I drive on Heber Road every day, as well as other parents, to get to school. The Heber Public Utilities Department is working constantly digging up plumbing and drains in that old, broken, potholed street. When they are done they leave the big potholes and nothing gets covered up or repaved. The houses on that street are filled with dirt outside and the city has never even put in sidewalks or made the street appropriate for walking or driving. My tires are taking a toll. I called Heber Public Utilities and they keep saying every year it will get fixed in July. I’m very tired of hearing the same story every year. Where is the money that we pay in our taxes going? This street looks like a Mexicali street with dirt all over and potholes everywhere. They just put dirt and gravel once in a while and then the holes are back. I invite you to come to Heber Road in Heber and take pictures to ask where are the county funds going when this street is damaging everyone’s tires. — Resident, Heber
There looks to be some misplaced anger here, so we spoke with both the Heber Public Utility District and the county of Imperial to get to the heart of this.
Heber is not a city, as most people know. It’s an unincorporated community of Imperial County, so pretty much everything, from roads to law enforcement, to development in general, is under the jurisdiction and funding of the county.
That said, Heber does have a special district to administer water and sewer, the Heber Public Utility District. That’s all the district does, but over the years, Heber residents have treated the board as if it is a city council, which it isn’t and does not have that power.
Tax dollars, as in property taxes or sales taxes, coming from Heber residents is going to the county of Imperial. Fees for sewer, water and trash go to the district.
John Jordan, general manager of the HPUD, agrees that streets in Heber can be in pretty bad shape, but he said that is the county’s responsibility.
For their part, though, the district is doing work along Heber Avenue to bury water lines deeper into the ground in preparation for a paving project by the county that will provide curbs, gutters and sidewalks near the school.
Jordan said the water and sewer lines will only be 6 inches from the surface once the county rips down the streets to rebuild a base for new streets. Rather than have to rip up a new street, HPUD is doing the work now.
Jordan said any holes the district has made in working on the lines always get covered, so the statement in the letter is not true, he said.
As for the paving project, county Public Works Director Bill Brunet said a Safe Routes to Schools grant meant to build out Heber Avenue is about a year and one-half old, and the county just got another extension, so the HPUD and also the Southern California Gas Co. could work to further bury their lines.
The street work will eventually get done, but probably won’t start for another four months. Brunet said Thursday that the project hasn’t even gone to the Board of Supervisors yet for approval or sending out for construction bids.
In short, the letter writer’s frustration is aimed at HPUD, but it probably should be directed at the county.
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