Onion Road culvert

A culvert at Onion Road in Killeen is seen Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018.

After nearly 100 emails, a dispute over road and culvert conditions at Killeen’s Onion and Loop roads seems to be at a stalemate.

Ann and Russ Coburn, who had been considering legal action, contacted the Herald last week and said they felt it would be too expensive to pursue that avenue.

“I have more important things that need my attention at this time,” Coburn wrote.

The Coburns had told the city in emails that the road had a scrape so high it was damaging the bottoms of vehicles, and the culverts were filled with dirt, cement and large rocks, which made it difficult for him to mow.

The Coburns say in the emails they are over 70 years old.

The Coburns said some work has been done recently to clear culverts and ditches, but they said the city will not repair damage to their driveways they say was caused by city equipment.

The parties in the conversation are the city employees in charge of road maintenance and property owners in south Killeen, near Stagecoach Road’s southernmost dip.

A serious complaint

Culverts and maintenance are the issues, and after an examination of a series of emails obtained by the Herald, a pattern of what was at first an amicable conversation became a serious complaint by the Coburns and their neighbor, retired Col. Clifford D. Clay, to the city over the problems with the roads and alleged property damage.

The area is within Councilman Jim Kilpatrick’s district. He told the Herald he had no comment on the issue.

Clay did not respond to calls for comment.

Hilary Shine, Killeen’s executive director of communications, said the city’s work was part of a major 2015 road project involving speed limits and road crossings.

“It’s a pretty rural area,” Shine said.

She said there were complaints from property owners.

“They’re claiming that their property was damaged,” she said.

Shine said a claim had been rejected by the insurance arm of the Texas Municipal League. Most cities and counties in Texas are members of the League and enjoy its services, including approving or denying insurance claims.

At one point in the emails, Russ Coburn said he was not informed by city officials that a claim form was required. He said he felt that his 95 emails and personal calls should have been enough to alert city officials.

“I wanted to point out that here on Onion Road just below me the center of the lane has rose to the point that cars are dragging on it. I have to go out of my house up to Stagecoach and down W.S. Young so I won’t scrape the bottom of the vehicle on that section of Onion Road,” Coburn wrote.

Director of Street Services John P. Koestner replied to the email: “I will assign a work order for this to be repaired.”

He added, “This may be a few weeks as the team who does this is rebuilding a street in west Killeen.”

The residents also claimed two of their driveways on Loop Road were damaged, with large cracks being caused by a backhoe used in the 2015 road project.

The emails grow consistently more tense and continue through August. Coburn stated in early November that he was sending his last email on the subject.

“I received a call from someone representing the city’s insurance and was told I missed filing a claim within the required time frame. The emails back in 2015 did not count as I needed to file a FORM?” Coburn wrote.

Clay wrote on Aug. 2: “The Coburns personally talked with everyone involved and exchanged an extensive number of emails. That was sufficient for the City to file a claim with their insurance company.”

The insurance company notified the Coburns on Aug. 1 that it was denying the claim and said the Coburns missed the deadline.

“But they are not going to fix two broken driveways as ‘I was untimely’ in filing a claim,” Coburn wrote. “Although I started emailing and talking to them back in 2015 and no one ever told me to fill out a form for a claim. They just said they would take care of it as they have always done in the past.”

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