'Paying it forward': Waterford man goes on pothole patrol, patches neighborhood road

Posted at 11:29 PM, Jan 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-12 09:28:04-05

WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — A Waterford Township man is taking Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's campaign slogan "fix the damn roads" quite literally.

He's been patching potholes in his neighborhood on Old Orchard Drive for about two years.

Deontae Williams would consider himself to be a jack of all trades. He landscapes to make a living and he paves roads to ease living for others.

Williams began his good Samaritan work a year after he moved to the neighborhood and realized his street wasn't on the county's priority list.

He and other neighbors grew tired of dodging gaping potholes left and right.

"I told my wife we need to give back. That's how I was raised," Williams said. "So, we made a conscious decision to invest some money into our streets."

Williams and his wife use money out of their own pocket to do this.

"Someone from the county (road commission) who I know drove by and said, 'Good job. Less work we have to do,'" Williams said with a laugh.

7 Action News went straight to the source and asked Craig Bryson with the Road Commission for Oakland County what he thought about it.

"We ask that they please don't try to patch them theirselves," Bryson said. "We don't want anybody in harm's way out working in a roadway."

He says county crews have flashing lights and other tools to prevent injury or accidents.

Bryson says RCOC will do patchwork, but high-traffic areas are a priority.

The long-term solution is to resurface the road through what's called a Special Assessment District.

"Right now, Waterford Township actually has a fantastic program where the township is chipping in if a community or neighborhood wants to get together and initiate a Special Assessment District Pavement Program," Bryson said.

It would require Williams to designate an area of the road he wants to be resurfaced. In this case, it's the entire street. Then he'd have to get 51% of property owners on board to foot the bill either through higher taxes or a payment plan.

"With us having a majority of the elderly here on a fixed income, that's kind of a challenge," Bryson said.

He says many of his neighbors already own their homes and are retired.

The county says they don't have the funding to resurface neighborhood roads, which is why the Special Assessment District was created.

Williams says that's why he had to act, and neighbors are grateful he did.

"I told them it's an honor. I actually have good relationships with our neighbors, so it really makes me humble to be able to give back and I feel like I am paying it forward," Williams said.

To learn more about the Special Assessment District program, visit the road commission's website.