January 22, 2014 - Addison Township residents are sending a message to the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) – "Don't forget about us."
Concerned residents shared their thoughts and feelings at the Jan. 13 township board meeting.
Addison resident Rob Guzanek said, "The lack of timely service by the road commission has grown to a larger nuisance year after year."
"Last year, a contractor was hired by Addison Township. This contractor as we know who was hired to plow the snow on our roads failed to report for duty. In the past, we have seen a plow on our main gravel roads approximately six or seven days after any major storm," he said. "Six or seven days after a major storm is unacceptable. These are our main roads and how we get into the city."
Last month's ice storm and the recent snowfall that exceeded 12 inches was once again proof of poor service, according to Guzanek.
What's at stake he said is public safety because "adverse road conditions prevent our emergency service teams from being able to respond in a timely manner to any medical emergencies or structure fires."
"Before I see road commission vehicles plowing neighborhood streets in Orion Township, before I see them plowing shoulders of roads on M-24, on Pontiac Trail or even subdivision streets in Farmington Hills, we need to have a plan for them to come out and give us a clear shot," he added. "Cut a path through our roads so we have access to the main roads, but more importantly the fire department has access to our homes."
"We're not asking them to go out there and plow every roadway nice and clean right up to our driveway," Guzanek continued. "We're asking the main roads – Hosner, Lake George, Ray Road, etc. – that we have a main shot on these roads to get through."
Public Information Officer for RCOC Craig Bryson, said Guzanek is wrong.
"As Mr. Guzanek is well aware, we were not clearing subs elsewhere before we cleared the main roads in Addision Township," Bryson said. "Unfortunately, Mr. Gazanek is misinformed."
The Oxford Leader will be talking more with Bryson and publishing a story explaining the road commission's side of this issue in next week's edition.
Addison Fire Chief Jerry Morawski who's been with the department for 20 years, said he's "never seen the roads as bad as they've been in the past three weeks."
"Two days during the ice storm and during the snow storm was the most challenging days I've had on this fire department since I've been here," he said. "People have no idea that we cannot get there… If it was something serious I don't know that everybody understands how scary it is from my position taking on the safety of the residents of Addison and how scary it was to get back on those roads."
"There was 30-some hours on the back roads in the snow storm that we weren't getting anywhere," Morawski continued. "I've been bringing this up for years and (I'm) glad people are finally realizing how scary the back roads are (and that) we need to address this as a township and (we) do need to get some answers on this."
Guzanek said that Addison has higher terrain than anywhere else in southeastern Michigan and because of that, it gets the heavier snow fall and their road grades exceed those in southeastern Michigan and many other townships in northern Oakland County.
"All I am asking is they treat us with the same type of priority that these other communities get. We pay the same fuel tax and drive more miles out here," he said. "You go out in the parking lot and you are going to see 80 percent (of the vehicles are) sport utility vehicles, 4X4 vehicles, sucking more gas, so we're paying our dues out here. We should be able to get the representation we need out here."
Dan Wysocki said many residents move out to Addison because of the "unique topography."
"If you look at it (on) an overall basis we're probably getting a larger snowfall than the surrounding areas. There have been times we've been getting snow up in Addison and you head into Lake Orion and it's raining over there because a degree or two difference (in temperature)," Wysocki said. "If you look at the highest elevation comes the hills. You can get the ice (on) roads, but if you're driving flat and straight, it's not as dangerous as when you go (on) these large hills (that) you (have) got to drive up and down (on)."
Eric Senft, a school bus driver, said the east side of the township towards Romeo is just as bad as the west side.
"The stretch of road between 32 mile and Rochester Road and Dequindre – that has to be the absolute last road to get plowed or salted," he added. "This morning, I came across that in the school bus and was going sideways with 30 students. That's totally unacceptable."
Kristen Nyquist said her concerns for clear roads are not just for driving safely, but personal matters as well. She explained that she has been court-ordered to meet with her ex-husband three times a week to exchange custody of her son.
"If I don't exchange at a meeting point three times a week and leave my house, I could be held in contempt of court and in violation of breaking some sort of law. I need those roads to be plowed for me and my son and our safety, but also for my future," she added. "If they're not plowed they just end up turning to ice once the melting starts to occur. You pray for the melting of course, but at the same time, it's a double-edged sword."
Guzanek suggested the township create a road commission committee that reviews the road conditions throughout the year and reports safety issues to the proper authorities within the township or the county.
"We have a manager of the Polly Ann Trail who goes out there makes sure the Polly Ann Trail is clear," he said. "We need to do the same thing for our roadways."
"We need to establish a way for township residents to report these serious issues to the township and have the township follow-up with the road commission," Guzanek added. "Because if you go and call the road commission or you go online and report that you need assistance it gets lost. Their system is broken."
After listening to the concerns, Pearson said he agrees with everyone's sentiments regarding the RCOC. He also reminded everyone that "the road commission is its own governing body," so when he as the supervisor calls up there, he has "no more power" than the next guy who calls.
"We have no say over it, these are all their roads and we get what we get, he said. "They tell me the set answer every single time I complain about the service is "give us more money, give us more money, give us more money. That's all I ever hear. If they can't do the job then they need to find somebody who can do the job."
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.