A widely recognized problem of aging infrastructure in cities and first ring suburbs of Columbus, built decades ago, is rising to the surface on Herrick Road, and residents are not happy about it.

A widely recognized problem of aging infrastructure in cities and first ring suburbs of Columbus, built decades ago, is rising to the surface on Herrick Road, and residents are not happy about it.

"It is not worthy of a city like Upper Arlington to have streets, water lines and infrastructure at the level of disrepair that you are indicating," council president Frank Ciotola told residents who attended Monday night's meeting to talk about their repeatedly broken water lines and other recurrent utility problems.

Despite acknowledging the problem, however, council refused a petition for curbs and gutters organized by property owners on Herrick Road, with council member Erik Yassenoff offering a dissenting vote only for the symbolic purpose of supporting the residents' concerns.

"This is a procedural vote tonight," Yassenoff said. "There has been a lot of discussion in the city about how to correct the problem because there clearly is a problem on Herrick Road. But as president Ciotola pointed out there are water problems around the entire city.

"The city did make several mistakes and we need to acknowledge that," Yassenoff said. "Even though this is a procedural vote and this is more a symbolic gesture, I do intend to vote against the motion this evening to respect and reflect the view of the Herrick Road residents and to make sure it is on the record that there was a mistake, several mistakes by the city, and we need to correct the issue sooner rather than later."

Ciotola said the city would address infrastructure at a July 5 council conference session, the lengthy working sessions held the first and third Mondays each month at which plans are made for the formal meetings held on alternate Mondays.

"What I sense, and probably not without merit, is that you don't have faith that if we don't proceed right now that it's not going to get done and we're going to put it on the back burner," Ciotola said. "That is not going to be the case. We currently already have it on our schedule to meet July 5 in a conference session specifically for the purpose of discussing infrastructure and how to prioritize to make sure these issues are addressed.

"That conference session is a perfect opportunity," he said. "I hate to have you come back again, but that conference session is really the perfect opportunity to continue to have these discussions.

"Tonight's vote is not about whether you need these improvements," Ciotola said. "It's about how we're potentially getting there. It's about a curb and gutter assessment in which then the city would participate at a high level. I don't think that's the right way to get there."

Ciotola said the problem was primarily that curb and gutter petitions are a relatively minor street improvement done by assessment against homeowners, while major utility line infrastructure repair is a city obligation to be handled under the capital improvements plan.

"If we did it that way there would be no expense to you at all," Ciotola said.

"I constantly get comments about infrastructure from people all throughout the city," Ciotola said. "You should be able to get moved up on the merits of the problems you have. We already have a lot of the engineering work done. That can help expedite the process once we move forward.

"Tonight's vote is not to say you don't need those repairs and you don't need them soon," he said. "I just don't think setting a precedent to have it done through a curb and gutter petition is the way to do it. It sets a bad precedent and we'll have a line out the door of folks signing petitions for curbs and gutters so that they can get other infrastructure subsidized."

Aging infrastructure is widespread, and Ciotola encouraged city residents to bring problems forward.

"I encourage residents to not be shy about coming forward about infrastructure needs," he said. "I feel that's a basic service of city government and that's one of the things we should be addressing before we spend money just about any place else, with the possible exception of safety forces."