Repairs are coming to Branch Heights roads

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

For one last time, the city of Eutaw will partner with Greene County to patch the streets of Branch Heights.

The city voted Tuesday night to partner with the county to perform $7,500 worth of repairs to provide relief to the areas residents.

Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele and other members of the council were not heavily in favor of another partnership with the county, but agreed something needed to be done to grant relief.

Steele said he has worked with the county before, and advised the city not to accept this agreement.

“Those roads do not belong to the city of Eutaw and we have partnered with the county commission before to no avail,” Steele sad. “We also had the money to fix the roads and the county decided they did not want to turn the roads over to the city, therefore, the county wants the responsibility to maintain the roads to Branch Heights.”

The recurring problem with roads in Branch Heights is a lack of clear ownership. The city annexed the area recently, but, when the county voted not to dissolve their Housing and Urban Development board, the city was unable to assume full responsibility for the roads. Now, the roads are under both the city and county.

As long s the board exists, Steele said, the county should take responsibility for the roads.

“I don’t know what else to do because we just can’t keep bouncing back and forth,” Steele said. “The roads belong to the county. If there is a problem with them they need to discuss it with Housing and Urban Development, because they don’t belong to the city of Eutaw.”

County Commissioner Donald Means, whose district includes the Branch Heights area, said the city and county should work together for the good of the people.

“We have got to figure out a way to resolve the problem because the people are still going to suffer,” Means said. “I think we have to get together and try to get Department of Transportation money. I think some help is coming, but until that day, we have still got to find a way to resolve it.”

Councilmember Trudie Cox suggested the city help the county one more time, then leave repairs to the commission. If the city continues to fix the roads, Cox said, they are assuming ownership.

“Once you start working on a road, it becomes your responsibility,” Cox said. “If we go down there and patch that road and somebody gets hurt in it, that is a big liability for the city. If people go down there and tear up their cars, then they are going to say it is the city’s fault.”

Though the roads do not belong to the city, Councilman Lewis Bostick said, they still pose a problem for them. Emergency vehicles make frequent trips through the area, Bostick said, and the conditions of the roads could cost the city indirectly.

“We can’t stop working on this no matter what out personal feelings are because we have too many people concerned with it,” Bostick said. “We are sending our police force down there, we are sending our fire trucks down there and ambulances. We stand the threat of tearing them up. We also have school buses going down there three times a day.”

The city agreed to partner with the county, with Steele voting in opposition, to patch the roads. But, ownership of the roads is still in limbo.

The city and county also plan to hold a joint meeting to discuss the future of the area and who will take responsibility. A date and time has not been set.