no-parking ordinance in the area. O’Hara said some residents had even go so far as to remove sidewalks and replace them with extended parking areas in front of homes.

Last week, residents of two homes on Smithfield Road contacted The Breeze to say they never had sidewalks in front of their properties. Gail Narodowy, the owner of a home at 521 Smithfield Road, said that before she and her family had the area paved, the space in front of her home consisted of broken up asphalt and rocks.

“We paved it because it was all broken up, and we did not want anyone to fall and then we’d be liable,” she said. “But we never, ever took a curb down, and I just had to clarify that that we never took it upon ourselves to take the sidewalk down.”

Narodowy said that when her parents owned the home, they tried to have sidewalks put in in front of the property, but the issue never went anywhere due to disputes between the town and state over responsibility. While Smithfield Road is a state road, Public Works Director Raymond Pendergast said last month it’s the town’s responsibility to maintain the sidewalks.

“It’s always been a little bit of a battle if it’s a state road or a town road,” Narodowy said.

Next door, Kayla Jencks said she’s also never had sidewalks in front of her home in the 10 years she’s lived there. Jencks said backing out of her driveway into Smithfield Road is “a nightmare,” particularly when she has to bring her kids to school in the morning.

“If people are going to complain about my parking, I sure hope they do put in real sidewalks, because there’s no sidewalk going up the street, only dirt that makes a sidewalk,” she said.

Both women said that following comments by O’Hara and other councilors during the meeting, police officers visited their homes to ask that they no longer park in the asphalt spaces in front of their yards. According to Jencks and Narodowy, it was the first time the parking ordinance had been enforced in front of their homes.

Capt. Stephen Riccitelli and Lt. Mark Bergeron, the traffic enforcement officer for the North Smithfield Police Department, told The Breeze this week they had officers inform the families about the no-parking ordinance after hearing the complaints of town officials.

“They were very understanding, and it seems the issue has been resolved,” Riccitelli said.

While the town ordinance prohibits parking between Park Square and Union Square, signage on the street makes it appear as though the no-parking rule may only apply further down the street near Park Avenue. Riccitelli said he plans to speak with the Public Works Department about improving the signage.

According to Bergeron, parking on Smithfield Road has not been a big issue in the area in the past except when events are going on at Barry Field. In those cases, he said, officers ticket vehicles parked on the southern side of Smithfield Road.

Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski said he’s also spoken with the residents of the two homes and has concerns about pedestrians walking in the area. He said the issue is made worse by the fact that many homes now have multiple vehicles.

“It was so much better 50 years ago when there was one car per family. Now there’s a car for every adult in the house,” he said.

Zwolenski said the town may look into improving the Smithfield Road sidewalks as part of an upcoming round of road repairs, but the project is not in the budget for this year. Along with parking, O’Hara had expressed concerns about the condition of the sidewalks on the stretch between Greenville Road and Park Avenue.

“There may be money leftover for an add alternate to do some engineering on some roads in town. We may have other priorities over that,” Zwolenski said.

Speaking to The Breeze this week, O’Hara said she remembers when there was a sidewalk in front of the two homes, but it wasn’t concrete. Instead, she said, there was an asphalt area where pedestrians could walk.

“In my youth, there was sidewalk to walk there. We weren’t walking on the highway,” she said.

O’Hara said she supports putting in new sidewalks in the area. Previous administrations, she said, had also targeted sidewalk improvements on Smithfield Road, but the project always fell through.

“It’s dangerous. They have to do it,” she said.

Comments

If the town of North Smithfield is going to put sidewalks on Smithfield Road, a state road, they should certainly sidewalk Union Village up to Branch Village. It my belief that the Town of NS owns a portion of either side of 146A by eminent domain, so sidewalk whatever side makes more sense. We need a more walkable and bicycle friendly town and I have been saying this for years! In fact, have the solar developers put them in.

While we are talking about putting sidewalks on State roads AT MY EXPENSE lets get them on Saint Paul Street ! You know the street where there is a NASTY BLIND curve and NOBODY does the speed limit !

Wow we have more politicians worried about a sidewalk effecting only a few people when we have highly traveled roads in major disrepair that go unfixed even after numerous complaints. But I forgot I live in RI where I know a guy instead of doing things for the greater good. This is what we get for elected poor decision makers.