Council considers city improvement projects

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The City of Monticello has lots of projects on its docket, but the city council wasn’t of a mind to proceed with them all at the same time.

     The Monticello City Council met via Zoom on Monday, April 6, to maintain social distancing.

     One of the biggest projects with much discussion was the Willow Trail extension along E. Oak Street/Highway 38 toward the new middle school and Oakwood Cemetery. The project was engineered by Snyder & Associates, and comes at a cost of $142,000.

     Two votes, one to table the project and one to proceed as designed, failed due to lack of a majority (3-3 in both cases). Mayor Brian Wolken chose not to cast a vote to break the tie in either instance.

     City Administrator Doug Herman said the project is on schedule for completion when the new middle school is completed as well. The project would widen the existing sidewalk and offer school crossings at both the high school, new middle school entrance, and extend to the second driveway into the cemetery.

     “I see this as a safe route to school and for the community and recreation,” defined Herman.

     City Engineer Patrick Schwickerath said the cost estimate does not include crossing beacons/lights, which could be added to the project. Police Chief Britt Smith said he favors four beacons, two for the speed zone and two for the crossings. This would be needed if the DOT was not in favor of reducing the speed limit from 45 to 35mph.

     “It seems fairly expensive,” voiced Council member Dave Goedken. He asked whether the city could pursue grants to assist with the cost.

     Herman said because this is a local, city project versus a regional trail project, it’d be hard to secure trail funding.

     The majority of the council felt increased safety was needed with a trail project entering a school zone. Council member Gary Feldmann said it’s not just middle and high school students crossing the street, but elementary kids, too, being bused to the other schools.

     Schwickerath said a rough cost estimate for a set of beacon lights could be between $10,000 and $15,000.

     “This is an expensive project,” added Goedken. “I don’t want to get in a hurry just to meet the deadline. We need to push it out a bit so we’re more informed and feel better about voting.”

     Schwickerath said he would have a better idea of the cost of beacon lights for the next council meeting to consider.

     Another project for the council to reconsider was the Seventh Street Reconstruction Project. Like the Sycamore Street Project, this would be covered by TIF funds (60 percent) and Capital Improvements (40 percent). Herman shared that over $400,000 exists in Capital Improvements to go toward the project. The DOT will contribute $18,000.

     Tschiggfire Excavating had the low bid for Option 2 at $442,719.55. This option includes the east and west portions of Seventh Street, as well as the intersection with N. Cedar Street/Highway 38.

     Wolken asked the council why they chose to go out to bid if they thought the engineer’s estimates were too high. (The engineer’s estimates were actually higher than the bids.)

     “I still think we ought to do it,” said Council member Tom Yeoman, who made a motion to rescind the council’s action at their March 23 meeting (basically accepting the bid). The motion failed due to lack of a second.

     Again, the council took no action, choosing to stay with their previous vote to rebid the project, hoping for lower bids.

     A project that was approved unanimously by the council dealt with repairs to the N. Maple Street sidewalk from the golf course entrance to the old fair office.

     Herman sought cost estimates for sidewalk patching ($1,700), sidewalk replacement with 4-foot ($7,700), and sidewalk replacement with 6-foot ($10,100). Replacing the fence comes at a cost of $7,820.

     Feldmann was in favor of a full sidewalk replacement at 5-foot; however, the council approved repairing the current sidewalk at 4-feet with fence replacement.


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