Pete Cabrelli said he was frustrated that DeKalb County had not patched a nasty pothole that has been made for rough driving in his Brookhaven neighborhood for a year. The county never responded to a complaint from his wife about the problem, Cabrelli said.
So Friday afternoon, he backed up his 1987 El Camino to the offending pockmark on Stratfield Drive and grabbed a shovel and two bags of asphalt mix he bought at a home improvement store. It took him about 10 minutes, in front of the media and neighbors, to fill the hole.
"It's really simple: I've had it," Cabrelli said, his red tie tucked into his dress shirt as he started work. "I am just tired of DeKalb giving us the short shrift."
On hand for the stunt were members of Brookhaven Yes, the group advocating the area incorporate as a city in a July 31 vote. Cabrelli, who sells restaurant equipment, said he was for incorporation but that he had no involvement with the group.
Showing up after Cabrelli filled a second smaller pothole and the crowd dissipated was a county road crew. Media inquiries had alerted the county to the problem and a spokesman said there was no record of the potholes being reported previously.
The six-member crew removed the material that Cabrelli had put in place and refilled the holes. The crew also ventured into the subdivision, filling other problem spots.
"Patching potholes is one of the easiest things we can do, but we have to be notified or notice them," said county spokesman Burke Brennan, noting the county has 2,600 miles of roads.
It was unclear Friday if the back-and-forth will continue. By failing to secure a county permit for his work, Cabrelli's efforts were technically illegal under county code. Those permits signal county inspectors to check on repair work and to make sure the right materials are used in the right way, Brennan said.
Cabrelli, though, was unrepentant.
"It's a lot easier to ask for absolution than approval," he said. "All I'm trying to do is keep the neighborhood decent."
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