Kara and Giovina Streets are still unaccepted even after the developer said they would be done in 2012.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The developers of a housing subdivision off Williams Street won their right to complete the project in the face of the city threatening to take it over.
It has been two years since Yola Esther Development gave its word that the three new streets would be built and turned over to the city by the end of that year.
But that still hasn't happened. Tree plantings and cuttings are not done; streetlights need to be installed and sidewalks still need work. And those who bought houses in that development are not happy with maintenance of the currently unaccepted roads, especially in the winter.
"The opportunity was there to complete these two streets," said Ward 4 City Councilor Christopher Connell. "We've gone a full year and nothing has happened."
The development calls for three roads to be built — two roads, Kara and Giovina in the first phase and Karen Drive in the second. With another construction season coming, Connell pushed for the city to seize the company's credit and finish the project on the developer's dime.
"My biggest problem is we have waited almost two years to get this done," he said. "These streets are still unaccepted. These people pay very high taxes ... I don't feel they are getting the proper service they should."
Attorney Thomas Hamel outlined a plan to get most of the project done this summer. He says by the end of July, Kara and Giovina will be ready for the city to accept and that portion of the subdivision will be complete. Ultimately, the Community Development Board agreed with his timetable, provided the developers signs a written agreement to get it done.
"We'll do the light installation at the end of this season," he said.
Karen Drive would have to be redone next year because the ongoing construction would damage the road significantly and lighting would have to come then.
He said the developer, Joseph Kroboth, has already begun construction in this season and is in the process of ordering the tree plantings. Hamel volunteered to come back to the Community Development Board on a monthly basis to provide updates.
The curbs on Karen Drive can also be completed during this construction season, Hamel said.
"This developer is still doing work. He is not walking away from this development," he said. "There has been a delay."
The development dates back to when Kroboth purchased the property in 2003. The project was placed into two years and the most recent approval was in July 2012 with a performance bond in place to protect the city from incomplete work. That bond still has funds available, which are eyed to finish.
If the city, however, took over the credit, Hamel says the project would end up costing the developer a lot more money.
"The reality is, we are in a better position to complete this project than anyone else," he said.
Hamel also threatened a lawsuit against the city if the seizure was approved.
"Our concern is that this business be taken care of and this part of our community is satisfied," said Community Development Board Chairwoman Sheila Irving.
And the quickest way, according to the board, is to let the developer continue with the project. But, the city is requiring the company to a sign a new written agreement to stick to that timeline.
"I think our best chance of getting it done now is the way it is laid out here," said board member David Hathaway.
Connell doesn't believe that agreement will matter. He said the company has given their word that it would be done by the end of 2012 and it wasn't. He had hoped the city would be able to finish the project this year so the residents didn't have to go through another winter with unaccepted roads.
"In my opinion, almost two years ago the word was given that it would be done," he said. "If it is followed through, it would be fine. I'm not confident that it will be."
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