Residents sound off on city’s gravel roads

Things got rocky at Monday night’s city council meeting when council chambers filled with residents unhappy about gravel roads.

Leon Lamer, at-large council member, brought the matter before the council after having received numerous complaints about the roads on the northwest side of Marshalltown.

“For those of you who aren’t aware, we had a seal project where we put some tar down and we didn’t do anything to the street before we did it,” Lamer said.

Lamer said the potholes were covered with a white, flake like rock and too much was put in the holes which created extra rock. The streets with the excess rocks are 25th Street, 27th Street, Valley View Road, Hilltop Road and Freemont Street.

“All the extras will end up in people’s yards this winter when our plows will go through,” Lamer said. “We need to try and sweep up all the extra.”

Lamer said he came up with an idea about how to fix the problem. Lamer suggested hiring contractors to spray liquid calcium twice a year to control dust, similar to what is done in front of his farm house.

“I’m wondering if we could offer this as a solution to kill the dust because these people have white dust rolling in their house everyday,” Lamer said. “We need to do something. These people are back to a gravel road and do not deserve a gravel road.”

The people who filled the council chambers applauded, then some residents of the area voiced their opinion.

Jack Carkhuff, resident of Hilltop Drive and spokesperson for other residents in the area, voiced concern of the road issue.

“It’s been 50 years and we are back to square one,” Carkhuff said. “We started in 64-5, when they took the streets in the city limits and we started paying city taxes, they were gravel. We have not had a permanent street, we never have. Now we are back 50 years later to gravel. We come full circle.”

Carkhuff said all the residents want is a decent street.

“We have people in the neighborhood that have little children and they can’t ride their bikes in the street anymore,” Carkhuff said. “We have a few ladies that have small children, they push strollers, they can’t do that no more. You can’t ride motorcycles. They are afraid they are going to fall.”

Carkhuff said he wasn’t sure what the solution should be, but believes something should be done about it.

“I do know these people are not happy with what was done,” Carkhuff said. “I think we actually need to do something to make this a lot better street. I think 50 years of paying taxes, we are owed a decent street.”

Paul Adams, who said he has been using the streets for a long time, also believes the streets should be repaired.

“The base has been rotten for years and these streets should’ve been repaired a long time ago,” Adams said. “So basically if you ask me what was done, they made the road worse, not better.”

He also said the roads haven’t been maintained for years.

“If you were to buy a house, which would you prefer, a house with an asphalt road or a house with a gravel road? You would probably prefer an asphalt road,” Adams said. “These roads have been asphalt for years, they just haven’t been maintained.”

Adams said since the roads were asphalt and gravel was put over the potholes, the values of resident’s homes decreased.

“They are not worth as much as they use to be, because, people don’t want to live on gravel roads,” Adams said. “Here’s gravel roads in the middle of town, these are eye sores, it’s a disgrace to the community.”

Tommy Thompson, mayor of Marshalltown, said he appreciated the residents voicing their concern. The city council did not take any action on the issue.

Lamer said Tuesday it is up to the city engineering department to put a program together and they will be working on a plan.