The El Dorado City Commission voted to table a decision regarding the plan to improve roads in town after residents in the area that would be affected posed several questions that could not be fully answered during the public hearing portion of the meeting.
The Commission is considering a plan to improve Marmaton Road, including new paving on the streets and curbs and a process that will widen the streets themselves. The improvements are necessary to bring the streets up to the city’s standards.
A large group of citizens spoke out not to object to the plan, but mainly to get some clarity on the details of the plan, which includes neighboring streets, such as North Diagonal Road. The Commission clarified that there will be a second project on 2nd Street, as well, but finances become a concern with multiple projects. Some citizens will be affected by both and possibly a third project in the near future, but the Commission said that citizens only can be taxed for specials on up two streets at a time. One citizen was concerned about getting taxed for back-to-back projects, though.
The cost of the project would be divided equally by the square footage of each property.
The biggest issue during the hearing, though, was that a few people, including the City Engineer, were unable to attend the meeting this week, which left a lot of questions unanswered. Commissioners Chase Locke and Kendra Wilkinson both felt that the citizens should have more answers. The vote will occur at the next City Commission meeting on Oct. 16.
Other streets that are a part of the District Improvement Plan include 3rd, 5th and Simpson, as well as a few others near Central.
The citizens brought up several causes for concern:
One citizen raised questions about the drainage issues that could arise if paving is done close to driveways. Also, the widening of the streets could prove difficult on the locations of water meters.
Another citizen stated the process would put “undue stress on several property owners.”
Another concern was regarding whether the street would get torn up in front of their house to the point that residents are unable to get to their garages from the driveways. This also could affect mail carriers.
“They may actually have to walk the route,” Commissioner Nick Badwey said.
Badwey mentioned a few benefits for the project, including one that, if streets are brought up to city standards, would make clearing of snow easier and better. It’s possible that property values could go up after the projects are completed.
Several citizens agreed. Some voiced that the project was long overdue.
Should the project move forward, Mayor Vince Haines anticipated it would start around the time the school year ended next May and hopefully would be completed during the summer before the following school year started. That would alleviate the issue of how kids would get to and from school either coming off of buses or walking.
After all the projects are completed, the property owners would have the option to either pay the fees all at once to avoid interest, or pay the cost and interest fees over a 20-year period.
While there would be a definitive timeline of the project should it move forward, one citizen was concerned about the City’s ability to complete it with timeliness. He claimed the City had similar projects in the past that were not followed through on. He also encouraged the City to make sure the work was done properly, with a high quality.
Should the Commission approve the motion to put the plan into motion at the next meeting, the residents would have 20 business days to get a petition put together if they were unhappy with the results. The petition would require 51 percent vote against the motion. City Manager David Dillner, though, said it’s possible to set up a workshop open to the public in the near future if necessary to give the City plenty of chances to hear any concerns, as well as the citizens a chance to further learn about the details of the plan. This idea was not set in stone at the time of the meeting.
Check Saturday’s Times-Gazette for more from the City Commission meeting.