Several residents of the Alberta & Willie Robinson Road, also known as County Road 18, appealed to the county commissioners for the paving of their road. Jewell Jones, Charles Thomas, and JoAnn Anderson were outspoken about the poor condition of the road along with the location of two cemeteries on County Road 18.
"How can we get on the (paving) list for this road. It has been over 15 years. It seems that the African Americans are underserved, and it seems to be a pattern of the county. Everyone should get service," said Anderson.
County Engineer Dennis Odom explained that a policy is in place that determines which roads are paved. Written procedures are currently in use. After the road paving has been requested, a location map is made and a list of the property owners to determine the number of residents and/or businesses served.
He also mentioned that, in reference to the accusation of the areas with mainly black residents being underserved, that Akins Road and Zachariah Church Road had been resurfaced, Browder Circle was recently paved, and a new road is being added in White Pines to connect the four existing roads together. Lincoln Street in Collins is also on the potential list to be paved.
The procedure for paving a road involves sending a letter to all property owners on the road that asks if they are in favor of donating the right of way for the paving of the road. If the percentage of the property owners or the total acreage willing to be given by property owners is over 80 percent, then consideration will be given to proceed with the project. (The procedure can begin again after a lapse of five years from the initial sending of letters.)
A cost/benefit ratio is also conducted as well if the road serves as a connector road. In essence, how many residents are served and what is the cost per resident for paving of the road.
"For the Alberta & Willie Robinson Road, the cost to pave it would be $1.5 million, and it would serve 12 parcels, which would equate to $125,000 per parcel," said Odom.
He pointed out that residents of the Freddie & Joyce Clay Road have also appealed to the commissioners for paving of this road, but the cost would be $1.4 million, which serves twenty residents and equals to $70,000 per resident.
Lincoln Street paving in Collins is projected at $175,000, and equals to $10,000 per residence served, which he stated was a justifiable expenditure.
"Only 61 percent of those contacted on County Road 18 agreed to provide a right of way, and only 32 percent on the Freddie & Joyce Clay Road," said Odom.
Anderson asked that the commissioners consider revising their policy and change that 80 percent to 60 percent.
"Just because you have a simple majority, you want to infringe on the rights of others who don't want the road paved?," said Odom, in reply.
Even though condemnation procedures are available to condemn land to secure a right of way, the process is expensive and often lengthy.
Odom also commented that Tattnall County has 250 miles of paved roads to maintain and that many of these roads also need resurfacing about every 15 years.
"Paved roads have to be maintained after being built. They cost more to maintain than leaving dirt on unpaved roads," he added.
"We have to look at the conditions and needs, the cost versus the benefits, when it refers to road paving," he said.
In reference to the Alberta & Willie Robinson Road, with only 61 percent agreeing to provide a right of way, six acres would have to be condemned of the 15.5 acres needed, which is 39 percent of total acreage needed for the rights of way.
To further explain the cost benefit ratio, the paving of Fairhaven Road was $57,401 for 27 parcels, or $2126 per parcel. For the paving of Browder Circle, the cost was $61,703 for 23 parcels affected, or $2683 each.