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Valli Vue Estates Limited Road Service Area Winter 2011/2012 Newsletter

Dear Valli Vue Residents,

Welcome to the Winter 2011/2012 edition of the Valli Vue Limited Road Service Area (LRSA) Newsletter. Much of the content that follows is a repeat of material from last year's newsletter, but we felt it would be useful to review some of this important wintertime information. This newsletter and contact information are also available online on the Valli Vue Homeowners Association (HOA) website:

Please read through the following, and feel free to contact us if you need more information.

Valli Vue Limited Road Service Area - Board of Supervisors:

Bill Rathke, Chair 344-8035

Ben Padgett, Vice-Chair and Secretary 349-9987

Paul Strand, Contract Administrator 346-3347 (529-1249-cell)

Ida Dailey, Board Member 346-1920

Seat 5 - Vacant

What is a Limited Road Service Area?

LRSA's are local service areas authorized by State law and established by the Anchorage Assembly under Anchorage Municipal Code, Title 27, for the purpose of providing limited road maintenance services for rural roads on the Anchorage Hillside. There are about 21 of these service areas scattered across the Hillside. Each service area has a locally elected, unpaid Board of Supervisors. All road maintenance work is carried out under the direction of the Board, by private contractors selected in a competitive bid process. Each service area maintains a separate fund for use exclusively by that service area. Each Board determines the scope of work and directs the contractor doing the road work. The work typically consists of summer grading, road repair work, pothole repairs, drainage ditch clearing, dust control, snow removal, and ice control.

It is important to understand that the Valli Vue LRSA Board is entirely separate from the Valli Vue HOA Board. The two organizations have no legal or financial connection. However, since they both serve the same 229 homes and homeowners, we try to work closely and cooperatively with the HOA.

Winter Road Services

Our winter road maintenance activities are frequent and highly visible to all of our residents. This work consists mainly of snow clearing (grading and plowing) and sanding. We are currently in the last year of a five year street maintenance contract with Western Construction & Equipment (WC&E). The Valli Vue LRSA Board has adopted a custom Snow Plan, which calls for a premium level of service beyond the standard MOA contract provisions. The detailed Snow Plan is on the Valli Vue website, and the key points are:

We specify automatic call-out at 2-inch accumulation when snowfall has stopped, or shortly before the morning and afternoon rush hours if there has been 2-inch accumulation, even if snow is still falling at that time.

We require a plow truck to accompany the snow grader, to clear snow berms from driveways, mail boxes, fire hydrants, and trailheads.

We call for sanding on an 'as-needed' and 'where-needed' basis. The intent is to concentrate on sanding the hills, curves, and intersections while avoiding excessive sanding on straight, flat road sections where it is generally not needed.

We have been working closely with WC&E over the last few years to try to get our service level to meet the standards of the Snow Plan - and this effort has been reasonably successful. In our climate, perfection is hard to attain, but Western's performance has steadily improved. We continue to focus on mailbox access (see below) and on finding the right balance between needed and excessive sanding.

We hope you'll agree with many Valli Vue residents that our winter street conditions are generally better than most Hillside neighborhoods and almost always better than the MOA residential streets in the city. Please call the Contract Administrator if you notice any specific problems.

Driveway Plowing and Parking

It is illegal under Municipal code to plow your driveway snow into the road Right of Way (ROW). Note that the ROW extends 30 feet from the road centerline, and includes the roadside ditches, which are considerably beyond the paved roadway. These areas are needed by the contractor for storage of the snow from the road. Driveway snow placed in these areas makes it very difficult, and more costly, to plow the roads properly and can lead to dangerous driving conditions. Similarly, parking vehicles on the street during the winter months makes it nearly impossible to clear the roadway effectively. Please help by keeping vehicles in your garage or driveway during the winter months.

All About Mailboxes

The most common complaints we hear from residents during the wintertime relate to snow clearing around mailboxes. We will continue to work with WC&E in an effort to get the graders and plow trucks to remove as much of the snow as possible from the area in front of the mailboxes, so the mail carrier can safely deliver your mail. When conditions dictate, we will also have the contractor bring in a front-end loader to remove accumulated snow and ice. This will be done generally a few times per season, not for every snowfall.

However, there is another side to this story. We have a great variety of mailboxes in Valli Vue and many (perhaps most) of them do not meet Postal Service recommendations for height and reach. Some boxes lean at severe angles or appear ready to fall over by themselves. This means that the plow or grader cannot safely get close enough to remove the snow without great risk of destroying the mailbox.

The solution to this problem is a sharing of responsibility for maintaining mailbox access between the LRSA/Contractor and the Homeowner, especially in cases of mailboxes that do not meet the design recommendations. We will continue to clear as much of the snow as can be removed safely with the equipment available. Removal of remaining snow by the homeowners, by shovel or snowblower or by your driveway plowing contractor, will ensure good access throughout the winter. Many homeowners are already doing this on a regular basis.

Mailbox placement diagram

This diagram shows the USPS recommended design specs for mailboxes in our area. They call for a box height of 48 to 51 inches above the road surface and a projection of 5 feet, with the front of the box approximately in line with the road edge. Please keep this in mind the next time you are doing work on your mail box (probably in a warmer season!).

Finally, another US Mail issue - though this one has nothing to do with road maintenance. Our local mail carriers have asked us to remind all of you that this is the season of early darkness and many holiday packages, which often must be delivered on foot to front doors. Cleared entry paths, steps and decks, visible house numbers, and lit porch lights all help our carriers do their jobs more safely and efficiently. Please think of them and try to maintain good foot access to your front door.

Road Resurfacing Plans

As you are no doubt aware, the Valli Vue road system has held up fairly well over the years, but recently has been showing signs of age, requiring increasing maintenance and repair. To address these problems for the long term, in 2008 we began a project to repair and fully resurface our roads using a 2-inch overlay of new asphalt. During the summers of 2008 and 2009 we resurfaced Main Tree Drive, Lone Tree Drive, Crooked Tree Drive, and their associated cul-de-sacs. The quality of this work was excellent and we have every reason to believe that these roads will hold up well for many years to come. The resurfacing project, along with the supporting engineering work and a separate large repair project in 2008, have required an expenditure of almost $500,000, which significantly depleted our available fund balance. For this reason, we did not do any additional resurfacing work this year and do not plan to do any in 2012, while we build up our available savings.

This past October we did crack-sealing work on the resurfaced road sections, in order to stay a step ahead in maintaining and protecting this large investment.

Where Does the Money Come From?

From all of us, of course. All of the funds required to pay for our road maintenance and repair work come from the property taxes we all pay to the Municipality. If you look at your MOA tax notice you will see a line item for the LRSA, at a tax rate of 1.4 mills (that is, a tax of $1.40 per thousand dollars of assessed value). No funds come to the LRSA from your HOA dues.

The LRSA is responsible for maintaining the full road Right of Way, which includes the drainage ditches. If you believe that work is needed to repair or restore the proper function of the ditches in front of your property, please contact a member of the LRSA Board. Be aware that if you contract and pay for work in the ROW, the LRSA will not be able to reimburse your cost. Any such needed work must be approved by the Board and accomplished through our Municipal contract.

Board Meetings

The Valli Vue LRSA Board holds monthly meetings which, by law, are open to the public. We hold our meetings on the first Monday of each month in conjunction with the Valli Vue HOA Board, at Christ Church Episcopal, 5101 O'Malley Road. The LRSA meetings begin at 7:00 pm, followed by the HOA meetings at 7:30 pm. Please feel free to attend either or both of these meetings.

Opening Available on the LRSA Board

With the departure earlier this year of long-serving Board member Russ Kucinski, we now have a vacant seat on the LRSA Board. We need a volunteer to step up and fill this position. With a relatively small commitment of time, this could be your chance for greater involvement in your community. If you are interested, or even just a little curious, please call the Chairman, Bill Rathke at 344-8035.


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