Issues surface again on private road

Oak Drive, a private road in Beacon Falls, is crumbling in spots. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — Twenty months after a judge ruled the town has to maintain aspects of a private road, residents of the road came before the Board of Selectmen seeking more help.

Recent storms have damaged Oak Drive, a two-lane, private road with nine residences on it. Portions of the road, which was built in 1972, are washed out near the intersection with Munson Road. There is a section of about 15 feet where the pavement has buckled, crumbled or washed out completely, leaving exposed dirt.

Oak Drive resident Louis Krokosky told the Board of Selectmen on Aug. 14 that he was concerned about the amount of erosion and potholes along the street.

Krokosky was one of about a dozen Oak Drive residents that came to the meeting concerned about the state of the road. Krokosky, who was the only Oak Drive resident to address the board, questioned what the town planned to do about the road.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the town has been diligent about taking care of what it has been legally ordered to do and the erosion is not the town’s problem.

“As everyone on Oak Drive is hopefully aware the town has lived up to our end of the bargain. We have cleaned out the catch basins every year we have been responsible for doing so. We just did it again earlier this year,” Bielik said. “Therefore, any erosion caused by recent storms, in the opinion of our attorney in review of this agreement, is not the responsibility of the town of Beacon Falls.”

Resident Doug Bousquet, who does not live on Oak Drive, said the erosion could pose a problem for first responders.

“There is a pretty serious erosion problem, even for firetrucks, police cars and ambulances,” said Bousquet, a past chief of Beacon Hose Company No. 1.

This isn’t the first time Oak Drive residents have come to the town to discuss the road.

In 2014, residents raised concerns that the town wasn’t doing maintenance on the road and collecting their garbage, although the road is used as a cut-through from Cedar Lane to Munson Road.

At the time, the town refused to accept the road as a public street and to provide services.

The residents sued the town and, in December 2015, a judge ruled in their favor.

Under the ruling, the town has to plow the road, extend trash pickup to the residents, maintain the catch basins and sewers on the road, and fix the pot holes at the intersection with Munson Road.

If the town failed to maintain the catch basins and erosion occurred from that failure, the town was liable for any damage to the road, the ruling stated.

Krokosky told the board the catch basins are raised about 2 inches above the road, and the water runs around them rather than into them during storms.

“The water is not going in them, it is rushing down the road. That’s why we got the erosion,” Krokosky said.

Bielik said since the town does not own the road, it is not obligated to lower the catch basins. He said the road is owned by Oak Drive Enterprises LLC, which was owned by James Wisneski. Wisneski passed away in 2013.

“The problem is the road was never constructed to town standards. That is why the town is really not interested in ever accepting it because there is $750,000 worth of work that would have to be done to bring it up to town standards,” Bielik said.

Bielik made it clear that repairs would not be done by the town.

“Having talked to my public works department about it, the public works department will not be taking any action to fix any of the potholes that have occurred due to the recent storms,” Bielik said.