In today’s issue is a story about Walter Fletcher Lane, a road that has caused an 18-year debate in the small town of Gilt Edge. Residents want the city to pave the road but the city refuses, stating that the road is a private road and it would be unethical to do so.
There are several questions this issue rises:
1. Is the road public or private?
2. If the road is public, why won’t the city pave it?
3. If the road is private, why won’t the city take it over?
4. If the road isn’t clearly public and the road isn’t clearly private, then who is actually responsible for its maintenance and ownership?
This was one of those stories where there are people on each side of the heated debate and the issues were so clouded by rumors and anger and confusion that it was difficult to weed through.
I put a lot of research into uncovering the facts. I talked to several different people, looked at maps, compared notes, fit my notes with the notes and documents others had and dug through 105-year-old deed books (which was fascinating and exciting, I have to mention). I hope I was able to answer the first three questions clearly and, most importantly, without bias.
The fourth question, for me, is more of one that needs to be answered moving forward.
I’ve found that the road is private and that an agreement was signed 16 years ago by people who are no longer residents of the road. Current residents would like to change this to a public road and I think it is a matter the council should explore.
Residents were working to get estimates on paving this week. It will likely take $20,000 to get the job done and, let’s face it, that’s a hard pill to swallow.
That’s a large number for the town itself, much less the five families who will likely be left with the bill.
Farris Fletcher, to whom Walter Fletcher Lane is deeded (Walter Sr. was his father), said he’d turn the roadway over to the city. But the city likely will not accept the roadway as a city street until it is paved and brought up to standards.
This is an argument that has continued to polarize Gilt Edge for the better part of two decades and I say enough is enough. There has to be a way to compromise, right?
Can the city and the residents split the cost of paving? Understandably, coming up with $2,000 per family for the cost of paving is going to be difficult, especially for those who are retired, but perhaps the city could loan the residents money with a stipulation that it be paid back over a certain number of years.
Then, once the roadway is paved, it should be deeded to the city and the problem should end there.
I understand the reluctance in spending city funds to pave a private roadway, and I understand the residents’ anger every time they hit a pothole on their way home, but at some point someone has to find a solution to this problem, one that works for most everyone.
Working together will bridge the gap, it will pave the way (feel free to insert your favorite pun here) towards a renewed confidence in the city government and the strong sense of community made famous and tradition in small towns like Gilt Edge.
I think that working together to solve this problem is what’s needed and it’s long overdue.
What do you think?