Main Street options debated
Options regarding whether or not to allow parking in the residential areas, and costs of different choices were discussed.
A number of residents attended the public hearing that was held during the council meeting, and many were surprised more residents didn't show up. Some said the public hearing wasn't announced in the media, and that the city didn't notify residents of the meeting.
City officials claim to have sent notices to the media, but allege that such notices were not printed. City Administrator Lisa Kuss also said letters were sent to all residents of N. Main Street prior to the meeting.
The meeting agenda included an option for the council to vote on proceeding with either a two-lane road with no parking or a two-lane road with parking.
Resident Arlo Dumke said the letter delivered by the city did not mention the possibility of a vote taking place that evening.
Alderperson Joe Lamia echoed his sentiments, noting that the letter didn't expressly state that a vote could take place at the meeting.
Kuss gave a presentation outlining the changes that will take place when the road is reconstructed. She noted that since it is a state-owned roadway, state transportation guidelines must be followed. One caveat is that all new roadways must be wide enough to accommodate bike traffic.
Because of these guidelines, the reconstructed road will be wider from curb to curb, but parking will not be allowed unless additional right of way is purchased. If parking is allowed, the road and right of way would need to be widened even further, requiring the purchase of 5 feet of land from landowners.
Because of the state's restrictions, reconstructing the road as a two-lane highway (as it is currently) would require the roadway to be widened by 3 feet (1.5 feet on each side) from curb to curb, and no parking would be allowed.
Another option would be to make the roadway wide enough to accommodate parking. In order to do so, five feet of land would be purchased from each landowner. This would cost the city over $500,000 more than the original $1.8 million project cost to reconstruct water and sewer infrastructure, along with repaving the road. Kuss stated that some of the water and sewer infrastructure under N. Main Street dates back to 1918.
Both options would have an impact on the trees on N. Main Street. Any tree currently between the curb and the sidewalk will come down once the project begins, and other trees on private property may sustain root damage. If the right of way is widened to allow for parking, more trees would be eliminated after five feet of property was purchased from homeowners on N. Main Street to accommodate the wider road.
Concerned citizens were joined by representatives from the Department of Transportation at the meeting. DOT officials did their best to answer questions from residents, but couldn't give any definitive answers regarding variance in the road's current width at various points from 13th street to Hwy. 156.
"Main Street gets narrower by Angelus and Christus on the east side," Dumke said. "On the west side, it's the same all the way along. Is this being considered? Can we arrange to have parking on one side of Main Street and not both, or do we have to have parking on both sides or not at all?"
DOT officials couldn't explain the disparity. They also had little insight to offer on the possibility of having parking on only one side of the road, stating that it is an option that has been considered primarily from a financial perspective.
Other concerned residents, like Glen Jaecks, Dan Miller, Peggi Strehlow, Rich Beggs, Vernon Beall, Gloria Dunlavy and Dan Mitchell also spoke, voicing their opinions regarding the project. The majority of those who spoke were against seeing the road turned into a four-lane highway, though that option was not part of any proposal being presented by the city.
"Can the state guarantee that there won't be four lanes if we give up parking on N. Main Street?" asked Mitchell.
DOT officials responded by saying that the road is not being built for four lanes, asserting that a traffic study showed that the amount of traffic does not justify having four lanes of traffic.
Kuss stated that the staff and Finance Committees recommendation to the council was to approve the project plans for reconstruction that do not allow parking on N. Main Street.
Most citizens at the meeting felt that the public needed more of an opportunity to voice their opinion on the matter before the council voted. City and state officials responded by saying that they needed to move forward with the project as soon as possible.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015.
After a lengthy discussion, the council chose not to vote and scheduled another public hearing to be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 5 at the Community Center for all residents to learn more and share their opinions.
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