Ahoskie Council discusses street repairs

Published 5:39 pm Friday, March 11, 2022

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AHOSKIE – A plan to make improvements to an unpaved street here was approved by the Ahoskie Town Council, but not without a prolonged discussion.

The agenda of the Council’s regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday of this week included possible repairs to Waldorf Street. That street is in one of the latest annexed areas of Ahoskie. It’s located off Willoughby Road in the vicinity of the Ahoskie-Cofield Road.

During previous Council meetings, citizens living there have asked the town’s elected leaders to consider street improvements.

“There is no money left in the current year budget for street paving,” said Ahoskie Town Manager Kerry McDuffie. “We can grade it and have four inches of rock put down for $15,000 (the lowest of two bids) or grade it and pave it for $32,500.”

Ahoskie Public Works Director Stephen Lassiter explained the work on Waldorf Street involves “undercutting the existing rock, grade it out, and put four inches of new rock so we’ll have a solid base on it.”

Councilman Charles Reynolds asked about street drainage.

“That wasn’t included [in the request for upgrades],” Lassiter responded. “I didn’t get a bid for cleaning out the ditches, but the road will be crowned so that water shouldn’t stand there.”

“There’s no sense in doing one without doing the other,” Reynolds stressed.

Lassiter said one of the issues with the drainage there is that the existing driveways are uneven.

“That would require jugging in some driveways,” Lassiter noted.

“They [homeowners on the street] didn’t create that problem, we did,” Reynolds observed.

“We created the problem when we put the sewer line under the middle of the road and didn’t backfill it like we should have,” Lassiter admitted. “But the homeowners are responsible for installing the jugging needed for their driveways.”

“It seems to me that we need to schedule a meeting with the property owners there and come to some kind of agreement as to what to do,” Reynolds suggested. “I don’t see putting $15,000 in doing some grading and there’s still a drainage problem. We need to figure out how to solve the drainage problem.”

McDuffie said that if the Council did approve any upgrades to Waldorf Street, the money would have to come from fund balance or by other means due to the paving funds being depleted in the current year budget.

“We’ve been promising them [Waldorf Street residents] some help for three to four years,” Reynolds remarked. “It’s time for somebody to make a move and do something.”

Councilman Matt Bradley noted that another bidder offered to place four tandem loads of ABC stone to the street, grade it, and then pave it with two and one-quarter inches of asphalt. That total bid was $32,500.

“If we do the grading and stone now and then revisit this again in our next budget year (which begins July 1, 2022) and do the paving, we can spend half the money thus year and the other half next year,” Bradley noted. “The [stone] base will be there to put asphalt on top.”

Lassiter said if that recommendation is approved, the town needs to look at applying three inches of asphalt in order to accommodate the weight of the trash truck that works that street weekly.

“That two and a quarter inches [offered in the current bid] will break up under the trash truck,” Lassiter stated. “We need to go to a thicker asphalt there.”

McDuffie reminded the Council members of a town ordinance that calls for adding an assessment to a property owner’s tax bill for street improvements.

“In order to do that, we would need 51 percent of the property owners along that street to sign a petition to do that,” McDuffie said.

According to his research, McDuffie said the last time a street assessment was used was in 2003 for curb and gutter improvements to Malibu Drive.

“If you decide to asphalt Waldorf Street, you need to be aware that there are about seven other unpaved streets in town and you’ll have residents of those streets coming to you to have their streets paved,” McDuffie said.

Reynolds wanted to know if the residents of Waldorf Street were advised of the ordinance when that area was annexed.

“You’re coming out of left field if you tell them they have to help pay for the street improvements; they’re going to be hot about that,” Reynolds remarked.

“I’m just telling you what the ordinance may allow you to do; if we pave all our unpaved roads you’re looking at about a quarter-million dollars,” McDuffie said.

“When Waldorf was annexed, they were told the street would be taken care of and that hasn’t been done,” Reynolds replied. “That’s on us.”

The Councilman added that prior to the town adding any assessments to any property for the purpose of street improvements, the residents impacted by that plan need to be notified by letter.

“They need to be able to come in here and meet with us, learn of what’s going on, and then we can come to a solution,” Reynolds said.

“If we can rock and grade Waldorf Street now, and then meet with all the property owners before the start of the next budget year and let them know we plan to pave it and improve it with curb and gutter after our new budget year begins, then we can move forward with this project,” Bradley suggested.

McDuffie said he is not recommending a street improvement assessment on Waldorf Street property owners for rocking and grading.

Bradley put his suggestion into a motion, which was approved by a 5-0 vote.

The $15,000 bid for rock and grading was awarded to TriCo Grading, Inc. of Ahoskie.

In another matter regarding street improvements, Council members were told that Ruth Street, located off First Street, was in need of repair.

“Patching was done there during the current budget year, but that street is now all to pieces,” McDuffie said.

Council members felt the added traffic on this street, especially school buses entering and exiting the newly opened Ahoskie Elementary School, has caused the asphalt to quickly deteriorate.

“It needs to be dug out, put a better base in, and repaved,” said McDuffie, adding a bid for that work is $12,000.

No assessment will be put in place there due to this is a plan to replace existing asphalt.

Council members agreed to allow Public Works to fill the holes in Ruth Street with asphalt millings and revisit a plan to have it repaved in the FY 2022-23 budget year.

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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