Sept. 25, 2019 — Residents of Collard Lake Road have finally seen needed repairs completed on the main portion of the road that branches off of Mercer Lake Road and leads to a number of homes on Collard Lake Road, Collard Lake Way and Collard Lake Loop.
Lane County has recently repaired a large, damaged section of asphalt which had seriously eroded during the past year and was a clear danger to motorists and residents. Trees and brush deposited in the gaping space on a winding stretch of the busy road after a couple of summer rainstorms made safe passage difficult. To make matters worse, lighting in the area is minimal and visibility is often difficult at night.
There are some residents of the area that have been dealing with potentially dangerous situations on Collard Lake Road for years and finally can feel safe driving home or to Highway 101.
The process required to accomplish this repair and other maintenance needs has been hampered for years due simply to location. Collard Lake Road lies outside of the City of Florence boundaries while also not the direct responsibility of Lane County due to its designation as a Local Access Road (LAR).
Unfortunately, this designation means the maintenance of the road was deemed to be the responsibility of the residents of this area.
Many of these residents believe that the county should maintain the road, not individual homeowners.
Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich has been working with residents of the area to come to some sort of resolution to the assorted problems presented by this unusual situation.
Frank Suniga is 90 years old who, along with his wife Zelda, have owned property on Collard Lake Road for decades. He has spoken with numerous county officials during that time in the hopes of persuading commissioners to help with the upkeep of the road.
From Suniga’s perspective, residents pay property taxes and that should be the single most important factor when deciding on a fair outcome.
Suniga was one of several from his neighborhood who spoke at a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners earlier this summer.
“I’ve owned this property for 41 years and my neighbors and I have paid a lot in taxes up here for years. We’ve had five or more meetings over the years, but this was a very good meeting,” Suniga said. “There was quite a group that went from this particular area and we spoke to commissioners at their 9 a.m. meeting, and at their 1 p.m. meeting — and they agreed to accept the road. Jay [Bozeivich] made the motion and it was passed. We finally made it.”
Bozievich was pleased to share the fact that the repair had taken place and added a major development on the matter in an email to the Siuslaw News.
“It is my understanding that our crews completed the emergency repair of the slide caused by a tree falling that was of concern to the residents. I have received multiple emails and phone messages about what an excellent job our Public Works Road Crew did in completing the work. I am always proud of the work they do,” Bozievich said.
The more important news for the dozens of drivers that make their way up and down the narrow, twisting road on a regular basis, had to do with the future safety of those residents.
From now on, Lane County will be responsible for maintaining what will now be known officially as County Road No. 2216.
“Lane County Order 19-09-10-04 establishes Collard Lake Road as County Road No. 2216, located in Section 36, Township 17 South, Range 12 West and Section 1, Township 18 South, Range 12 West, Willamette Meridian,” reads the official order.
Bozievich was pleased that the Lane County Commission had accepted his recommendation to finally change the status of Collard Lake Road and be officially responsible for future maintenance and repairs.
“The board passed an order formally making Collard Lake Road a County maintained road in our Sept. 10 meeting. This was the end of a long effort by the community to get the county to complete a process that began in 1976,” he said. “Collard Lake Road is unique in Lane County among LARs, which are public roadways that are privately maintained. Collard Lake Road is both one of the longest LARs while also having the most homes and building sites with a single access. The unique status and the previous Board’s legislative intent in 1976 allowed me to argue for the County to take the road into the system for public maintenance along with strong testimony from the residents.”
For more information on the Lane County Board of Commissioners, visit lanecounty.org/government/county_departments/board_of_county_commissioners.