Weather Forecast


Council approves path along Lake Avenue

WORTHINGTON -- With a full house looking on Monday night, the Worthington City Council approved a request from the Park and Recreation Advisory Board to put a sidewalk on property at 620 Lake Avenue in the interest of public safety.

Home owners Joe and Marianne Bigner objected via representation from attorney Andrew Titus, who said his clients were being unfairly singled out. The home owners will lose two trees and some landscaping, as the current design for the sidewalk would cut across their circular drive.

A multi-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists stops within 100 feet of the intersections of Seventh Avenue/Eight Street/Lake Avenue.

The project would connect a multi-use path to the existing termination point, and extend 200 feet from the intersection paralleling Lake Avenue within the right-of-way abutting Lake Okabena. At the 200 foot point, a sidewalk would be installed within the public right-of-way and extend to an existing sidewalk located at the westerly property line of 620 Lake Street.

Earlier this month, the Bigners and Titus offered objections to the plan during a park board meeting. Right now there is no sidewalk or trail going through the property, they said, yet they have consistent invasions of privacy with people continuing from the existing walkway and along their driveway. They find people trying to open their boathouse, thinking it is a public bathroom, and have found people on their back porch or pressing their noses up against the screen door, trying to look inside the house.

If the city goes through with the design presented Monday night, the sidewalk would be 10 feet from their front door. Another concern is that people on skateboards and roller blades will leave the sidewalk and play in their circular drive, leaving them open to liability issues if someone is hurt.

Titus said it would be more practical for the city to add a pedestrian crosswalk across Lake Avenue so people would use the sidewalks already in place on the north side of the street.

That would force those heading toward Chautauqua Park to cross the street twice, councilmember Lyle Ten Haken pointed out.

Mayor Alan Oberloh wanted to know how the circular drive ever got approval for building, as it exceeded the impervious surface ordinance. It was put in place, he was told, before the ordinance. Several lots around the lake are considered non-conforming by today's standards, Oberloh said, but time did not change the lot.

The property owners in this case even blocked off the right-of-way with landscaping and bushes, forcing people out into the street.

Several people got up to speak in favor of the new sidewalk and path, including park board member Jacoba Negel. She said she voted for the project because it was a public safety issue. That intersection is dangerous and one she avoids if walking with her grandchildren because of the section without a safe path.

Bob Jirele also spoke, stating he and his son were almost hit by a car recently at the intersection, and he would hate to see someone seriously hurt.

"Our biggest community asset is the lake, and hundreds of people use the path," he told the council.

Councilmember Mike Kuhle said the pros of putting in the walkway outweighed the cons, but expressed concern over setting a precedent that had the city paying for a sidewalk.

"That's the only thing that gives me heartburn about this," he said.

According to a public works memo, the cost estimate for the multi-use path and sidewalk is approximately $78,303.

A motion to accept the recommendation of the board was made by councilmember Mike Woll and seconded by Ten Haken. The vote to approve was unanimous.

The homeowners, who object to the building of the sidewalk, will be responsible for its maintenance.

In other business, the council approved:

l A Redevelopment and Tax Increment Financing Plan for the area on which the new hotel and event center will be located on Prairie Drive and U.S. 59. The TIF district will be decertified as soon as it is paid off, which is expected to be in seven years.

In order for the city to take advantage of the 2010 Job Bill, construction will need to start by July 1.

l The sale of Lot 1, Block 2, Prairie Expo First Addition for the sum of $1 to Lexington Group for the hotel/event center.

l A change of zone application for the property on Fourth Avenue generally referred to as the former Central School site. Southwest Mental Health requested the rezoning to construct a campus for their administrative needs. The also asked for preliminary plat approval for a two-lot planned unit development at the site.