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Developer Gary Strausser Asks Forks to Take his Road, Please

Developer Gary Strausser wants Forks Township to take possession of Winchester Drive at River Estates.

Builder told last week that he is “open to anything” that will rid him of the responsibility for maintaining Winchester Drive.

The road was built as part of the Riverview Estates development. Strausser says it now costs him about $40,000 a year to plow it, salt it and cut the grass around it, and he wants to take possession.

Strausser said township residents are already using Winchester via Frost Hollow Road to get to Route 611.

“[Mr. Strausser] can close the road off,” said Patrick Campbell, Strausser’s attorney. “The situation is unacceptable.”

The original plans had the township taking over the road, as it does for many development-built roads, but PennDOT wants improvements made to Winchester to allow better access onto Route 611, at an estimated cost of $1.2 to $1.5 million.

Campbell said before the housing market collapsed Strausser might have had a couple million dollars to consider that, but now he does not.

The problem, said township solicitor Karl Kline: “We’re in a situation where we are asked to maintain a road the public doesn’t have a right to use.”

Kline said PennDOT has not granted a permit that allows full access from Winchester onto the state roads. Campbell, however, said PennDOT has issued a “low-volume permit.”

But before the township can take possession of a road, supervisors said, they want to make sure it is in full compliance with PennDOT. Supervisor David Billings asked Strausser to write a proposal the spells out the details of what he’s asking so the the board can more fully examine the issue.

Strausser agreed to do that within a week.

Molly January 24, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Is this a joke? This *is* the same developer who is suing the township, right? And now he's threatening to close the road? I don't know if I should laugh or shake my head in disgust.
Melissa January 24, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Best part is the school buses are using winchester rd in the riverview development, how is that low-volume traffic? When it snowed over the weekend the township plowed the road thru the vista development, and stopped where the road begins into riverview! Doubt that winchester was fully plowed over the weekend either, can't wait to see what happens when the school buses have to access it while its snowing and icy and the township won't plow it and strausser can't afford to maintain it! So much for the safety of the kids!
Will January 24, 2012 at 02:37 PM
I'm posting my letter to the Forks solicitor here: Karl, I'm writing in regards to your quote in this article: http://palmer.patch.com/articles/developer-gary-strausser-asks-forks-to-take-his-road-please "The problem, said township solicitor Karl Kline: “We’re in a situation where we are asked to maintain a road the public doesn’t have a right to use.”" I find this deflection from the real issue offensive as a Forks taxpayer. If Gary Strausser intended for Winchester drive to become a public road in the future, then the public has every right to use it. Those rights are being trampled by Strausser's negligence in keeping the road up to code. Winchester is currently a minefield of raised manhole covers and potholes. It's no wonder Penn-Dot laughed at Strausser when he applied for a permit. The real issue that no one seems to want to address is that people like Strausser helped inflate the housing bubble and reaped generous rewards. Even during that time of huge profits, he barely maintained any of the roads under his purview, and now that his gamble has gone belly up he wants to socialize his losses by dumping his sorry excuse for a road on the township. The failure to recognize the real issue here (the rewarding of moral hazard) allows it to continue unabated.
Mr.Bill January 24, 2012 at 03:44 PM
So Winchester needs an estimated cost of $1.2 to $1.5 million in improvements to allow better access onto Route 611 to make PennDOT approval. Like all things here lately, that is an estimate and it may cost more than that. And as Will noted, Winchester is currently a minefield of raised manhole covers and potholes. That's allot of road to fix and pave. How much to do fix this? And what is the mention of "cut the grass around it"? He wants the town to cut his lawn too? Where the top of Winchester starts at Vista Estates was completed and the town took over. Until the rest of Winchester passes scrutiny, it's still under development and belongs to Strausser. If Strausser wants to close it off, that's a private issue he, the homeowners in that area he sold houses to and the Golf Club will need to sort out in court. After making millions over the years to develop this area, he can put some money back in to hold up his end of the deal and turn over a proper and legal road. There's no tax money to build the park at Newlins Mill Road or to help private homeowners with their sinkhole problems. There is surely no money left to bail out millionaire builders.

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