Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, May 12, 2014

Good Intentions: Price $450

"Enough is enough. Between me blowing a tire and having to watch a hearse do that, I took my little Kubota tractor and took some fill from my yard and poured it in the hole."
"I spent all morning, about three-and-a-half hours ... I filled in numerous potholes."
"Some of them were ten to 12 inches wide a [foot] deep and two feet long. I just drew the line and filled them in. I didn't think I was doing anything wrong."
"But obviously, the city down here thinks I was. He [Mr. Rice] said I broke a city by-law, that I'm not supposed to be doing that. He ragged me out like I'm some little kid."
"I said, 'Tell you what, you send out all the crews you can send out and you send me all the bills you can send me, I couldn't care less."
"Anyway, [Mr. Rice] hung the phone up when I said that."
Mike Defazio, citizen, Saint John, New Brunswick

Mike Defazio on Broadway Avenue in Saint John, where he spread gravel to fill in several deep potholes.
Cindy Wilson/Telegraph-Journal    Mike Defazio on Broadway Avenue in Saint John, where he spread gravel to fill in several deep potholes.
"With respect to Mr. Defazio, his intentions were well-meaning and he undertook actions on his own to fill potholes either out of frustration or perception of a lack of action and he put a lot of gravel on the road."
"The problem with that is he filled a thick layer of gravel over the asphalt surface and what happens then [is that] I began to receive complaints from the public."
Kevin Rice, Saint John deputy commissioner of transportation and environment services
Winter is over. Spring has sprung. And so have the inevitable potholes. Inevitable because in a northern country like Canada, upheavals in the ground resulting from freeze-and-thaw events and the final thaw when the ground frost that has been deeply entrenched over a period of months of freeze-up succumbs to milder temperatures releasing the ground from winter's grip, a deterioration of the road surface results.

Potholes large and small, shallow or deep, representing a threat to the driving public. Representing in turn a challenge to municipal roadwork crews who must then go forth valiantly to attempt to undo the damage that northern climate wreaks on northern landscapes, particularly the highways and byways of every municipality. Saint John, it seems, was delinquent in its response to reports of deep potholes on the street where Mike Defazio has his auto shop on Broadway Avenue.

When, one day he watched as a hearse attempted to navigate one particular foot-deep pothole, the 60-year-old simply responded in the most practical manner he thought the situation demanded. Private citizens, emphasized the city's deputy commissioner of transportation and environment services, cannot simply take the initiative to 'modify' city roads. Mr. Defazio, though well-intentioned broke a city bylaw. And Mr. Rice did not appreciate having to field complaints from drivers, of gravel too large for the job of fill-in; callers who no doubt thought the city had done the work, not a citizen.

About three weeks after Mr. Defazio had restored the road to a flat driving surface, that damning call came in from Mr. Rice. Who said the city would send a crew out to undo the work he had done, and he would be billed for the cost involved. Once again, Mr. Defazio acted proactively and contacted a local contractor to come by and restore the street to its previous pot-holed condition. The contractor was to remove all the gravel that Mr. Defazio had taken from his own lot to fill the potholes.

"I told him everything, the rocks, all the potholes could go back to the way it was three weeks ago and he [Mr. Rice] said, 'That's what we want'." That came with a $450 price-tag paid out to the contractor who did a fine job restoring the numerous potholes. "The city is now leaving me alone, they want nothing more to do with me, they apologized, the whole bit", said Mr. Defazio for whatever satisfaction that merited.

"The outpouring from the people of Saint John that I got is unreal. Hundreds and hundreds. This phone hasn't stopped. It's gone right crazy."

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