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Lynn woman says her road’s poor condition has left her housebound

Debra Laub and her husband Milton stand at the edge of their driveway of Sylvia Street in Lynn. Debra is afraid to leave her driveway in her wheelchair because she says the road is unsafe and needs to be paved. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — Debra Laub is fed up. 

The 65-year-old has been trying to get her road paved for years, but has seen no improvements. Laub and her husband, Milton, live on the stretch of Sylvia Street that’s located on a steep hill off Euclid Avenue. 

“We don’t want to move, but it’s horrible,” Laub said. “We’re just asking to have our road done and make it safe. I just can’t understand why the city doesn’t care. It’s really sad.” 

She claims the condition of the road, which includes cracks, uneven pavement and bumps, has essentially left her housebound. Laub has had knee replacement surgeries, suffers from Cowden syndrome (a genetic disorder) and has been in a wheelchair for two years. She’s afraid to leave her driveway to cross the street because she doesn’t want to have an accident.

She’s been on this crusade for years, said 73-year-old Milton Laub, who is also partially disabled from knee replacement surgery. 

“It is frustrating,” said Milton. “Every year it gets worse and the city comes up with an excuse that they don’t have the money.” 

Laub said she’s tried contacting her ward councilor, Wayne Lozzi, the Department of Public Works and the mayor’s office for help. Last month, Laub said her husband received a letter from Lozzi, which was sent to The Item and read that the councilor requested the DPW resurface the road. She was later told the street was a low priority for the city. 

Lozzi said his secretary made a mistake when sending the letter. His request was to patch the road to fix potholes, but there was a miscommunication. He’s requested that it be resurfaced in the past, but it’s not easy to get a street paved in the city, he said, which is determined by a priority system managed by the DPW, rather than complaints from residents. 

“I would like to see as many streets paved in Ward 1 as we can possibly get,” Lozzi said. “However, there is a budget that the DPW has to work with. If I give them a dozen streets, they would have to then determine the various factors that would decide the priority of a road.” 

DPW Commissioner Andrew Hall said he’s done his best to accommodate Laub, but he has to abide by the city’s pavement management system to determine how funding is allocated each year for road repair. 

“We assess the condition of the road and then we fix what resources allow,” Hall said. “In her particular case, it’s not a heavily traveled road so it regretfully gets a low priority. If there are imminent safety issues like potholes, that we can address.” 

The city gets about $1.5 million annually in Chapter 90 funds and this year’s priority project is resurfacing Boston Street, which is also in poor condition. In contrast, Hall said that street is a main road and much more heavily traveled. Laub lives on a stretch of roadway that is on a dead end. 

“You have to base this on data. You can’t do it (based on the) squeaky wheel,” Hall said. “This isn’t to say Sylvia Street isn’t beat up. It is, but in the priority system, other streets take precedent. It will get addressed eventually, but just not this year.” 

But Laub isn’t convinced that her street should be so low on the list. 

“I’m sure we’re not the only street like this in the city,” Laub said. “I don’t think we should be considered a low priority.”

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