A Creswell Township board member may have gone away unsatisfied, but township residents seemed well pleased after Cowley County commissioners this week decided to keep a rural road gated and maintained.

Township trustee Randy Marrs asked commissioners at their Tuesday meeting to remove the gate at the corner of 121st Road North and 266th Road East, or to make a minimum maintenance road for 121st Road North and 262nd Road West. 

The gate is about 8 miles east of Ark City, north of U.S. 166.

The township has continued to maintain the road since it was gated off in 1999. For example, Marrs said, two years ago the township put down 30 loads of gravel on the road. They also grade it annually.

Several township residents were on hand to protest both options being offered: Opening the gate or designating the road “minimum maintenance.” 

They said the road was gated originally to keep people from dumping trash in the area and vandalizing property there. The gate put a stop to those practices, said Phil Groves, who said he has property in the area and goes through the gate every day with a key provided by the township for those who live or have property there. 

Groves also mentioned the oil wells and transport trucks that use the road a number of times during the year. The people who own the wells pay taxes, he said, and deserve to have the road maintained so that it is passable when they need to use it. 

Others among the Creswell group — Mike Crain, D. Jean Tidwell, Elmo Crain and Kent Crain — agreed with Groves that the gate needs to stand, and the road needs to be maintained.

Commission chair Bob Voegele said the commission understood the township board’s desire to save money by making the road “minimum maintenance,” but the township residents asked what that meant. 

County administrator Lucas Goff read the statutory definition of the term, and the commissioners agreed that a township can make up its own definition of “minimum maintenance,” including doing nothing to a road.  

After discussing the problem, commissioners agreed in a 3-0 vote that the road should remain gated and the township should keep maintaining it. 

Voegele apologized to Marrs, saying he understood how little money the townships have to work with, but he thought the better decision was to maintain things as they are. 

He also said the township board can bring back the request at another time. Township members shared hugs and congratulations over the outcome of the meeting.

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