Street talk between bureaucracy, citizen

       The language of city officials is not necessarily that of everyday people. For instance, when Marcia Frye first started pursuing ways to better Laurel Street (where she's lived for 18 years) she was displeased to learn from a city official that it's an “unimproved street.”

A look up Laurel Street at its intersection with Ivy Street shows the thin layer of eroding asphalt millings. Based on the age of the oldest house along it, the residential street off Columbia Road appears to be about 100 years old.
Westside Pioneer photo

       However, after a conversation with another official, Steve Bodette of City Engineering, she decided being unimproved is not so bad after all.
       Despite occasional stormwater runoff issues and “pavement” consisting of a thin layer of millings from several years ago, “we do like the charm over here,” Frye said. “ I don't want to change that. I just want a streetlight and to be able to walk or ride bikes without hitting potholes..”
       To move Laurel up from its current status of “unimproved” would likely mean the residents having to start their own district and to pay for modern upgrades such as curb, gutter and sidewalks based on each owner's amount of frontage, according to Bodette. This could run into hundreds or even thousands of dollars per property.
       Located west of Columbia Road, less than a quarter-mile long and lined mainly by older, spread-apart, single-family homes, Laurel Street apparently was graded in about a century ago. The Assessor's Office lists its oldest residence as 1910 and a couple of others from the 1920s.
       Bodette, whose position is due for termination this month as part of the city cutbacks, agreed to help Frye when he heard she was having trouble getting the information she sought. He gave her the number to call for pothole repair and said he would research who she needed to talk to about a streetlight.
       Frye thanked Bodette for taking the time. Usually, she said, “it's hard to get anything done on this end of town.” But now, “I feel good about it.”

Westside Pioneer article