Editor’s note: This is an open letter to Mayor Randy Hope; Thomas Kelly, general manager of infrastructure and engineering; Coun. Michael Bondy; and Chris Lalonde.
Sir: In 1849, Alexander McKenzie was one of the labourers who laid the stonework on the Kent County Jail located on Gaol Street in Chatham. In 1873, Alexander McKenzie was elected the second Prime Minister of Canada.
I believe that it was sometime after 1873 that this beautiful street was renamed Stanley Avenue, one of two such avenues in the city of Chatham at that time, the other of course being Victoria Avenue.
In 1939, my mother and father, Marion Patricia and James Francis Comiskey, rented the house at 57 Stanley Ave., the home which I now own and have lived in for 30 years.
I have lived on or near Stanley Avenue for the better part of 70 years, since 1948 when they bought their first house at 25 Ellwood and where they raised their 10 children.
I have watched horse-drawn milk wagons and bread wagons pulled up and down these streets for years (Jackson’s Bakery, Kent Dairy, Glovers Dairy and Silverwood’s to name a few).
The horses disappeared and bread wagons and milk wagons turned into trucks, and with the advent of supermarkets the wagons and trucks disappeared, as did the companies that produced these goods.
For years, large trucks hauled bricks from Cornhill’s Brick Yard at the extreme east end of Stanley Avenue, and tons of sand and gravel from Adam’s Sand and Gravel were hauled up and down these streets also from the east end of Stanley Avenue near the river.
Many of the new homes in Kent County were built with these bricks and stones.
Many beautiful houses were erected here, which were the homes of doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, craftsmen, businessmen/women, nurses, secretaries, clerks, storeowners and many others who lived along this avenue.
School buses and city buses pounded their way past our homes, and all of these vehicles created many potholes as well as ruts. Most of the sewer covers and manhole covers have been beaten into submission too and are far below grade level.
Once there were even curbs up and down this street. Now they have been worn down or covered with layers of asphalt. It should also be mentioned that with any kind of heavy rain the sewers back up. They need to be attended to as well.
The reason for this letter is to respectfully request that you do something about the deplorable condition of our avenue, which over the years has all but wrecked many of our personal vehicles.
I personally have requested these conditions be rectified for at least 15 years.
Alexander McKenzie would roll over in his grave if he could see the condition of this avenue. And speaking of Alexander McKenzie, we have heard all kinds of rumours as to the possibility of selling the jail. I wonder if it makes it harder to sell when the road is in such a terrible condition.
The worst of these rumours is that this beautiful heritage building may soon be torn down.
I have spoken to most of my neighbours and they are of like mind with me and have asked to be added as signatories to this letter.