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The Tentacle


October 21, 2003

In The City of Frederick, Who's Responsible?

David 'Kip' Koontz

Here's a story of a barricade [You know the type I mean They're used to prevent traffic from proceeding down a street - white saw horse shaped with orange and white stripes.] that had trouble getting home.

It is, indeed, an odd tale.

Recently the trim work on our residence was repainted. At some point during this process the parking meter in front was removed by the city so that it wouldn't get hit by the lift needed to reach the top floor and roofline.

After the meter was removed, a stump of the metal pole that holds the meter remained sticking out of the ground ensuring that passersby would trip on it on a regular basis.

Hence, to the rescue comes the barricade which was placed over the stump to mark its presence. Additionally, the barricade (which is, according to technical terms, really is called a traffic barricade) would be pretty difficult to miss in and of itself.

After the painting ended, days passed with the meter not getting replaced, thus the barricade remained to valiantly protect walkers.

One day, it is realized that the meter is back and the poor barricade is placed, with no great ceremony, to rest upon the fence that surrounds the front of our building.

One has to ask, "Why didn't those who replaced the meter take the barricade with them?" But one kind of figures someone would come back for it.

Nope.

Days again pass with the barricade resting upon the fence, though at some point a nice passerby placed a Pepsi bottle, with some remaining beverage in it, next to the barricade, figuring it may get thirsty or need some company.

A call was placed to the city's street department inquiring if something could be done with the barricade. No response.

Odd.

A friendly meter attendant (and some are nice when they are not doling out tickets) notices the barricade and says she would call about having it removed, though she suggested we simply take it.

A day or so later an entire platoon of workers from the Department of Public Works (DPW) were seen descending on City Hall and were asked if they would take the barricade with them.

"No," was their reply, "That is from the Street Department; it is their responsibility." Though they also suggested we just take it and use it, throw it away or, in affect, make it our responsibility.

With such cooperation among departments, you have to wonder what work could be expedited more efficiently if they actually did cooperate.

Another call is made to the Street Department, explaining that the guys from DPW said they couldn't take the barricade as it was not their responsibility - it was "street's," so would someone please just come get the barricade as it had been long enough that city property was just kind of abandoned.

A return call from the Street Department found an employee saying that someone would be over that day to get it but added something about how we should have just chopped it up for firewood.

When it was pointed out that though it was just a barricade (an internet search shows that the cost of a close match to the barricade in question costs about $60) that it was bought with taxpayer dollars, and that it would be wasteful, kind of found the city employee a bit mystified by the thought.

No one is claiming that there is a complete nonchalance about city property, but this matter does raise questions about whether there is an understanding that the residents of the city (including city employees) pay for the tools, equipment - the items city workers use to complete their tasks, through their hard earned pay which is doled out in too high taxes.

Can one wonder what other items might be considered "surplus" by city workers and thus, left behind at jobsites, or, better yet, taken home for their personal use?

Also, can't our city departments just get along?

Mayor Dougherty! Really! We want a basketball hoop; the barricade was simply a bit much, unless of course the goal was to keep us trapped inside.



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