Residents irked by poor snow removal along private road in College Township

Manor Drive off East College Ave. in State College is a steep hill which can be dangerous in adverse weather.
Manor Drive off East College Ave. in State College is a steep hill which can be dangerous in adverse weather. CDT photo

Claims of irregular snow plowing and poor road maintenance along a private road had several residents calling for township intervention Thursday.

Residents of Mountainview Avenue, accessed via Manor Drive off East College Avenue, requested the township connect Mountainview to the nearby Ivy Hill Drive, citing poor maintenance along Manor Drive has often made simply getting to their homes a hazard.

Two residents, Bernie Oravec and Craig Colombero, said when they purchased their homes in 2004 and 2011, respectively, they were told Mountainview would soon become a public road connected to nearby township roads.

These connections never materialized.

For two weeks this winter, there has been no plowing or salting of Mountainview or Manor, Columbero said. Emergency vehicles would not be able to get up the hill, and some days residents haven’t had trash pickup or mail delivery.

“I just think it’s a ticking time bomb that needs to be addressed before something happens up there,” he said.

Residents cited the inability to stop when coming down an unplowed hill as well, sometimes even sliding onto East College Avenue.

Potholes and road degradation are also a concern. According to Oravec, holes have gotten so bad that residents aren’t even able to get a running start to get up the hill without risking breaking a wheel. Over the years, residents, and even the neighboring Tubbies business, have tried filling the holes with gravel to no avail.

“Let’s put the whole project on the front burner and decide to try to get an access,” he told the council.

Councilman Bill Sharp said he was most concerned with drivers not being able to stop at the bottom of the hill, saying collisions would be on the driver’s side and could be serious.

“If we put this off, it’s going to happen,” he said.

Council President Eric Bernier said the council and residents need to recognize the sensitivity of setting a risky precedent by asking taxpayers to let a private developer off the hook through township intervention.

“There’s nothing in this room that’s stopping all of you from continuing to rattle the chains of the property owner who’s responsible to provide maintenance,” he said.

Through resident comments and emails, he said, the Township Council may have enough on safety alone to look at short- and long-term solutions without setting bad precedent.

According to township Manager Adam Brumbaugh, the township has started to plow and salt the bottom of Manor Drive to alleviate some snow concerns.

Brumbaugh said Friday that he and township engineer Kent Baker had spoken with the township public works department. For the time being, he said, the township will continue to do what it can within reason and safety parameters to provide snow removal along the bottom of Manor Drive.

“What makes this difficult is you have a situation where you have a primary property owner but also private owners on that road,” Brumbaugh said. “This complicates snow removal.”

Several rental units along Mountainview are owned by Old Island Hotel Inc. The remaining homes are privately owned residences.

Brumbaugh said based on communications with the rental property management, a new contract is in place to regularly maintain the roads. This is a relatively new contract that evolved over the last few weeks.

The issue of connecting Mountainview to a second road is expected to come before the council soon, he said.