The road committee of the Faulkner County Quorum Court met Tuesday to discuss a promise made by former County Judge Preston Scroggin to bring Stoney Drive and Stonewall Lane into the county road system.
Residents who live on the roads presented an email exchange between them and Scroggin to road committee chairman Justice Steve Goode where Scroggin said he would bring the matter to the quorum court in November. Scroggin has since moved on to another job and the residents said they felt they were back to square one.
County Road Foreman Glen Willhite said his hands were tied as far as bringing the road up to county specifications because of an ordinance on the books.
Willhite said the ordinance states all new roads must be paved but existing gravel roads can be brought into the county system if they are brought up to county specs. This includes a minimum of six inches of gravel compacted on the road bed.
Currently the roads in question are about four inches of gravel away from meeting this requirement.
The county has managed these roads for two years because they are part of mail routes. Willhite said they may have put as much as three inches of gravel on the road since they were included in the mail route.
"We will continue to maintain that for the mail route and for emergency services," Willhite said.
The county attorney brought up the idea of contacting the contractor who originally built the road and the houses branching off it to complete the job and bring the road up to county specs, but a resident said she believed the contractor is ill at this time and would not be able to fulfill that obligation.
Current County Judge Allen Dodson and Goode both indicated they did not want to change the ordinance because of the potential cost it could incur with more roads in a similar situation, but they felt since a promise from the former county judge was in front of them in writing they had to make a concession for these residents.
"The reason I have great empathy for this group is because of the email our ex-county judge gave them that basically said, ‘Look, give me November,’ - and the quote is - ‘I will bring it into the system with the quorum court,’" Goode said. "When an elected official gives their word, it creates an expectation."
Dodson and Willhite said they would revisit the road and see how they might be able to honor the previous promise while avoiding setting a costly precedent.