A Coventry man spent his own time and money to fill in potholes along Center of New England Boulevard.
Seth Kerstetter, who works in construction, moved from Pennsylvania to Rhode Island about three years ago. He said he’s heard lots of people complaining about potholes, so he decided to do something about it.
Hundreds drive on the boulevard daily. That was the case for Kerstetter on Sunday.
“I drove past it and I was like, ‘You know what? I’m just going to do it,’” Kerstetter told NBC 10 News.
Many drivers told NBC 10 they agree with Kerstetter.
“I mean, just look at the road,” one motorist said. “There’s patches absolutely everywhere.”
The dead-end boulevard runs through some shopping centers and apartment units.
Kerstetter was at Home Depot off the boulevard when he decided to purchase supplies and fix some of the most problematic potholes. Recently, he’s heard stories about them damaging people’s cars.
“You know, everybody has their story, so I decided -- I know I have a little extra money, so why not try and help everyone?” Kerstetter said.
For nearly two hours, he blocked traffic, put out traffic cones, and filled in the potholes. He read how-to directions just to be safe.
“It definitely needed love, whether it was from me or whoever owns it,” he said.
Center of New England Boulevard is not owned by the town or the state. It’s owned privately.
The road is now in receivership and under the care of attorney Matthew McGowan.
After the segment about Kerstetter aired on NBC 10, McGowan issued the following statement:
The main roadway, Centre of New England Boulevard, and other roadways at the Centre of New England mixed-use development, are all privately owned. They are not owned, controlled, or maintained by the State or any of the three towns in which that development is located. Those roadways have only a binder coat of asphalt—no finished coat. A finished coat of asphalt should have been installed more than a decade ago, but never was because the developer ran out of money. Since the roadways were never finished, they are particularly susceptible to potholes. Potholes are monitored daily, and filled.
Neither the State nor any of the three towns in which the Centre of New England (“CNE”) is located will pay to finish or improve its roadways. At the time CNE was being developed, none of those towns required the developer to post a bond that may have ensured the completion of the roadways. Due to the insolvency of the developer, I was appointed as Receiver of various properties at the development several years ago. As Receiver, I have twice prepared and filed papers in the Rhode Island Superior Court in the receivership proceedings to impose fairly calculated special assessments on the existing owners at that development, as the only feasible way through which to raise the money needed to finish or reconstruct the roadways. Engineering plans have been done and cost estimates obtained for the required roadway reconstruction work.
To date, however, those proposals and papers have been strenuously objected to by virtually every owner at CNE and their attorneys. There is also extensive ongoing litigation with an unpaid (but allegedly usurious) lender who has asserted a mortgage on the roadways, which has hindered the ability to fully rectify the roadway problems.
Recently, however, because of a greater appreciation by at least one large owner at CNE of the increasingly acute need to address its roadways, and a possibility of now raising money for roadway reconstruction through favorable bond financing, that owner has indicated an openness to such assessments; and that option is now being actively pursued with the hope that other CNE owners will similarly be open to this proposal as a fair means of finally finishing and reconstructing CNE’s roadways.
Meanwhile, hired crews were seen filling in some of the problem areas on Monday.
While fixing potholes independently isn’t necessarily legal, it’s a chance Kersetter said he’s willing to take. He said several people have reached out to him, especially on social media.
“It’s definitely humbling to see that it’s helped a lot of people,” he said.