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Weedy boulevards not township’s problem, officials say

The weeds growing rampant are a stark contrast to the upper parts of the lawn with the neatly cropped grass and well-ordered flowerbeds. But after two years of trying to salvage the grass on the boulevard of his mother-in-law’s Samuel Street home in Elmira, Art Bolduc says he’ll no longer bother.

Sifting through the weeds, you’ll find the remains of some sod, brown and withered, that appears never to have taken hold. The property, like many of the neighbouring lawns, was re-sodded in the fall of 2010 following the reconstruction of the road, underground services and sidewalks along Samuel, Ann and Herbert streets.

Bolduc said the grass appeared to suffer winterkill after the fall planting, continuing to decline despite the application of “TLC and fertilizer” over the next two summers. He and some of the neighbours say it’s up to the township to remedy the problem on what is their property, after all.

Woolwich, however, takes a different view.

Manager of engineering Richard Sigurdson notes the work was completed in the fall of 2010 but it wasn’t until this spring that he began receiving complaints from residents, well past any warranty period on the work that was done.

He was the project manager for that job, and personally inspected the sod in the spring of 2011, deeming it fine.

“In 2011, the sod looked fantastic,” he said, explaining that the contractor is responsible for watering and caring for new sod for the first 30 days. After that, the contractor can be expected to look after repairs for up to a year if there are any deficiencies.

“I walked every street myself in the spring of 2011, and it was fine.”

Given that it’s well beyond the warranty period, the township can’t go back to the contractor. And Woolwich typically leaves maintenance of boulevards to the adjacent homeowners, said Sigurdson.

Pointing to the dry conditions over the past two summers, he said many property owners have had problems with their lawns, including the boulevards.

“We’ve got through a couple of drought years.”

In talking to other municipalities in the region about grass maintenance, he said they all admit “the weather has been more challenging.”

For Bolduc, the weather doesn’t absolve the township of responsibility for the poor state of its property. The residents had fine lawns prior to the reconstruction, and now they’ve got a weedy mess. That’s on Woolwich because the sod never took hold.

“We wouldn’t be here if the job was done right. In my estimation, this falls on the township,” he said.

Instead, the township expects property owners to look after its land. Maintenance such as mowing is one thing, but having to build a lawn from scratch is another, he argued.

“It’s totally irresponsible on their behalf.”

Yes, the warranty period may have expired, but the municipality should be doing something to make things right with residents who not only put up with the reconstruction project and resultant mess, but who are now expected to deal with the dead grass on the boulevards and adjacent to sidewalks, he said, noting that his mother-in-law is elderly and living on a fixed income.

“They say there’s no money in the budget for dealing with this. Well, welcome to everybody’s world – we’re all faced with that,” said Bolduc. “Right is right, and wrong is wrong.”

He’s been most put off by what he sees as a lack of understanding, not even an attempt to be fair to the residents, perhaps something as simple as offering up some topsoil and grass seeds.

“It’s very frustrating on our side.”


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