Problem presented; solution arrives

Published 10:50 am Friday, January 18, 2013

AHOSKIE – What began as a simple plea from an Ahoskie resident to repair the street in front of her home transformed into a broader topic of discussion here last week.

The plea also prompted immediate action from town workers.

As part of the public input period offered at each meeting of the Ahoskie Town Council, Mary Butler of Waldorf Street informed the town’s elected leaders of the condition of her street.

“It’s in horrible condition; full of pot holes and there’s water and mud everywhere,” Butler said of the street, located off Willoughby Road in the northern section of Ahoskie that was part of the town’s most recent annexation.

“It needs to be fixed. The mud is so thick it will pull your shoes off. It’s been that way ever since ya’ll annexed where I live.”

Butler encouraged Council members to see the deplorable street conditions first-hand.

“Ya’ll come and see how bad it is; please do something about that street,” she said.

“I went down there Saturday afternoon and talked to Mr. Butler, her husband,” said Councilman Winfred Hardy. “I saw it first-hand. The street is in bad shape. The contractor (who installed the water/sewer service due to the annexation) left two piles of rock in the ditch there. The garbage truck goes down there and almost gets stuck. Something needs to be done there.”

Town Manager Tony Hammond said he would visit the site and study the alleged problems.

“I know a lot of the damage that keeps coming to that street is because the (school) buses and the garbage trucks, heavy vehicles that go to the end of the street, turn around and come out,” Hammond noted.

Two days later (Thursday, Jan. 10), Waldorf Street received a major facelift.

“Our guys went in there and put down numerous loads of crush-and-run (rock/gravel),” said Hammond on Tuesday of this week. “We opted to do the work ourselves instead of contracting it out. It’s a lot better than it was when we first went there.”

The issue of town streets came up again later in last week’s meeting.

“There are a lot of streets that need paving. Some are full of potholes,” said Councilman Maurice Vann. “I know that people living in different parts of town think their streets are in the worst shape and need paving first, but I’d like to see us get a list together, prioritize the streets in the worst shape and work to get them fixed. I know it will take some time to go through that list.”

“We can put something together in a listing,” Hammond said. “We don’t have a lot of money left in the current budget cycle for street repair…maybe $30,000 to $40,000 at the most. When we did Church Street (repaving) in this budget year, that was $90,000 or about three-quarters of our street repairs funding.”

Another issue which would prevent the town from immediately paving streets at the current time is that asphalt plants do not operate at this time of the year.

“They shut down during the cold weather months,” Hammond noted. “We’re always at the mercy of those companies who produce asphalt as to when we are able to buy it.”

“We need to let our citizens know that….they pay their water bills, they pay their taxes; they want to see the town get things done, including paving streets when they get in bad shape,” Vann stated.

“I agree, we need some sort of plan to look down the road at what streets need repairs and in what order,” said Councilwoman Linda Blackburn.

Hammond said the chore of studying the condition of Ahoskie’s streets and putting them in priority order of repairs/repaving would be a task he would ask the town’s engineering firm, The Wooten Company, to handle.

“They’ve done this before for us,” Hammond said.

“People don’t understand just how much it costs to pave one street,” said Councilman Malcolm Copeland. “Look at what it cost for Church Street – $90,000. I told several of our citizens that and they acted like they didn’t believe it.”

“And that was just for a top coat of paving,” Hammond stressed. “As a matter of fact, it’s just a mixture of sand and asphalt about a half-inch thick. It’s cheaper to do it that way rather than go in and re-grade the street and put down a thicker layer.”

Hammond said he would attempt to have a priority listing of street repairs/repaving to the Council in time for their annual retreat in March.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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