Road work is too little, too late for Remley Lane

To the Editor:

The campaign materials left at our door for Ken Weaver for another term as Berne highway superintendent prompted me to write this letter.

For those of us currently without a child in the school system, and on our own well and septic, road maintenance is the main tangible thing we see in return for our substantial property taxes.  And I have to say that it has gotten progressively worse in the 10 years we’ve lived in Berne, until now it is the worst I have seen in any place I’ve ever lived.

Before readers write me off as a transplanted flatlander who is used to pristine roads and manicured lawns, let me tell you that wouldn’t be true.

I grew up in a tiny town in the Adirondacks, living on a dead-end dirt lane as we do now, only steeper. Many of those years were pre-Northway when a town of any size was many hours away by twisty, narrow, steep two lanes and many one-lane bridges.

Berne has a lot of that rural feel and beauty, which is why we moved here. We looked forward to our small, town crew coming to fix our frost-heaved roads and potholes in the spring.  I had to chuckle at the lines in Mr. Weaver’s flyer that roads in Berne are unique. Yes, they are — like about half of the other roads in upstate New York.

I then spent eight years in the military, first on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on Lake Superior. We drove on packed snow with a little sand on it three-and-a-half months a year. Still, after snowmelt, they did a better job. Same for other places I was sent in the United States and overseas.

In the spring of 2012, Mr. Weaver decided that our decent hard-packed dirt lane needed multiple inches of large, coarse stone just dumped on it.  This caused numerous problems, some very hazardous, including stones being thrown by car tires like missiles, and a bad spill by a visitor on a motorcycle, as well as paint being chipped off vehicles. Kids couldn’t ride bikes on it, horse owners on the lane couldn’t ride horses on it; heck, you could barely walk on it.

What really made residents scratch their heads, though, was that it was obvious that the first snowplow would scrape all the loose stone off.  It sure did, pushing high berms of stone into our driveways, fields, and lawns for us to deal with.

It caused damage to lawn and snow removal equipment — a big waste of money, materials, and labor only to give us new problems. During that time, I sent a letter to Mr. Weaver outlining the problems on our road, and then later, most, if not all, the lane’s residents signed letters of complaint and sent them to Mr. Weaver.

Neither I, nor any other resident I’m aware of, received any communication in response from him. In fairness to the town, we had sent copies to the town supervisor and he did call, visited the road several times, and spoke to residents. After that, a little more work was done and it was a little better, but still bad.

Finally, this spring, our road was back to hardpan dirt with a few small potholes. Unless it could be paved, we hoped they would leave it be. But no, they came and graded it, popping up loose stone and dirt again, leaving us a dusty mess. They also gouged out the bottom of my blacktopped driveway, leaving a big hole for the mailman.

Just in the last two weeks, they “patched” nearby Filkins Hill and Woodstock roads. It looks like someone had some excess blacktop, dumped it on the road, and ran the truck over it a few times.

I don’t know why it’s this bad. I’ve checked, and they have the budget and proper equipment. Maybe it’s lack of knowledge and competence about proper methods.

In the Air Force, we had an expression for someone who was within a couple of years of retirement and no longer cared about learning new things or doing a good job. We called them “ROAD” non-commissioned officers or officers. It stood for “Retired On Active Duty.”   Maybe that’s it.

Since I wrote the first draft of this letter on Oct. 1, suddenly, without notice, work was done on our road and Woodstock. It looks better but there is an excessive amount of loose fine gravel on top. I don’t know if any follow-up finishing is planned and it will be spring until we know the quality of the work.

The timing was not lost on us here on the lane, being just before election time, and after Mr. Weaver decided to run again.  And, as slow as it was getting any significant improvement here, there was no time lost in putting up Mr. Weaver’s campaign signs! They went up all along the work zone immediately after work was done.  For us, though, it’s too little, too late.

We wish Mr. Weaver the best in the retirement he wanted just a few weeks ago.

We know neither candidate personally. We will be voting for Mr. Duncan, who certainly has the background and competence and, hopefully, more motivation to do a good job as highway superintendent for the people of Berne.

Kevin Slattery
East Berne

Editor’s note: Highway Superintendent Kenneth Weaver said Remley Lane gets some of the most snow and wind in the town and requires pushing the snow up to clear the road. He said stone was spread on the road in the summer of 2012, left to settle over the winter, and spread with sand to bind the stone. Last week, he said, Remley Lane and Woodstock Road have been paved with oil and stone.