Wright City officials say they still don’t have clarity on who, if anyone, owns a street on the north side of the city that is crumbling into a trail of ruts and potholes. Without an answer to …
Wright City officials say they still don’t have clarity on who, if anyone, owns a street on the north side of the city that is crumbling into a trail of ruts and potholes. Without an answer to that question, there’s no clear direction on who should pay to fix the road.
Indian Head Lodge Road is the only access road serving several neighborhoods north of Westwoods Road. Some of the homes are inside the city boundary, while dozens of others are in unincorporated Warren County.
City and county officials all say that they have no records showing that they took ownership of the road after it was built and improved by developers. Meanwhile, residents who live there say they don’t particularly care about ownership; they care that the road is falling apart while no one does anything to fix it.
In an effort to resolve the ownership question and get moving on a fix, Wright City Administrator Jim Schuchmann reported that he has been researching old property records to trace the ownership of the road.
“It is a big mess,” Schuchmann summarized during a recent public meeting. “I feel I’m making headway on it. I can tell you that that road first came into existence in 1899. I read the deed that created it, and have somewhat tracked it through the years.
“I’m up into the ’60s now on who the rightful owner potentially is,” Schuchmann added. “I’m sure at the end of all this we’ll have a better understanding, but possibly will still need to hand this research off to a title company to have them do a complete and thorough search. But I feel like I have given them a road map to follow, given them a head start.”
Wright City Alderman Don Andrews, whose Ward 1 includes the crumbling road, predicts that a title search will reveal no current owner, and will instead show that the road has been essentially abandoned and unclaimed.
“Basically, in my opinion it’s a forgotten road,” Andrews commented.
That being the case, Andrews said he, Ward 1 Alderman Karey Owens, and several area residents approached the Warren County Commission in February to renew a previous proposal to split the cost of repaving Indian Head Lodge Road. The city has a recent cost estimate of about $64,000 to do the project, which Andrews suggested Wright City and Warren County would split evenly.
“I think it’s advantageous for both sides to agree to this. I think it’s the only fair way to do it, with this being a forgotten road,” Andrews said. “We just want them to partner with us. ... The bottom line is we all have residents there who use this road, and we need to take care of them and get this road addressed.”
After Indian Head Lodge Road has been repaved, Andrews said he will propose officially annexing the road into Wright City and taking over 100 percent of all future maintenance.
Warren County commissioners, for their part, have expressed hesitancy to spend money on a road that the county never accepted into its road network. The county already has a large number of rural roadways that need to be maintained, including many that have never been paved.
When Commissioners Joe Gildehaus and Matt Flake met with the Wright City aldermen and area residents in February, they said they would have County Attorney Mark Vincent review the proposal to split the cost of the road work, but would not have any further answer for several weeks.
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