Diamond Hill roundabouts

By taking over the care of the landscaping at the Diamond Hill Road roundabouts, Cumberland officials are hoping to avoid the messy look that overtook the area in 2021.

CUMBERLAND – Citing concerns that a proposed memorandum maintenance agreement for the Diamond Hill Road roundabouts is too vague and broad, the Town Council last week postponed a vote on signing it.

Councilor Bob Shaw asked for clarity at the Jan. 5 council meeting on whether the agreement as proposed only relates to landscaping. Mayor Jeff Mutter responded that in reading through the agreement, he understands how it might look otherwise.

Shaw said he found it strange that the wording as presented that evening seemed to indicate that the town would take over maintenance of the roundabouts “including landscaping” in parentheses, when the only item officials are agreeing to is the landscaping.

“I just wanted to get some clarification on that wording where it doesn’t come back and bite us in the butt down the road,” he said.

“I agree with that assessment because the discussions that I’ve had personally with DOT was that this was just template language for just landscaping,” responded Mutter. “But, when you have in parentheses that perform all maintenance, and then in parentheses it says, including landscaping, that does suggest otherwise.”

Mutter said the agreement is not a pressing matter, and he would be in agreement that the town should get clarification.

Shaw said that if it includes removal of snow from sidewalks and other items, the town should get clarification on that.

Town Solicitor Kelley Morris Salvatore said she read the proposed agreement as “all of the roundabout,” which could include plowing or changes to the pavement, so yes, tabling the proposal and getting it right is proper.

Shaw said if maintenance of the roundabouts is going to fall on the town during upcoming reconstruction of the I-295 overpass between the two roundabouts, he wouldn’t want any responsibility related to damage or change to the structure of the roundabouts to fall on the community.

Mutter responded that every discussion with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation was related to cutting, trimming, and general landscaping within and around the roundabouts.

At Shaw’s motion, the council tabled the item to Jan. 19.

Mutter, in introducing the resolution, said the roundabouts represent a prominent spot for traffic, including people visiting and departing from the town. The state’s maintenance of the new traffic circles was not what local officials wanted it to be in 2021, he said, which is what led the town to seek permission for a couple of trial maintenance runs by the Highway Department to get a feel for the work, both of which went according to plan.

“It has been a lot better,” he said.

The state was fielding some interest from businesses wanting to adopt the islands, he said, but his administration asked that they not go that route as the town was taking over landscaping.

Mutter previously said he has safety concerns related to having people other than town crews enter the roundabouts on foot to complete landscaping work.

At the Jan. 5 meeting, Councilor Lisa Beaulieu asked if the town can make additional landscaping improvements to the area if it wishes to, and Mutter said his understanding is that it can.

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