Pothole Problems Plague Private Streets

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COLUMBIA- We can all relate to the jar of slamming into a pothole. Now imagine weaving your way around dozens, daily.

"There's quite a few potholes," said Doug Spaunhorst, a resident on Mont Street in Columbia. "They've attempted to fix them a few times; but it's not getting fixed."

Spauhorst said individual property owners have patched the road in the past with loose gravel and sometimes with asphalt.  But the repairs just don't last.

Bill Baker co-owns about 90 percent of the properties along Mont Street and some of the neighboring streets and he agreed that the street is in poor condition.

"We are ready to repair Mont as soon as we get the money from all the property owners out their on the street," Baker said.

Neither the city nor the county can repair the road because it is private.

"In 1995, we established, we updated our subdivision regulations which required all neighborhoods to build public streets and they have to be built to our standards before we would accept them," said Skip Elkin, Boone County Commissioner.

But the Mont Street neighborhood was developed before those pothole rules.

For Boone County to maintain the road, Elkin said the roads must first be upgraded to a county standard. To do that, the property owner can either pay a private contractor or form a Neighborhood Improvement District.

In a Neighborhood Improvement District, Elkin said, "the owners get together and form a petition and have a vote...if they do that it's basically a self assessment to basically finance the road improvements over a period of 10 years."

But Baker said a  Neighborhood Improvement District would cost him significantly more.

"If we do this privately, the cost per land owner per building is roughly $5,000. If we do this through a NID, looking back at old numbers, you're talking about a cost per land owner of roughly $15,000 or higher per duplex," Baker said," So it's 200 percent more to go through a NID."

Spaunhost said he is surprised the roads have deteriorated so badly.

"My big question is why haven't they steadily put money aside," said Spauhorst, "It's a responsibility issue on their part. You buy a beat up old car, you're going to put some money into it to get it the way it needs to be running, I feel the same way for the roads really."