In seeking to defray expenses by instituting a cheaper method of road paving maintenance on some of its roadways, Violet Township officials received some sharp criticism from residents of at least two subdivisions affected by the decision.
Residents of Sturbridge Meadows and New England Acres in Violet Township voiced their displeasure with what they deemed "substandard" chip seal paving.
Chip seal is liquid asphalt covered with small stone and then sealed with what is referred to as a fog seal, said Greg Butcher, Violet Township engineer.
It is significantly less expensive than standard "hot mix asphalt."
Violet Township officials announced last June they would utilize chip seal out of necessity because of a limited road department budget.
Residents of Sturbridge Meadows and New England Acres took exception to the fact that roads in their respective subdivisions were chosen for the chip seal treatment in September.
"It was a crappy job. (Chip seal) is definitely not for residential use," said John Thompson, a resident of Sturbridge Meadows who also is secretary-treasurer of the subdivision's homeowner's association.
Thompson pointed out loose gravel on Sudbury Drive that he said is causing problems for residents.
"It's a safety issue," Thompson said.
"Kids can't ride a bike on it, can't skateboard or Rollerblade.
"Anyone who falls down on (the road) tears their knees up," Thompson said, adding "people can't walk their dogs anywhere, the loose gravel tears up the padding on their feet."
Thompson said the tar that has not been sealed has been "bubbling up."
"There are kids tracking it on carpets and the coatings on some garage floors are being ruined," he said.
Thompson's next door neighbor, Ron Murdock, said the decision to chip seal his neighborhood came as a surprise.
"We didn't get a notice or anything," said Murdock, adding "now it's worse than it was a day ago."
Numerous residents from both affected subdivisions attended the Violet Township trustees meeting on Oct. 2 to voice displeasure with chip seal.
Oct. 4, the Violet Township trustees penned a letter to residents affected by the decision, apologizing for the lack of notification.
"Forgive us for failing to provide advanced notification about the change in the paving process on your streets," stated the letter, signed by trustees Harry Myers Jr., Terry Dunlap Sr. and Gary Weltlich.
Thompson called the open letter "lip service."
"We were better off if they didn't do anything," said Thompson, referring to the chip seal.
Butcher said chip seal, which was also used on Ault Road last summer, is simply a cost-effective method that is warranted in these times of difficult budget constraints.
"What we're trying to accomplish is to just live within our budget," Butcher said.
"We respect our residents' opinions that chip seal is less aesthetically pleasing and rougher," he said.
He said cost of chip seal is one-fourth to one-fifth the cost of conventional "hot-mix" asphalt.
"It costs $46,000 in New England Acres and Sturbridge Meadows to chip seal," Butcher said.
"Conventional asphalt would have cost just under $240,000, which is almost one-half of our road budget," he said.
"The conflict is performing responsible pavement maintenance within a budget that has experienced little or no growth compared to the significant cost increases for conventional asphalt," Butcher said.