August 15, 2013 | Volume 43, Number 32

Resident petitions to pave Blacksmith

Blacksmith Street resident Leo Smith is fed up with the dust from the heavily trafficked roadway outside his house and has organized a petition to get it paved.

The street runs perpendicular to Beach Road in Fort Seward, threading between Lutak Lumber and the Fireweed Restaurant. Smith’s is the only residence on the unpaved street.

A dry summer has worsened the dust problem. The dust coats everything in Smith’s house and shed, said Smith, so a month ago, he set up a petition at Lutak Lumber and collected about 30 signatures, which he turned in to the borough.

“With the traffic on it, I can’t see why the city can’t pave it,” Smith said, particularly with contractor Southeast Roadbuilders working nearby.

The situation is more complicated than having builders nearby, said borough clerk Julie Cozzi. Because Smith’s is not an official petition drawn up by the borough clerk, it will be treated as a citizen complaint, she said.

“Each person thinks their road is top priority, but it’s more complicated than that,” Cozzi said.

Mayor Stephanie Scott brought up the issue of Blacksmith Street at the last assembly meeting, drawing attention to the fact that paving a road is expensive and the borough already has many roads that need paving, Cozzi said.

“There’s never enough money to do everything that needs to be done,” Cozzi said.

Borough manager Mark Earnest is getting a cost estimate for Blacksmith to demonstrate the expense. The difficulty in getting an accurate cost estimate, without too much expense, is that “there are so many different ways to improve a road.” Infrastructure must be examined and the utilities placed, he said.

Once the cost is determined, the assembly will consider the viability of the project. Scott said that Blacksmith Street could be included in the upcoming Third Avenue project.

“There are so many roads to focus on but Blacksmith Street is my top priority for the next round of funding after Third Avenue,” Earnest said.

Even if the borough can’t come up with the funds for the street, Cozzi mentioned other possibilities for property owners, including forming a local improvement district. In an improvement district, property owners pay some or all of the cost for improvements made by the municipality.

“It’s definitely a viable option,” Scott said.