Private roads need care

Residents of Apple Street, a private way in Gloucester, would like the city to repair the road as it is well-traveled by those going to the Corliss Landing boat ramp and to Friend’s Park.

When cars pull on to Apple Street, the bumping and jolting caused by numerous potholes are sure signs that the road is in need of repair. 

"It is like a minefield of potholes," Apple Street resident Karen Pischke told the Times. "Some of these holes are very deep." 

Pishke explained that these massive potholes and decrepit sides of the road are caused by the large numbers of boats on trailers towed to Corliss Landing down the street, the heavy traffic that cuts through, and work done when the gas line went in that was never repaired. 

But who is responsible for repairing Apple Street and other of Gloucester's so-called private roads? 

According to city ordinance, it is the responsibility of neighbors to fix their own roads in most cases. 

"If your road is a private way with public access of which some 40% roads in Gloucester fall into this category, please be aware that the issue of maintenance of private ways is governed by state law," the city website reads. 

As multiple residents have expressed frustration with the lack of help from the city, Ward 4 Councilor Val Gilman has scheduled a meeting this weekend to chat with neighbors.

"Our goal is to work with a couple of neighbors and to review our private road repairs ordinance and discuss options for them if they wish to engage in private road repair, including an overview of the betterment process," Gilman said.

Residents of Apple, Blueberry, Juniper, and Honeysuckle Street will meet with Gilman at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9, at Corliss Landing.

According to the city, if the road does not meet the city ordinance criteria for minor road repair then residents can either work with their neighbors and hire a private contractor or paving company to make repairs or go through the steps to petition the city to perform a "betterment paving" project. 

Occasionally, according to the ordinance, the city will do temporary pothole repair on a private way with public access. 

"Temporary repair may be performed by the city upon a determination by the director of public works that the condition of a way adversely affects the safety of the inhabitants and that repair of a permanent nature is unnecessary to cure the condition, or upon a determination that the condition of the way constitutes an emergency which requires immediate repair in order to protect the health or safety of the inhabitants of the city," the ordinance reads. 

Pishke said that the city has stopped filling Apple Street's potholes and it should not be the residents' responsibility to fix it because of the amount of traffic and the public access. Besides traveling to the Corliss landing, Apple Street is also traveled to reach Brown's Field, also known as the Apple Street playground.

"The current city administration believes that the people on the street have to pay for the paving," she said. "But the issue is that this designated private street is so publicly used that we have a different point of view." 

"One of my concerns is for safety," Pishke said. "People are so focused on avoiding the potholes that they don't pay attention to the children playing on the playground."

Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford may be contacted at 978-675-2705, or on Twitter at TayBradford97.

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