BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Every time Joyce Harden gets in her car to leave her house on the 200 block of Empire Avenue in Benton Harbor, she says it’s a nightmare to drive. “That’s all you get. Bumping up and down through the alley,” says Harden
No parking is allowed on Empire Avenue outside her house. Harden and her neighbors have to use the city-owned alley behind their homes. “This is deep you know. It’s really deep,” Harden says, pointing out the problem behind the houses.
The potholes on the dirt path have always been a problem and some say it seems like they’re getting worse. “You go through it with your car and your car is just like (bouncing up and down)," says Otto Price, another neighbor who has to use the alley. Sometimes I go through with my truck and my head almost hits the top because it’s bouncing,” he says.
Price says when it rains you can't see the holes and the holes have caused damage to his car. “It’s really rough. They need to do something about it,” he says.
Harden says her repeated calls to the City of Benton Harbor over the past decade haven’t gotten anywhere. “They come through with a back hoe digger and dig up the dirt and put down some more dirt but its back that way again in a week,” she says
Reached over the phone, Benton Harbor Public Works says that alley gets more dirt to fill in the holes every year. If neighbors would want to get the alley paved they would need to pay for it.
Price says that hardly seems fair. “I've rode through a lot of alleys and a lot of them are concrete and they keep it plowed,” he says. Paying for access to their homes doesn’t seem like something they should have to do. “I don’t think we should have to pay for it. It’s not on our property. We pay taxes that should pay for it,” says Harden.
The City of Benton Harbor wouldn’t give a price for paving the alley but they did say more dirt is scheduled to be put down in the next two weeks.