May 13, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The Nelson Town Board meeting last Thursday was almost a quick and simple affair with only basic town business and councilor reports being discussed — until it turned into a rather lengthy and at times heated discussion of the state of repair — or disrepair — of some of the town’s roads.
Town Highway Superintendent Jack Sevier started the meeting by declaring “winter officially over” because his department had removed the snow plows on all the town trucks. He said the highway department made 140 total plow runs during the winter, and garnered $52,527 for the town for all the plowing of county roads done by town employees under the town-county winter plowing contract.
Sevier said the town now has four total trucks in the highway department, after the recent sale of the town’s former fifth truck that was unrepairable. Of the four existing trucks, only two are currently operational and the other two are getting repaired, he said.
Sevier said he and the board have created and reviewed a list of the town roads that need to be repaired in 2014, and they also took a road trip recently to survey all the roads on the list. “We’re aware of road conditions; we’re working on fixes but it takes time and resources, and ours are limited,” he said.
Town Supervisor Roger Bradstreet read aloud a piece of correspondence the board recently received from residents of Chaphe Hill Road, who declared that their road is in such bad shape that it is dangerous, that it is full of washouts and potholes and that the town should be working to repair it but is not taking any action. The letter also said last year’s repaving of Stearns Road was a waste of money and the town’s resources would have been better used on other roads in more dire need of upgrades, such as Chaphe Hill.
“We are greatly worried and need help,” Bradstreet read from the letter.
Bradstreet said that Chaphe Hill Road is on the list of roads to be fixed this year, but “honestly it probably won’t be repaired to the extent that they want.” He echoed Sevier’s comments about the town’s limited resources and manpower for road work, but also said he disagreed with some of the statements regarding the road condition of the Chaphe Hill residents. He said Stearns Road was paved last year because it was in need of paving, and the town must prioritize its road work based on which roads receive more use and are in the most need.
During the public comment period of the meeting, Christine Greene, a resident of Argos Road, said she and her neighbors also have a “huge concern” about the condition of their road as well. Since Argos Road has a large hill it is heavily sanded during the winter, but the sand is not properly removed in spring and causes “lots of dust” that is “very polluting,” she said.
She said that during the years she has lived there, the street has gone from having one house to now having about 10; and as people move from cities or towns out into the country, the potential for more houses on Argos Road only means the road will get worse.
“This isn’t acceptable,” Greene said. “You’re obligated to care for the road far better than you are doing if you take our taxes. I want to know what you are going to do about it.”
Other Argos Road neighbors also attended the meeting, including Richard and Lindsey Stroh, who agreed with Greene’s comments that the road is in bad shape and getting worse, and needs to be repaired.
Bradstreet, Sevier and Town Attorney Jim Stokes all said that the amount of taxes residents pay to the town each year is not nearly enough to fix every road in the town. Sevier said that with the town’s tax rate of $2.23 per $1,000 of assessed value, the taxes collected on a $100,000 house — about $223 — is not even enough to fill the gas tank on one of the town trucks, which takes about $400 to fill.
Bradstreet and Sevier reiterated their previous comments that the town’s resources are just too limited to fix every road in town immediately as many residents would like. They did say that Argos Road is on the highway department’s list of roads to be repaired this year.
Bradstreet said that town residents simply do not like it when the town board raises their taxes. He said that if the board raised taxes in order to fix roads such as Chaphe Hill and Argos, that have less than a dozen homes on them, he could “guarantee” that numerous other town residents would criticize the board for raising their taxes to pay for upgrades on roads that are not highly traveled.
Bradstreet also said that part of this is the responsibility of the homeowner — that people who move to houses on unpaved or less-traveled roads such as Argos “know what [they] get” when they move in. He said one solution the neighborhood could consider would be to create their own special district and raise their own funds to be used solely to repair and upgrade Argos Road.
“We have a list of roads that need work; we know it; we’re working on it,” Sevier said.
“We’re going to do what we can with the means that we have,” Bradstreet said.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.