Citing public safety as their overriding concern, Orange City officials are poised to spend tax dollars to fix a failing roadway on the town’s east side.
A push came from Country Village Mobile Home Park, whose residents depend on the roadway.
“It’s the only entry and exit that we have,” Doris Powell said, representing the park. “The holes are very dangerous, especially at night. … It’s really dangerous.”
Thanks to the Orange City Council’s approval, the segment of Kentucky Avenue south of East Graves Avenue will get some temporary improvements for the sake of pedestrians and motorists, and the bill will be covered with public funds.
“For 30 years, it has been a private road that has not been maintained,” City Manager Dale Arrington said. “All we’re going to be doing is fixing two potholes and a sidewalk.”
The City Council approved the safety-related repairs in December.
“I think the first thing is public safety in our city,” Council Member Kellianne Marks said. “We do care about public safety.”
“Doing nothing is not an option now,” she added.
The estimated cost of the fix, which also includes replacing some damaged pipe to improve drainage, is $68,750. Poor drainage is the cause of the holes in the road and the damage to the sidewalk.
Arrington said she has not yet selected a contractor for the repair project.
The project cost includes a survey to determine the boundaries of construction easements the city must obtain before work begins. The easements will be along both the east and west sides of Kentucky Avenue, Arrington noted.
“We don’t own the property. We need permission,” she said.
Arrington said the affected property owners have indicated they will grant the city the easements needed for the repairs.
“We’re not going to trespass on somebody’s property to make these repairs,” City Attorney William Reischmann said.
Reischmann also noted property owners along Kentucky Avenue’s private stretch may be liable for injuries related to the lack of maintenance.
“If I were the property owners out there, I’d be really worried,” he said.
City officials say the repairs are a one-time temporary fix of the problem. Who will be responsible for the future maintenance and repair of Kentucky Avenue?
Vice Mayor Bill O’Connor voiced concern about the city’s taking responsibility for Kentucky Avenue.
“Once you do one private road, it opens up a bag of worms,” he said.
Reischmann said it is “potentially possible” that Orange City may create a special-assessment district to collect the annual costs of maintaining and upgrading the road from adjacent property owners, who would pay their proportionate shares in conjunction with, and in addition to, their property taxes.
Arrington stressed the “minimum repairs” are only a temporary solution “that should last for a couple of years until a longer-term solution becomes clearer.”
That longer-range solution may involve rebuilding the road to more modern standards and providing a drainage system and retention ponds. Such improvements would require engineering and the acquisition of property for stormwater control, and “the cost for this option is much higher,” according to a memorandum given to the City Council.