Selectmen want answers on financial impact of private roads
Private roads would be put on a regular maintenance schedule if one particular agenda item passes at October’s Town Meeting, but Selectmen want to see a price tag before giving it their endorsement.
Agenda item 28 asks that all private roads in town be smoothed out, or graded, twice a year by Department of Municipal Maintenance crews. Also, the bylaw would require private road residents to pay for the cost of construction materials for repairs, but not labor.
The item was put on the Town Meeting agenda by Ed Pacewicz who petitioned to have it placed.
Speaking to Selectmen on Tuesday, Pacewicz said he modeled the bylaw after a similar one adopted by Mattapoisett residents in 2009.
Under Wareham’s current system, if private road residents want repairs they must appear before Selectmen for approval and then pay for the cost of materials and labor.
Pacewicz said he didn’t believe adopting the bylaw would affect the town’s bottom line.
“We pay our taxes, we pay for Municipal Maintenance, as far as I see it, it’s a zero cost for the town as we’re paying for the cost of the materials,” said Pacewicz.
Town Administrator Derek Sullivan disagreed, saying the poor condition of some private roads would require extensive repair.
Sullivan estimated that the bylaw could cost the town between $60,000 to $80,000 annually.
By adding 60 miles of additional roads for crews to take care of, Sullivan said public roads would suffer even more.
“We’ve been barely able to cut back brush on our main roads,” said Sullivan, referring to the department’s lack of manpower.
Selectman Patrick Tropeano favored the article, saying residents have seen services drastically cut through the years and it was time to give some back.
“We’ve taken just about taken anything and everything away from everybody,” said Tropeano.
While he argued for the bylaw, Tropeano agreed with his fellow Selectmen to research the issue.
“We don’t have a real sense of the numbers yet,” said Selectman Peter Teitelbaum.
Selectmen will revisit the issue after reviewing potential costs to the town.