Sunday, October 22, 2006

Free Lawn Care!

Check out this report from Connecticut by TONY SPINELLI.

Mishap leaves woman with free lawn care

Easton resident Dolly Curtis stands in front of her home holding a bill for over $500 that she received when her lawn was aerated by mistake. Curtis says that she is always receiving deliveries that were meant to go to another neighboring street and that she is happy about the most recent mistake as her lawn was aerated for free.

EASTON — Flat Rock Road resident Dolly Curtis woke up one morning last week to find hundreds of holes in her lawn, as if some mischievous gophers had dug in for a wild party.

But the holes weren't the work of rodents burrowing through her yard — they were ground-aeration holes, courtesy of a local lawn care company.

Some of the holes were big enough to poke a golf ball through, so that's just what Curtis did.

And she got a kick out of it.

"It looked like a bunch of moles had a fraternity party on my lawn," said Curtis, who was amused by the service despite not having ordered it.

The lawn service was meant for a home with the same street number as Curtis, but on Flat Rock Drive just around the block, a neighbouring street with a similar name.

And its not the first time the road/drive confusion has led to mix-ups, she said.

The lawn-service company, Smith's Lawn Specialist of Fairfield, which could not be reached for comment, did not insist Curtis pay the bill of $583 for doing work at the wrong address.

"This happens all the time. Once I woke up and found a portable toilet sitting on my lawn. I called my neighbor around the block who it was meant for and said, 'Hey, I'm sitting on your portable toilet and I'm reading your mail,' " she said jokingly.

She's even had her chimney flashed for free.

Curtis takes the holes in her lawn in stride.

"Hey, I'm going to have a better, nicer lawn now," said Curtis, the host of the cable access television show, "Dolly Curtis Interviews."

The same kind of misplaced deliveries also have happened to Lori Cocco, who lives across the street.

Cocco has received more misplaced deliveries than she can count.

Once, she got her piano tuned — for free.

"It doesn't bother me, but I don't think the people it was meant for were very happy," said Cocco, adding that what made the piano tuning unusual was that her keyboard was already in perfect tune and did not need adjustments.

The similarities between the names and numbers on Flat Rock Road and Flat Rock Drive may be confusing enough to trip up a delivery person, but they don't fool local police.

Emergency workers in town, such as the police, are familiar with the street-name mix-ups, and always double-check on calls to be certain which street they must visit, said Police Chief John Solomon.

Solomon said he has asked town officials not to designate new streets with names that are similar to names of existing streets to avoid further troubles.

Other streets in town also share similar names, such as Sport Hill Road and Sport Hill Parkway, said police Sgt. Will Spencer, as well as High Ridge Drive and High Ridge Place.

"It doesn't interfere with our work because we know about the street names," Spencer said.

"We've rejected street names three or four times because they were not dissimilar to other names," said Ed Nagy, the public works director.

Flat Rock Road is an old road, and Flat Rock Drive is newer, said First Selectman William Kupinse.

"It does tend to create confusion, and in modern times towns try to avoid that confusion. This problem may go back more than 25 years," Kupinse said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission and the town's assessor have authority over street names and numbers, respectively, he said.

Meanwhile, Curtis remains amused by the confusion.

"I was seriously considering keeping that portable toilet," she said with a laugh.

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