Feb. 12, 2006 – If George Phillips, acting commissioner of Public Works, runs his projects like he runs his meetings, the residents of Williams Delight housing development will see drainage and road problems they have been complaining about for decades disappear within the year.
Phillips started a pubic meeting with residents promptly at 3 p.m. Sunday. He said, "When I say 3 o'clock, I mean 3 o'clock." He cut speakers off when statements were being repeated and tried not to repeat himself, concluding the meeting in just over an hour.
However, some residents were still wary. One said, "Promises, promises, that is all we get from the government."
Another resident said, "When the government comes to Williams Delight, it just fixes the main roads and the back roads are not fixed."
Phillips said, "All the roads in Williams Delight will be paved."
Another resident said that when the government does fix the roads, it does a poor job, and the roads are in bad shape once again in a short time.
Phillips said an adequate job was going to be done this time so the improvements would last.
He said the project, which started in Williams Delight last month, would be a comprehensive job done in various phases. The first phase is drainage and sidewalks.
Aloy Nielsen, deputy commissioner for engineering, said this first phase would last three or four months. Phillips said he wanted to see the whole project completed within in a year. He said, "I want to see this project finished before my tenure as commissioner is over, and I might not be commissioner for that long."
One of the three-dozen residents who attended the meeting said it was a waste of time talking to senators.
Phillips in turn responded, "They are our elected representatives. We have to work with them."
He said he had toured Williams Delight when flooding problems were reported, and then he lobbied the Legislature, which responded with over $2 million in appropriations to fund the project.
He added that another $1.7 million in appropriations was needed to complete the job and that residents needed to let senators know what they need when it's election time.
Phillips said he understood the frustration of the residents — that he heard the complaints about flooding in Williams Delight back when he was a child growing up in Grove Place.
Nielsen said after the meeting that poor drainage was a major factor in the roads' constant deterioration. He said that was why the department was for this "comprehensive" project. He and Phillips emphasized that the government has only a limited right-of-way on the roads so they will need the cooperation of residents to take care of many of the drainage problems.
Phillips said, "The only thing that will stop this project are the human beings in Williams Delight."
It was stated that a half-dozen residents had already been asked, through registered letters, to provide DPW easements to take care of one of the drainage problems. However, one of those residents was present and said he did not receive such a letter.
Phillips said that often the department has responded to one complaint, fixing a drainage problem for one resident, and it became a problem then for a neighbor. He said, "We want to take this water and make sure that it doesn't drain into a neighbor's yard — we want it to go all the way to the ocean."
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