Kristin Bergman wrote the following in a letter to the Telegram editor:
Back in the fall, I received notice that two of my neighbors petitioned the city to have our street made public. At the second hearing, held April 13, the Standing Committee on Public Works voted against the majority of abutters, to go ahead and convert our road from private to public.
I was under the impression that if a majority of abutters were against converting a road from private to public, it wouldn’t happen, but in the case of Ms. Bergman’s road, the committee voted for a conversion.
I’ve noted before that I live on a private road (that will only become public over many of my neighbor’s dead bodies). There are basically no benefits to living on a private road except that no one wants to drive on it (no one, that is, except the teenagers who make a sport of dodging the potholes while driving ATVs and mopeds down the street at excessive speeds), which Ms. Bergman notes later on in her letter.
I think the one consolation for Ms. Bergman — or, indeed, anyone who finds herself having to pony up megabucks for a street conversion — is that there is such a backlog that it’ll be six years before you have to pay up. (Of course, by then the cost of the conversion is even more than the amount you were originally quoted, but hopefully you’ve lost enough brain cells in the intervening period that it matters less!)
She also wrote the following in the comments to the letter:
The city never should have allowed the other houses to be built without re-doing the road, imho.
This, I think, is the bane of private street living. You might buy a house on a private street. The street’s not in wonderful condition, but since there are only twenty or so cars that drive down it on a regular basis, it doesn’t really matter.
Then developers start shoehorning in duplexes left and right, and pretty soon the traffic on your street has left the road in horrible condition.
The city, in the meantime, has reaped the benefit of the increased property value for the developed house lots.
But you, the resident, have to pay for the improvements to a street — improvements that would likely not have been needed (or asked for) had there not been increased traffic on your street.
There has to be a better way. I am not sure what that better way is, but this is not it.