Council approves Main Street projects over objections from residents

by Marianne Gasaway

A public hearing about the second phase of the Main Avenue Reconstruction Project drew criticism from a number of residents Monday night.  However, the City Council proceeded with its plan for street, sidewalk and infrastructure improvements between 13th and 20th Streets.

Fourteen Main Avenue residents spoke in opposition of the project, saying the assessment is excessive and a burden to property owners.

Gary Peterson described Main Avenue as a commercial thoroughfare which has a large amount of school, truck and other traffic utilizing the downtown.  Use by the residents of Main is small in comparison, he said.  “I think further review is necessary,” he added.

Several property owners told the Council the assessment will create a financial burden for their families.

“Main Street is a unique and busy street and it deserves unique attention,” Dorothy Prunty told the Council. She, along with others, urged the Council to consider reducing the assessment percentage for affected property owners.

Consulting Engineer Jason Petersburg, of Veenstra & Kimm, said the assessments given to the property owners, representing approximately 18 percent of the work, is consistent with the formula used for other similar projects.

“The cost per benefit unit and percentage is the same.  It’s consistent with the policy of the past,” he said.

“Listen to the residents,” urged Roger Barillas.  “Much of the traffic is for the benefit of the businesses downtown and tourists.  We are carrying the burden of them enjoying Clear Lake.”

“The preliminary assessment that we have— our great hope is that  they are the highest possible amount, but once we get in to the project those amounts will be lower.  We certainly work toward that,” said Councilman Bennett Smith.

Gary Hugi, newly elected representative for the city ward, said he sympathized with the residents, but said it would be unfair to change the assessment process now, or probably into the future.  The audience groaned as he said, “All of us feel for the assessments, but it is what it is. We understand.”

The Council went on to vote unanimously to move forward with the project.  Project bid letting will be Feb. 20, with the award of contract expected March 2.  Construction of underground improvements will begin after July 4th festivities, about July 13, with a completion date of Nov. 20.  Paving will take place in April 2021 and be completed by June 18, 2021.

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