The ‘Colonville Island’

December 21, 2018

Dear Editor,

I am hesitant to respond to the articles and letters submitted about the “Colonville Island”. I live in Sheridan Township, on a portion of a dirt road that is ‘fairly’ maintained, compared to a portion of the same road to the north, which is ‘poorly’ maintained all the way through the remainder of the county. I am afraid of repercussions for my neighbors who might suffer should our small, ‘fairly’ maintained section no longer be ‘fairly’ maintained because I speak out. However, I can no longer let go of the waste of tax-payer money and certain claims that have been made. I also hesitate because judging is not my thing, but I do feel politics have directed the common sense of our CCRC “managers”.

Had common sense prevailed on the part of these managers, they would have noticed that 94% of the complaints filed were made by members of the same family. They would also have been wise enough to not allow spending of tax payer’s money to be involved in personal vendettas. Believe it or not, many area residents already knew who exactly put you “on notice” that led to the expenditures for a study, legal fees and installation of the “Colonville Island”. (This was confirmed by last week’s FOIA information in the letter from the owner of the Colonville store.) Shame on you managers for not checking the facts first and realizing the true issues that effect the lives of our residents on a daily basis.

Our daily issues are speeding vehicles on Colonville Road, and the dangerous conditions of Sheridan township dirt roads. These issues are far more dangerous than the parking situation our residents are well aware of and approach with caution.

I believe the questions now for most residents of Sheridan Township are: Why wasn’t signage or a speed zone implemented first to slow down the traffic at a much lower cost? Furthermore, why did this become a greater necessity than upgrading our hazardous dirt roads?

The claim from our “managers” of the road commission is that the “most important job is to promote safety for those who use our public highways.” Our dirt roads are not safe. Are they not considered public? We, the public, pay certain taxes to maintain the roads. Those of us who choose to live in the country pay even more taxes than some; since, we live further distances off of the state highways, and use more gas to get to and from towns and businesses. (For more information on how the roads are funded, go to www.mackinac.org.)

I have no fault with Mr. Gupta, as I see he is highly qualified in his education provided by one of our great big city universities and experience in the City of Midland. I believe him when he says: “I am very proud of the highway improvements that began on Colonville Road this summer.” Well, you should be proud of the many improvements to all of our paved roads. However, are you also proud of the fact that all you did by stopping the 45* angle parking was cause people to park on the easement across the road from the Colonville Store and create an even larger hazard? (According to several law enforcement agencies; there is no law against 45* angle parking and many cities, towns and villages still use slant parking, i.e. Clare has slant parking on Pine St.).

Mr. Gupta also claims that “Many of our residents were aware of and had complained about the hazards of cars backing out onto a 55-mph road at a 45-degree angle. I have heard of many near collisions at this location.” We now know from the FOIA information that these statements about ‘complaints by many residents’ are false.

What is true is that the slant parking and speed limit are common knowledge. It is difficult to believe that anyone who lives in and around the Amish-owned store complained about the parking situation. Those who travel Colonville Road are all aware of the store’s presence, the slant parking and the many tourists who abound on the weekends and holidays. We certainly know that the Amish and their businesses are not going away, and that tourism is both seasonal and a great source of income for our township and county. The benefits of tourism alone warrant the necessity of keeping all of our roads, both paved and dirt, in good repair and free of hazards.

Speeding is the true hazard on Colonville Road, and can be controlled by law officers and the resident’s patience and conscientious efforts to stay alert in this area. However, the unpaved roads hold worse hazards beyond the control of residents and law officers on dirt roads throughout the county. Standing water hides unknown risks, ditches are full of so much wood and grass that they don’t allow the water to drain off, there is no crown to prevent the road from holding water and creating mud six to eight inches deep in some areas. In addition, un-ditched natural drains continuously overflow their banks directing water across the dirt roads. Those grading the roads do not put down the blades low enough or at the angle needed to fill in dangerous areas. We recently experienced potholes large enough that huge mums were planted in them without digging into the road base. While that may be a humorous way to prevent travelers from damaging themselves or their vehicles; it’s downright disgusting that the roads are in such condition. (The Review has been provided with pictures.)

I know what some of you are thinking; ‘you chose to live on the unpaved roads.’ That is correct. We also chose to live in the Amish community where life is a little slower and the residents are humble and considerate. Had this issue about the “Colonville Island” not come out, our meek, unpretentious ways would not have questioned how our tax dollars are being spent. But since the issue is an obvious, wasteful misappropriation, let’s talk about how our road tax money is being spent; because, the unpaved road conditions prevail throughout the entire county.

The road base needs to be completely re-established in many areas. Ditches need created in some spots to carry water away from the road, or at the very least, cleaned out. Road crew employees need to be trained on how to get to the edges of the road and direct the gravel-filled dirt back to the ‘non-existent’ crown. Gravel, not sand, needs to be used to solidify the roads. In addition, there should have been some direction on using the gravel filled dirt from the easements recently cleaned along the paved roads to fill perennial sand pits and low-lying areas on the surrounding side roads instead of it being dumped on to private property. (More pictures provided).

How is it that a certain few property owners receive this fill dirt while other owner’s requests for improvements are rejected? Residents in Sheridan Township were assessed for the cleaning of the Bailey Drain but live in closer proximity to the Carrow Drain. That drain needs cleaned as well, and was asked for multiple times at township meetings, to no avail. It is my understanding that the Road and Drain Commissions work together to accomplish this type of work. The drain creates problems for Athey Ave. where it crosses under it.

The flow from the Carrow Drain was so bad this past spring and summer it took out a culvert on Athey Ave. three times, and had to be repaired three times. Of course, you would think that those in charge would know that you can’t stop rushing water with sand. Sand that went through the culvert and backed the water up even more causing the water to find an alternate route across the road further up the grade and causing more damage. Isn’t our engineer, managers, crew leaders and employees supposed to have a basic education of such things?

Our Engineer, Mr. Gupta states in his letter; “It is a pleasure to work with elected government officials who place safety above politics.” If safety was a priority to our Township Supervisor, the conditions of our non-primary dirt roads should be a higher priority than creating conflict within the community or with any one person. Our unpaved roads are not safe, and have now become a reflection of his opinions and style of politics. The supervisor’s influence, through personal complaints, are what put the CCRC managers “on notice”. Manipulation created an ongoing, costly outcome; and, now both parties have established the implication that slant parking at a local business is more important than the safety of a larger multitude of tax paying residents living on the surrounding dirt roads.

This brings us to the point that really prevails here. The politics involved in this spending of taxpayer’s money was based on opinion (feelings and attitude), not principles (morals and ethics). Worse yet, the aversion of an individual governmental entity should not have been supported by a more advanced governmental entity who is liable to a larger constituency than one township.

I am sorry if I have hurt anyone’s feelings, but the truth is the truth; and I am sick of my tax dollars being wasted. I hope the Review will be kind enough to post some of the pictures I have provided.

Ridiculous!
Name Withheld by Request

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