A pricey stretch for homeowners

A county project to pave 1.5 miles of Wedgewood Drive in Sams Valley could cost residents $36,000 apiece, and some are unhappy about it
Teresa Sinderson walks down Wedgewood Drive Thursday near her home in Sams Valley. She and her husband, Mark, say paving the road would cut down on dust, but the $36,000-per-homeowner price tag is steep.Mail Tribune / Julia Moore

Property owners on Wedgewood Drive in Sams Valley may avoid a dusty drive home if the Jackson County Board of Commissioners approves a project next month to pave a nearly 1.5-mile stretch of their road, but they'll pay a steep price for the convenience.

Should the commissioners vote to move the estimated $1.66 million project forward, each of the 29 property owners would be required to pay about $36,000 — more than some homeowners want to pay.

The project would pave the section of Wedgewood Drive from Dodge Road to Leafwood Drive, including a cul-de-sac on Flamingo Drive.

"It would be nice to not have dust everywhere," said Mark Sinderson, who would be required to pay $37,000 because of his longer driveway. "But the price is a little high."

Commissioners approved a petition last year from more than 60 percent of residents who wanted to pave the road, but homeowners such as Sinderson didn't anticipate the cost being so high.

Sinderson, 61, and his wife, Teresa, have lived on Wedgewood Drive for 25 years and haven't had a problem with the road, aside from having to wash the dust off their cars regularly. Sinderson said they can afford to pay $37,000, but they aren't happy to spend that much money on the road.

"We could fix it up for $1,000 apiece, and it would be fine," Sinderson said. "The process just does not seem fair."

Homeowners can pay the assessment over a 15-year period, which would result in payments of about $200 per month on average.

The commissioners accepted the petition to pave the road on July 11, 2011. It was signed by about 65 percent of property owners on Wedgewood Drive, said Chris Lamb, 59, who started the petition.

After years of collecting money from several property owners to do what Lamb called "Band-Aid repairs" on the road, the neighborhood held multiple meetings about how to improve it. The majority of homeowners was willing to pay for an upgrade, he said.

"We're tearing up our cars driving on it," Lamb said. "Eventually, the road's going to get paved. It'll be well worth it."

Jackson County Roads and Parks Director John Vial said the department conducted an analysis during the last year and sent a letter to each homeowner on July 11 with the estimated cost to pave the road. Homeowners had 20 days to respond to the letter with a "yes" or "no" vote.

More than 50 percent of the letters came back with "yes" votes, Vial said. The next step is for the commissioners to decide whether to move the project forward during a public hearing, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 5.

"It's very expensive. It's a lot of money," Vial said. "We don't take this lightly. We want to hear from everyone."

Reach University of Oregon reporting intern Josephine Woolington at 541-776-4368 or jwoolington@mailtribune.com

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