Consolini says he wants ‘what’s right’

A wooden sign reads “Consolini Way” at the corner of Babb Road and a right of way road causing some confusion in town. (Photo by chief photographer Frederick Gore)

SOUTHWICK – After reading an article in The Westfield News over the weekend concerning his property, Peter Consolini has come forward to weigh in on the subject.
Consolini owns the property listed on the town assessor’s map as 7 and 8 Babb Road, which he said is One and Two Consolini Drive.
“I’m 46 years-old and for at least the past 40 years I can remember it was always Consolini Drive,” said Consolini.
He said not too long ago, the wooden street sign that was at the end of the road was removed and replaced with another wooden sign with “Consolini Way” written on it.
“Changing it from Drive to Way leads me to believe they’re covering some tracks,” Consolini said.
The “they’re” he referred to is the town highway department.
Department of Public Works Director Jeffrey Neece, whose responsibilities include the highway department, said Consolini Way is a driveway. Neece said to his knowledge, his predecessor did place the wooden Consolini Way sign on the property.  However, it is not a town road.
“There is no road on record with the town for a Consolini Way or Drive or Road,” said Neece. “It is not a private way or a private public way or a road used by the public.”
The current controversy stems from damage Consolini said was done to the road by town plows or town subcontracted plows. Neece said the road, because it is, in his opinion, a driveway, should never have been plowed in the first place.
Two Town Meeting votes, one taken in the 50s and another in the 70s, allowed for sanding and plowing of private ways and Consolini Way, said Consolini, was always maintained by the town.
“When I was a kid it was my grandparent’s house and it was always maintained by the town,” Consolini said. “Six or seven years ago, they stopped sanding and salting and a year ago they stopped plowing.”
Consolini claims that after the Oct. 29, 2011 snowstorm he requested that the town stop plowing because a plow damaged the road after that storm.
“The road was in pretty bad shape to begin with and they came down and ripped the top coat of asphalt right off,” Consolini said.
To remedy the problem, the town agreed to make repairs and a layer of what Consolini called “trap rock dust” was laid on the property. Now, Consolini wants it paved because he said the rocks are creating a dust problem.
“I’ve had to power wash my house a few times, my pool filter gets clogged, I have to wash my truck at least twice a week and it’s not good for my 12 year-old son, who has asthma,” said Consolini.
“The money is adding up for cleaning – I’ve probably spent thousands of dollars cleaning dust,” he added.
Neece said when the rock was laid down last spring, Consolini was agreeable to that solution.
“We did that to his satisfaction,” said Neece. “He felt it was satisfactory in the spring, then decided in August he wanted it paved. We felt we had taken care of it.”
Neece said it was reported to him that Consolini, who owns a business at the address, has heavy equipment on the road and there was no way to tell what vehicle damaged the property. He also said DPW Supervisor Mike Demko said there was never a “hard paved surface” there.
Consolini said he has a pick-up truck and trailer and that there is no heavy equipment on the property.
Consolini said he received an estimate of $8,000 for paving the approximately 300-foot road.
“When it rains now, its mud,” he said. “They made it 100 times worse. They did the damage and now they’re washing their hands of it. They intensified the problem 100-fold.”
Consolini said he just wants “what’s right” and in his opinion that is for the town to pave the road.
“The damage came from them,” he said. “It was done by them over the years.”
Consolini admitted he does not know if Consolini Drive or Way is an accepted town road.
“But then why would they put up a street sign?” he wondered. “This was approved by two selectmen – what’s right is right.”
Consolini said once the town fixes the problem, he doesn’t care what they call his property.
“They can call it a driveway and I’ll sign off on it and take care of it myself, but I’m not signing off on it until it’s fixed,” he said, adding that he would incur costs to change his address from One Consolini Drive to 7 Babb Road. “From then on out they can call it whatever they want to call it, but fix it. I think that’s fair.”
The Board of Selectmen last week voted to delay action on the situation until the board hears from Town Counsel for a second time.
Neece said he wrote a letter to the board several weeks ago saying that he would not pave it and was seeking direction from the board.
At last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Chairman Arthur Pinell said he received “a slew of emails” on the topic. many of which provided history of the property. He asked the board to place Consolini Way on the next meeting agenda.
“I’d like to take a look at that and maybe next week we can resolve the issue,” he said.
Selectwoman Tracy Cesan agreed and added that Town Counsel Kenneth Albano was expected to have an opinion on the subject after receiving additional information last week.

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