Cratered street a source of frustration among residents

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Dundee Street resident Michael Candela addresses Riverview city officials Monday.

Sunday Times Newspapers

RIVERVIEW – Dundee Street residents travel a rough road.

The city doesn’t have the money to fix their crater-covered thoroughfare, and most residents are leery of a special assessment to provide a short-term fix during tough economic times.

Last week’s snow hid the potholes, but didn’t smooth the ride.

Michael Candela, who lives in the 14000 block, recently submitted a petition to the City Council with the signatures of seven of the 50 homeowners requesting the resurfacing of Dundee through a special assessment, as allowed through the city’s code of ordinances.

In a packed study session hastily moved to the larger council chambers Monday, residents listened in quiet frustration as they heard a familiar message from the mayor: Funds just were not available to fix their street.

In addition to Candela, several residents took turns sharing their frustrations and concerns with the mayor and council.

“We’ve explained on several occasions that we have no money,” Mayor Tim Durand said. “We’ve facing a deficit of about a million and a half dollars this year, not unlike many other cities … our property values continue to fall; we’ve being faced with declining revenues from the county tax base; we’ve lost our largest employer …we’ve lost state revenue sharing – so it’s been more or less a ‘perfect storm.’”

The mayor said the cheapest way for homeowners to provide a self-funded,m short term fix for their street would be to “cap it” with asphalt at a cost of about $6,000 apiece. Officials stated, though, that capping only provides a six- to seven-year fix, and is not the ideal way to do it.

The cost to completely repair the entire street is estimated at over $500,000, which doesn’t include a water main fix.

Candela said the city should be responsible for the repairs, since it was responsible for the street’s deterioration.

Durand reiterated that the city has no money to repair the street. He said the most recent city street repairs cost $8.6 million — $10 million after interest — which should be paid in 2014 or 2015.

“That’s when we hope and pray that things are better in this economy, and that we can go on with the next step,” Durand said.

Durand also said that with only seven of 50 households signing the petition for a special assessment, the city would not proceed, and that at least half of the households would need to agree in order for the city to consider a special assessment.

“I talked to some people who are not interested in a special assessment right now because of their own personal finances,” Durand said.

He also clarified that the “local streets” item on residents’ tax bills is to pay the debt back for previous street repairs.

“Whether you look at it or not, you’re driving down the value of our homes,” Candela said.

Durand acknowledged the paradox, saying that as property values declined, taxes decreased for residents, but the city ultimately collected less money to pay for its needs.

“The property values have fallen, and the tax receipts have fallen,” he said.

Sue Jones asked if the ends of the street could be fixed where there are the most potholes.

“It looks like a veritable war zone,” she said. “You just cringe.”

Durand said the city is looking at providing asphalt at the ends of the street instead of just continuing to provide cold patches. He said a special assessment would not be done if just the ends of the street were repaired.