PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles woman and nearly 100 petitioners are asking city officials to pave the gravel roads in a residential neighborhood west of I Street.
Sidney Murphy’s online petition on Change.org implores the city and its elected council to lay asphalt on the unpaved sections of West 11th, 12th and 13th streets.
“We have been waiting for over 20 years for the city and council to hear our pleas and to understand that these unpaved gravel roads are a major issue in our neighborhood,” according to the petition, which had been signed by 92 as of Saturday.
“On top of being an eyesore, hindering our ability to have pride in our community, they also pose a serious safety risk to our persons and properties.”
Murphy said in a Friday interview she understands the city budget is tight, but she wants the council to know that neighbors have been asking for paved streets for decades.
“I’m not somebody from out of town who’s expecting the city to revamp our whole neighborhood,” Murphy said.
“It’s just, at least make it safer for us.”
Murphy, a Port Angeles native who returned to her 13th Street home after pursuing a master’s degree in social justice and culture in Chicago, said the muddy road becomes slippery — even in her Romeo boots — in rain or freezing conditions.
Stormwater pools up in her front yard because the city drain is clogged with dirt, mud and rocks, she said.
In the summer, dust rising from the unpaved surfaces creates a hazard for those who have respiratory ailments and requires city crews to spray the roads with water, she said.
Murphy testified to the City Council on Tuesday, saying the gravel, mud and potholes had become risky for her elderly neighbors.
While the council did not address the pavement issue Tuesday, council members Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin and Charlie McCaughan said they planned to meet with Murphy.
“The fact that Lindsey was like, ‘I will come out and just take a walk with you at the bare minimum’ really meant a lot to me, and then Charlie said he was going to come out as well,” Murphy said Friday.
“I was actually really shocked, not that I think we have a bad City Council, it’s just they have a lot of their plates,” she added.
“I understand that there’s so many things that they’re trying to deal with, like the homeless issue, but that problem is in this neighborhood as well.”
Schromen-Wawrin said late Saturday that he and fellow council member LaTrisha Suggs met with Murphy, who described the problems in the neighborhood.
“Something didn’t go right when this was developed” without the proper infrastructure, he said.
“People there now are paying for it with their health and inconvenience.”
He said that, in the short term, city staff would go to the neighborhood soon and repair some of the immediate problems, such as the clogged storm drain.
In the long run, he expects the roads should be added to the capital facilities plan, “and then we’ll figure out how to get it funded,” he said.
West 11th Street is unpaved from South I to L streets. West 12th and 13th streets also remain gravel west of L street.
Several other streets in west Port Angeles, including portions of South O, are unpaved.
Thomas Hunter, city public works and utilities director, was in a two-day City Council retreat Thursday and Friday and could not be reached for comment. He was not available for comment on Saturday.
Murphy, also not available for comment on Saturday, said others in her neighborhood had petitioned the city about the unpaved streets in the past, including two disabled children who struggle to negotiate the gravel surfaces.
“Some of the residents have lived in this area for 30 years, and they’re like, ‘The city’s not going to do anything about it,’ ” Murphy said Friday.
“I said, ‘OK, well, I’m going to give it one more shot and see what happens.’ ”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].
Executive Editor Leah Leach contributed to this story.