In an 11 Call for Action investigation, did the city streets department favor the boss' neighborhood when they made their list? You decide.
Only 33 streets in Colorado Springs were slated to be repaved this summer. Nine of the 33 are all in one neighborhood. It's the neighborhood where the city streets manager lives.
The neighborhood near UCCS is like many others in Colorado Springs: some of the streets need work.
That neighborhood however, isn't just any neighborhood. The head of the city's streets division lives there. All the streets in that neighborhood, including his street, are on this summer's list to be repaved.
"When I saw the primary list, that was the first question I asked. They did not know that I live there," Colorado Springs city streets manager Corey Farkas said.
Farkas told us he didn't come up with the list. He said employees in his department did, based in part on a new strategy to target whole neighborhoods.
Chin: “Were you afraid of how that might come across or how it may look?”
Farkas: “Initially that thought always crosses your mind, but when I asked Jack about the philosophy and why my street was on there, the philosophy was to pick it entire neighborhood.”
He said the whole neighborhood strategy was used along with the city’s rating system that gives each street a number based on how bad it is. If a street gets a 6.9 or lower, it's a candidate for repaving.
It turns out, most of the streets in Farkas' neighborhood did not score that low in the city's latest evaluation four years ago. Some of them even got eights and nines.
When 11 Call for Action started asking questions, the list changed. Four of the streets in his neighborhood, including his own, got dropped.
"Those ones were dropped for budget constraints to stay within our budget for resurfacing and are overly, and will have to try to pick those up at another time," Farkas said.
Those streets, as he said, will have to wait. Along with others in nearby neighborhoods that were never on the list.
Just a few miles away, near Austin Bluffs and Academy, I found a cluster of streets in bad shape. In that neighborhood, most of them scored a six or lower.
All of them candidates for repaving. None of them on the list.
"Oh his is going to be repaved? I would say, 'Why not mine?'" resident Tom Rochelle said.
"How would you like to know if the city streets manager’s entire neighborhood was on the list for his streets to be repaved? And this is not, that'd be pretty (expletive). Sorry," resident George Preller added.
We asked for an interview with Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, but instead they gave us Steve Cox, the mayor's chief of staff.
"I'm not concerned that Corey (Farkas) would put his own street ahead of others inappropriately," Cox said.
He told us it wasn't until we asked for the interview that he found out Farkas' neighborhood was even on the list. And the city is standing by it.
Cox: “The fact that we have a city employee whose street ended up on the list to be maintained or overlaid, I'm not too concerned with that.
Chin: “But it's the head of the department, not just an employee."
We talked with other city staffers and they are all defending the street department’s decision.
It's going to cost nearly $360,000 to repave Farkas' streets out of a $3 million budget for the entire city.
We’re told the repaving of the city streets that are still on the list will start in July.
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