Sixth Street Ditch Project outlined, moves along

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The Monticello City Council is sticking to its promise made many months ago: Moving forward with the Sixth Street Ditch Project.

     During the June 19 council meeting, city engineers Casey Zwolinski and Lindsay Beaman with Snyder & Associates outlined three separate sections of the project. Section one would be near N. Chestnut Street with a cost estimate of $175,000. Section two would be everything on the west side of Highway 38, at an estimate of $121,000. Section three, the east side of Highway 38 at a cost of about $189,000.

     The city budgeted about $325,000 for this project.

     “The cost estimates are higher than when we first starting talking about this project,” advised Herman, asking the council to maybe consider working on the three sections separately versus the project as a whole.

     Beaman said the preliminary estimates are based on current market prices for material and labor.

     “We hope these estimates are high,” she said.

     With that in mind, as well as the most severe areas of the Sixth Street Ditch, the council voted to direct the engineers to proceed with permitting from the Corps of Engineers for the concrete retaining wall at the far west end of section one, as well as all of section 3. (For detailed descriptions of the project, contact City Hall.)

     City Administrator Doug Herman added that he would also begin work on acquiring the necessary easements for work in both sections, and investigate whether additional access and/or future maintenance easements would be needed in other areas.

     “You don’t want to start the project and have someone not consent to an easement,” offered Beaman.

     Mayor Dena Himes reminded the council that when the city pursued the Sixth Street Ditch Project years ago, it ended due to landowners declining to give the city any easements.

     “If everyone jumps in voluntarily,” said Council member Dave Goedken of volunteering easements, “that would make the process go a lot smoother.”

     This project would require both temporary and permanent easements from landowners so equipment can get in and out of the ditch area without any issues.

     Beaman explained that much of the grass material built into the project along the three sections of the ditch is not intended for mowing like one’s lawn, but to slow down the velocity of the water.

     “We would ask the owners not to mow it,” advised Herman, “and for the city to take over maintenance responsibility.” Some owners could lose portions of their backyards that they currently mow now.

     Goedken said the key in part of this project, at least where the easements are concerned, is for the city to have access when issues along the ditch arise.

     Some areas will require some stabilization with riprap quadrants added into the sides of the ditch. Some trees along the ditch will also be eliminated.

     Keith and Jan Tackett, who live along the ditch, praised the city and engineers for this plan of action, and starting the project with section three.

     “Our (retaining) wall is falling and will only get worse,” said Keith.

     Herman said the council already committed to section three with the purchase of a house and lot along N. Cedar Street/Highway 38, with its backyard along the ditch.

In other city business:

     • The council approved amending an agreement between the city and the Jones County Fair concerning the Youth Development Center.

     Much of the language in the agreement merely needed to be updated due to the time in which it was written, prior to the construction of the YDC. An addition to the agreement would be the revenue of approximately $3,000 a year from US Cellular due to small towers installed throughout the grounds/city park going to the city.

     The council felt the provision concerning maintaining a positive balance in the rental fund of the YDC needed to remain in the agreement.

     “It’s there to make sure that there is money in the fund so the YDC doesn’t end up like the Berndes Center and they come to the city for money,” said Goedken.

     • The council approved wage increases for non-bargaining city staff: 2.5 percent increase for City Administrator, 3 percent increases for both Police Chief and Public Works Director, and 2 percent for City Clerk.

     • The council acknowledged wage increases for the library director and library staff: 2 percent increase for Director, and 45 cents an hour increase for the five staff members. That increase is consistent with the collective bargaining agreement.

     • The council approved a $2,600 investment in the Fourth of July fireworks and related festivities.

     • The council passed the second and third readings to repeal the city’s previous fireworks ordinance and follow the state’s new fireworks law.

     City Clerk Sally Hinrichsen said she did receive a call from a resident on Seventh Street who was concerned with people in the Breckenridge Addition setting off fireworks, and debris landing on her home. Hinrichsen said the lady was against the city repealing its fireworks ordinance.

     “If people are irresponsible,” said Goedken, “we’ll change it.”


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