Resident threatens lawsuit at road closure hearing

Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter

October 23, 2013

JONESVILLE — Jonesville residents opened up at a public hearing held at Jonesville Town Hall on Monday night pertaining to the recent road closure of Mineral Springs Drive.

Several dozen residents appealed to commissioners to reopen the road with one resident even threatening to sue the town should anyone become injured on roads that have seen increased traffic due to the road detour.

Other residents urged the commissioners to keep the road closed until it was deemed safe.

“I want to make sure my comments are on the record,” said Jones Dudley, a resident of River Road and former member of the Joneville Board of Commissioners from 1991 through 1998.

“I will sue this town if any person gets injured on the roads you have steered traffic onto. River is more dangerous of a road to have all the traffic run through it. The road is not meant to have all of this traffic. It will require tremendous repair at some point. Someone is going to get hurt. Do the right thing.”

One by one, residents took to the podium to express their frustration regarding the road closure and the stress it has caused on their neighborhood by cars who mostly speed through it each morning.

Ricky Anderson of Mineral Springs Drive presented commissioners with a petition he said was signed by all but one resident along Mineral Springs Road.

“In a walk of each house, we asked residents to weigh in on the matter. Thirty-two residents said they want the road open. Six residents wanted the road to remain closed,” said Anderson.

“The road is not unsafe,” said Anderson.

Anderson said about four weeks ago, he was going down West Main Street and saw a truck pull onto Mineral Springs Road that had a sign on the truck that read McGill.

“I went up the hill and told the engineer from McGill that I lived on this street for 50 years. He said other than two or three minor things, nothing major was found at the location, but he would recommend keeping school buses off of the road. He didn’t see anything wrong to cause the road to become shut down.”

However, a letter received by the town from McGill Associates indicated a different scenario.

“During our site visit, there were areas observed where the rock wall has failed,” David E. Richmond of McGill Associates wrote. “The noticeable failures have occurred 30 feet from the start of the wall, where an area of the wall has fallen away exposing the fill material.”

At the public hearing, Susan Cheek of Mineral Springs Drive countered from the majority of residents saying she has three children and wants Mineral Springs Drive to remain closed.

“It’s the speeding that has greatly improved with the closing,” said Cheek, who bought her home in 2009. “Basically, I understand why they don’t want the road closed, but the integrity of the road has to be proven by the geotechnical experts.”

James Money, a disabled veteran, urged commissioners to resolve the matter quickly saying that he can’t walk on his street any longer.

“I fear for the safety of small children, and I can’t allow my animals to walk safely anymore. I fear for myself, too,” said Money.

Numerous residents asked for the commissioners to disclose the circumstances that led to the closure.

Mayor Pro Tem Gene Pardue indicated that the town received a complaint from a resident concerned about the stone retaining wall and the possibility that it was compromised.

Official minutes adopted by the board of its Sept. 9 town meeting indicated that Judy Wolfe, who is a write-in candidate for town commissioner, informed the town about the old stone retaining wall concern. Wolfe is the chairperson of the Jonesville Historical Society, which manages a private park that runs adjacent to where the retaining wall is located.

Wolfe did not speak publicly at the hearing, but was present. Calls to Wolfe for a comment on the matter were not returned by press deadline.

The board unanimously adopted a motion to proceed with a geotech investigation for the street. No other action on the closure was taken.

In a Tuesday follow-up phone call, Jonesville Town Manager Scott Buffkin indicated he’ll be reaching out to the entire community impacted by the closure.

“We’ll be certain to give the residents information on the geotech step as soon as it comes in. We need to make sure that our residents are safe, but that they’re informed each step of the way,” said Buffkin.

“The bottom line here is that both streets (Mineral Springs Drive and River Road) are not designed for the through traffic it is facing. We have to figure out a way to divert the traffic away from those streets, with or without a road closure,” he said.

Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 835-1513 or at agonzalez@civitasmedia.com.