Long-ago planned and included in the City's 2010-2011 budget for design this year, the $2 million total rebuilding project of Cherokee's West Cherry Street is scheduled to be bid this December or January 2011 and the project begun next spring.
The Cherokee City Council last week approved authorizing a $139,000 contract with the engineering firm DGR of Sioux City for the proposed Cherry Street reconstruction project to be bid this winter and work to begin in the spring. DGR is based in Rock Rapids.
The $1,952,000 project is budgeted and includes new curb and gutter, storm sewer, water main replacement, and limited sanitary sewer replacement, along with street surface replacement from the CN Railroad Crossing (which will be removed) west to State Street.
The storm sewer system will empty into Railroad Creek near West Cherry Street's intersection with U.S. Highway 59.
The surveying work is done and the engineers are ready to proceed with design so bidding can occur sometime in December or January, usually the optimum time period for the lowest bid prices.
The project will be funded by General Obligation Bonds and property owner assessment. The new City G.O. debt replaces the principal and interest payments on City debt that will be retired in 2012 and will not impact the City tax rate, according to City Administrator Don Eikmeier.
Also involved in the project will be the removal and/or relocation of utility poles; installation of sidewalk, alley, and intersection approaches and possible retaining walls where necessary; and some tree removal.
In fact, the subject of tree removal reared its multi-faceted head at last week's Council meeting with the engineers, and various options both economical and controversial were discussed.
The perfect scenario for engineering and City officials purely focused on efficiency, cost effectiveness and ease of application for the project would be removal of any and all trees that might interfere with the work at hand.
However, in a City like Cherokee, with its scenic river valley geography and rolling tree-lined hills and residential areas impressive and valuable to many, "strip mining" several blocks of large shade trees for a street project could create problems for all concerned, from the City, to the engineers, to the residents proud of the City's appearance and tree heritage.
However, engineers pointed out last week that some trees' roots systems will have to be cut to allow access to certain portions of the project, like curb and gutter, water and sewer line replacement, etc. Also, tree roots continue to grow and in the future would undoubtedly impact the new utility lines, and curbs and gutters.
But large trees with some large roots cut and removed weakens the base and could make the tree susceptible to winds and storms and make then topple easier.
If all the trees in the way were removed, engineers say they could then install the new water main near curbside in the parking and save costs and future maintenance versus water lines typically installed under the streets.
City Streets Superintendent Jim Agnitsch advised the Council last week that the "4 Ds" come into play regarding trees in the City Parking. Normally, the upkeep of the trees - most planted by property owners - is the responsibility of the home owner unless the trees are Dead, Dying, Diseased, or Damaged. Then, the onus falls on the City.
Council Member Dan Morrow recommended the engineers call for the removal of all the trees impacting the project because it would simplify the project and save money in the long run. The engineers responded that removing all the trees impacting the project would ease the construction, but add to the cost of the total project (paying a tree service company).
At any rate, there will be a Public Hearing - probably in November - on property owner assessments for the West Cherry Street project, where the tree issue and many others will be raised and hopefully answered to the benefit of all concerned.