CUMBERLAND – In a roundabout way, one might say that Cumberland is ready to take the wheel to get where it wants to be.
Unhappy with the continued shabby look of the grass and other plant life at the Diamond Hill Road roundabouts at I-295, town officials are in the process of taking over the work of maintaining them from the state on a permanent basis.
“The town’s going to take it over,” said Mayor Jeff Mutter, who previously expressed dissatisfaction with the look of the area after the state completed its work installing the roundabouts.
Mutter told The Breeze the town is in possession of a template agreement with the state for the takeover and attorneys are reviewing it to make sure it only ties to landscaping work. He said he expects to have something official hammered out in the next couple of weeks.
“I’m sure we’re going to come to an agreement with DOT and we’re going to take it over,” he said. “It can’t stay like this any longer. It’s an embarrassment.”
As the town waits on the official agreement, Mutter said he’s looking to request one more interim cleanup of the area by the town as was previously done with an initial test run, including a police detail to ensure safety of workers.
The Breeze previously reported that the Rhode Island Department of Transportation was only planning four grass-cuttings per year on the numerous grass areas within and around the roundabouts. RIDOT officials previously promoted the fact that the islands are up for adoption by local companies that want to maintain them.
But Mutter said Tuesday that due to safety concerns in this high-traffic area and the police detail that would be needed every time someone needs to go out to do the trimming or cleanup work, it simply doesn’t make sense to divvy up the many small green spaces that way.
Mutter said the town will also take over replacement of trees and shrubs in the area, some of which have already died. The work will be done as part of a regular maintenance schedule, he said, and he hasn’t done an analysis to determine what that extra work would cost.