Many of the residents were in favor of the project and wished the rest of Towanda could be included
The El Dorado City Commission took the next step in the process of repaving a portion of Towanda Avenue Monday evening, bringing several area residents to the meeting for the public hearing.
The residents had received a letter stating their estimated assessment for the project with an amount not to be exceeded. In addition, Assistant City Engineer Scott Rickard had a meeting with some of the residents from the improvement district last week to go over the information and answer questions.
One question Mayor Mike Fagg said he had been asked was on the engineering cost and why it was so much since they have an engineering department in the city.
City Manager Herb Llewellyn said the city's engineering does the preliminary design work, but they are unable to hire a professional engineer who is licensed through the state, which is required to do bridge and road work.
The mayor next opened the public hearing.
Many of the residents were in favor of the project and wished the rest of Towanda could be included.
Ben Carr was the first to address the commission.
"I understand why they're picking this four-block section, but this is kind of a bandage for a bigger problem," he said. "I know costs are just going up and up and up. If we could get the rest of Towanda to Haverhill lumped in with this and get it all knocked out at once, I think it would be better off than just doing a four-block section here."
Fagg explained when they go west of the bridge cost is a factor.
"I think the whole commission is committed to make something happen to all of Towanda, but it probably won't be curb and gutter," he said. "That part will be more like a Township standard.”
"I think everyone would love it curb and guttered to Haverhill," Llewellyn added.
But he said Fagg was right and since it is not all in the city, there are the laws of Kansas by which they have to abide.
"I agree," Commissioner Bill Young said. "I think everyone in town would love to see Towanda curb and guttered all the way out to Haverhill. There is a lot of money involved right now. Today this is really all that we have."
Carr asked if they could just fix what the problem is there, saying it appeared the base was worn out.
"From Haverhill to Frederick Drive is the worst part of Towanda," he said. "Improve it some way. I'd be all for that."
Young questioned if they didn't build a good enough street on west how quickly that would break down.
Llewellyn said they had started talking about the additional improvements internally with staff.
He said they recommend cutting out the sections of of the base that have failed and replacing that.
Commissioner David Chapin also voiced his opinion.
"I know for seven years this project is something I have dealt with," he said. "I have watched it get real close and get thrown in the trash can. This is the closest we've been to actually finding a solution to the problem and getting that road fixed. Hopefully in the next few months we will get an answer."
Fagg told the residents he knew it was a lot of money for them, but this was the policy they used on all of the streets, so it was hard to say they were going to do something different.
The policy states every homeowner pays for the residential part of two streets, as well as any driveways onto their property. The extra width on this street to make it a collector street will be paid by the city at large.
The next resident to speak was Daryl Scarcity. He too thought something needed to be done from the bridge to Haverhill. He also was concerned about the number of college kids he sees walking along the street and he said a lot of times they have to stay right in the road because there is no place to walk.
Resident Jane Cross asked about the timeline until they finish the rest of Towanda.
"How long should we wait and why can't it all be done at one time?" she asked.
Llewellyn said as soon as the 20 days residents have to protest the project is up they will start the process of designing the four blocks and be right back at the commission talking about the next piece. He said if they do a four-inch overlay on the rest he would be surprised it if wasn't all one contract.
Larry Winzer had other concerns.
"The street is deplorable," he said. "I'm willing to pay my share if everyone else does."
One of his questions was about the drainage problem in the area.
He also was concerned about some of the land that joins up at the street that is in the township.
"What I would like to know is who is paying for the curb and gutter and street past that," he said. "The next thing is if those places are subject to have an entrance drive who pays for that?"
He also was concerned about how much costs had escalated from four years ago, saying his portion had gone up $961.
Rickard addressed his concerns on drainage saying their number one priority is to protect property. He said they would try to insure the water flow is maintained within the curb line in the street.
As to the property in the township he said there was one that zigzags around this improvement district line and they were unable to assess the owner because he was in the township. As for a driveway and curb cut, Rickard said unless there was some sort of payment for the road and absolutely payment for cost of the driveway there wouldn't be access granted off of Towanda.
The next citizen to speak was Karla Knight, who owns property in the area that also is in the flood plain. She was concerned with the increased cost for the specials with her already increasing flood insurance.
Rickard said it would not have an affect on the boundary of the flood plain, but they are beginning to work with FEMA on that area, asking them to come and take another look at it now that they have done some drainage improvements.
Ken Cross was also concerned with the cost. His concern was the benefit district was paying a larger percentage of the project than the city at large and he believed the city at large would use the street more than the area residents.
"The math to me doesn't work that the benefit district should be paying a larger percent than the city at large," he said. "I just wonder why that is. The way it is now I do not support it. If you could put this all together in one package I would be much more supportive of it. I think the benefit district is getting kind of railroaded on that based on the percentages."
Rickard said all of the benefit districts have been created equally and equally pay for what a residential street would have cost them.
With no one else wanting to speak, Fagg closed the public hearing.
The commission then voted 5-0 to approve the resolution proceeding with the project.
With the approval, Rickard asked anyone considering to protest to call his office and he would get them the protest petition to take around. In order to protest out they need to have more than 50 percent of the resident owners and 50 percent of the land in the improvement district.
The protest period will last 20 days, then they will start design on the project. That will go out for bid and when bids are received that will come back to the commission for approval. They anticipate construction in 2015, and after that is completed the notice of assessments will be sent out to the property owners, for which they also will have a hearing. The specials will be spread over 20 years.