City takes questions on Seventh Street project

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The City of Monticello is moving forward with an extension of the now-completed N. Sycamore Street project.

     During the Feb. 17 Monticello City Council meeting, the council approved several measures related to the 2020 Seventh Street Project.

     First a public hearing was held regarding the Resolution of Necessity. Notice was published in the Monticello Express and sent to affected property owners who would be assessed for the project.

     City Administrator Doug Herman shared that he was contacted by Mark Stoneking expressing his opinion that the street should be widened as part of the proposed project. However, based on the work that has already been completed around the Sycamore-Seventh Street intersection, that is not an option.

     Herman noted that the project assessments here will be treated exactly the same as those approved for the Sycamore Street project.

     The Seventh Street project is expected to be completed by July 1, with the exception of the intersection of Sixth Street and Gill Street, an alternative (add-on) to the project. That will be completed after July 1 if the council chooses to proceed.

     Several property owners spoke up during the hearing, including Dave Schoon seeking answers on what work is actually needed at the Seventh Street intersection. The simple answer: concrete and infrastructure underneath the street.

     AJ Barry with Snyder & Associates detailed such work as widening the water main, upgrading the storm sewer pipe from clay to reinforced concrete, redoing the sanitary sewer, redoing the manholes, and new intakes for the storm sewer to eliminate the ponding of water on Highway 38/N. Cedar Street.

     To that, Schoon informed the city that the newly completed intersection of Sycamore and Second streets is seeing standing water as well.

     Herman said the city has received comments about the water issue and would need to wait until after the snow was gone to determine the real cause of the problem.

     “We’ll see then if the water is running where it is supposed to,” Herman said.

     Kevin Kurth asked several questions about lighting, sidewalk, storm sewer, drainage, as well as upgrading other side streets onto Sycamore such as Third and Fifth streets.

     “The plans call for us to focus on Seventh Street because it’s showing age,” commented Mayor Brian Wolken.

     “We can’t do them all at once,” added Council member Tom Yeoman.

     The lighting at this particular intersection would not change to period lighting, as it did along Sycamore Street. However, Yeoman said if the residents wanted updated lighting, all they have to do is request it from the city.

     John Monk, who owns the apartment complex at the intersection of Seventh and Cedar, said he was not against the project, but wanted to know what his property would be assessed for. Other than curb/gutter and sidewalks, that’s all that would apply to his property.

     The council ended up approving the Resolution of Necessity, which allows the project to move forward and go out to bid. Snyder & Associates has engineered the proposed plans for the project.

     The council also set a public hearing on the proposed plans, specs, and estimate of cost for the project for Monday, March 16 at 6 p.m. Bids are due on March 12, and the council will be in a position to award a bid as well at that time.

In other city business:

   • The council approved a $3,000 investment in the Jones County Safe and Healthy Youth Coalition for FY 2021. This is the same amount as last year.

     Project Coordinator Jennifer Husmann was present to update the council on the Coalition. She said her job description has changed due to funding, and she now dedicates 25 percent of her time toward Jones County. They hired an additional employee to give time to the county as well.

     Husmann said there has been some positive news regarding decreases in youth substance abuse in Jones County. But at the same time, there is concerning news about increased vaping among youth and teen suicide rates. The Coalition is now shifting a bit to look at mental health with teens.

     Yeoman asked whether the Coalition is confident in its youth surveys because the results are based on self-reporting. “Are you given valid statistics?” he asked.

     Husmann said this is the same survey that’s been used since 1979. It’s now done online versus paper and pencil. She said it’s not about the individual results so much as it is the trends over time.

     “I believe most kids are telling the truth because they have no reason not to,” she said.

     • Engineer Dieter Muhlack and Austin Cahill with Crawford Company, both associated with the Berndes Center HVAC replacement project, met with the council to answer any questions. Crawford was the low bidder of the project at $159,000.

     Cahill said the project would be completed in stages to allow the Berndes Center to remain open and operational. The completion date is at the end of May.

     Muhlack said the main reason for the replacement is that the current HVAC system does not meet code for proper ventilation, especially with the number of people that can be housed inside. There are also issues with the kitchen exhaust system and ductwork throughout the small room. Basically, the entire mechanical system will be replaced.

     At the end of the project, Muhlack will provide an inspection to make sure the work was done according to specs. He city could have him on site when needed, but based on an hourly rate.

     Chaill said his equipment comes with a 15- to 20-year life span.

     While Parks & Rec does not have the funds to cover the entire project, the city increased its appropriation to that department by $50,000. Parks and Rec does have $51,000 in the Berndes Center Fund, as well as other funds previously appropriated by the city.

     The council approved the contact with Crawford Company to move forward with the project.


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