Wendell leaders are, to their credit, trying to be responsive to requests from residents that the town pave some residential streets in the community that have been unpaved for far too long.
By the town’s count, there are 11 such roads in the town and paving all of them could cost as much as about $190,000.
But that figure doesn’t really do the job justice because it doesn’t take into account a number of tasks the town ought to include, such as installing curbs and gutters and building a sound bed for the roadway.
For commissioners, there are two questions they still must answer. First should the town do the job right the first time and, second, who should pay for the work.
The plan Mayor Tim Hinnant proposed recently would do little more than slather some pavement over top of the dirt. That might be satisfactory for a short while, but in the long run, the town is setting itself up for significant maintenance costs if they do the job halfway. Just tossing some asphalt at the problem violates the town’s own policies concerning the quality requirements it forces developers to meet.
The town, albeit in a well-meaning attempt to respond to residents, has no business holding itself to a lower standard than it does everyone else.
Of course, building the roads the right way would cost more money and therein lies the second question commissioners must answer. Who is to pay for this?
The town has a long-standing policy that requires property owners along the affected street to share in the cost of improvements like this.
There’s no good reason the town should ignore that policy now. The idea behind requiring property owners to share the cost, in case you’re unaware, is that their properties would be improved in a way that other properties in town would not. For the person who lives on Cypress Street, for instance, there is no benefit in paving Forest Lane. Placing the entire burden on everyone in town unfairly advantages one group over another.
Once commissioners decide to do the job right the first time by building a quality road, and once they agree to stand behind the same policy they’ve always enforced, then commissioners should seriously consider the second part of Hinnant’s proposal, which calls for divvying up the work over a period of years to make it possible for the town to foot its share of the cost.