Archive for Wednesday, June 28, 2006

4th Street sidewalk debate continues

Residents at odds over need, location

June 28, 2006

The heated debate about how to renovate Fourth Street between the Tonganoxie Creek bridge and the South Park subdivision warmed up Monday.

For the second consecutive city council meeting, residents who live along Fourth Street voiced strong disapproval of renovations to the street. The renovations would include tearing into property on the street's north side and endangering many mature trees along that stretch, residents say.

But at Monday's meeting, residents who favor the proposed renovation, which would include a sidewalk, voiced their approval.

"We want to say that there are some of us who do want this sidewalk," said Paige Jefferies, who lives at 1611 E. Fourth St.

Jefferies said the street is dangerous for children walking to school from South Park.

"It is not exactly safe," Jefferies said. "We did our best and it finally got to the point where it wasn't worth the risk. I finally started driving my son."

Neighbor Doug Bennett, who lives at 1305 E. Fourth, brought three of his children to show there was a reason for the sidewalk.

"People say nobody walks on that road," Bennett said. "I take that personally.

"To me, I don't care if you have to hang the sidewalk in the air, it needs a sidewalk."

Paula Crook, who also lives on Fourth Street, is against putting in a sidewalk.

Jefferies mentioned that the project was for the "greater good of the community," but Crook didn't see it that way.

"I'm not for the sidewalk, I'm not for the power lines moving further into my yard," Crook said. "They say they have to do it for the good of the new community. To me, we've already accommodated the new community.

"We've built a new school, new sewer plant. I don't want the trees to come down."

Crook said she counted 32 trees that would be affected by the renovation, which calls for a five-foot sidewalk along the north side of the road and a wider street.

After a lengthy discussion, the council voted unanimously to move forward with a sidewalk.

Council members said they wanted to work with residents to wind the sidewalk -- and possibly make it more narrow at some points -- accommodate for some of the trees.

The council also looked at taking a planned water line out of the equation and constructing a water line from Washington along East Street extended that would connect with Fourth Street water lines. City Administrator Mike Yanez said the city needed to connect the water line soon so it could accommodate the water tower that's being built on the new middle school campus on Washington Street.

The alternate water line would have cost nearly $285,000, according to BG numbers. The council instead stayed with a proposed water line along Fourth, which would cost about $70,000.

At Monday's meeting, the council approved the sale of general obligation bonds in the amount of $370,000 to finance, in part, the new south water tower on the middle school campus, to which the school district has agreed to pledge $150,000.

At the previous council meeting, Brian Kinglsey, with BG Consultants, the city's engineering firm, showed the council and residents two options for the project.

One would include installation of a 12-inch water on the north side of the street with natural gas and telephone lines redirected to the south side with a 31-foot-wide street. An additional 8 feet of right of way would be needed on the north side and 5 feet of utility easement on the south side for utilities.

The second option would include the same water, street and utility configuration with the addition of a 5-foot sidewalk on the north side.

Residents have asked whether the sidewalk could be constructed on the south side, but Kingsley said there's not enough room on the south side and safety issues come into play, such as a Westar power station on the south side.

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