The 10 families living on Arlington Lane and 50 on the surrounding blocks — all privately owned streets — worry when heavy rain is forecast. That is when the street becomes a river, wreaking havoc for anyone trying to cross it. There is no other way into the development, except via Arlington, so motorists are forced to drive through an average of eight inches of rain on the flooded street.
But that’s not the worst part. It’s the potholes that can’t be seen, which are between four and six inches deep, residents say. For drivers, it’s often impossible to maeuver around them, and the drive can be costly.
“I lost two windshields and a front end because of the potholes, and I broke a front control on the car I have now,” said Joseph Cassone, who lives on Saltaire Lane, one of the streets off Arlington. “Getting in and out of the neighborhood is a real problem for me.”
Arlington needs to be resurfaced, residents say, but that’s expensive, and the village is not required to do the repair work because it doesn’t own the road. The Village of Bayville, in fact, only owns six to seven streets, so what residents experience on Arlington is not unusual.
Alfred Avazis, who lives on Arlington, has seen all kinds of car parts left behind by motorists that fell victim to the potholes. He’s also experienced damage to his cars. “I’ve found heat shields in the middle of the road, tires, all kinds of parts,” he said. “And I lost a tire on my Honda just last April.”
There are several reasons for the problems. Down the road there was once a marsh. When the water traveled down Bayville Avenue or nearby hilly Saltaire — it emptied into that marsh. But 20 years ago a development of homes was built there. Now when it rains, the water flowing onto Arlington from two directions — with nowhere to go — leaving behind what residents describe as a large pond, which attracts mosquitoes.
“Eight years ago, the village came up with a plan to fix the drainage for $200,000, and the people on Arlington Lane were to pay for it — people who had no responsibility for causing the problem,” said Barry Lamb, who lives on Arlington, adding that nothing was done. There are two clogged drains on Saltaire, which the residents say do not work at all. They have been told that fixing them is also their responsibility.
Jeff Silver, who also lives on Arlington, has spoken at village board meetings, pleading for help. “Contractors that have come here say the water looked like the Colorado River,” he said, swatting mosquitoes off of his legs. “This is such a safety issue.”
Cassone says it has been easier approaching the current administration than those who led Bayville in the past. He’s hopeful. “I think the village is being more flexible and cooperative,” he said. “At least they aren’t being obstructionists as in the past.”
Years ago, residents tried to fix the road themselves because they were receiving no help from the village. “I wanted to close off the road and put in a cul de sac to make the road private,” Silver said, but I was told by [former] Mayor [Vicki] Siegel that I’d be arrested.”
A homeowners’ association would provide for needed funds when situations arise like the problems on Arlington. There are about 60 homeowner associations in Bayville, but less than half are active, Deputy Mayor Joe Russo said.
Being involved in one can be very useful. “It gets an escrow account together and then that can be used when roads need repaired,” Mayor Paul Rupp said.
But Arlington doesn’t have a homeowners’ association, and the same handful of residents, and their parents before them, have paid for the road repairs over the years.
Village officials say there is little they can do. “The roads in Bayville have always been a touchy problem,” said Rupp, adding that the problems affect more than those living on the street. “I’ve been down there. Arlington is a problem for postal workers, police, garbage workers and the fire department too,” he said.
Avazis and Silver worry that when residents do pay for the road repairs and resurfacing that the work may not be sound. But with little choice and no guidelines, they have joined a few other neighbors recently to pay to have the street stripped of the crumbling asphalt. It’s being prepared now for paving.
Russo said it’s the responsibility of all of the residents living in the neighborhood to share the cost, but the village can’t force them to do so. He admitted that he doesn’t know of any other village on Long Island that has codes in place like Bayville, which deems most of the streets as private, placing the burden of road repair on homeowners.
Cassone said he believes a small tax would cover road maintenance.
“These are private roads so there is no mechanism for a tax,” Russo said.
There is another option. Residents could submit a petition to the board for a public hearing. Three estimates for the work would be collected. Then after the board assessed that the work needed to be done, it would require 51 percent of residents in the area to outlay the money needed, which would be reimbursed. Sounds simple, but getting that many people to agree has been the problem for years.
“Arlington is a through-street, so that would be 51 percent of 60 houses,” Russo explained. “But I’ve been told they don’t think they can get them all to sign on. There’s a lot of animosity there.”
And who will be the one to get everyone on board? Those paying for the repairs now haven’t been able to get others to help pay for the work now under day. “I can’t go door to door like a peddler to ask people for money to help maintain the road,” Silver said.
Last year the village created a road committee to formulate road standards. That would provide some direction for those who are trying to repair their roads. Lamb, a member of the committee, along with Russo, Rupp, Trustee Bob De Natale and zoning board members, has come up with some standards that the village attorney is reviewing. Russo said he hopes the standards will be finalized by the end of the year.
Another option would be that the village could acquire all of the roads. “That would be very expensive, and they’d need to be up to par before the village would take them on,” said Russo, adding that a 20 percent tax increase would probably be required if that were to happen.
A road generally lasts 30 years, he added. “We’d have to add $1 million to our budget every year to fund this.”
In the 1970s, residents voted on a referendum to decide whether they wanted the village to take over all of the roads. It was resoundingly defeated.