By BRAD KELLAR
News that Greenville city officials are considering placing a potential $30 million bond referendum on the May election ballot, to fund the rebuilding of 11 streets which city engineers believe need to be reconstructed and two more which they feel should be built to help relieve mounting traffic problems, was met with a mixed reaction from Herald-Banner readers.
While most agreed the roads needed to be fixed, many balked at the possibility that an increase in property taxes would be needed to pay for the work.
Rachel Holland was among dozens of individuals who posted on the newspaper’s Facebook page concerning the topic.
“Honestly, our city taxes are high enough we should be able to fix some of these streets without a large increase,” Holland said.
Allison Craig Smith had the opposite reaction.
“I think they are all streets that definitely need (to be) improved,” Smith said. “No one likes property tax increases, but I know once the streets are finished, they could see the worth in it.”
Some of the streets on the list have been the source of community complaints for years, such as the south end of Stonewall Street or the stretch of Shelby by the former Newell-Rubbermaid plant. According to Director of Public Works Massoud Ebrahim, the roads were judged based on their current condition, expected growth of traffic, connection to other major roads, whether the street was part of the city’s long range thoroughfare plan and other factors. A 2006 assessment of the 200 miles of streets in Greenville was also utilized.
Last year’s city budget dedicated $600,000 toward the Street Improvement Program, which did not include any construction but included projects involving overlaying, crack sealing and micro-surfacing on approximately two dozen local streets. City officials have said they hope to spend approximately $900,000 on the program this year.
Chad Miller said there are a lot of reasons why the roads in Greenville are not in such great shape.
“Soil type, weather, and minor seismic activity is always going to be a factor in street repair and maintenance in Greenville,” Miller said. “Lack of maintenance is a cause for more costly repair but do we have a fleet of workers big enough to keep them maintained if we repair them? If not, maybe we need to sink that money into hiring more workers first. I’m not a property owner here, but I’m a vehicle owner. Sometimes the wear and tear on your car from driving some of these streets is more costly than a property owner’s tax increase.”
Moshe Ramsour said he agreed with most of the streets on the list.
“But the dirt part of (Roy Warren Parkway) needs to be off the list,” Ramsour said. “So does that short dirt part of Cedar Point. Fixing/building roads in hopes of new development is blatantly stupid when so many streets are in bad shape. Wellington from Ridgecrest to Shelby? Why? So people visiting the corn fields on either side of the road can do so in comfort?”
Tim Drennan believes he is not getting his money’s worth as it is.
“If I get good services, good roads, good law enforcement I think it’s only fair that I pay for that,” Drennan said. “If I get nothing at all I think it’s fair that I pay nothing.”
“I would support it if they did the projects right,” concluded John Adel. “Sidewalks, curb and gutter, drainage, decent streetlights and throw in a few trees. Streets are more than a driving surface — they set the visual tone for our community. Community pride is a good thing and I’m willing to pay for that. If we’re going to get more of the same, I’m happy to just pay the same taxes and let the City pay for it over time like everything else.”