Granite curb drive on Cleveland Lane crumbles

By Katie Wagner, Staff Writer
   An upscale Cleveland Lane neighborhood will be getting relatively downscale concrete curbs.
   Cleveland Lane homeowners living between Library Place and Bayard Lane who at the past two Borough Council meetings sought granite curbing in front of their homes as part of a major reconstruction of their street have decided to settle for concrete.
   Approximately 12 of the homeowners claimed during Tuesday’s meeting that they were initially told if the majority of their neighborhood wanted granite curbing that everyone would have to pay for their share and that surveys taken by the borough revealed they always had that majority.
   During the meeting, Mayor Mildred Trotman apologized for any misunderstandings between the borough and the homeowners and the Borough Council agreed to amend the road construction contract to include granite, but refused to force the naysayers to contribute to the additional $100,000 needed to pay for the granite curbing.
   In effect, those who wanted the granite curbing would face having to pay not only for the portion in front of their property but also for the sections in front of properties whose owners refused to go along with the upgrade.
   ”We have decided that it’s not the kind of resolution we could undertake,” said Claire Jacobus of 37 Cleveland Lane, in a phone interview Tuesday. “It was not a resolution that we were hoping for and we are not satisfied with what the borough worked hard to work out. I think it’s time to move on.”
   Nancy Greenspan and her husband John Ricklefs said they would not pay for granite curbing for those who didn’t want it because of both the principle of being asked to do so and the costs associated with it.
   ”In a democracy where the majority generally rules this is an instance where the democratic process was not working,” Ms. Greenspan said, in a phone interview Thursday. “When 75 percent of the houses wants something and it was denied by 60 percent of the democratic vote, it seems undemocratic. The majority works for the council, but that amount doesn’t work for the neighborhood.
   ”No matter how you slice it, it’s bad policy to set a precedent like this,” she added.
   Whether homeowners of all 22 homes in the neighborhood or just those who had expressed their desire for the upgrade should pay for the granite curbing if the contract were amended was debated during the meeting.
   Before Borough Council agreed to leave it up to the homeowners to decide how they’d come up with the $100,000 needed to replace their entire neighborhood’s concrete curbing with granite curbing, Councilman Andrew Koontz made a motion calling for 22 properties to be assessed, which was defeated 3-2. Kevin Wilkes cast the other vote in favor of that motion and Deputy Mayor Margaret Karcher, council members Roger Martindell and Barbara Trelstad cast the three votes against the motion.
   ”I can’t support doing this and literally putting my hands in the pockets of everybody on the street,” Ms. Karcher said, during the meeting.
   Mayor Trotman acknowledged that the majority vote was always to have been the deciding vote. Councilwoman Barbara Trelstad said that the vote the borough relied on had only yielded preferences for granite curbing from representatives of 10 of the 22 properties, during the meeting.
   Cleveland Lane residents countered that in the vote in question only 16 votes had been cast, 10 for granite and six for concrete.
   ”From the very beginning there was never a time when our street did not have a majority for granite curbing,” said David Meadow of 51 Cleveland Lane, during Tuesday’s Borough Council meeting. “It was never stated that every resident has to want granite curbing in order to have granite curbing. The term was always majority.”
   He added, “If every resident needed to vote for granite that would have stopped this whole problem a long time ago.”