Residents in Edgewater Village are seeking grants and other funding options to repair crumblings portions of Grempler Way.
"There are some very big pot holes on Grempler Way," said Harford County Councilman Dion Guthrie, who represents the Edgewood community, during a recent Edgewood Community Council meeting. "School buses won't even go up the street because drivers think it will take out the bottom of the school bus. They wait at the bottom of the street for the kids to walk down."
The condition of the road is not a new issue and was discussed at length by residents when they were visited last summer by a busload of top county officials.
The road is private – community owned, and therefore, the responsibility of the homeowners on the street and not eligible for county funding, but many residents were never informed, said Guthrie. He said the community's homeowners association had been inactive pending mismanagement for a number of years.
"A lot of residents were not told the street was privately owned when they moved in" Guthrie said. "Each residents is responsible for paying for a portion of the repairs."
While Gempler Way has about 60 housing units, many of the homeowners are not financially capable of funding the project, which Guthrie believes will cost around $200,000.
About eight years ago, the community sought grant funding to repair two nearby roads Judy Way and Eloise Lane, which are also privately owned, Guthrie said. That work was done.
"We're hoping to do something similar on Grempler Way where the project is funded by a grant and residents chip in a small portion," Guthrie said.
In July, a busload of Harford County government officials took a tour around the Edgewood community, including Edgewater Village, following a uptick in violence in the area.
During the tour, County Executive David Craig connected the problems in Edgewater Village to the high number of absentee landlords and neglectful property owners in the area. About 40 percent of the properties on Grempler Way are rental units, according to state real estate tax records.
We have to 'get [homeowners] to turn around and improve the outside looks" of their properties, Craig said at the time. "The homeowners association needs to allow renters to attend the meetings."
Craig said if a certain percentage of the units in the neighborhood are rental properties and the homeowner isn't taking an active role in the homeowners association, then the renter needs to have a say in the future of the neighborhood.
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But, there were issues with management of funds and filing of paperwork with the previous homeowners association representing Edgewater Village, says Omar Simpson, a prominent attorney in the community who stepped forward and provided pro bono services to dismantle and rebuild a new HOA in the area.
"There were issues with the paperwork. It was a mess," Simpson said Tuesday. "It makes it hard for a community to move forward. A good homeowners association is needed to move forward."
Just a few months before the officials' visited during the summer, Simpson helped to establish the First Watergate North Homeowners Association, which now represents Edgewater Village and other neighborhoods in Edgewood.
Guthrie said while some units on Grempler Way are owned by absentee landlords, he said he believes the majority of those who do own their homes will support the road improvement project.
"These people can't rent or sell their properties with the road in this condition," he said.
Guthrie said once the a grant is secured for the construction project, a letter and ballot will be sent to the homeowner of each unit to vote in favor of paying a percentage of the road repair. He said as long as the majority of those homeowners who vote agree, the project will move forward.
Edgewood community leaders are set to meet with the Harford County officials in January to discuss the project, according to Guthrie.