City blames budget woes for delay in fence repair


Jerry Davis of Newark alerted us to a problem with a fence in Newark that is falling apart. The city was supposed to build a new wall there years ago, so we went to find out why it is taking so long.

"All the pickets on the fence are coming out from erosion," said Davis.

Davis showed us this video of the fence that separates his neighborhood from Mowry Avenue, a busy truck route in Newark. He says the fence, which was built by a developer in the mid-60s, is falling apart.

"This fence obviously has been kicked in from the top. Very dangerous," he said. "The whole thing could fall down in a windstorm, that's for sure."

He says he and his neighbors have been waiting for the city to replace it since 2004, when Newark added a project to build a new wall on Mowry Avenue to its capital improvement plan.

"There's people out there that are putting up chain link fence, they're putting up corrugated metal roofing, they're taking two-by-fours, they're taking anything they can take and just nailing it to the outside of that fence," said Davis.

The city built a wall just around the corner on Cherry Street and another on Thornton Avenue, but the Mowry Avenue project never got funded.

"I just thought it was going to be postponed for a while, and the next year came and the next year came," said Davis.

"Yeah, the fence is deteriorating, but I think it really is a matter of priorities," said city manager John Becker. "Is it a significant risk that a fence section is going to fall down? I would think it is not."

Becker says the plan to build a wall on Mowry is still on the books, but it has been put on hold indefinitely while the city struggles to make $8 million in budget cuts.

"I'm trying to keep police and firefighters out on the streets, I'm trying to keep our streets at least at a minimal level of maintenance, and frankly we just don't have the funding to do everything that we would really like to do," said Becker.

In the meantime, Becker says that the residents on Mowry are legally responsible for maintaining the existing fence. However, Davis says that is not fair for families that are already having a hard time in this tough economy.

"I think the city is pretty much responsible for it because it's showing what our city's made of," he said.

It looks like this is one problem that won't get fixed anytime soon. The city manager says it will cost $450,000 to build that wall and the city can't afford it until the economy improves.

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