Blacktop or whitetop? That’s the question that sparked a heated exchange Monday on the floor of Amherst city council.
With the pocketbooks of residents on the Meadowbrook, Quail, and Killdeer courts on the line, officials debated how to handle a petition by residents to have their streets paved with a concrete overlay this summer rather than asphalt.
Twenty of 27 homeowners along the affected frontage have stepped forward saying they’ll agree to pay the difference between less expensive asphalt and more expensive concrete — nearly $200,000.
For some residents of the neighborhood, that means volunteering to pay close to $14,000 over the next 20 years for concrete.
“I don’t think they should pay for it, but they’re willing to do it,” said an angry August Tornabene of Quail Court, who has led a signature-collecting drive in recent weeks. “Put yourself in our shoes, and where we live, and what we want.”
Councilman Chuck Winiarski said he is on the fence about allowing residents to cover extra concrete costs. While he admires the effort and sacrifice made by neighbors seeking concrete, he doesn’t believe it provides safety or drainage improvements over asphalt.
On the other hand, councilman David Janik lives on Quail Court and grew upset over plans to lay asphalt over the existing concrete there.
He said the subdivision was built in the 1970s with water drainage improperly routed to the streets. There weren’t adverse effects until the new millennium when heavy construction machines extending the neighborhood took a toll on the infrastructure under the concrete.
That’s when the streets started to flood and erode.
Janik took issue with mayor Mark Costilow, who has been pushing to put down blacktop. He said five years ago, when Costilow was safety-service director, Valley Drive was paved with a concrete overlay at no expense to residents.
“He doesn’t live on our street,” Janik said of Costilow. “I don’t care what his opinion is.”
The mayor said up to $100,000 in catchbasin and drainage work, tying sump pumps into sewers at the city’s cost, will be done in the area regardless of what road surface is used above.
With petroleum costs rock-bottom compared to five years ago, using asphalt is the most cost-effective surface material, Costilow said.
Miram Reinhoudt of Meadowbrook Drive was dead set against paying more for concrete.
“I don’t know why people think it’s such an honor to be able to pay for this. I am perfectly satisfied with asphalt,” she said, later adding, “I don’t take taxes lightly, not at all. I don’t think we have enough answers.”
She said asphalt won’t last 40 years but neither will concrete. In fact, Cherry, Valley, Blossom, and part of Shadylawn drives was paved with a concrete overlay 10 years ago and are already breaking down, she said.
Changing plans to use concrete this year on Meadowbrook, Quail, and Killdeer would have been a lengthy process with certified notifications to residents and opportunities for objections. Assistant law director Frank Carlson said construction wouldn’t have started for months.
That process didn’t get a chance to start, though.
A motion to move ahead with voluntary assessments for concrete died for lack of a second. Actually, Janik tried to provide a second but Carlson said he wasn’t allowed due to a conflict of interest as a resident of the affected neighborhood.
That led to anger after the meeting as Tornabene and others were stunned that their petition had not resulted in a vote.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times An outraged councilman David Janik implores other representatives to support concrete on Meadowbrook, Quail, and Killdeer Courts.