Will Liberty pass road levy?

patched potholes in liberty still provide for bumpy ride

By jeanne starmack



Mansell Drive has no potholes right now.

The road is dotted with cold-patch. It’s rough and bumpy, but free of those jagged tire-shredders.

That cold-patch, asserted trustee Stan Nudell, is going to last only about a month. Then the holes will be back, waiting to snare unsuspecting drivers.

Those drivers wouldn’t be residents who live on Mansell. The people who live on the road are well aware of its pitfalls and have had enough. Twenty-seven residents have signed petitions asking the township to fix the road.

Tibbetts-Wick Road extension residents are in a similar situation. Just past Logan Way, there is a warning sign: “Potholes. Thanks, trustees.”

Just past the sign, it’s pretty rough going. Cold-patch covers much of it, but it doesn’t help smooth out the bumps.

Residents on that stretch of road, which ends at state Route 43, also want the township to smooth things over.

One resident complained in a letter to trustees: “UNTIL the road can be repaired the proper way, IT SHOULD BE CLOSED.”

She suggested allowing only residents to use it. “Our road is a cut-through for many people,” she continued. “Many people who do not care about the speed limit and the condition of the road.”

The township can’t legally close the road, said Administrator Pat Ungaro. Nor does it have the money to fix Tibbetts-Wick, Mansell and 13 other roads in desperate need of resurfacing, said Nudell.

What the township does have is complaints — in the form of petitions, letters and phone calls.

“I’ve been getting phone calls like mad,” said Ungaro.

Nudell said people on Mansell “are furious.”

The complaints, Ungaro said, are largely what prompted the trustees to place a 1.25-mill 5-year levy on the May ballot that would generate money strictly for road resurfacing. The levy would generate $226,320 annually and would cost the owner of a $100,000 house $35 a year.

The levy was defeated in November 1,225 to 983 — a 243-vote difference.

Many residents believe Liberty’s taxes are too high. At 80 mills, they are higher than those of other townships, said Nudell.

The higher taxes though, are due to the township’s full-service police and fire departments, he said.

“You take police and fire away, and we’re at 68 mills, like the rest of the townships,” he said.

The largest share of millage, 54 percent, goes to the school district. Police is 14 percent, and fire is 12 percent. The rest is broken down among Trumbull County, the Trumbull County Joint Vocational School, county 911 service and the library, according to a chart the township has at its administration building.

Nudell said he doesn’t understand why residents didn’t pass the levy.

“We are not asking for more than we need,” he asserted.

Township officials hope this time around will be different with the support of residents behind it.

Mansell resident Karen Conklin, who organized the petition drive among her neighbors, has agreed to help. She will co-chair a levy campaign committee.

“This is a quality-of-life issue,” she said. “We should be able to walk down the street and not trip in a pothole.”

She said the tax is not a financial burden when people consider how much it costs to repair or replace a tire.

“[Nudell] said, ‘Here’s the deal: There’s no money and a whole list of roads,’” Conklin said.

“This has identified for me that this is a Liberty Township issue, not just our road,” she said. “How do we engage the residents whom this affects?”

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