Rough roads rile residents

This Friday photo shows road deterioration along Old Timber Court in August Meadows subdivision in New Lothrop.

NEW LOTHROP — Some residents in a New Lothrop subdivision are expressing frustration that the village government hasn’t fixed their deteriorating roads.

Some of the streets in August Meadows subdivision never got a top coat of asphalt — only a base — when they were constructed more than 20 years ago, residents said. The builder has since gone bankrupt, they said, and the roads are crumbling.

They believe it’s the village government’s obligation to undertake repairing the roads, which are public byways that lie within the village limits. The village cleans and snow-plows the streets.

“We’ve all been to village meetings and spoken our piece — that was about three or four years ago,” said Ed Bennett, who has lived in the subdivision for 19 years. “They keep giving us the run-around.”

Village officials, however, noted it was the developer, Confer Builders, that failed to complete some of the subdivision roads, reportedly because the company ran out of money.

“We’re not the ones who promised them the roads,” Jerry Burns, the former village mayor, said. “(The subdivision residents) can come back to the village council again and ask for help. They do pay taxes, and I think the Downtown Development Authority should be the one helping them. It’s just something (the residents) should have done earlier.”

Bennett said the DDA entered into a “handshake agreement” with Confer to finish the roads and did not require the builder to post a bond, which would have protected the subdivision from a default.

After residents complained to officials about the roads a few years ago, the village contacted its attorneys.

At that time, Confer turned over ownership of five vacant lots in the subdivision to the village. The lots were subsequently sold for below-market value, and the proceeds of about $40,000 were earmarked for road repairs in August Meadows.

The money remains earmarked, Burns said, dismissing rumors that it is going to be transferred into the village general fund for other uses. However, it’s not enough to cover the estimated cost of $150,000 to grind up the existing base and repave the roads.

The DDA has expressed an intention to place additional funds aside each year for the project, but lately funding for repair work on the village’s deteriorating sewer system, set to take place this year, has taken higher priority, Burns said.

Current New Lothrop Mayor John Maksimchuk said he and other members of the village council know the roads are in bad shape and want them to be fixed. The problem is funding, he said.

“We went after a 50-percent matching grant from the state a few months ago, and we were turned down,” Maksimchuk said. “We’re still talking about how we can fund that. It’s hard to get money for streets, but we’re trying to get funding for those roads.”

The unfinished roads are located in the second and third phases of August Meadows, directly affecting about 22 houses. Homes in the subdivision are valued from $250,000 to $350,000.

Jerry Johnson, a former village president, has lived on one of them for 22 years. He said that in his opinion, the DDA in particular should finance the work. It should not be done by imposing a special assessment on subdivision residents, which he understands the village is now advocating, he said.

“The last word I got, they were going to make us pay for our roads,” Johnson said. “They ought to pay. There isn’t a street in town that hasn’t been improved without money from the DDA. Our own money goes to the DDA.

“They need to do the whole thing,” he continued. “All through here the road is getting holes in it.”

Bennett said he is concerned that if he decides to sell his house in a few years, the poor condition of his road might put off potential buyers.

“They’re not going to look at moving into this mess,” he said. “When it rains, it looks like lakefront property. When you come into the driveway, it beats the tar out of your car.”

The bottom edge of driveways along the affected roads have elevated lips that don’t reach the base coat, potentially causing damage to vehicles entering and exiting the driveways.

“They just did a bunch of road repairs this spring,” Bennett said. “I want them to take care of my cul-de-sac.”

The Argus-Press was unable to reach DDA President David Schnell or Street Administrator Carl Seamon for comment Monday.

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