View From The Cheap Seats!
Well, Geez, here we all are in March already and this is really my first Blog of the year! If one didn’t know any better, one could think that I didn’t care about you guys anymore, couldn’t one? But that would really not be true at all. Fact is, it’s like they say: things happen. So let’s get this show on the road and bring y’all up to date, shall we? What should we start with? Ahh! I got it!! Let’s talk about our –
Ahh yes. Roads. That noxious, perennial weed in the township garden. As this goes to print we are deep into our first real thaw of the spring, with temps hovering around the 50* mark and our 10”+ base of snow fading into a dirty, distant memory. For the past few months we’ve been gliding on a carpet of well-packed snow and frozen gravel roads both of which camouflaged the collection of potholes, cracks and missing chunks of pavement which will – very soon – attack our vehicles’ running gear like a pack of ravenous jackals. And once again we will begin the rounds of complaints, criticism and outright griping because our roads are deplorable – and really, they are. I know, trust me, I live on Cornell Rd.
So let me treat this from two angles: first, over the past few years I’ve developed an excellent working relationship with the people in JCDOT who are primarily responsible for the maintenance and re-construction of the majority of roads in the Township. It is my considered opinion that they have done the absolute best they can (and they continue to do so) with the resources they have available to service our roads, and they’ve even made us a priority. For my part in this, I could not be more grateful for their extraordinary efforts on our behalf. I know what kind of money JCDOT has to work with, I know how far it must be spread and I know how much our township has kicked into the kitty. Suffice it to say – we have some work to do.
Last year we took everything we had remaining in our 4 year, 0.93 mill road maintenance fund (about $110,000.00) and committed it to reforming and re-graveling all of our gravel roads. Every one of them. Even though the folks at JCDOT did their level best to get the work done before the season ended, the weather, staff issues due to covid (they ARE human too, you know) and a premature early freeze conspired to give them more trouble than they bargained for and they wound up with some issues that caused understandable complaints. I am absolutely confident that they will correct any errors they may have made. What we need to do is to be patient and try to be a little supportive. It’s not hard, just put yourselves in their shoes.
Second, as surprising as it may seem, especially for a community as self reliant as Concord Township, we haven’t done much to improve our lot in life where our roads are concerned. As far back as readily available records go, we have never had more than a 1.0 mill assessment for road maintenance, and under Headley, that decreases every year. 1.0 mill nets us about $75,000.00.year and in road parlance – that doesn’t pay for the road crews’ lunch. We can all say that’s great – no one wants to pay any more in taxes than is absolutely necessary – but the fact of the matter is: we get what we pay for. So, if we’re happy with the condition of our roads as they are, we can just go back to whatever we were doing before we started reading this post. If not, we have some work to do.
The very first letter I published within months of my election as your Supervisor concerned our roads and what we needed to do to get them to a passable grade. It was published in the Salesman, the Evening Recorder, on our Facebook page and in my blog. Rather than reiterating it in its entirety in this post, you can read if for yourselves, here. All of the relevant facts are the same now as they were then with negligible exception, but the need is even more evident now and will become moreso in the next several weeks. In 2016 I requested a millage that would provide sufficient funding to bring every road in the Township up to a very driveable condition and would allow us to maintain them going forward. That request was resoundingly voted down. I heard you, loud and clear.
So, no, in case you are wondering, I am not asking you to support a road millage, nor will I. I am absolutely convinced this community will not support any millage request for roads or anything else that comes from me. If we are going do to something about our roads the drive for that will have to come from within our community – from YOU, our citizens. If you want it to get done, it will, if not…. Having said that, as sure as I am sitting here, I know the bitching and complaining about ruts, potholes, cracks and everything else will be starting any minute now. When it does, I am going to tap every person who comes to complain and ask them to serve on a “Road Funding Committee” who will be responsible for going out, spreading the word and getting the votes necessary to pass a millage. This will give us as a community ‘skin in the game’. With that – we can’t possibly fail. Without it, there isn’t much sense in trying.
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