Saturday, October 4, 2003

Mars Pl. access may be smoothed

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

One recent afternoon, Carin Baute jumped into her blue Chevy half-ton pickup to make the trek to the front of her subdivision in southern Gallatin County to pick up the neighborhood children.

Their school bus will not turn off of Ky. 16 into Mars Place subdivision to drop off the children. The bus can't navigate the pothole-laced gravel roads.

Baute, 32, of Wanda Court in Gallatin County says this is just a minor inconvenience. What worries her is the ability of emergency vehicles to navigate the gravel roads. And plows have a hard time making it through the hilly subdivision during the winter.

About two-thirds of Mars Place residents have signed a petition to get the rural county's help in upgrading the roads. Under one proposal, Mars Place residents would pay to upgrade the private roads to county specifications. In exchange, the county would be responsible for all future maintenance of the subdivision's streets.

One estimate to upgrade the roads in Mars Place is $411,000, and that didn't include culverts.

That's a steep price for the families who live in the roughly 100-lot subdivision located just south of the Boone County line. But it's one Baute is willing to pay.

Kenneth McFarland, one of four magistrates for the county, developed the plan to bring roads, such as the one in Mars Place, up to county specifications. The plan's complex financing calls on the county to issue bonds for the improvements - with only the residents who live on the roads to pay off the bond.

Gallatin County Judge-executive George Zubaty said it would be unfair to make every taxpayer pay for private roads. He points out that lots on private roads, such as Mars Place, are generally cheaper because they are not on county roads.

Baute said she wouldn't have to drive a pickup if the roads were paved.

"It would make life so much easier," she said. "The winters out here are terrible because there is no drainage. We have natural springs running right down the middle of our roads. It freezes up and causes terrible icy patches."

As the weather turns colder, Baute expects the rides she offers to neighborhood children to become even more popular. She said riding in the bed of her truck beats walking a mile in the rain or snow.


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