Archive for Wednesday, December 13, 2006

City plans to build Pleasant Street sidewalk

Superintendent praises plan for new sidewalk, prepares for move to new middle school

December 13, 2006

Tonganoxie City Council members agree sidewalks are needed on Pleasant Street, between downtown and Washington Street.

But they don't agree how much the city should contribute toward the project -- and how much Pleasant Street property owners should pay.

Regardless of how the finances work out, school Superintendent Richard Erickson is pleased the city wants to construct a sidewalk on a path that many students will take to the new middle school.

The new school, which the state fire marshal on Monday approved for occupancy, will open on Jan. 3.

Before that, though, school teachers and other staff members will participate in what likely is the biggest moving operation the community's seen.

Starting this Friday, a moving company will begin trekking classrooms full of materials to the new school. Fifth- and sixth-graders from the elementary school, along with seventh- and eighth-graders from the junior high will attend classes at the middle school. The plan is that everything will be moved and unpacked by noon next Wednesday.

"I've never been involved in a moving project this large," he said. "Really, our principals have been just wonderful because they have done most of the organization, working with the moving company and the teachers and the staff."

All Tonganoxie students will be out of school on Friday and won't return until Jan. 3. The district has bunched its teacher in-service training days together at the end of the first semester to provide time for the move.

"We've traded those teacher in-service days for moving days," Erickson said. "The students would have been out of class those days."

And while this move is a major project, Erickson is confident it can be accomplished in the allotted time.

"We really want to schedule this move in such a way so that the moving and unpacking is completed before teachers go on their Christmas break," he said. "We want them to enjoy their Christmas holiday."

And the superintendent praised the city for completing work on a new water line and a new water tower to serve the school -- as well as for considering the new sidewalk.

A crossing guard will be posted, he said, at the intersection of Pleasant and Washington streets.

At Monday's council meeting, City Administrator Mike Yanez proposed the city pay 10 percent of the sidewalk cost and assess Pleasant Street property owners for 90 percent. But council members balked at that idea.

"I feel the bulk, if not all, of the cost of this project should be done through an issue of financing, where the city at-large pays the bulk of the cost," said council member Velda Roberts.

Fellow council member Jim Truesdell agreed, saying, "If these people were asking for this sidewalk, that's one thing."

City officials hope to have the sidewalk constructed by next fall.

Council members asked the administrator to provide an updated cost estimate and a list of current property owners. An estimate prepared a year ago set the cost at about $200,000 for a five-foot sidewalk, along with a retaining wall between Eighth and Laughlin and other work associated with the sidewalk.

Council member Ron Cranor said he regrets the city didn't provide funds for the sidewalk in the 2007 budget.

"We should have had the foresight to say, we're going to do this, and bite the bullet and fund our part," he said.

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