Malone's Awful Roads!

"our taxpayers deserve better" (andrea stewart)

Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

First, a disclaimer.  Not all the roads in Malone township are horrible. Secondly, there are plenty of roads in the Village of Malone that got hammered this past winter by the relentless freeze-thaw-rain cycle, but this article is not about them.  At the moment I’m focusing on the chronically horrible township roads — several of which I ride my bike on, year after year.

Consider the Houndsville Rd.  Spectacularly terrible! For years it’s been terrible! Parts of the road are literally falling into the creek. Yikes!

Houndsville is one of many such casualties. If this were an isolated problem perhaps it wouldn’t be so alarming. But it’s not. There are lots more, some far more egregious.

It’s often said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Perhaps it is.  In the case of Houndsville Rd, I can affirm it’s paved with lots of busted asphalt about which the intentions of Highway Superintendent Bruce Mallette remain unclear.

Malone Town Supervisor Andrea Stewart finally got fed up with complaints from residents.  At the town board meeting on May 8, speaking on behalf of We, the People, she charged Bruce Mallette with incompetence: 

RiverCityMalone takes a road trip . . .

RiverCityMalone had one of its reporters take the following route and take the photos shown below:

We went down Lower Park St to go to Lovers Lane Rd.  Then south on Rte 30 to Whitten Rd.  Traveled that to the end.  Took a left on Houndsville Rd to check on the bridge/culvert.  Turned around to travel Houndsville to Route 11.  Turned right on Rte 11 to Goodman Rd (left turn) and traveled Goodman to the Teboville Rd.

Drove Teboville to the end, into Bellmont, to see the difference between the two municipalities.  Bull Run and Brick Church Rd( these are off of Teboville Rd):  just looked at from Teboville.

Drove Webber Rd to Fayette Rd, and turned onto Webster Street Rd, to Royce Rd (left), Child, then Cosgrove, then left onto Rte 30 south to McCabe Rd to view the Riley Rd. 

Here’s what we saw:

Budget

Here's the Highway Dept. budget over the past 3 years. Notice the sources: Malone taxes & NYS Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS). (These figures do not include manpower or machinery costs.)

  • 2017 = $187,670.84 Malone taxes + $275,142.24 CHIPS = $462,813.08
  • 2018 = $237,399.23 Malone taxes + $340,596.67 CHIPS = $577,995.90
  • 2019 = $300,000 Malone taxes + $284,059.52 CHIPS = $584,059.52

With a budget  of over half a million dollars in 2018 & 2019, it’s reasonable to expect these roads to be fixed.  

Winter heating oil

Since at least the mid-1980s the town garage has used an indoor wood burning stove. Highway superintendents have used it to keep heating fuel costs down — and it's worked admirably. The wood comes from trees salvaged from roadwork and storm damage.

  • 2012: 4165.7 gal
  • 2013: 4150 gal
  • 2014: 4823 gal
  • 2016: 3677.3 gal @ $4706.59
  • 2017: 5248.9 gal @ $10,895.46
  • 2018: 10,588.9 gal @ $25,041.96

With a $25,000 fuel oil bill in 2018, it looks like the highway garage woodstove isn’t getting a whole lot of use. 

Bruce is a good man.  He’s trying to do the right thing.  It’s a demanding job and a big territory to manage.  And winter freezing, thawing, rain, salt, traffic are unforgiving.  Roads take a pounding.  This isn’t Southern California.

That said, the fact remains that some roads have been chronically, as if purposely ignored, and there is the heart-stopping heating bill from 2018.   These two items reveal there’s something wrong.  

It is the town supervisor’s duty to bring these issues to the attention of the highway superintendent and the community at large.  This being one of the “supervisory” tasks of a town supervisor — supervising the spending of our tax dollars.

The question becomes, how do we move forward?  It would be good to hear from Bruce, to hear his explanation.  If he would benefit from time & resource management coaching, that’s easily arranged.  I don’t say this to slam the man; I say it in the spirit of Andrea Stewart’s admonition that we draw together and make this work.

The Bottom Line

We are a community.  We stick together.  It's not easy. When we need help, as Bruce does, we ask for it. When we need help, yet don't ask for it, we accept it graciously, appreciatively, when our colleagues point out the need. This matter is not about egos; it's about joint effort. It's not easy.  
Bottom Line

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