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Public improvements hearing continued

WORTHINGTON -- Nearly 15 people attended a public hearing Monday at the Worthington City Council meeting, expressing both support for and opposition to proposed street and storm sewer improvements on 27th Street, 29th Street and North Rose Avenue.

The council decided to continue the public hearing until a future date but left the possibility of improvements to all three roads on the table, saying they would also look into the possibility of paving the now-gravel 27th Street to reduce dust.

That measure would knock the original proposal for the street down in scope, eliminating the proposed curb and gutter installation and simply paving the road.

Public Works Superintendent Jim Laffrenzen also suggested alternative measures for dust reduction when several at the meeting complained of severe dust on the roads. He said coating the roads in magnesium chloride or a soybean-based product could be effective.

However, he said: "There's kind of an unwritten policy that we don't do dust control on gravel roads. ... It's always been a policy that if we don't do all of them, we're not going to do any."

That policy may change, especially after several at the meeting said dust was their only complaint about the roads they lived on.

"This is a mighty high price for dust control," said JoAnne Haugan, whose property was assessed $48,000 for the project.

She said those who signed the position for the improvements were not made aware of the estimated costs they would face.

"No time is a good time to take on this additional debt for the city or the residents," she said, reading from a prepared statement. "But certainly this economic atmosphere has to be the worst timing."

The city staff developed the petition but did not circulate it themselves. One couple said they signed the petition but now opposed the project.

"If we did this project, is there any savings to the city down the road?" questioned Alderman Mike Kuhle. "I have a hard time pushing the project down their throats if they really don't want it."

"I do not know that you would be saving anything (with the improvements)," answered Director of Engineering Dwayne Haffield.

Others also cited financial hardship in speaking out against the project, but a few favored the improvements.

"The same people keep shooting it down and the cost keeps rising every single year," said Shawn Noerenberg, a project supporter who lives on North Rose Avenue.

The total estimated cost of improvements to the three streets is $699,300. Expenses would be split between the city and residents. City funds would cover a vast majority of the costs for the storm water system, while residents would pay for a majority of the street improvement costs.

In other business, the council Monday:

- Authorized the advertisement of bids for the Memorial Auditorium addition.

- Approved a $27,505 change order for the YMCA and city of Worthington Aquatic Center. The order will change the original emergency lighting and night lighting system to the Signtex Emergency Lighting System.

- Authorized calling for bids for the Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility clarifier mechanism.

- Approved plans and specifications for a 2009 sewer and water extensions project. The project will include a sanitary sewer extension, storm water system improvements and installation of an additional fire hydrant on Grand Avenue and trunk water main extension along North Crailsheim Road.

- Voted to approve development plans for the construction of the bikeway link along First Avenue Southwest from Knollwood Drive to the Olson Park Bikeway; and approved a resolution to restrict parking on the north side of First Avenue Southwest from Knollwood Drive to 750 feet to the west.

- Received recommendations from Kenneth White in the case of City of Worthington versus New Vision and received a proposal for the 10th Avenue Grain Facility Site from Ruby Development LLC.

- Denied a financial assistance request from Junior Achievement of Nobles County.