A handful of disgruntled North 11th Street property owners attended Tuesday night's Cherokee City Council Public Hearing for the City's proposed $346,000 street reconstruction project from West Cedar Street to just north of West Bluff Street.
The property owners abutting the North 11th Street project had each been provided a copy of the project costs, the estimated assessment for their respective properties, and notice of the Public Hearing.
After the property owners' input and comments, the City Council voted unanimously to proceed with the project by approving Resolutions adopting resolution of necessity, directing preparation of detailed plans and specifications, form of contract, notice to bidders, ordering bids, and approving plans, specifications and related matters.
The North 11th Street project - consisting of new curb and gutter, street pavement, and an extended new water line from Cedar to the 11th Street water tower - will tie in with the West Cherry Street project and property assessments will fund the remaining 20 percent. The water line is over and above the estimated project cost and carries an estimated $60,000 price tag to be picked up by the City.
Essentially, the property owners at Tuesday's Council meeting were questioning why a $208,000 Federal Grant applied to the project because the street is classified as Farm-to-Market was not solely applied to the North 11th Street project, instead of the non-assessable share of the total construction costs.
As explained by City Administrator Don Eikmeier, total construction costs are estimated at $345,866. The City's share of these non-assessable costs is $257,347. To maintain consistency with landowners assessed for upcoming street/utility reconstruction improvements on West Cherry Street set for this spring, and the completed West Cedar Street project done several years ago, and prior street improvement assessment projects, the City decided that all of the 80-percent Federal monies be applied to the non-assessable share of construction costs. In this manner, all City property taxpayers benefit from the 80-percent Federal contribution, not just the 11th Street property owners.
Cost estimates for 11th Street assessments are estimated at $55.90 per running foot of lot frontage - the same assessment as those for the West Cedar and Cherry Street projects.
Also, if replacements are required, water service costs will be in addition to the pavement assessments, with the property owner responsible for the cost of the curb stop and valve box not to exceed $120.
Driveways will be replaced up to the sidewalk unless the existing or proposed street grade is too steep. Grading will occur beyond the sidewalk to provide a reasonable slope. Driveway costs are a City cost. Sidewalks will be replaced only at the intersections at City cost. If a property owner wants other sidewalk improvements, they will be done at a unit cost involved with the project.
Norm Rupp and Pamela Rupp, North 11th Street property owners, objected that the Grant monies were being applied to all City taxpayers and not just to those taxpayers involved in the North 11th Street project.
"The 11th Street property owners are not benefiting anything from the Grant," exclaimed Norm Rupp. "We're being ripped off! The Grant should be applied to the 11th Street project, not throughout the City."
After continued discussion, the Council voted unanimously to proceed with the project, which will pigtail with the West Cherry Street project to begin this spring.
In other action, the Council decided not to act on a proposed Ordinance amendment putting more teeth in the City's "Animals at Large" laws.
Instead, the fines and citations issued in regards to pet owners allowing their animals to run at large will be more strictly enforced through the City Attorney and the Cherokee Police Department.
Eikmeier also advised the Council that many property owners have not and are not clearing their sidewalks of snow and ice, forcing children, adults, and delivery persons to walk in the streets.
"We need to get the word out that the sidewalks must be scooped," said Eikmeier, who asked the Chronicle Times to make a plea to the public to please clear their sidewalks for the safety of all concerned.
The Council also approved a Tax Abatement Application for Mark and Deb Cozine, who are building a new house at 6 Brady Drive in the South Highland Addition in southeast Cherokee.