Independence Twp. Board approves additional $50,000 for gravel road maintenance

By Megan Kelley
Clarkston News Editor
CLARKSTON — Last week, the Independence Township Board of Trustees approved a budget amendment to provide an additional $50,000 to go toward graveling and maintaining gravel roads within the township.
The $50,000 is in addition to the $50,000 the township budgets annually for the graveling of township roads that have not been maintained by the county due to budget cuts, making the total amount of money now budgeted by the township for this maintenance $100,000.
The board voted 5-1 in favor of the budget amendment. Treasurer Paul Brown cast the lone nay vote and Trustee Theresa Nallamothu was absent from the meeting.
The request to the board from township Supervisor Jose Aliaga initially was to amend the budget an additional $150,000 to add to the already existing $50,000, which would bring the total budgeted amount to $200,000.
According to Aliaga, residents have continued to ask for the township to do more to maintain these roads.
“For many many years we’ve had this issue with the county – we haven’t gotten as much funding before but residents are coming and saying we need to support our dirt roads, we need to put more gravel and sentiment there. I believe most of us want to see good condition and infrastructure,” said Aliaga.
Joining the board to give additional context to what goes into the maintenance of these roads was Chris Doll, an employee for the Road Commission for Oakland County and District Superintendent out of the Davisburg garage.
According to Doll, the $50,000 that Independence Township has been utilizing for local gravel road maintenance is not enough to do so efficiently.
“You have approximately 30.5 miles of local gravel roads. You have a little over a mile and a half – plus or minus – sub-local gravels which are smaller cottage type streets. Currently, at $50,000 a year, you’re getting a mile and change at that investment. So, if you take your 30 miles of road, at that investment, if you stay status quo, just imagine what it would take to continue to gravel your roads and keep them in maintainable shape,” Doll said.
While council agreed that they should look into better funding for the graveling of these roads, questions rose on whether it was fair for the township to pay for the maintenance for roads that were, arguably, mostly residential roads.
“To me, gravel roads in these neighborhoods, as well as the paved roads, are county roads. They’re not part of what our tax dollars are made to maintain. So, to me, if we’re going to look at increasing money for the dirt roads, we already have a program to to that. We’ve been trying to get people to pave their roads with the Neighborhood Road Improvement Project. To me, any of these neighborhoods – gravel or paved – that want to improve their roads, these residents have to have some skin the game. You can’t look at the township to just pay whatever it takes to re-do your roads. The road repair involves the residents,” said Trustee Ronald Ritchie.
Brown agreed with Ritchie stating that putting $200,000 into low density areas like gravel roads rather than higher density paved roads that are also in need of repairs wouldn’t be a fair thing to do.
Brown also clarified that the roads in question are not actually owned by Independence Township.
“They’re not our roads. They’re the road commission’s roads and often residents don’t know the difference. They’ve moved here from cities and the cities own their roads. Independence Township doesn’t own a single road. So, the roads are either controlled by the Road Commission of Oakland County or they’re private and owned by the residents. We don’t own any roads,” Brown said.
Aliaga reiterated he has received a number of complaints from residents about the gravel roads and that while he understood the board member’s points, it was something that could lead to accessibility issues with ambulances and firetrucks that need to get down those roads.
“I just want to help our residents,” Aliaga said.
Trustee Jim Tedder also noted the increase in cost of gravel, stating that he felt the board should either table the discussion for a later date or find a compromise that acknowledges the cost increase.
Ritchie said he was open to compromise on the amount of money and that he felt an additional $150,000 was just too much. Ritchie then made the motion to amend the budget for annual total of $100,000 for gravel road maintenance. The motion was seconded by Tedder and passed 5-1.

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