Neighbors patch road as Mount Carbon is unable to pay for repairs

·4 min read

Jun. 19—MOUNT CARBON — Fed up with the decaying road leading to their properties, several residents of North Manheim Township have resorted to repairing it themselves, and clearing it of vegetation, even though it mostly lies in Mount Carbon Borough.

Neighbors Richard Huber and Robert Henry have repeatedly asked borough officials to maintain a section of Bakery Road, which leads to Martha Lane where they live, but say their requests have fallen on deaf ears.

John Raess, council president in the county's smallest borough, said there is not enough money without state help to make the repairs.

He said he realizes the condition of the road affects residents in the area and wishes the borough had to ability to do more.

"I feel for the folks down there; they're all good people," he said.

Huber said the section in question starts as South Centre Street in the area of the former Julian's Tavern. South Centre Street ends a short distance from the tavern and the road becomes Bakery Road as it continues into North Manheim Township. Bakery Road leads to Martha Lane, which is a dead end.

"It is very easy to distinguish where one ends and one begins due to the fantastic job North Manheim does for us maintaining their section," Huber said.

Traveling south from the tavern, heavily damaged by fire years ago, drivers face deep potholes that, according to Huber, have blown out tires.

Huber said he and other residents on the North Manheim Township side have been doing Mount Carbon's road maintenance for a few years and borough officials have refused to help.

"We pay out of our pockets for road millings and we spend days filling in potholes and cleaning the drains the best we can so the road does not fall into even more of a dilapidated state," he said.

Earlier this year, residents reached out again to Mount Carbon officials, who said in 2020 they planned on paving the section because it was so bad. Since then, Huber said, they apparently changed their minds and have no plans to pave the road because only two Mount Carbon residents live in the area.

"They aren't going to pave it, fill in the potholes or do any vegetation clearing," Huber said about his conversations with borough officials.

He added that borough officials said they would only "take care of the masses" but said they would allow permission for the North Manheim Township residents to continue maintaining the road.

"They did tell us that we could continue to fix the road ourselves, but they would not help with the cost of the millings, which amounted to about $300, or help us in any other aspect of what should be their responsibility," Huber said.

"I am totally in shock with this response," he said, adding that in the 23 years he has been in his house, he can not recall the borough ever doing work on that section of the road.

"They refuse to assist those Mount Carbon taxpayers who still live on that section of the road," he said.

Raess said state funding for roadwork generated through the Liquid Fuels tax has not been received by the borough in several years, due to the government being inactive after all council members quit or moved out of the borough. That money, he said, is normally used for such projects.

Although Raess said what Huber and his neighbors are doing is admirable, the borough never gave them permission to do the work because of liability concerns.

"When they asked me I told them I'm not going to arrest you, but I can't tell you to not do it," he said.

Mount Carbon is looking into possible grants that could be used for such projects, and Raess said he will raise the matter again at the next council meeting.

"We're only taking in dimes and spending dollars," he said.

The borough had been working without a council — after several resignations and no one running for office — since 2017, but that changed in February 2020 when Raess was selected as the newest council president and Harry Haughney as vice president. Mandee Gerhard, who served on the borough council a decade earlier, was named borough secretary and treasurer.

Raess said the council is now holding regular meetings and work sessions and continues to get back on track.

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