Red Dirt Roads: Part III

Columnist Lee Pitts would be in good company with some of the neighbors living off of Sunray Road in Leon County, which is currently a dirt road.

These Sunray Road residents will tell you dirt roads are the root of everything good.

"I don't want the road paved because I love how beautiful it is, that it's rural, it's dirt, it's old Florida. I would love to keep it that way," says Sherry Van Dyke.

Michael Miller also wants to preserve Sunray Road and adds, "The dirt roads we have and there aren't very many, are ancient. They've been here since before Leon County was a political entity.

But now Leon County is a political entity. The county and other taxpayers say dirt means dollars.

"All the years we've lived out here, we've ridden horses, four wheelers, we have so many memories on this dirt road. I want to bring my youngins back here to do the same thing," says Mary Elizabeth Posten, who also wants to preserve Sunray Road.

But Leon County says over the next year the road these neighbors live on will be paved. While some neighbors are happy with the new pavement, others are not.

"I don't want it and I've lived out here longer than most of them,” adds Sherry.

Mrs. Sherry Van Dyke and her neighbors say they moved here because of the history, like the graveyard, which pre-dates the Civil War.

"I have respect for people who've lived here for decades and want the road paved. Frankly, maybe they deserve that service. I've lived on Sunray a little over 15 years. I knew it was a dirt road when we came here. It was a way of life we liked. Your horses, pets and kids can play on it with out being in danger," Michael Miller says.

Mrs. Van Dyke says she understands that it's Leon County taxpayer money that helps to maintain Sunray, however, she also points out that as tax payers, the road maintenance is one of the few services Sunray Road residents receive from the county.

The county says they spend an average of $4,000 per mile to maintain a dirt road. The dirt roads are being paved with a special asphalt that costs about $2,000 to maintain per mile.