The Times and Trials of a Private Road
Samantha Rutter, Staff Writer
November 16, 2011 • 31 views
Filed under Features
When Kevin Holden ’12 of Cottage Lane wakes up on a snow day, instead of looking out his window at the cleared main road, he sees pavement covered in sheets of black ice and snow, with looming trees snapping overhead.
For those who live on private roads, bad weather is a serious problem. Wooden or plain colored signs identify private roads, opposite of the standard town-funded green colored that are customary for main roads. The town of Westport does not fund private road cleanups for trees and snow, only for houses that are on main roads.
Michael Jonas ’15, who lives on Turtleback Lane, off of Whitney Street, says it’s problematic to have so many complications due to bad weather.
“During Irene, our power was out for five days and didn’t get restored until one of my neighbors threatened to sue the power company,” said Jonas. “In the winter months, we have to pay a company to come for our street to be paved. And sometimes, even though we eventually get paved, we are one of the last roads to be done.”
Along with weather concerns, there is an issue of financial payment for private roads. “One of the major differences between living on a private road versus living on a public road is the involvement with the town,” said Holden. “For example, every household on my block had to pay for our road to get paved last summer, as opposed to if we had lived on a public road, the town would have paid for it to be paved.”
So how do these private roads deal with these crucial issues?
For Eliza Seaver ’12, who lives on Webb Road, the residents of her road have taken matters into their own hands. “We have a road committee, where all of the houses on the street get together and discuss issues that are plaguing the road,” said Seaver. “We have a President, and he makes sure that we get plowed during the winter months. Since we live on a private road, we have to pay for a company to plow our street. However, we get power restored just like everyone else, though it takes longer than everyone who live on main roads.”
These major concerns, both weather and financial, are common for those who live on private roads. From snow plowing to power outages, private roads have it tough. But there is a silver lining to these problems, according to Jonas. “My road is hard to get to, especially during the winter, so we rarely get any telemarketers coming to my house,” said Jonas. “We aren’t near a highway, so it’s peaceful and quiet. But my favorite part about living on a private road is that no one bothers us on Mischief Night.”