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Residents fed up with condition of road's surface; Town's solution does not satisfy

For residents of secluded Woodcrest Drive, one of Aurora's most elite streets, an inexpensive fix for their road simply won't do.

"These homes are worth $2 million apiece, and it looks like a war zone," said Dr. John Visco, one of nine Woodcrest Drive residents to show up at the Town Board meeting Monday night and complain about the condition of their street's surface.

"It's such a beautiful street, and you look at it, and it's a smudge," Visco said. "It's a disappointment to homeowners."

Visco, who said he pays $52,000 a year in taxes, said he and others have had it.

Neighbor Wayne S. Landesman said the town keeps filling cracks on Woodcrest but hasn't resurfaced it properly since the early 1990s. "It looks like a jigsaw puzzle or like a disjointed tic-tac-toe board," he said.

Visco and others were so incensed that the town is planning to use the less-expensive oil chip method, for about $13,000, to put on their street, that they're not stopping. Some noted that the yearly taxes on just two of the mansions would pay for the $100,000 cost of asphalt.

Many of the residents are talking about submitting a proposal to the town asking that it pave Woodcrest Drive sooner, rather than later, and offering to pay the town for the job if the town were to give them a break on that year's taxes. The street consists of 12 homes, most of them mansions worth between $1 million and $2.5 million.

"We're asking for asphalt because it's the best value and looks the best," Landesman said.

"There's 14 people on our street. Take it off our taxes," Visco said.

The debate dominated the town meeting, where about six families complained that their street has not been resurfaced properly in years and that the oil chip method planned for their street is not acceptable. Some residents said they drive expensive cars and worried that the oil chip method would not be good for their vehicles to drive over.

Residents were so annoyed that town leaders Monday would not guarantee them asphalt that one man suggested that Aurora sell Woodcrest to neighboring Orchard Park, implying it might receive better treatment from that town.

Aurora Highway Superintendent David Gunner apologized to the Woodcrest neighbors but repeatedly said he can only do so much with the budget he is given by the Town Board. He also noted the escalating cost of asphalt, estimating it could run upward of $100,000 if the town were to use that on Woodcrest, though the job would likely last for 20 years.

Standing outside Town Hall afterward, Gunner told residents that the oil chip method would be used on Woodcrest in a few weeks and assured them it would be an improvement.

"I've got to hold that road together, and this is like bubble gum," he said. "I'm sure it'll be beautiful and ride nice," Gunner said.

Supervisor Jolene M. Jeffe told residents that the town approves an agreement for permanent road improvements each year after hearing the priorities outlined by the Highway Department.

"Town roads have always been oil and chipped and not blacktopped because of the expense," she said.

Jeffe and Gunner even politely tangled on the issue publicly, with Jeffe instructing Gunner to better help the board understand the justification for future road work requests.

"I don't think that process has taken place to the level it could," she told Gunner. "Yes, the board is responsible for appropriating funds, but we rely on department heads for guidance."

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