Archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2006

City on target to fill new water tower

Dispute over water line threatened to hold up school opening; new route found for line

August 30, 2006

In the next few weeks, work should start on a water line project that will feed the city's new water tower.

The water tower, which was constructed this summer near the new Tonganoxie Middle School, must be operational before students can move into the new school in January.

For several months, city officials and residents along East Fourth Street have discussed a route for the new water line. Plans had called for the line to be installed on the north side of Fourth Street, from the city water treatment plant west to an eight-inch line near the fire station.

As part of the water line project, the city also wanted to widen Fourth Street, install a sidewalk and move utilities. The project would have required 15 feet of land from property owners on the north side of Fourth Street.

The property owners told city officials that they didn't want the sidewalk on their side of the street and that the city wanted to take far too much of the residents' front yards.

But last week, city council members unanimously approved a different route for the water line.

The 12-inch water line now will head south of the water treatment plant to the city sewage treatment plant, where

it will turn west and follow a cross-country route to East Street. There, it will connect to an existing eight-inch water line.

The cross-country route requires acquisition of easements from only two property owners. And neither wants any compensation.

At about $120,500, it will cost nearly $40,000 less than the Fourth Street route.

City Superintendent Butch Rodgers said council member Ron Cranor was responsible for spurring city employees to find the alternative route.

"The credit goes to Mr. Ron Cranor for having some vision," Rodgers told council members last week, adding that city workers are referring to the new line as Cranor's Crossing.

On Monday, Rodgers said he was working to obtain bids on materials for the project. He anticipates shipments will arrive in Tonganoxie in the next few weeks, which will coincide with the harvest of corn that is planted in the fields the line will be built through.

"Hopefully, with weather conditions, we're going to start on it as soon as we can get started," he said.

City attorney Mike Kelly will write an agreement between the city and the two property owners.

"We need to move on it fast so we can get the water up to the school," Mayor Dave Taylor said.

Even though this water line project soon will be under way, the East Fourth Street widening and new water line project no longer is on the fast track.

But it does remain on the city's construction calendar for next year.

Last week, City Administrator Mike Yanez proposed that in two months the city engineer return to the council with a plan that would address all of the residents' concerns, including moving the sidewalk and overhead utilities to the south side of the street.

"I'd like to see a scenario with the sidewalks and the power poles on the south side," city council member Jim Truesdell said.

City council member Velda Roberts and city engineer Brian Kingsley said that moving the sidewalk to the south side would deviate from the city standards.

They cautioned residents that it's possible a city council in the future could require a sidewalk on the north side of the street.

"We could have somebody decide, for safety reasons, that we need a sidewalk on the north side," Roberts said.

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