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Chico pothole fight spawns changes in planning division

Published On: Oct 18 2013 08:40:54 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 18 2013 10:46:59 PM CDT

It's been a bit of a rough road for residents off Pilsbury and El Paso Wy. in North Chico, but a fight to re-pave their neighborhood has the city planner's office changing how they go about business.

A project to improve the sewer system did some serious damage to streets in the neighborhood, leaving large potholes that scattered gravel across the now uneven roadway.

"Our streets are older, we're well aware of that, but they were holding together, you know they weren't in bad shape," says neighbor Jane Evraets. "But the heavy equipment just broke up the surface and little by little, chunks keep coming out and potholes are developing."

The project started last fall and ended this spring, and neighbors petitioned the city for months to fix the problem.

Residents sent pictures and video to city officials, spoke at several City Council meetings, wrote emails and letters and hosted "walk and talk" sessions with city council members.

Finally, on Tuesday the city council approved the $260,000 to fix the roads, and Evraets says she's glad they finally decided to take the hit.

"It's a tough financial time for the City of Chico right now, everybody knows that," Evraets says, "but they stuck with us and found a way to bring closure, so we're thrilled."

Public Works Director Ruben Martinez is also pleased with the outcome.

"We're always concerned about restoring pavements to the condition that we found them in when we started a project," Martinez says. "We're happy to provide satisfaction to that neighborhood. Very happy."

In the grander scheme, Martinez says this one problem has the city rethinking the contracts they approve.

"It will help us in the long run and like I said the contracts are already written differently, we're approaching things differently. We don't want to repeat that."

For instance, the city now asks contractors to have more inspectors at the job site, to refrain from storing materials in the streets and to come back and pave roads they damage quickly after they're done with a project.

Evraets says the city cooperated throughout the whole thing, for which she's extremely grateful.

And she says to hear they're changing their policies, is a bit of a silver lining.