Saturday, June 21, 2008

You Can't Fight City Hall... or Can You???

See…my mom had mentioned to me about a month ago that there was some major construction taking place in front of her apartment complex. She was a little concerned that she would have problems getting in and out of her home during the course of all the construction. To be quite honest, I thought to myself that the construction that was taking place where she lived was nothing more than the construction that is happening all around us all the time. So, I didn’t think too much about her complaint.

Well, I visited my mom last Sunday. We live about forty-five minutes away from her. As we drove up to the main street to get into her apartment complex, we found the street to be completely torn up. Meaning, a vehicle literally could not get in or out without driving in a mud hole. This was a two-lane street. One side of street had been completely torn up and left without concrete….just black dirt (which turned to mud when it rained). The other side of the street was newly paved concrete which the construction was using to park their crew trucks, equipment and excess dirt.

Normally, road crews will tear up one side of the road, resurface or replace that side, then open it up so they can start the same process on the other side. This allows traffic to continue, albeit slowly. But this crew tore the entire road up all at one time, forcing drivers to drive on plain dirt (or mud). This has now been a month.

To spare you some of the details and fast forward to what transpired this past Tuesday… We had planned to take our children to my mom’s house for a short visit (Tuesday to Friday). Prior to us leaving home, my sister (who lives with my mom) called and suggested that it would be best to bring the girls next week due the possibility of us getting stuck out in the mud hole in front of their home. At this point, I sort of lost it….not with my sister, but with the construction company that was doing the job. I could not believe a company would leave the street in such bad shape like this in the first place. I asked my sister for the contact number to the city hall.

I called and asked to speak with the person who was overseeing the construction company where the construction was taking place. Mind you, it was 4:57 pm when I made the call. As it was almost quitting time for the girl that answered the phone, she was not too eager to assist me. She first told me that the gentleman that I needed to speak with was already gone for the day and that I could leave him a voicemail. My response to that was, “No, I don’t want to leave a voicemail.” I stressed the urgency of needing to speak with him right then. Again, she was not eager to assist me. So, I took it up a notch. My next statement was, “ I need to get in touch with him immediately or I can show up at the construction site with Channel 4 News.” “Hold on please.” She came back and gave me a cell number to reach Mr. Carrell. Hmmm….

You guessed it. I wasted no time in calling Mr. Carrell.

Now, since I don’t live in this city, I thought it was appropriate to say that I was calling on behalf of my mother. I went into all the details with Mr. Carrell. By the end of our conversation, he was in totally agreement with me that leaving the street like this for the residents was wrong and totally unacceptable. He was going to hang up with me and call the construction company to go back out (before I got there) and put out gravel in order for residents to be able to get out of their homes without getting stuck.

It got a lot worse before it got better!!! See the letter that I came back home and wrote after leaving my mom’s home Tuesday night.

June 17, 2008

To: Royse City Public Works
Attn: Mr. Dean Carrell

Cc: Royse City Mayor – Mr. Jim Mellody
Cc: Fox 4 News – Shaun Rabb

Dear Mr. Carrell,

I write to you this evening in regards to our conversation regarding the construction that is going on at North Houston Street in Royse City and the scene that I witnessed this evening with residents getting stuck and very frustrated tonight as I was visiting my mother.

For some reason, residents have been left without a road to allow them to get in or out of North Houston Street without getting stuck! The original road has been completely stripped away and the new road section has not been cleaned and prepared for use. I find this to be very wrong and totally unacceptable. It is not possible to drive a car on without real danger of sliding off of the road or being buried in the mud.

As I stressed to you earlier today via phone, my mother had complained to me about a month ago how bad it was for her to get in and out of her place of residence with all the construction that was taking place on her street. Unfortunately, I did not realize how bad it was until I visited her last Sunday, 06-15-08.

During our conversation, you agreed that this was not right. You also advised me that you would instruct the construction company to go back out this evening and put white rocks out so that cars could get in and out. I arrived in Royse City around 9:00 pm tonight for another visit to my mother’s home. I had to park my vehicle at a local dry cleaners and walk to my mother’s home. It was fortunate for me that I made the decision not to chance going down this mud hole. Unfortunately, the next car didn’t have that choice since they lived there. They got stuck.
Another vehicle came up behind and also had difficulty getting through. I attempted to call you on the cell number that was provided to me and at the same number that I had spoken to you at several times this evening. However, you never answered.

I did take pictures of this street and the vehicle that was stuck that I can send to you if need.

Several things here:

I thought after I voiced my concern to you earlier this evening that you were as concerned as I was at the way in which the construction company had left the streets. However, I had to revise this impression later on since the rock truck that you ordered never showed up nor did you bother answering my later calls.

This may be considered the poorest side of Royse City. However, these residents still have jobs to get to and families to care for. There was one single parent that wouldn’t drive to her home tonight on this street for fear of her car getting stuck. She spent the night at someone else’s home because she wouldn’t take the chance in getting stuck.

I asked this question earlier today while speaking with you, “Why would the construction company (with the city’s approval) tear up the entire street?” I have seen a street torn up on one side with the other side left to drive on numerous times, but, I’ve never seen the entire street being totally unavailable.

You mentioned during the course of our conversation that you made it very clear to the construction company that the streets be left in a shape for residents to be able to get in and out of. However, the construction company chosen has done totally the opposite. Is the city not overseeing this project closely? I know that there are many other projects to oversee, but even the Royse City police officer that showed up tonight was completely thrown off by how bad this road is. As I started complaining to the officer this evening, he mentioned that he did not realize how bad it was until tonight.

Though the city is writing the check to the “preferred” construction company, this is still taxpayers’ money and again, this is not right and is totally unacceptable!!!

In case of an emergency of a resident getting very ill and an ambulance being able to get in, it would be very difficult, if not completely impossible.

It seems to me this being a low income side of town in Royse City, not many city officials are even aware (or even care) of how bad a condition this street has been left in.

In closing, and speaking on behalf of my mother, I would appreciate some feedback to this letter and what the city plans on doing in correcting this problem immediately.


Daphine Reeves

After staying up to almost 2:00 am writing the above letter and then tossing and turning most of the night out of anger and frustration, I felt that I still had not done enough. So, I made up my mind to go back to Royse City the next morning to meet the construction crew. I arrived at 7:45 with my camera and video camera in my hands. I immediately started taking pictures and then paused a second or two in order to switch to video taping.

A man walked up to me and greeted me with, “Hello ma’am, you’re going to be able to use this newly paved street tonight to get into your home.” I quickly corrected him with, “ I don’t live here. My name is Daphine Reeves and who are you?” His eyes grew wider. “I’m Dean Carrell,” he said. I have to be honest. I gave him an EAR FULL!!! He quickly took responsibility for not overseeing the construction properly. He sincerely apologized and told me that the entire job had ceased until the newly paved street was clear for residents to drive on with the crew trucks, equipment and excess dirt removed . He reassured me that the street would be open by noon. I shook his hand and agreed that if the street was open by noon that I would not proceed any further.

I walked away, got in my car and droved into the office. By 11:00am, my sister had called to let me know that the new paved street was open already.

I have since shared this story with several friends. I’ve heard comments such as;
“I would never be able to something like that,” or “I would have never thought to call Channel 4 news.”

Although, the road is now in a drivable condition, I still feel really sad that people could be treated like this. I am also not sure why the construction company left the residents to fend for themselves to get in and out of the mud hole that they left behind. I am just happy that I was able to help out.


Jessica & Matt said...

Are you kidding me?!? Girl--you are about I get yourself a job at Fox 4 News! Lookout Becky Oliver! This is beyond greatness, and doesn't surprise me at all, knowing you. You are such a stud. I'm so glad those people had you. It really makes me mad when people are neglected and/or taken advantage of.

I laughed out loud when you said you showed up early in the morning with your camera and video camera. LOL!!! :) I love it!!

Tracie said...

Why am I not shocked? You are a "get it done" kinda woman. I can't believe they did that to all those people. Horrible.
You go girl

Jennifer Raack said...

I can't believe they left the street like that!!!!! I wonder how many people missed work or were late to work because their cars were stuck in the mud. If there were any, I think the city should reimburse them for any pay or personal days they missed due to the city's negligence!!

It's a shame that the city was not more concerned with the neighborhood before you got involved. Common sense says there should be a city inspector going around checking out construction sites....he obviously didn't do his job in this instance!