The State of GLA Roads in High South Glastonbury - Spring 2015

"The Association intends to maintain a private road system within the platted road easements for vehicular access to the various parcels within the community. Initial construction by the developer(s) was intended to be a basic gravel and dirt consistency."
GLA Covenants Section 8-c.

I understand the above phrase taken from the GLA Covenants to mean that:

  • The GLA intends to maintain a private road system to reach all parcels. Not just ones near the paved roads but ALL parcels.

  • The road system is within the original platted road easements. The platted road easements contain ONLY the original roads that were included when Glastonbury was formed. It does NOT include any county roads such as Dry Creek, Storey Road, etc. Nor does it contain roads developers created when they subdivided original parcels.

  • The original construction was simply bulldozed earth covered with some gravel. No attempt was made to create roads that meet Park County standards as depicted below.

Park County Gravel Road Standard

The Park County standards call for a compacted base layer of dirt, clay and rock. The compacted layer is crowned, about 30 feet wide and has two ditches; one on either side of the road. On top of the compacted base layer is placed nine inches of coarse angular rock. Each rock is about the size of a softball. A three inch top layer of "road mix" or small angular gravel mixed with clay is added. The "road mix" forms the uppermost layer and is what a grader normally smoothes out and a roller compacts. The clay component holds the gravel together and forms a somewhat impervious surface that water will normally flow off of. The "road mix" layer is the working surface of a well designed gravel road and must be replenished periodically.

Hercules Lake
Golmeyer Creek
Hercules Waterfall

High South includes all properties accessed via the main artery roads of Hercules and Sagittarius Skyway plus all GLA roads that branch from them: Libra Drive, Scorpio, Polaris and Sagittarius Place. Of the 7.5 miles of gravel roads in High South, only 3.5 miles have more than 1 inch of gravel. Only 9/10 of a mile comes close to meeting county standards.

Unlike the rest of Glastonbury, High South roads are heavily traveled by people who do not live here. Only about a dozen High South parcels have full time residents. Spectec, a light industry, has 22 employees who travel up and down lower Hercules every business day. Tens of millions of dollars of freight is shipped and received over Hercules by Spectec as well. High South offers two access points to Forest Service land for all Glastonbury residents. Hunting season sees a spike in Hercules and Sagittarius Skyway traffic but recreational activities like hiking, skiing, biking, running, etc draw people to our area year round.
High South receives about 50% more precipitation than the rest of Glastonbury. It also has almost 2,000 feet of elevation relief from Dry Creek to the end of Sagittarius Skyway. A waterfall, year round creek and seasonal lake sit next to Hercules in High South. The roads are steep, often wet and subject to severe erosion.
The ideal fix for lower Hercules is rebuild the road according to Park County standards. Lay down nine inches of angular rock that forms a crowned base. Then top it with three inches of road mix, roll and grade it. Unfortunately, that costs about $100,000.00 a mile so it is unaffordable at the present time. An RSID with 20 year Park County 3% funding is the solution I suggest we eventually explore. Gravel spread now is useful and will provide an excellent long base for future upgrades.
Let us begin a photo tour of High South and learn about road problems and solutions.

Wash across road
Clogged Drainage Ditch
Hercules Road Wash

The above photos from left to right show the beginning of Hercules Road at the intersection with Dry Creek Road. The first photo shows erosion of the gravel surface caused by water flowing across the road. The road surface is incised and a new ditch is eroding out of the right side of the road. The center photo shows why this is happening. The left hand ditch is completely clogged with mud and gravel so water is forced to cross the road surface. The photo on the right shows another wash crossing Hercules road a few hundred feet up the road. This one is caused by improper drainage also and is literally washing away the road surface and helping to clog the drainage ditch further down the left hand side of the road. Mud and water that washes down Hercules eventually flows onto Dry Creek and clogs the drainage ditches there. Then water flows over Dry Creek and further damages the County road that everyone going to High South must use.

Damaged Guard Rail
Incomplete Guard Rail
Hercules Truck Accident

Traveling up Hercules the road damage increases. At the first corner several people have hit the original guard rail and damaged it. Damaged sections should be assessed by a certified road engineer and replaced as necessary. Unfortunately the guard rail stops just where the corner begins. The center photo shows a long heavily wash boarded stretch of Hercules that remains unprotected. In April of 2007 a GLA landowner who was very familiar with Hercules lost control of his truck on his way home to his wife and two small children. He hit severe washboards which caused his solid axles to bounce uncontrollably. His truck went off the side of Hercules and rolled down the steep embankment. He survived the traumatic accident and never sought compensation from the GLA for damages.

Steep section of Hercules
Clogged Drainage ditch
Road is sloping the wrong way

The next troubling corner on Hercules is called Suicide Curve and is the scene of numerous accidents that have caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage to landowner vehicles. A Spectec employee coming down the mountain and around this blind corner slammed head on into a landowner's truck causing $40,0000.00 worth of damage. In April of 2014 a Fed Ex truck heading to Spectec was parked illegally on the side of the road and was sideswiped by a landowner's Jeep causing $10,000.00 worth of damage. Every winter at least one downhill driver slides into the guard rail which bears the scars of many collisions. Coming downhill, just after the blind corner the road deceptively narrows and the curve tightens which further increase the likelihood of accidents.
As you can see in the left photo Hercules steeply ascends to a blind 150 degree curve. The guard rail only covers the actual curve and stops once the road straightens. The slope is steep, high and long. Anyone rolling their vehicle off this section of road would most likely not survive. The middle photo shows another washed out section of road caused by clogged drainage ditches. The right photo shows developing wash boards and how the road is banked the wrong way. Instead of sloping inward towards the left side of the photo the washed out section banks towards the right side which is not protected by a guard rail. Winter driving is treacherous and can easily be life threatening.

Heavy Wash boarding
Blasted cliff road surface
Buried guard rail

The left photo shows heavy wash boarding on Suicide Curve and how the guard rail is starting to disappear. Note the whitish yellow rock on the left side of the photo. This is what remains of the volcanic ash cliff that was blasted to create the road. The original road mix placed over the blasted rock has been completely scraped away by grading, snow plowing and erosion. Some gravel was washed down the road where it clogs drainage ditches. Other gravel was pushed to the right side of the road where it is well on its way to burying the guard rails. Additionally the road is heavily wash boarded which we have seen can cause people to lose control of their vehicles. The center photo shows another angle of the cliff face and washed away road surface. The right photo shows how the guard rail is being buried as the road gravel mix is pushed towards the right side. Many accidents have happened on Suicide Curve and it may not be long until someone drives right over the top of the almost buried guard rail.
Suicide Curve needs major road work and should be studied by a certified road engineer. The GLA should repair and extend the guard rails, clean the drainage ditches yearly and add gravel to the road surface.

Property Values Plummet
Jagged rocks puncture tires
Frost heaves push up cobbles

The left image shows one of the finest driveways in High South. This landowner meticulously smoothes, rakes and grooms his lovely driveway. Yet his beautifully maintained driveway empties into a wash boarded road full of water filled pot holes. The poor condition of the road reduces his property value, makes it more difficult to sell and creates a negative impact on his life. It is enough to make a normal person want to move away. The center photo depicts another road hazard on Hercules; sharp jagged rocks that are left over from road blasting and exposed by erosion, grading and plowing. These sharp volcanic rocks easily puncture automobile tires. The right photo shows frost heaved cobbles that poke through the road surface every spring. The cobbles are slippery when wet, impossible to grade and often damage snow plow blades.
This section of Hercules needs to be covered with 9 inches of angular rock topped by 3 inches of road mix to eliminate these driving hazards.

Road erosion
Road erosion
Plowed gravel

High South receives about 50% more precipitation than other parts of Glastonbury. Combined with the steepness of our terrain erosion becomes a serious problem. Road drainage ditches must be cleared every year otherwise they clog and the road is washed away. In the left and center photos you can see the edge of the road being eroded because the drainage ditches are clogged. Heavy and frequent snows are another problem in High South. Ideally a snow plow operator wants to keep his plow blade above the surface of the road so he does not scrape the gravel off the road. On a heavily wash boarded and cobble strewn road it is difficult to tell exactly where the surface is. The right photo shows how gravel has been picked up while plowing and pushed into a two foot bank on the side of the road. The remaining road surface is just mud and rocks.
Before the road is graded, the drainage ditches should be cleaned and cobbles dug from the road surface. It may be possible to mix the gravel salvaged from the ditches and banks alongside the road with fresh road mix, fill in cobble and pot holes and respread it on the road when the grader comes by.

Road pot hole
Standing water
Pot hole swarm

All of Hercules from Dry Creek road to the junction with Scorpio and Polaris has less than one inch of gravel on it. The steeper sections of road are heavily eroded by running water. The flatter sections are plagued with swarms of pot holes. Pot holes form like washboards but they fill with water. The water softens the edges of the pot hole and every time a car splashes through the hole gets a little bigger. Since the road surface is basically mud and rocks pot holes and washboards form very easily. Sometimes they show up just a week or two after the road has been graded and rolled. Additionally the area by Polaris and Scorpio is very wet. Golmeyer Creek runs alongside upper Hercules. A seasonal lake forms below the waterfall and next to Hercules. Clogged drainage ditches on both sides of Hercules retain large amounts of water. Mosquitos are a neighborhood plague in the summertime.
The drainage ditches on both sides of the road need to be cleared. The section of Hercules from the intersection of Scorpio and Polaris down to the first curve is relatively flat and will benefit greatly from a 3 inch crowned coating of road mix.

SpecTec
Donated Road Mix
Disaster Shelter

Spectec is a very successful manufacturing business located just off Hercules on Polaris. They have 22 employees who use our private road network to drive to and from work everyday. Additionally they receive and ship tens of millions of dollars worth of merchandise up and down Hercules. Spectec is part of the reason why Lower Hercules is in such dire shape and they need to be part of the solution as well. In 2014 Spectec donated gravel and paid for grading to a 1/10 mile section of Polaris used for access to their business. The center photo shows how well this properly graveled and maintained road stands up to industrial traffic. If all of Hercules had the same surface it would be a far different and much safer road than it is today.

The GLA Covenants 5.08 allow for light manufacturing as regulated by our Master Plan. Section 1.7 of the Master Plan states that a light manufacturer may have a maximum of 7 employees who do not reside at the home business site. It further states that "any development beyond seven (7) employees requires Association Board approval and may be subject to a road usage fee. (See 5.07 and 5.08 of the Covenants)."

I do not recall Spectec ever asking the GLA Board to approve their workforce expansion from 7 employees to 22. Some have suggested that Spectec should pay a Road Impact Fee equal to a full yearly assessment, $420.20, for each employee they have. I believe that Spectec should be assessed a yearly road impact fee for every employee over the 7 allowed by the Master Plan. The agreement should be retroactive and date back to when Spectec hired their eighth employee and failed to petition the Board as required by the Master Plan. It is wonderful that Spectec is a successful business but the owners must understand and mitigate the negative effects their personal financial success has had on our private road network.

The owner's of Spectec may not realize that they are in violation of our Covenants and Master Plan. Over the years they have been generous in sharing their time and resources with our community. The GLA Board should work with them so they may become 100% compliant with our Covenants and Master Plan. All members of the Board who are on the Spectec payroll or have otherwise received financial compensation from Spectec since Spectec hired it's eighth employee should recuse themselves from deliberation and voting on this matter.

High South is home to the largest disaster shelter in Glastonbury as shown in the right photo. It was originally built to house landowners for seven years after a nuclear attack as prophesied by Elizabeth Clare Prophet of Church Universal and Triumphant. The shelter is still carefully maintained and an access road is kept open throughout the winter. It is said to hold up to 700 people and cost over 3 and 1/2 million dollars to build. Surely it is another good community reason to properly repair and maintain Hercules.

Pot Hole Swarm
3 to 6 foot puddle and pot hole
Sagittarius Skyway Frost Heaves

Hercules past Scorpio was not graded last fall and the damage is apparent and growing. The left photo shows a swarm of pot holes that have almost completely breached the road. The center photo shows a six foot wide pot hole on Upper Hercules that was just three feet wide last fall. The right photo shows a heavily eroded and cobble strewn section of Sagittarius Skyway by the Dome House. Two current Board members own property here and it is hoped that they will assist in repairing High South roads.

Road or stream bed
No guard rail here
Chances of Survival

Sagittarius Skyway is only one and a half lanes wide and traverses a steep cliff for about 1/3 of a mile. Downhill traffic must back up for uphill traffic to pass. A difficult task normally and almost impossible when the road is snow or ice covered. Parts of the road are heavily washed over as shown in the left photo. Sagittarius Skyway looks and feels more like a mountain stream bed than a decent road in this area. One section along the cliff is banked to the left, the cliff side, due to erosion, plowing and grading. Winter driving is nightmarish; serious accidents are just waiting to happen.

The middle photo gives you a view of the guard rail-less road and a peek over the side of the cliff. Far below is a green roofed home and upper Hercules. The right photo is taken from the edge of Sagittarius Skyway. How far down the cliff is that home? The cars in the driveway look really small. Do you think anyone would survive sliding off the road here? It would probably be a deadly accident for the driver, passengers and the folks who lived in the home below when the crashing vehicle comes through their roof and/or bursts into flame.

Excellent road base
Pathway to Recreation
Gravel clogs ditches

The last mile of Sagittarius Skyway was privately constructed and then donated to the GLA by a High South landowner. It was built closer to Park County Road Standards than any other road in High South. The left photo shows a solid base of angular rock topped by a thick layer of road mix gravel. Many Glastonbury landowners use this road for hunting and other recreational activities on Forest Service land as shown in the center photo. The GLA has plowed this road and should grade and maintain it. The right photo shows how plowed gravel is clogging the drainage ditches, scouring the road surface and causing it to over wash like so many other High South roads.

Libra Drive
Double wash on Scorpio
Blasted rock on Polaris

Several short side roads, Libra Drive, Polaris, Scorpio and Sagittarius Place branch from Hercules. Unlike Hercules these are roads almost exclusively used by landowners accessing their property. The roads are lightly traveled and could benefit greatly from some serious maintenance. Unlike Lower Hercules which really needs a solid angular rock base, these lightly used roads could be improved with just three inches of road mix over a compacted base of existing dirt and rock. Once the ditches are cleared, cobbles dug out, road mix applied, graded and rolled these roads can provide a decade or more of easy snow plowing and smooth driving.
The left photo shows grass and weeds growing in the center of a cobble strewn Libra Drive. The center photo shows a dangerous double wash on the twisting beginning of Scorpio. The drainage ditches are clogged on both sides of the road causing washouts at the beginning of the curve and further down. The right photo shows rocks left over from blasting protruding from the surface of Polaris. They are difficult to drive over, can puncture tires and severely damage snow plows.

Recommendations

In order of importance and framed by budgetary constraints I recommend that the GLA Board:

  • Clear all drainage ditches BEFORE grading begins. Large cobbles, those bigger than a football, should be dug from the road surface at the same time. Cobble and pot holes can be filled with drainage ditch gravel mixed with fresh road mix when the grader comes along.

  • Flatter sections of road will benefit greatly from a three inch layer of road mix. No section of road that consists of mud and rock and has less than one inch of road mix should be graded. In the past Lower Hercules, which is just mud and rocks was graded. Wash boarding and pot holes returned in just a few weeks.

  • Side roads like Libra Drive, Polaris, Scorpio and Sagittarius Place will benefit most of all from fresh road mix and grading. Those roads are lightly traveled. Once they have a solid base of road mix and cleared drainage ditches it may be possible to grade them once every other year.

  • Work with the owners of Spectec to repair the damage caused by their business success to High South roads. A Road Impact fee of $420.20 per year per employee over the 7 allowed by the Master Plan will bring in $6,303.00 per year. That will buy about 20 side dumper truckloads of road mix.

  • Research an RSID to access the funds needed to bring all of Glastonbury's roads as close as possible to County standards.

Leave a comment

Share your thoughts with Tim and other readers.

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On May 22nd, 2015 Regina Wunsch commented on this page via a public email to the GLA Board and many High South residents. Regina wrote:

Dear Board, Tim and fellow landowners,

I would like to respond to one of the misrepresentations Tim made regarding Spectec in his High South Road Report in order to save the Board unnecessary work.

Tim states:

I do not recall Spectec ever asking the GLA Board to approve their workforce expansion from 7 employees to 22. Some have suggested that Spectec should pay a Road Impact Fee equal to a full yearly assessment, $420.20, for each employee they have. I believe that Spectec should be assessed a yearly road impact fee for every employee over the 7 allowed by the Master Plan. The agreement should be retroactive and date back to when Spectec hired their eighth employee and failed to petition the Board as required by the Master Plan.

The owner's of Spectec may not realize that they are in violation of our Covenants and Master Plan. Over the years they have been generous in sharing their time and resources with our community. The GLA Board should work with them so they may become 100% compliant with our Covenants and Master Plan. All members of the Board who are on the Spectec payroll or have otherwise received financial compensation from Spectec since Spectec hired it's eighth employee should recuse themselves from deliberation and voting on this matter.

Please be advised that when Walter submitted the building plans for our facility to the project review committee of Church Universal and Triumphant he spoke in detail about his business plans with Edward Francis, husband of Elizabeth Clare Prophet (head of the Church) who headed the committee. Edward approved the building project with the stipulation that the business could employ up to 33 persons and no more. There were no other requirements. We are well below the authorized number and not in violation of any covenants or the Master Plan.

The "full" yearly assessment (land and dwelling) that Tim is suggesting for each employee over the approved limit is, however, not compliant with our governing documents. The GAV is one parcel with numerous dwellings and gets assessed one land fee and a dwelling fee for each dwelling; a landowner with multiple dwellings on one parcel is assessed one land fee and then an additional fee for each dwelling. Our business property is not a tenancy in common with every employee owning a share, so there is no legal basis for charging a land assessment for employees. At the most one could consider them synonymous with dwellings.

Walter will address the other misrepresentations in Tim's "Report" in a separate email.

Sincerely,

Regina Wunsch

On June 1st, 2015 Regina Wunsch again commented on this page via a public email to the GLA Board and many High South residents. Regina wrote:

Dear Rudy, all other Board Members, Tim and fellow landowners,

From the comment Rudy placed on Tim’s website and forwarded to Walter, the rest of the Board and fellow landowners, I must assume that Rudy takes all of Tim’s statements about Spectec and its implied impact on Lower Hercules at face value.

Addressing Tim’s misrepresentations and allegations is necessary to provide an answer to the questions posed by Rudy (see copy of email below).

I will proceed through the “Report” in the order that Tim’s statements appear.

Tim states:

Unlike the rest of Glastonbury, High South roads are heavily traveled by people who do not live here. Only about a dozen High South parcels have full time residents. Spectec, a light industry, has 22 employees who travel up and down lower Hercules every business day. Tens of millions of dollars of freight is shipped and received over Hercules by Spectec as well.

We do not have 22 employees travelling up and down the mountain every work day.

Spectec employs two residents of Scorpio Way and one resident that lives a short distance from the Scorpio/Polaris and Hercules intersection and who do not use Lower Hercules to travel to work.. One part time employee lives in Low South and owns property on Hercules. Five employees come from North Glastonbury. Three are full time, one part time and one only comes on Saturdays and/or Sundays to clean. All of these employees or their landlords pay assessments to use Glastonbury roads. The rest of our employees come from Trail Creek Road or Livingston. Most of these employees car pool. On the average we have 11 cars travelling up Lower Hercules. Since employing the three neighbours means they do not have to travel up and down Lower Hercules daily for their employment, the actual average impact Spectec has on Lower Hercules, Monday through Friday, is 8 vehicles.

There are a Montessori school and a private K-12 school in NG with students from NG, SG and the Valley (enrollment has fluctuated greatly over the years corresponding to change in the demographics of the community), a rock shop in NG and private practitioners in NG and SG that are generating traffic from vehicles other than those of residents living on their respective roads.

We are a specialty designer and manufacturer of sensors, so we are a small sales volume company. We do not ship “tens of millions of dollars of freight” over Hercules. Even if we did, I do not see how that would cause greater road impact. The impact of a 25 lb. spool of wire costing $500 is no different than a 25 lb. spool costing $50.

Tim states:

In April of 2007 a GLA landowner who was very familiar with Hercules lost control of his truck on his way home to his wife and two small children. He hit severe washboards which caused his solid axles to bounce uncontrollably. His truck went off the side of Hercules and rolled down the steep embankment. He survived the traumatic accident and never sought compensation from the GLA for damages.

The GLA may wish to check on this interpretation of events. Walter was told by someone close to the scene of the accident that something fell off of the driver’s bench and the driver reached down for it and inadvertently steered himself off of the road. Also the driver was not a landowner on his way home, but someone working somewhere in High South who was coming down the mountain and was on his way home . Furthermore, Tim omitted to state that there was a lot of nonresidential traffic that year, besides that from Spectec contributing to the wash board. In August of 2006 High South was caught up in a huge forest fire that burned down three residences in Upper High South (including Tim’s) and damaged a number of other houses all the way down to the Scorpio/Polaris intersection. This brought fire engines and support vehicles up the mountain and in 2007 logging crews and logging trucks to take down and haul away burned timber. Also in 2007 and following years there was construction traffic to deliver materials and repair the damaged homes and in Tim’s case to build a new home.

Tim states:

The next troubling corner on Hercules is called Suicide Curve and is the scene of numerous accidents that have caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage to landowner vehicles. A Spectec employee coming down the mountain and around this blind corner slammed head on into a landowner's truck causing $40,0000.00 worth of damage.

This is not true. None of our employees has been involved in a head on collision in what Tim calls the Suicide Curve or anywhere else in South Glastonbury. Walter and I have never come in contact with anyone who called this curve “suicide curve” when referring to it. We have not heard of this accident either, so can shed no light on who caused the accident.

There have two accidents involving our employees. One took place three years ago in the winter in the curve by Rosa del Monte. An employee was going too fast for road conditions and slid into the tire of a landowner’s truck causing $9,900 (rounded) of damage to his vehicle’s steering mechanism. The second accident took place about three years ago in the summer in a curve closer to the Scorpio/Polaris intersection. An employee coming to work was sideswiped by a landowner who was on his way to work and headed into the curve at too great a speed to stay in his lane.

Tim also stated in a previous email to landowners that a Spectec employee lost control of his car on Dry Creek Road this year and destroyed the county road signs. This is not true either. A female resident of Glastonbury or Dry Creek Road was heading out of Glastonbury too fast for road conditions, lost control of her vehicle and destroyed the road signs.

Tim states:

In April of 2014 a Fed Ex truck heading to Spectec was parked illegally on the side of the road and was sideswiped by a landowner's Jeep causing $10,000.00 worth of damage.

This implies that, if it were not for Spectec there would be no FedEx traffic. Actually, we do pretty much all of our shipping (ingoing and outgoing) with UPS. We use FedEx priority about three times a month and FedEx Ground occasionally. We do have more stops by FedEx at our business than that, because the FedEx driver drops off packages for High South residents there for pick up when he either does not have time to go further up Hercules or cannot access the driveways. Tim is among the residents whose packages have been delivered to our business.

The FedEx driver was not parked illegally on the road. This is the FedEx driver’s account of the accident:

The driver was coming up Hercules when he saw Tim coming down in his Jeep. Since he had a message for Tim he slowed down, hoping to be able to flag him down. He was proceeding into the above referenced blind curve at about 5mph as close to the guardrail as possible when he suddenly saw Tim “flying” into the curve on the wrong side of the road (the guardrail side). Tim’s Jeep then skidded all over the road until it hit the FedEx truck. The Jeep ended up right in the middle of the curve at right angles to the rock wall, blocking the entire inside lane. Tim then got out of his vehicle and told the Fed Ex driver that he was in a hurry and asked the FedEx driver to give him a lift to his house so he could pick up his second vehicle.

I came upon the vehicle still in that position on my way down the mountain. There were no warning flares or any kind of sign to alert traffic of the obstacle in the blind curve. The Jeep was still right in the middle of the blind spot and blocked the entire lane. One could not see any oncoming traffic, so I just hoped that no one was coming up the mountain in a great hurry as I made my way around it. There was no warning posted on the uphill side either. I called the office to warn our employees, but was told that the FedEx driver had already called our shipper to let him know of the road hazard.

Tim states:

Spectec is a very successful manufacturing business located just off Hercules on Polaris. They have 22 employees who use our private road network to drive to and from work everyday. Additionally they receive and ship tens of millions of dollars worth of merchandise up and down Hercules. Spectec is part of the reason why Lower Hercules is in such dire shape and they need to be part of the solution as well. In 2014 Spectec donated gravel and paid for grading to a 1/10 mile section of Polaris used for access to their business. The center photo shows how well this properly graveled and maintained road stands up to industrial traffic. If all of Hercules had the same surface it would be a far different and much safer road than it is today.

Again, we do not have 22 employees driving up and down the road every work day. We have an average of 8 vehicles every workday impacting the road and they are not the cause of why Lower Hercules is in such a state of disrepair.

We have an average of 14 vehicles impacting Polaris, Eleven travelling up Lower Hercules and the three neighbours, who drive to work after one encountered a bear while walking to work in the morning. There is also a mountain lion that frequents the neighbourhood off and on.

Polaris is a road that was and still is a road that was graded dirt with a little bit of gravel mixed in when we bought the lot where we built our house in 1991. It has received no gravel from the Church or the GLA since we bought it. This original grading/gravel job only extended to just around the curve of where we put the driveway to our house. Beyond that the road narrowed substantially. Our stretch of the road was constantly muddy in the spring and whenever it rained. It had huge potholes in the stretch before and in front of the driveway of our neighbour, whose property we later bought for our business. After we bought the property Walter paid for about 3 or 4 loads of gravel and the necessary grading from the intersection to the business driveway. This held up for three to four years. He filled the potholes with gravel manually during that time. We then repeated that process every three to four years, filling in the potholes manually every year. I would hardly call our road properly graveled; maybe if we added three loads of gravel every year and graded yearly too. The rest of the road is just dirt and rocks and around the corner from the driveway to our house, it has reverted to a jeep trail with so many protruding rocks that it could not be plowed anymore. Since the board said there was no money, Walter persuaded the road committee to at least pay someone to remove the worst rocks so our neighbours down the road could get plowing service.

Hercules has never looked the way it does now, even when at least seven houses were built in the span of two years on Hercules and Sagittarius Skyway. That did take a toll on the uphill stretch leading to the blind curve. So Rich Spallone, who built five of the houses, took up a collection among landowners and raised $10,000 to repair the road. We made the largest individual contribution to that project although we did not benefit from the building projects. This was in 2005. In 2006, as I stated earlier, came the fire and the fire trucks, then in 2007 the logging trucks and 2007 and beyond material deliveries for the construction projects. But the road held up. It was still gradable.

The problems began with the construction of the one mile of road Tim referred to in his “Report” that was donated to the GLA. To build this road 100 (according to Tim) 20 yard “belly dump” dump trucks filled with road materials travelled up Dry Creek Road, Hercules and Sagittarius Skyway in a steady procession in one day. Walter who has a good view of Hercules from his office gave up counting when he reached 76 and turned his attention to other matters. After completion of the road some stretches of Hercules were reduced to bedrock. I was at the board meeting when the building and road projects was approved. The project involved several variances and when road impact was brought up by Gerald Dubiel, the architect said, his clients would repair all damages. The project was then approved by the board without any discussion of road impact or possible damage.

When it became apparent that the GLA was not repairing Hercules after the new road was constructed, I asked Alyssa why the Board was not contacting the landowners to get Hercules repaired. She answered that the agreement the Board had hinged on the variances that were granted to the landowners. The landowners did not pursue the variances and only built two of the buildings of the original project, so that nullified the agreement. But they did still donate the road. She also said, the GLA did not have the money to repair Hercules.

Tim asked the same question at a community road meeting held at St. John’s. The board member responding to his question gave the same answer. The agreement hinged on the variances and was null and void, but the landowner had donated the road that cost them $120,000 to build to the GLA. Tim stated that this donation which benefited only a few landowners came at the expense of every other landowner living below the project. He mentioned the impact on the section of Sagittarius that he had donated thousands of dollars’ worth of gravel to, the bedrock on Hercules and the 100 “highway” sized dump trucks. The board members present just stated the GLA had no money to repair the impacted roads.

Since then Lower Hercules has further eroded due to the lack of timely maintenance or no maintenance at all of the ditches and culverts. At this point it is hard to tell what damage was caused by the road building project and what was caused by the washouts due to spring run-off and torrential rains.

I would like to clearly state that I am not advocating trying to guilt trip the landowners that donated the $120,000 road on Sagittarius Skyway into paying for the Hercules and Sagittarius road repairs. The board agreed to the project and set the conditions. So the road damage is the GLA’s responsibility. The only reason I am bringing this up is, because Tim in his “Report” implies that only the twelve resident landowners and the Spectec employees and Spectec deliveries have travelled up and down Lower Hercules over the years and that Spectec’s presence is the main reason Lower Hercules is reduced to bedrock.

I realize that there is a lot of frustration about the lack of GLA funds to maintain the Glastonbury road system—gravel and paved. But Walter and I will not allow our business to be held responsible for the GLA’s approval of a project that was beyond what Hercules Road could handle, the resulting damage to Lower Hercules nor the GLA’s subsequent failure to attend to the basic maintenance of ditches and culverts, which would have prevented or minimized washouts, further erosion and road damage.

Furthermore, I would like to address the issue of speeding on Lower Hercules. As the road is quite wide compared with Upper Hercules and Sagittarius, it seems to invite it. This results in more wash board and also close encounters with the guard rails and ditches as evidenced by the tell-tale tracks in the snow and gravel. I have been run off of the road several times by landowners coming around a curve or straight stretch in the middle of the road at excessive speeds. That said, there are times when the snow melt causes hydroplaning and the road is so icy that even crawling down at 5 mph with top of the line winter tires does not prevent loss of traction and control. In those cases Walter has plowed the slush or used the truck with chains and the plow to rough up the road in the icy stretches. Or in one occasion when the entire road was a sheet of ice, he called on Fred to sand. (The sanding included Sagittarius)

The owner's of Spectec may not realize that they are in violation of our Covenants and Master Plan. Over the years they have been generous in sharing their time and resources with our community.

We are not in violation of the Master Plan and the Covenants. I have explained this in a prior email. (please scroll down below Rudy’s, if you missed it).

Walter has plowed Lower Hercules and Dry Creek Road in the mornings, afternoons and even at night, if necessary, for free for nineteen years up until the fall of last winter. At that time he started charging $40/hr. for plowing in the mornings and afternoons on Monday through Friday, because the road was in such a bad shape that it was costing too much to repair the plows and trucks from the rock damage. We own three plows, because it is the only way to assure that we can plow on a daily basis. In 2015 he did not charge for any plowing in High South, which included Sagittarius Skyway.

In 2014 the GLA paid Rich Spallone approximately $2,300 to plow Upper Hercules and Sagittarius Skyway when needed and Lower Hercules on weekends from January through March. Lower Hercules gets plowed at 6” versus the 8” for Sagittarius Skyway. Walter spent at least that amount of time plowing Lower Hercules and Dry Creek Road. The GLA has saved a considerable amount in plowing costs every year, especially in high snow years. While Walter was doing this so our employees could get up and down the mountain, it did enable residents of High South to get to work, the school bus and appointments. It also made it possible for Low South residents to do the same. When our production manager called Walter shortly after 5 am one morning, because the entrance to Dry Creek Road was drifted shut, there were at least 8 vehicles trying to leave Glastonbury following Walter as he plowed and opened the various drifts up to Hwy 89.

That year we also donated a laptop with a solid state hard drive and business office software, anti-virus and Adobe Pro software for the treasurer, as the GLA had no office and business computer and lost the Minnick Management Service. That cost $3,000. The year before we paid to have the books brought into compliance with standard accounting practices at a cost of approximately $4,000. This is a requirement for all corporations, including non-profits such as the GLA. It is also necessary for financial oversight and planning.

I have put in approximately 120 hours on the GLA books in the first three months of this year helping Janice, creating the year end reports and correcting serious problems that only a complete audit would have found. I spent at least 250 hours checking and correcting Minnick’s bookkeeping entries, correcting his reports and assisting the GLA with basics such as payroll schedules, Montana wage and hour law and explaining standard accounting practice and fund accounting.

For 2014 using $2,300 for snowplowing and $3,000 for the laptop and disregarding all bookkeeping work and money saved by Walter plowing at $40/hr. versus the $75/hr. from October through December, the GLA saved at least $5,300.

The budget works in the following manner: The amount of assessments paid in the prior year is entered as the expected income. Then snow removal and related costs are subtracted, then the admin/overhead costs (this includes the legal and soccer field costs which fall under that umbrella, but are listed separately) and lastly the road and weed “fixed costs” of mowing and weed spraying. What is left is split between the NG gravel/ grading/paved road and SG gravel/grading accounts. In 2014 the amount allocated to those accounts was $31,000. If the GLA would have had to pay for the plowing and computer, there would have been only $25,700 available.

It is clear from this that our “time and resources” do affect the funds that the GLA has available for road maintenance. Due to the way these “savings” are allocated, though, the beneficiaries are all of Glastonbury and all of the roads on the GLA maintenance plan in a given year, not just Hercules. In SG that would be Arcturus and other roads in Low South as well as Hercules.

If we were to pay eight assessment fees of $210.10 totaling $1,680.80 or even eleven at $2,311.10 that money would not go solely to maintenance on Hercules—half would go towards NG gravel/grading/paved road budget and half to the SG gravel/grading budget. It would be less than what the GLA currently saves on plowing and bookkeeping costs and less money would accrue to the Hercules road budget.

Furthermore, even if the GLA decided to call the assessment an impact fee, the money would not go towards annual Hercules maintenance. Impact fees collected with project review applications do not get applied to the roads impacted by the project. They go into the respective Road Fund of the Glastonbury where the applicant’s property is. The road funds (formerly one combined fund) have been used for unexpected road expenses (flooding after the 2006 fires), snowplow truck purchases, unbudgeted road maintenance (NG loop crack sealing), record snow removal costs as during the “big snow” that shut down the entire Valley and Livingston area over Thanksgiving a few years ago, emergency repairs on Hercules etc.

We have given the travelling up and down Lower Hercules by our employees and the required snow removal a great deal of thought for some time now. Making sure that Dry Creek and Hercules Road are open and plowed early in the morning is a rather taxing affair besides being costly. Hiring someone to do the plowing would relieve Walter of the plowing itself, but not of the responsibility to check road conditions in the early morning. The employees are concerned about the negative effect of the poor state of the road on their vehicles. They are not concerned about having to drive up and down the road per se and do not consider the road itself dangerous. Since it is hard to say what impact the on average 8 extra vehicles have on the road, we are contemplating a solution that would solve all of these problems: shuttling our employees up and down the mountain in two high clearance vehicles. One would be equipped with a plow to open up any drifts. If there is too much snow, both vehicles would be chained up just as the sign at the entrance of Hercules suggests and again plow any area that they cannot pass through otherwise. It would reduce employee traffic on Lower Hercules to three or four vehicles, as the production manager and sometimes an engineer stay later and would then need to drive in their own vehicles. So the actual impact on the road on workdays would be only one vehicle. This should be covered under the three dwelling assessments we currently pay.

This would also free up funds that could be donated to directly benefit Lower Hercules.

At this time though, Walter and I do not believe that donating extra funds to Lower Hercules under the current maintenance practices is a worthwhile investment in the road. The grading is not deep enough to get rid of the existing washboard, but just caps it. So the washboard generally returns within a week or so, sometimes within days. The gravel gets washed away with the next rainstorm, because the ditches are filled from previous wash outs and the culverts are not cleared. There has been no assessment of the cost of clearing the ditches and culverts and restoring the road base and gravel. There is no comprehensive plan for doing this work. There is also no long term plan to ensure basics like ditch and culvert clearing are attended to and to outline general maintenance of restored sections of the road.

If coming up with an assessment and comprehensive repair and maintenance plan on short notice may be too daunting, one could break the endeavor into smaller projects.

The first project could be getting a cost assessment of putting in proper drainage ditches and culverts (if needed) from the bottom of Hercules to the top of the blind curve before Libra (referred to by Tim as the suicide curve), so the spring runoff and torrential rainstorms do not run down the road, turn it into a stream and create further washouts. Then one could also get an estimate of how much more it would cost for additional grading and material required to grade the first curve deep enough to remove the existing washboard. Walter thought the washboard was only capped, because digging deeper would churn up rocks and therefore require more gravel/road mix than allotted to turn the graded stretch into a smooth road. Landowners could be presented with the plan and cost and asked, if they would like to contribute. We would certainly contribute and maybe other landowners would also. Then depending on the costs and funds collected the project could proceed as far as funds collected allow—only ditches or the entire project. And so one could proceed up Hercules to pin point areas that would have the most impact on reducing further road damage or increase safety and select another curve or stretch of road with washboard problems and put together the information for the next project.

I hope this clarifies things.

Tim, Walter and I request that you remove all misrepresentations and false allegations regarding us, Spectec and our employees from your website. I noticed that the allegation that we are in violation of the Covenants and Master Plan has not been removed yet, although I have clarified over a week ago that this is not true.

Sincerely,

Regina Wunsch

Note from Tim - Good people can see the same situation differently. I stand by my facts for they are carefully researched and meticulously worded. I welcome more comments that further the discussion of High South roads and address solutions to the problems outlined on this page. Our community works best when all voices are heard and carefully considered.

© Tim Brockett
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