Selectmen want answers on financial impact of private roads

By Matthew Bernat | Sep 27, 2016

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.

Comments (14)
Posted by: Spherebreaker | Sep 28, 2016 08:22

Takes every shred of incentive for the homeowners on these roads to bring road up to standards and application for acceptance by the Town. These are private roads and should be maintained by private funds.

Posted by: brazz | Sep 28, 2016 09:28

Anyone have a link to the list of roads that are private?  What does a private road mean when it come to public access? Unless the public has access to it, why should the town pay for it?

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Sep 28, 2016 09:33

Can someone please define "graded" as used in the following sentence:


"Agenda item 28 asks that all private roads in town be graded twice a year by Department of Municipal Maintenance crews."

Posted by: brazz | Sep 28, 2016 09:52

Andrea Smith - "Graded" when it comes to roads means to level and smooth over. Fix pot holes and probably any rain drainage problems too. You can obviously make it mean any sort of things depending on the fine print.

Also here is another Private road story from November about the town plowing these roads.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Sep 28, 2016 10:08

Does anyone know if Wareham currently has a bylaw requiring that the town's public roads (approximately 140 miles) be graded twice a year?

Posted by: brazz | Sep 28, 2016 10:41

Andrea -  grading is only required gravel (dirt) roads.

Here is a link to the bylaws. I could not find anything about it there.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Sep 28, 2016 16:57

Brazz for a self-declared 26 year old new Wareham homeowner you are amazing. Glad you took my September 21 suggestion that you familiarize yourself with the town's website to heart. Or perhaps you'd already been familiar with the website for sometime?


Regarding your quest for a private roads list, have you found the information yet? If not, perhaps you should contact Selectwoman Whiteside. Whiteside (in case you don't already know) was reported in a Nov. 2014 Wareham Week article to be about half way through exhaustive research involving multiple town departments in an effort to establish an accurate private roads list. A link to the article can be found at the bottom of this comment.


Now here's a thought, how many of the estimated 60 miles of private roads are dirt and/or stone? Given the limited number of DPW employees available to do the grading, might a private road grading bylaw so usurp their time, that they'd end up not being able to take care of all the pot holes and repair needs of the public roads? (Assuming the public road repairs aren't governed by a bylaw similar to the one being sought for private roads.)



Posted by: Peter W. Teitelbaum | Sep 28, 2016 18:38

The list of accepted public ways can be found here:












Posted by: Andrea Smith | Sep 28, 2016 20:25

Selectman Teitelbaum - I copied and pasted the link as it appears above and the following came up:


"Page Not Found

The requested content could not be found."


Did part of the link perhaps get dropped from your comment?

Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Sep 28, 2016 21:48

The link worked for me, Andrea.  Try a different browser.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Sep 29, 2016 06:22

Nice to see a link to an "accepted" roads list. Brazz inquired about a link to a "private roads" list. Is there a link to a private roads list? Or is a private roads list still in progress?

Posted by: Weston | Sep 29, 2016 08:02

Prior to purchasing my home nearly 10 years I contacted Mr Gifford at the DPW as well as the town administration and was assured the town would both plow and grade our dirt road 2-3 times annually even though it was not a public ally accepted way as long as it was not mark private or gates and had public access. I requested and received letters from both stating the same. 5 years ago the Town grader broke down for over a year and after calling the DPW and Town Admin received a formal lettter of apology for not addressing the state of the road. Agents of the Town clearly communicated the roads would be maintained, at what point do those of us that purchased homes on these dirt roads need to litigate the matter? At what cost to the Town and its housing values? Also keep in mind the Town had now issue dredging up these private  roads to install Town water no one wanted, and then charging each resident $30,000 betterment. Unreal

Posted by: Peter W. Teitelbaum | Sep 29, 2016 08:45

There is no up-to-date, comprehensive private roads list.  Any road not on the accepted ways list is presumed private.  Anyone who believes their road should be on the accepted ways list can provide information to the Town Clerk's office for review to see whether the road should be on the list.


As regards water, the Town does not provide water.  The Wareham Fire and Water District does, and that is an entirely separate government that the Town government has no control over.

Posted by: Archangel | Sep 29, 2016 19:04

While that may be true, the town does provide sewer so I think Weston made an excellent point albeit a different utility.

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