I read today’s T&G article on private streets with interest because I live on a private street (albeit one in much better condition than the one referenced in the article) and because the Public Works Committee will be meeting on Thursday and I noticed that there were many requests for private street maintenance (18) and a very interesting resident’s guide to private streets.

It felt like déjà vu — because I essentially read the same story in the T&G a couple of years ago.  From that article, by Nick Kotsopoulos, dated Dec 9, 2007:

But because of funding constraints, the commissioner said, that three-year goal is no longer achievable. He [Commissioner Moylan] said private streets voted last December will not be converted to public ways until at least 2013, or even later, because of the insufficient amount of money allocated for such work. Twenty-seven private streets, approved by the City Council to be made public, are on a waiting list.

So — two years ago, the wait was until 2013.  Councilor Clancy said in today’s article that “we have a five- to six-year backlog for these private street conversions”; the wait time has not improved since two years ago.

It should also be noted that, according to the 2007 article, the primary push for private road conversion was from the city government.  To wit:

Mr. Moylan said a record number of 30 private-street petitions were heard and approved by the City Council in a two-year period, evidence that the city’s efforts to convince abutters of the benefits of making their street public was showing success. [emphasis mine]

So, two years ago, the city was pushing for private roads to be converted to public, even though they knew the wait would be, at minimum, six years away. 

Today’s article is a complete recycle of one from two years ago, and adds little but a slightly human side to the story.  I’m not sure if the T&G felt that it was so important that it needed to be discussed again, or if they just have no institutional knowledge whatsoever.

FYI, the city has a webpage about private streets as well (thanks, Jeff!).  Note that the city will charge you 5% interest to finance your “betterment” if you can’t pony up thousands or tens of thousands of dollars right away; nowhere do they note that you will have to wait 5-6 years before your road will get paved.  One more thing they don’t tell you: if a developer puts houses on your private street, they are not compelled (as they are with public streets) to restore the street to the condition it was in before they dug it up for the water and sewer hookups.  Or that it’s a complete embarrassment that private roads make up 20% of the total road mileage in the second (or third, or whatever we are this week) largest city in New England.