Residents of deteriorating Eaton Lane win support from council subcommittee

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PITTSFIELD — A crumbling city street could soon get help if the City Council's Public Works Committee gets its way.

The committee last week voted to throw support behind residents of Eaton Lane, which has been a private way since its inception in the early 1990s. Those who live on Eaton Lane say the road could soon cave in without a hand from the city.

For Public Services Commissioner David Turocy, the debate sparks a larger question about how to handle the city's unaccepted and private ways, which are streets that the city doesn't own and maintain.

The city redid the water infrastructure below the street beginning in 2014, the residents said, and then placed a top coat of tar on the formerly dirt road upon completion in 2015. It was not a long-term solution, they said, and the choice to apply tar now makes it harder for a road with five households to maintain on its own.

The refinished road was nice while it lasted, they said, but this year it started to sink down and now they fear it is unsafe.

"It just doesn't look or feel safe to me," said Deb Flynn, an Eaton Lane resident.

The condition of the road has deteriorated rapidly just over the last two weeks, said another resident, Elaine Hunter. She said the street is sinking around the gas connections.

"We're just asking for the road to be maintained," Hunter said.

Turocy said the work they're requesting could cost the city between $15,000 and $20,000.

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Flynn said she pays about $6,000 a year in taxes and that's enough to earn some help from the city. She said it's fine that they plow their own road — they just want to make sure there's still a road to plow come next winter.

"We're not looking for anything extra," she said.

The city has 26 miles of unaccepted streets, Turocy said, and 10 miles of private drives.

"I believe that we need to do this work," said Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers, who sponsored a petition calling on the City Council to act on behalf of Eaton Lane residents.

She said she has visited the street multiple times recently, and "it's deteriorating very quickly and it's posing a safety hazard for this neighborhood."

Rivers said she also finds it troubling that residents of unaccepted and private ways pay the same tax rate as others.

The measure to support Eaton Lane residents now goes to the full City Council for consideration.

At that point, Turocy said, "we'll see where this discussion goes."

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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