Private Alleyway Renovations Create Conflict Among Neighbors
Residents in dispute over $154,000 sewer line repair.
Private alleyways were the topic of conversation at yet another neighborhood association meeting this week, as members of the Ellis neighborhood group discussed an ongoing issue in a nearby passageway.
According to Ellis Neighborhood Association member Paul Duffy, 14 housing units along Gray and Appleton streets are in dispute over a $154,000 bill for the renovation of sewer lines abutting their properties.
The lines, which date back to 1886, are in dire need of replacement, Duffy said. Already there have been two backups into basement units of buildings lining the alleyway.
The sewer lines' location along a private passageway leave it up to individual property owners to pay for their upkeep and renovation, Duffy said. The City of Boston takes no responsibility for maintenance along private alleyways, which are deeded to abutting homeowners.
Over the years, conflicting opinions over how to handle private alleyways have caused drama in many South End neighborhoods. Most recently, a controversial gate at the entrance to the Milford/Hanson Street alleyway sparked several debates among Eight Streets Neighborhood Association members over how to prevent illicit activity in private alleyways without creating a fire hazard for residents.
On Wednesday, Duffy suggested that Ellis Neighborhood residents have a look in their basements to see where their pipes lead and if, in fact, they are public or private. The Gray/Appleton Street dilemma has already involved city departments and forced residents to hire landscape architects, engineers and lawyers, he said.
"We are more than happy to share our findings with others facing the same issue, as it was an expensive problem," said Duffy. "We had to get the health department involved because people didn't want to pay."