Impassable dirt roads cause resident upheaval

Selectmen under fire
By Fran Gonzalez | Mar 21, 2019
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez Selectman Steve Bennett, left, denies giving permission to abandon a vehicle that became stuck on Mitchell Road during the selectmen's meeting March 18. At right is Selectman Ron Price.

Freedom — Tempers flared at the selectmen's meeting on Monday as 18 residents voiced concerns about safety issues surrounding impassable or nearly impassable town-maintained dirt roads.

"I'm just trying to get to my house, without getting stuck," resident Laura Greeley said, pleading for action.

Greeley runs a daycare center on Goosepecker Ridge Road and said the condition of the road is a safety issue, because two children in her care have severe allergies and one has asthma. Her business is being affected by the condition of the road as well, she said, with three families recently deciding against dropping off their children because they feared their vehicles would become stuck.

She went on to say she petitioned selectmen last year about fixing the roads but was told there was no money in the budget. Greeley questioned the logic behind selectmen pushing to buy the Skidgel property and budgeting for an excavator this year when there are roads that are impassable "to the residents who pay taxes."

"Even after you told me you would do some work on it last year, there was still nothing in the budget for it (this year)," she said.

A heated exchange ensued between Selectman Steve Bennett and another resident who called him a "liar." The resident said Bennett gave permission to leave a stuck vehicle in the road but the selectman denied doing so.

By the end of the meeting, the three-member Board of Selectmen said they could authorize a temporary fix with gravel on the bad spots, but that a large-scale rebuild would take money.

Selectman Ron Price said by telephone the following day that one alternative would be to use emergency funds to fix the roads properly — if selectmen "decide that's an emergency."

Another alternative, he said, would be to have a special town meeting and borrow money to pave 20 miles of road.

 

The driver of this car stuck on Mitchell Road in Freedom left it there, he says with permission of a selectman. (Contributed photo)
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