(by Patrick Whittle, NY Newsday) – A Levittown [New York] man fed up with the cracks and craters developing in his neighborhood roads is filling the potholes himself — and incurring the ire of Nassau County and Hempstead Town officials in the process.
Bobby Fitzgerald, 55, who is a limousine driver, has filled about a half dozen holes in his neighborhood using a bucket of sand and a shovel.
He said he started filling the holes because he felt Hempstead’s highway crews, which are responsible for roadway patches and repairs throughout the town, were neglecting his community.
But Nassau and Hempstead officials said Fitzgerald’s efforts are potentially dangerous and better left to public works crews. Hempstead spokesman Mike Deery said Fitzgerald’s actions violate town codes, but officials haven’t cited him.
Fitzgerald said he has no intentions of stopping his work.
“We’re paying taxes for these people to get out there and do what’s got to be done. They don’t want to do it,” Fitzgerald said.
He said he was motivated in part by a large hole in front of his house that damaged his car about four years ago.
Nassau Legislator Dennis Dunne Sr. (R-Levittown) cautioned residents to not emulate Fitzgerald. The county has an app called “Nassau Now” that allows residents to take pictures of potholes and send them in, Dunne said.
“Individuals should not endanger themselves by trying to fill in potholes themselves,” he said. “Instead, please report the pothole locations to the local municipality.”
Fitzgerald acknowledged traffic makes the work dangerous, but said it needs to be done. He said he has been doing the work for about two years after becoming frustrated with the town’s pace. He most recently repaired one near his home about three weeks ago. “It’s just gotten worse,” he said of the pits developing in the roadways this winter. “I do it for the community.”
A neighbor, Joseph Pica, described Fitzgerald as someone who “tries to help the neighbors,” in ways such as lending his snowplow for use after storms. Pica said he was not aware his neighbor has filled potholes.
Hempstead has used 90 tons of asphalt to repair roads this month, and the highway department’s budget of $69.3 million is enough to ensure that the streets are maintained, town spokesman Mike Deery said.
The town has patched four potholes in Fitzgerald’s neighborhood in the past two weeks, Deery said, noting that it typically takes one to seven days to fill a pothole once the town receives a complaint.
He added that the town “does not encourage residents to fill potholes,” but to report them instead. “We have a highway crew that is trained to fill potholes and that is their responsibility,” Deery said. “We believe they do a very good job.”
Hempstead Councilman Gary Hudes, who represents the area, said he agreed. “Not only is it a bad idea on so many different levels, it’s also not necessary,” Hudes said.
Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from Long Island Newsday.
1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)
2. Why has Mr. Fitzgerald been filling the potholes himself?
3. How does Mr. Fitzgerald fix the potholes?
4. How have town and county officials reacted to Mr. Fitzgerald’s pothole repairs?
5. How did Mr. Fitzgerald respond to the officials comments and concerns?
6. List at least 3 important questions that were not answered in the article (that the reporter should have investigated and reported on to give readers a balanced news report).
7. Discuss the following questions:
- Assuming Mr. Fitzgerald did report the potholes and the local/county government did not repair them in a timely manner, was he right to do it himself?
- Do taxpayers have the right to expect their local/county government to keep the streets in good repair?
- What should be first priority for local/county/state government: roads and safety (police and fire), education, social welfare programs, paying these government employees good wages, pensions and benefits…
About those potholes (from the Newsday article):
- Potholes filled by Town of Hempstead crews in 2013: 1,831.
- Town budget for asphalt in 2014: $600,000.
- Tons of asphalt used by Hempstead in January: 90.
- Potholes filled by Levittown resident Bobby Fitzgerald: 6.
Daily “Answers” emails are provided for Daily News Articles, Tuesday’s World Events and Friday’s News Quiz.