Mark Avenue residents welcome road repairs after long wait

Mark Avenue residents welcome road repairs after long wait
A large pipe is installed under Mark Avenue in San Marco.

Carlos Bouvier and his Mark Avenue neighbors are grateful the old American proverb, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” held true when it came to getting contractors and the City to fix their street. It may have taken six months, but on March 19 the curbing on the west side of the street was finally patched, and a week later, on March 25, the City repaved the local roadway.

“I’m satisfied. Finally, the street looks nice, like a normal street,” said Bouvier. “I was pleasantly surprised how quickly the City responded when the problem was brought to their attention.” 

It was early September 2018 when, without warning, residents on the 2400 block of the San Marco street discovered heavy equipment tearing up the asphalt in front of their homes. An underground drainage pipe needed to connect the new San Marco Promenade development with the City’s main drainage system was being installed.

Bouvier said he is excited about having the new upscale residential development as a next-door neighbor because he relishes the increase in activity and the prospect that it may cause home values in the area to rise. However, the roadway invasion – and the way it was handled – came as an unwelcome surprise. 

In charge of the roadway construction was Live Oak Construction, a contractor engaged by Chance Partners to build San Marco Promenade on land adjacent to Bouvier’s Mark Avenue neighborhood.

The Mark Avenue infrastructure project, which Bouvier had been told by a City inspector should take three weeks to complete, ended up lingering on for more than four months. When it was completed, new curbing and asphalt was only installed on half of the street, creating an eyesore reminiscent of a “third-world country,” he said.

In the meantime, Bouvier and his neighbors had suffered from having their homes and property showered with unhealthy dirt and dust that clogged the storm drains causing several inches of floodwater to cover their street during heavy rainstorms. Heavy earth-moving equipment had made free use of their front yards and driveways to maneuver, without so much as a “May I?” or “Thank you” for the convenience, he said.

“They worked for a month and a half, then they stopped working, waiting for asphalt,” Bouvier said. “What should have taken three weeks per the inspector took four months. In between they didn’t attend it, and we got overflow with the dust and it clogged both the storm drains in the corners. Although they said they put some protection down, it still flooded. Our street was a road hazard, especially with the accumulation of dirt and dust that they left unattended. My point is, it’s a pattern of carelessness and disregard for the neighbors. I think it’s appalling how they were throwing dust on us and they didn’t care. They kept doing it over and over again,” he said. 

To solve the problem, Bouvier said he approached the project supervisor on the San Marco Promenade site and filed two complaints with the City.

In answer to Bouvier’s first complaint, which he filed in October 2018, the City indicated there were multiple violations regarding street watering and sweeping, and accumulation of sedimentation at several MS4s (municipal separate storm water sewer systems).

In his second complaint, filed in January, Bouvier received word through email from the city in February that “the issue will be open for three months.”

Bouvier also contacted District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer who forwarded his inquiry to several members of the City Public Works department. On Feb. 14, Boyer emailed Bouvier saying that Mike Sands of the City’s Development Services Division had assured her that Mark Avenue will be milled and resurfaced. She said the City allows the patch to settle for four to six weeks before that can occur. “You can expect curb damage to be repaired at that time as well. I know the construction process is inconvenient, but I do think the project will be good for the area when complete,” Boyer wrote.

He also contacted a reporter at The Resident to make inquiries to see if that might help.

Bouvier’s concerns might not have been so acute if the Live Oak Construction’s site superintendent had practiced a little Emily Post-style etiquette along the way. 

“I called the City and I think they fined them, but as they did the street, they showed nothing but callousness from the beginning,” said Bouvier. “They didn’t draw up a little letter to say they would be working on our street for the next couple of months. They didn’t tell us they would be taking up half of the street and ‘we’re sorry for the inconvenience.’ Anything like that would have been nice. Instead, one day they showed up, broke everything, and for four months they bombarded us. I would like to see this street properly finished and the curbing replaced like they did on the other side of the street,” he said.

In February, Paul Bertozzi, CEO of Live Oak Construction and a St. Nicholas resident, said the roadway was not yet finished and had not yet been delivered to the City. “There are repairs that need to continue to be done and completed. As far as the other side of the road goes, that was not impacted by the construction work and is not something contractually in our documents to perform.”

Bertozzi said representatives from his firm met with City inspectors in late February to discuss how the road work would be resolved. “I’m not sure at this point what the end result will be,” he said. “It was not scheduled as part of the construction process to improve the entire road on Mark Avenue. It was only to make repairs. So basically, we were only responsible for the part of the roadway impacted by the construction of the storm sewer.”

However, Bertozzi said if damage was done by his workmen to the roadway, curbing, or to the neighbors’ property he intends to make things right.

“We had a full-site survey of the entire area done prior to starting construction, and we have photo documentation. There was damage was done by the heavy equipment – we aren’t denying that – and we have discussed that with the site contractor. They intend to address the areas that they caused damage to. I’m happy this all came to me,” Bertozzi continued. “I’ll be happy to sit down with Mr. Bouvier and review the photos with him. We have reviewed the photos with our site contractor, so he understands where damage was previously and what needs to be done to make those repairs. The road is not scheduled to be delivered to the City yet, but at this point we are pushing to expedite that so we can have all of this behind us and everybody is of the same understanding,” he said. “None of us are looking to create bad blood or bad camaraderie with the neighbors.”

Fortunately, Bouvier and his neighbors did not have to wait too long. “Resurfacing of the remaining half of Mark Avenue was completed today,” wrote Jacksonville Director of Public Works John Pappas in an email dated March 25. “I am awaiting an update concerning the curb repair along the west side of Mark Avenue within the same limits.” 

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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