Bigelow residents want a paved road |

Bigelow residents want a paved road

Amanda Hammon, Appeal Staff Writer

When it was the Wild West of the 1880s, Carson City was expected to have dirt roads. Even by 1950, many streets were unpaved.

But it shouldn’t have any in the 21st century, say Bigelow Drive residents.

Only two streets in Carson City lack an asphalt surface: Bigelow Drive north of Koontz Lane and Darla Way near Empire Ranch Road.

“Everyone else has paved streets; why shouldn’t we?” said Gloria Harjes, a Bigelow Drive resident. “We don’t feel we should beg to get the street done.”

Homeowners on Bigelow and Darla said when they bought their property, they were told the streets would be paved.

They never were. City officials now say the residents have to foot most of the bill for the road improvements.

But North Bigelow residents argue the policy discriminates against the handful of residents living on unpaved streets. As long-time taxpayers, they want the city to pay for their street to be paved. They say city officials won’t return their phone calls or answer their request for a paved street.

Mayor Ray Masayko wrote Bigelow residents Linda and Mark Charles and told them to deal with the transportation commission.

City Transportation Manager John Flansberg said there is no official city policy to deal with paving dirt roads. He said he may ask Carson Regional Transportation Commissioners to decide if living in Carson City means having a right to paved roads — and if commissioners want to allocate money to pave dirt roads.

David and Gloria Harjes lived in northwest Carson City for 36 years before they found the acre lot of sagebrush 2-1/2 years ago on the north side of Bigelow, which ends in a cul-de-sac. Their contractor, Gene Lepire Jr., told them city officials said the road would be paved.

Without the promise of a paved street, the Harjeses would have looked to build elsewhere, they said.

But years later, they have a sign on their door asking people to check the bottom of their shoes for rocks. Not real rocks, David Harjes said, rocks from asphalt grindings put on the street a couple years ago to try to help control dust. Grindings find their way into everything and blacken driveways.

The street has had homes on it for at least 40 years, and it is unclear why it wasn’t paved as homes were built.

Generally, streets are paved as subdivisions are developed. The costs of those improvements are factored into the price tag on the house.

Sandy and Martin Arraiz built their home in 1997. Sandy Arraiz said she was told then her street would be paved. An area with nice homes and people who pay taxes should at least have a paved road, they say.

“Why should Bigelow be the only unpaved street in the area?” she asked. “It’s like we’re stepchildren.”

Upsetting residents further is the city’s street maintenance program. The city is in the middle of its annual maintenance program that includes overlaying and sealing many streets. Portions of Koontz Lane and Clearview Drive are being replaced. These are streets that don’t appear to Bigelow residents to need a new layer of pavement are getting asphalt or oil — while their road waits.

The maintenance program, Flansberg said, is to keep improved streets in good condition. The program doesn’t have funds to improve the few unpaved roads in the city.

In 1997, Darla Way residents pressed for paving of their street. Flansberg offered them a deal where the residents would pay for road engineering costs and half the cost of asphalt.

Flansberg extended the same offer to Bigelow residents. He estimated the road would cost at least $25,000 to pave, excluding costs associated with drainage.

Starr Nixdorf built her Darla Way home in 1994, and she, too, was told her street would be paved.

None of the homeowners in 1997 could afford the roughly $3,000 they would have to pay each to share the cost of improving their street.

Recently, Nixdorf and her neighbors agreed to create a special district where they would pay more on their property taxes to see their street paved. However, she has seen no final paperwork on the deal.