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Help sought with crumbling roads

| Saturday, April 28, 2001

Over a dozen homeowners in the Lockview area of Fallowfield Township want to know when their roads will be fixed and why they don't qualify as a low-income area.

'They covered over our drain-off and there's nowhere for the water to go but into our yard and basement,' said Dennis Partezana of McKinley Street, where construction crews broke up the asphalt about two months ago in order to lay pipe for an anticipated sewer project in the township. 'They left big trenches in the middle of the road.'

Partezana's neighborhood, including homes along Virginia and Coppi lanes and Bowman Street, are complaining of large trenches left alongside the roads, gravel throughout the roadway and runoff water which they say has since rerouted into their yards carrying with it stones and debris.

'There are little kids who play on the road. What would happened if I would slide into one of them?' asked Partezana of the hazardous condition caused by the gravel.

Partezana's wife Denise said she has already slid in her vehicle about 200 feet from the top of the hill to the telephone pole as a result of the grainy surface.

'It's pretty bad,' said Barbara Cochran on Coppi Lane located at the top of the hill. 'This is the worst section of the township,' she said pointing to a neighbor's yard where runoff water caused considerable damage.

Cochran said she understands the work is necessary for the sake of progress, but like her neighbors is concerned over the safety of the roadway.

The Partezanas said they have contacted township officials on several occasions, as well as state Rep. Peter Daley. According to the couple, they received no reply from the township, while Daley said there was little he could do because the road belongs to the township.

'It's like walking on marbles,' said Bowman Street resident Lois Matafka. 'They (crew workers) told us it would be fixed right away and it would be more beautiful than it is now,' she said. 'I can't understand why they didn't dig up behind the houses.'

'When it rains it's all mud,' said Denise Feevey on Bowman Street. 'The road is messing up the shocks and tires on our vehicles. My car needs aligned up, my truck needs aligned up.'

Feevey also pointed to an evergreen tree in her yard that now leans at an angle. 'They uprooted my tree and planted it crooked,' said the homeowner.

Ron Monack, chairman of the Fallowfield Township Municipal Authority, said the road and affected properties will be restored, but because the excavating was done during the winter, it will take a number of consecutive nice weather days before the contractor, D&M of New Alexandria, returns to these areas.

'The contractor is in the process of restoring properties and in due time they will be done there,' said Monack, who noted about 80 percent of the township is being sewered.

Monack said some of the restoration was completed along with the installation of sewer lines; however those areas done during the winter months could not be restored due to the wet, frozen conditions.

Fallowfield Township Supervisor Joseph Bongiorno said paving companies have just recently started pouring hot asphalt, an application which requires temperatures above 40 to 50 degrees.

Bongiorno said the contracted company, now in the 13th month of an 18-month installation project, has moved along well time-wise. 'They've accomplished a big feat in such a little time,' said the supervisor.

Monack said Lockview, Freemont Road and Fourth Street extension are currently awaiting restoration.

According to the authority chairman, he and representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers walked through the Lockview area two weeks ago. He said those representatives were not upset by the conditions there.

Monack said some of the roads will be repaved, while piping or a rip-wrap will likely be placed along the berm of other roads to divert the run-off water.

The neighborhood is also concerned over the hefty price tag that comes with the sewer project.

Matafka said she also sent copies of a petition signed by area residents to local authorities and several legislators asking for help in paying for the proposed $2,750 tap-in fee plus hook-up expenses for the sewage project.

According to Matafka and the Partezanas, many of the residents along the affected roads receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits, and several households include persons with disabilities.

'Nobody seems to know why we're' in the Yellow Zone,' said Matafka, who learned that term translates to mean ineligible for Community Block Development Grants. 'They said we can take out loans, but I'm 73 years old and I don't want my children to have to pay off my loan.'

Feevey, another Social Security recipient, is also concerned it will cost her another $1,000 for expenses to connect the sewage line to her home.

Virginia Lane resident Tom Ferencz is also wondering why the area does not qualify for government assistance in paying for the project.

'I make decent money, but not enough to cover these tap-in fees,' he said. 'Most of these homes around here go about $45,000 tops.'

While Monack sympathizes with the financial hardship the sewer project may impose on some people, he said it is not the fault of the township or the authority.

'We busted our butts to get financial assistance for those who are needy, but Lockview didn't qualify,' said Monack. He explained that area was lumped together with North Charleroi and parts of Carroll Township in order to form a 10,000 population base.

'We even asked Congressman Frank Mascara to intervene,' said Monack, who said that effort resulted in a re-survey of the area. 'But it still didn't change the guidelines.'

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