Residents want city to make amends

Longthong Road still not complete

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— After getting a heated and paved road, residents of a condominium complex perched on one of the steepest roads in Steamboat Springs say the experience of getting the improvements has had some major drawbacks.

The JVT Condominium Association wrote a letter to the city at the end of March asking it to pay for grading and a new blacktop surface on two parking lots off of Longthong Road to make up for hardships endured by the residents.

The residents on Longthong Road paid more than $500,000 for the improvements.

The upper parking lot was a snowy or muddy mess all winter and into early spring, said Gertrude Fetcher, the treasurer/manager of the condo association.

Fetcher herself uses the complex's lower lot, though she said many of the people who usually use the upper lot had to deal with those complications, some of which may have resulted from poor drainage. The condo association also wants a better drainage system installed.

Fetcher added that because the grading is still not completed, some residents have sustained wheel damage from exposed edges of concrete at the lower lot. The association also claims to have had to pay for special delivery services because waste management and UPS trucks refused to venture up the road.

City Manager Paul Hughes said he and Public Works Director Jim Weber will meet with both the contractors and the residents to try to make amends, but doubts the city will pay for improvements to private lots.

Joe Bacharz of Duckels Construction, the contractor on the project, said the company wanted to wait until 2001 to begin the project because the city did not approve the financing until September. The city wanted them to start in the fall, however. When snow came early, the project was interrupted in a half-complete state and the difficulties became unavoidable. Although the road was supposed to be finished by Thanksgiving, the construction is still not quite complete.

Bacharz said the contractor will be making the grading improvements once it can pour asphalt and has attempted to make up for the residents' hardships.

"We've been up there three or four times this year to try to keep people happy," Bacharz said. "Obviously, we can't keep everybody happy."

The residents of Longthong Road entered into an agreement to pay for the heated concrete road by coming together under a Local Improvement District. The city pitched in for about 15 percent of the cost and secured the financing for the project, said Finance Director Don Taylor.

The plan to heat a portion of Longthong Road, which has a grade higher than 10 percent at points, was formulated after a study of heated municipal roads in Snowmass.

The city and Longthong area residents planned to pay for the improvement project with bonds enabled by the Local Improvement District approved by voters in late 1997.

Under the provisions of the district, the cost to the city of the road work would be regained through assessments against the property in the district.

The city and the property owners in the district reached an accord on March 3, 1998 on a cost-sharing maintenance agreement.

After costs went up, the property owners in the district were assessed a larger fee to pay for the road and the improvements were cut back.

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