City fails duties to taxpayers

Published 3:04 pm Saturday, July 23, 2011

To the editor:

Here is a great example of the inability of our local government to do anything that is reasonable, sane or effective.

We live on the Murphy’s Mill Pond section of Lake Meade. The lake belongs to the city of Portsmouth, and the surrounding banks belong to the city of Suffolk.

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During a storm in late May, a large tree on the bank behind our home was split and sheared to about 10 feet. I wanted to talk to a Suffolk employee I have always contacted with any questions or issues. But I could not get his number from the city’s main information desk, from the personnel department or from parks and recreation.

People in each department said they did not know him and could not get me a phone number. Parks and recreation said, “We don’t do the lakes.”

How can the city not have any sort of directory to tell which department handles the lakes — you know, there are five of them — not to mention up-to-date and complete employee listings, in light of today’s technology?

Finally, I emailed the public works department and explained the situation with the tree on “their part of the property” and that it would potentially cause more damage should a remaining limb fall on the neighbor’s garage. I asked them to come and clean up the mess.

As an aside, there are more rules and regulations concerning what residents who live on the banks of the lakes in Suffolk can do than you can imagine. In typical fashion, there are hundreds and hundreds of pages of do-nots and no pages of what the city will do, other than fine you.

Finally, the employee nobody knew came and looked at the tree and said he would see about getting someone to come and take down what remained. I asked him not to bother if they were going to leave a pile of branches, limbs and the trunk — we would clean it up somehow.

One day, I arrived home to find the tree trunk cut down and nothing removed. There was an enormous mess stretching across my backyard and my neighbor’s. Limbs and branches, some bigger than 12 inches around, were strewn all the way up to the back of their garage. And they did not even try to let my neighbor know what they were doing.

I called the city, and was told, “We’ve done all we are required to do.”

If I were the mayor, do you think the mess would have been cleaned up and quickly? They get an “F” in beautification, public relations, proper use of tax dollars, management efficiency, etc.

Pam King