Grosse Pointe City residents criticize Maumee project

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published August 27, 2019

 Maumee Avenue in Grosse Pointe City — which has been under reconstruction this summer — was getting closer to completion as of the afternoon of Aug. 26.

Maumee Avenue in Grosse Pointe City — which has been under reconstruction this summer — was getting closer to completion as of the afternoon of Aug. 26.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

GROSSE POINTE CITY — The summer of 2019 is one that Grosse Pointe City residents living on and near Maumee Avenue will remember — and not in a good way.

Maumee, between Fisher and Cadieux roads, was one of several roads being repaved or repaired in the City this summer, but residents say that contractors ripped out the old road, curbs and driveway approaches, and then left a dusty, gravelly mess behind for weeks.

Although the project is expected to be done soon, residents wanted City officials to be aware of the problems they faced, so that these issues could be avoided in the future. They said they recognize that any road projects come with some inconveniences, but they believe this project could have been done more efficiently and without ruining the use of their homes and yards for the entire summer.

“I get the project … but it’s just been inefficient,” said resident Lisa Abbey.

Rivard Boulevard resident Randall Cain, who lives at the corner of Rivard and Maumee, called it a “nightmare project” that resulted in “clouds of dust,” leaving him and his wife with “hacking coughs.”

After tearing up the intersection by his home, Cain said the contractor “disappeared for more than a month.”

“We haven’t been able to open windows and doors all summer,” he said.

Cain asked why the contractor didn’t use water or calcium chloride — which he said is a proven, inexpensive method — to reduce road dust.

Karyn Weir, who lives on Roosevelt Place, echoed Cain’s concerns.

“I can’t open my house,” she said. “I can’t use my patio.”

Weir said she needed to wear a mask to work in her yard.

“I just feel like that whole area has been neglected,” she said. “Nobody cares about our health or safety.”

Cain added that residents were supposed to be notified when their driveways were taken out and put back in, and that never happened.

City officials were sympathetic to the problems experienced by residents.

“We had a difficult time with this contract,” Mayor Christopher Boettcher said.

Public Service Director Pete Randazzo said workers were “constantly out on the Maumee project,” but there were many different aspects to it, and some elements needed time to cure before other work could be done.

“Everything is a process,” he said.

In addition, Randazzo said there were multiple subcontractors involved, and DTE Energy’s gas main upgrade efforts played a part as well, further complicating — and, in some cases, delaying — work.

Randazzo said they hoped Maumee paving would be done no later than the week of Aug. 26.

“I hope we’ve learned from this Maumee experience,” City Councilman John Stempfle said.

City Councilwoman Sheila Tomkowiak thanked the residents who came forward to share their stories.

“There are things we could probably do much better,” she said.

Boettcher agreed.

“One of the most important things we need to do as a council is to continuously improve our ability to communicate to our residents,” Boettcher said. “But these (projects) are things we have to do to maintain the health of our community, our infrastructure.”

Boettcher said they might need to put pressure on contractors to get the work done. He urged residents to come forward when they have questions or concerns.