We’ve all had a fix-up project go wrong. Usually, we’re the only ones adversely affected by our misjudgment, but sometimes the neighbors feel the brunt of it, too. That’s the case for the city of Hillsboro and its chip-seal project on D Street in late September. The resulting cloud of dust that persisted for days afterward and settled on either side of the street was an annoying inconvenience for almost everyone—and carried some negative financial impact for a few businesses.

In a phone conversation on Monday, City Admini­strator Larry Paine, who was out of town on city business, asked us to pass on his apology for this recent turn of events. He said the type of gravel used in the project was an attempt by the city to save taxpayer money. Unfortunately, in brokering the deal, his staff was misled by the supplier about the potential for dust.

In recent days, Paine said he has received several e-mails critical of the project, as well as a personal visit in his office by a local businessman who was affected. Paine expressed gratitude for the face-to-face feedback.

“We apologize,” he said on behalf of the city “It didn’t turn out the way we expected. In the future we’ll probably end up buying the more expensive material so it will be less of a problem to the people in the community.”

Paine said in no way is the city turning itself into a “gravel street community,” as some apparently have alleged. At the same time, the city plans to continue chip-sealing streets in the future—with a higher grade of gravel, of course—because it extends the life and performance of the road surface. The alternative maintenance strategy—to mill and overlay a street with new asphalt—is much more expensive than chip-sealing it.

“We’ve got some things we can learn as an organization because of how the performance worked here,” Paine said. “Hopefully, the same sort of thing doesn’t happen in the future. We will continue to do chip-seal in the future, but the way in which we do it will be different.”

The apology and explanation is appropriate and necessary, and we agreed to pass it on in time for this week’s paper. Perhaps we can now resume normal life again… once the dust settles. —DR

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