WICKLIFFE, Ohio — Brandon Abate said he just can't believe what happened to his neighborhood in Wickliffe after a city road maintenance project last fall left Fairway Drive looking more like a country road.
Abate told News 5, the "chip and seal" process applied to his street left the neighborhood filled with loose gravel, presenting what he believes is a potential safety hazard for children and a detriment to neighborhood property values.
“You didn’t repair our street, you downgraded our street. Now, we’ve gone even further backward," Abate said. "This past Halloween, as I was handing out candy, I saw kids tripping on it. We have a little 4-year-old neighbor boy; I watched him trip and cry.”
Dennis Vidic, who is a 40-year Fairway Drive resident, expressed his concerns about the maintenance effort and all the loose gravel at the Jan. 23 Wickliffe city council meeting. Vidic told News 5 he was appalled when he learned the city was thinking about using the "chip and seal" maintenance technique on other Wickliffe streets this coming Spring.
“Let’s keep Wickliffe beautiful, let’s improve Wickliffe. Are we really doing that, I don’t think so, not with the street we have," Vidic said.
“Its an absolute disaster that we have here, it’s something that you wouldn’t expect from a city like Wickliffe that’s very proud of taking care of its property.”
Wickliffe Mayor Joe Sakacs responded immediately to News 5 and resident complaints about the "chip and seal" maintenance effort. Sakacs said the city is now thinking about dropping all upcoming "chip and seal" projects this Spring, but said with the city only having a million dollars to spend for road improvements in 2023, turning to resurfacing will cause the city to address far fewer roads this year.
The Mayor admitted the timing was off when the city applied the chip and seal to Fairway Drive this past fall, causing the loose gravel issue.
“If we had to do this all over again, it would have probably been better to get it done in the Spring, and this way you have the warm weather,” Sakacs said. “It happened in October and the snow came, and then the plows came out, and so, I think the timing was off.”
News 5 asked the Mayor how he would address neighborhood road maintenance in the near future.
“When it comes to using chip and seal, that’s a question for council, we can address more roads this way," Sakacs said. "If we did the resurfacing route all the time, it would cost $3 million a year. I priced out Fairway Drive—it would cost about $65,000 to do a 1-inch overlay, but then that jeopardizes other streets from getting done.”
Mayor Sakacs pledged to do further gravel pick-up in the neighborhood in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Fairway Drive homeowners like Dennis Vidic hope their street will be restored to its original paving format.
“There was no flyer of education given to the residents that something was going to happen with our street," Vidic said. "There was no description of what it was going to be like. In a city like Wickliffe, with the budget that it has, I’m sure you can find some money somewhere to make this right.”