WATERLOO — Rural residents packed the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to debate the future of a half-mile dirt road southeast of Waterloo.
Board members ultimately voted 3-2 to keep Weiden Road open from Rottinghaus Road south to the Flyers Airfield entrance near Washburn Road.
County Engineer Cathy Nicholas had supported closing the road, returning the land to adjacent property owners and taking it off the secondary roads maintenance list.
She was supported by many surrounding property owners and Sheriff Tony Thompson, who said the road attracted off-road vehicle “mudders” who caused damage and others engaged in illegal dumping.
But other neighbors said the road provides another route to their homes for emergency responders and another way out when the Cedar River floods.
Residents on both sides of the debate squeezed into the board room and sent staff scrambling to find more chairs to handle the crowd.
Dessie Rottinghaus, whose family farms in the area, was one of many who said the current road was a liability and was abused by motorists who disregarded surrounding properties.
“More than just closing the road is the liability of what goes on on that road — the garbage that is dumped that also includes drug paraphernalia,” she said.
Resident Roger Jorgenson said the road is impassable during wet weather.
“It’s not a road that’s actually needed for anything,” he said. “It’s a convenience for some people, but the way it’s treated and the way it’s used is a danger to many more people.”
Resident Joe Patava countered that the road serves as a last resort to escape flood waters should the gravel Golinvaux and Rottinghaus roads go under water. It could also be used by Gilbertville rescue if Golinvaux is closed.
“If safety is the main concern for closing it, I see that safety is a bigger concern for keeping it open especially for the people that live nearby,” he said.
Mary Kay Fischbach, whose family has lived in the area for more than 100 years, had a relative read her letter to the board as she stood nearby.
“They may think this road is a nuisance but they have not been around long enough to understand the importance of this little road,” the letter read.
Supervisors Craig White, Tom Little and Chris Schwartz voted to keep the road open while Supervisors Frank Magsamen and Linda Laylin supported closure.