Archive for Thursday, January 30, 2003

Benefit district could benefit 15th Street improvements

January 30, 2003

The Grand Addition prompts grand improvements, and benefit districts might be the future of the Eudora street system.

Completion of the Grand Addition south of 15th Street, is going to increase the traffic on 15th Street, Cecil Kingsley, an engineer from BG Consultants, told members of the Eudora City Council and the Eudora Planning Commission during a joint meeting Tuesday.

Kingsley recommended 15th Street, along with other adjoining streets, be brought up to city street standards to prepare for the extra load and to eliminate annual maintenance expenses being generated by poor street conditions.

"As this area develops, it will need a good street system, and that is as easy to deal with now," Kingsley said. "But I think we need some direction to take the next step."

Council and commission members were interested in the improvement possibilities.

"I think it would be interesting to have them put something together and see what the unit cost is," said Planning Commission member Richard Campbell.

Funding became the next issue.

Kingsley suggested the use of benefit districts to cover the costs of improvements because he said city residents have a financial responsibility to keep the street in front of their property up to required city standards.

A benefit district is established when the city government and the owners of the property on either side of the street needing improvements combine financial efforts to complete the needed repairs. Property owners are typically assessed by a formula that factors in the amount of street frontage they own.

Kingsley was confident in this funding process.

"It is just a matter of logic and putting together a plan that makes sense," he said.

Council member Don Durkin said Grand Addition should be held responsible for the necessary improvements, but Commission chairman Kurt von Achen said the residents of the housing development would make their contributions in alternative ways.

"Grand Addition will pay taxes and help in the end," Von Achen said. "You are going to get more money off of it developed than you do bare ground."

Tom Pyle, council member, said public awareness is the key to this project.

"It is important to get out and let the residents know what you want to do and why," he said.

Kingsley admitted arranging a benefit district can be problematical, but said the key to a successful petition is flexibility.

"It can become somewhat complicated while organizing a benefit district," he said. "Every time you get into one of these benefit districts that is a benefit to the community, for sure, you want to go into it with the willingness to negotiate."

Council member Dan Gregg supported Kingsley's recommendation.

"I would like us to move forward with talking about the benefit districts ... and start getting street improvements done around town," he said.

Kingsley also thinks it is important to set precedents for future city repairs, because Eudora lacks guidelines or criteria for benefit districts.

"I don't believe we have that policy in Eudora," Kingsley said.

City Administrator Michael Yanez agreed.

"This might be the new policy and practice of the future," he said.

Von Achen thinks it would be advantageous for Eudora to make improvements to more than just 15th Street.

"It might be wiser to do a large project than a smaller project," he said.

Council member Willene Blackburn thinks an expanded project would be a better investment.

"The more you do the cheaper it gets," she said.

The council and commission requested a proposal from BG Consultants detailing their improvement plans and an itemized cost analysis to present to the community.

Mayor Ron Conner is ready for progress.

"You try to put a reasonable project together with a reasonable approach and you put it out there," he said.

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