Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST
When Leaders Ignore Residents
For over 7 years Cornell Height residents have been trying to get the attention of the leadership to remove the truck traffic off the Cornell Heights roads. The open door policy they tout is as open as a door with five padlocks on it. In the course of those years, residents have had issues with gas trucks driving through the neighborhood, trucks driving at high rates of speeds, tractor trailers that are too high and ripped down utility lines, children almost getting hit as they get onto buses etc.
This summer, a 24 year old boy was killed at the corner of Sandalwood and Carlise as he rode his bike. The mother of this child has placed a memorial at the pole near where her child was hit. The day after this child was hit, council met to finally approve the signage to remove the truck traffic of the roads. Its too late. They waited too long. The Director of Public Safety would not listen. The directors were unresponsive, would close HAMSTAT requests without responding, etc.
The residents of Cornell Heights have been working agressively with the current council to change this issue. But, the relief cannot come soon enough. The damage the truck traffic has done is significant to residents and the roads.
This weekend, the road near the water outlet on Sandalwood completely collapsed causing severe damage to the water main below the street. The residents called TWW and they immediately came out. Their engineer said," This happened for one reason, the truck traffic. The road was not made to support all of the trucks that come through the neighborhood." This has also happened numerous times on Sweetbriar Ave as well. The County has had to redo that outlet numerous times.
The remedy for this issue is going to cost Hamilton township alot of money. This could have all been avoided if the Director of Public Safety would have listened to residents over 7 years ago. They adamantly refused to listen or even respond to residents. There is also another water outlet on Sweetbriar that also is signifcantly damaged. Every winter it creates an ice skating rink on Sweetbriar ave for drivers and is now causing collapse to a residents driveway. Again, this could have been avoided if the economic development in the township was done by qualified individuals who actually understand the ramifications for their poor decisions. But, as residents have seen, its all about them and to hell with the residents.
But, one may ask, how did this happen? It happened because the administration is grossly incompetent, and allows corrupt business practices to take presidence vs ensuring resident safety is on the forefront.
When the American Metro Way Project went into full swing, there were many issues, lack of followup and accountability by the township and ignorance by the leadership then and now to understand the issues. These behaviors still run rampant in the current administration.
Let's start from the beginning of this project. There were questions asked as to why the improvements to the roads were being given to a particular contractor. There was a large disparity between the two project estimates. One of the bids were unreasonably high, and that was the bid the township went with. Below are letters that we obtained from an OPRA request. There were questions asked on how could the township expend public funds on a construction contract that has not been handled as a Public bid? There was over a $400,000 difference between the project estimates from two contractors.
Well, guess what the contractor who got the bid gave thousands of dollars to the Yaede campaigns...look it up you will see the amounts. So, it would appear they were given "special" treatment.
One step in the process of this project was to do a traffic study. Oh, but that was riddled with shenanigans as well. I am sure you are surprised. The company Maser conducted the traffic calming measures for Cornell Heights for the project. They put together 3 different alternatives. Each alternative included calming measures, ie. speed bumps. The speed bumps were never installed, nor were the speed limit 15 MPH signs. Wait....this gets better, they also closed Princeton Ave from Sloan Rd. As you see that was not part of the project. However, the contractor that was awarded the contract lived on the road at that time. Residents came home one day and saw the road closed. The emergency services also were not sent notification of the road closure. One week after the Princeton Ave was closed a home on the corner of Princeton and Sweetbriar caught on fire. When the fire teams arrived, they stated they had no idea that the road was closed off. They arrived later than they would have because they had to figure out how to get to the home. The home burned beyond recognition and all the pet cats were killed in the fire. After the fire, the home had to be leveled and replaced with a prefab home. This decision by the administration to allow this to happen had a large negative effect.
At the top of this article, you see the types of signage and speed bumps that were supposed to be installed through out Cornell heights. These were never installed. When residents for the past 7 years asked the administration, why this occurred they would never respond. Where there invoices sent to the contractor to do these and were they paid for them, but never installed them? Would you like to know the answer to that? OPRA that....
Let me continue....
When the traffic calming study was done, it was not done to include the closure of Princeton Ave. So the results are grossly flawed. Below you can see what was included, clearly Princeton Ave was. The effect on the results of the study with the closure of the study are great. The study also did not address parking and internal site circulation. It also did not address roadway conditions, sight distance calculations, traffic calming measures for the Cornell Heights region. (See below OPRA document). They knew that closing Princeton Ave would increase the traffic on Sandalwood, but they did it anyway. It was required as part of the project that the calming measures be installed. They never were.
So, think about this for a minute. When this all occurred, residents were left out of the loop. There were concerns that the project at that time abused the redevelopment laws in the township. These concerns were ignored.
Let's focus on the site calculation part of the study that was not done. Of utmost importance in road design is the arrangement of the geometric elements so that there is adequate sight distance for safe and efficient traffic patterns. It also focuses on adequate light, atmospheric conditions and drivers visual acuity, stop sight distance, intersection sight distance, and decision sight distance. So, none of this gets done in Cornell Heights nor at American Metro Way. If this would have been done, could it have stopped the accidents and deaths in Cornell Heights that have happened over the years. You bet! So, the mother who just lost her 24 year old son in July at the intersection of Carlise and Sandalwood, could have a very strong case against the township. The lighting at that corner is abysmal at best. There are less than adequate white road lines there and at night the stop signs are impossible to see. The white paint in the intersection remind everyone of this yound man's needless death.
It was more important to keep the contractor who was a large donor to the current administration campaign coffers. (See memo outling what happened). This project did not follow the bid process and was awarded to a contractor with $361,000 delta over the over contractor. In the contract, there was not verbiage that addressed future construction, although statements were made on the record in meetings that they would.
Let's not forget the cancer concrete they brought in. Due to numerous residents complaints an immediate air monitoring was done, but the damage to the residents was already done. There were levels of PCB's that were airbourne and could pose a health risk to residents. The construction workers were given devices to help deal with this, the residents....keep your windows shut. Who is responsible for all of these pitfalls with projects? There is never accountability in the township. Current projects also follow this same process. There is never a series of checks and balances. At a recent council meeting a resident showed the council photos of the tennis courts in Cornell Heights. The township just paid a lot of money to have them redone. They were all shocked with the photos. However, the township employees cut the lawns near the courts. Why did none of them bring the tennis court issue to council or anyone else? They would have to see it when they are mowing the lawns at the park. The culture from the top drives these suboptimal behaviors. No one cares, and this is buring taxpayers dollars frivilously.
This project was riddled with issues. Cancer Concrete, PCB dust spewing into the neighborhood.....
What happened on Sandalwood this weekend could have been 100% avoided. As you can see from the above OPRA documents, there were means to ensure that calming measures were supposed to be installed, but they were not. Who did the inspection of the site to allow that to happen? It will be very interesting to see how much it will cost to fix the water outlet issue. It is not in the budget, this is a Hamilton road so they now have to go an get permits from the township to address this issue. The employee who was on site this weekend said it could take days or weeks to get the permits. In the mean time.....bring your boat for Sandalwood Ave. Take this into consideration as you make your decision in November, which candidate will not allow things like this to happen? That is the one I want for our leader.