by Steve Peterson
Construction is expected to begin next Spring after Hawarden councilors approved a Resolution of Necessity for the 2013 Central Avenue Improvement Project at their Nov. 28 meeting.
The vote was 4-1, with Councilor Patty Anderson dissenting.
The Central Avenue Street Improvement Project’s finance plan includes assessments on about 40 Central Avenue properties, between 10th and 16th Streets where the streets are to be improved by the addition of a concrete overlay. The assessments are to be paid by the property owners.
By a 4-1 vote, councilors also approved the 2013 Street Improvement Project plan, which is part of a resolution setting the bid date, ordering preparation of work and specifications and giving notice of hearing.
Anderson also voted against this measure. Voting in favor were councilors Monte Harvey, Larry Bauder, Travis Olson and Tim Kurth.
“I’m not comfortable with the 25 percent assessments,” said Anderson.
“I don’t think anyone wants to do this. It is something that we put off for so many years. It will cost a lot of money to fix things. If a previous council had taken the bull-by-the-horns 20 years ago, then the streets would not be in such bad condition. Something has to be done,” said Kurth.
Three residents spoke against the Central Avenue Street Project as Barb Hogan, Terry Shea and Don Cline addressed the councilors.
“I protest the tax assessment against my property for the Central Avenue Street project. According to the Sioux County Tax Assessor,
the Central Avenue street project will not increase the value of our property because it is already taxed as paved and improved,” said Hogan, reading a letter she wrote.
“According to some local real estate agents, the street project will not increase the value of our property because the roads are already paved,” she said. “Other streets in Hawarden have already been resurfaced without the additional tax assessment to the residents of those streets. Why can’t that happen for Central Avenue?”
“Why is the increase in tax assessment from the original one from last year?” asked Hogan. “Mine increased almost $1,000 from last year to this year. What exactly would I be paying for? Is it possible for a line-by-line itemization on what is included in the cost?”
“In these economic times, the worst in three generations, you choose to force through a community enhancement project onto a small group of individuals many of whom live on fixed incomes or declining incomes,” she said. “They are also facing a $2,200 per year Federal tax increase.”
“I would recommend if the project does go through forward, which I hope it does not, then all the residents of Hawarden absorb the cost and not just the people who live on Central Avenue,” said Hogan.
“I do object to this,” said Cline. “Last year we brought it up, our objection, and obviously you did not listen or you postponed it. Second, we should have been informed of this from the moment you started talking about it. That way we could have gotten a lynch mob. I believe our city council did not listen. “
“We don’t want it,” he said. “If you’re going to do it, do it without assessments. I just think it is disrespectful.”
“It is a $600-a-year increase for 15 years,” said Shea, adding she will have a protest sign in her yard for 15 years. “That is a lot of money. If you can afford it, you can pay for my assessment.”
“We have given you options on how to pay for it a year ago,” said Shea. “Have you even looked at them? You have been in the back room saying this time we’re not going to fight amongst ourselves. We’re going to pass it.”
“They don’t want it,” she said. “You have made up your minds. That’s why there is not many people here. It is all consensus. We know its coming.”
“We protest,” said Shea. “Many people protest but you won’t listen. That is where it comes from.”
Survey of residents
Regarding the survey, city officials received input from more than a dozen residents. Residents listed their preferences as:
• No street improvement was needed;
• Blacktop was used with current city improvement dollars paying for it; or
• Councilors proceed without assessments.
“I do not agree with increasing mine or your taxes at this time,” said Cline in an advertisement.
“Proceed without assessments would be the fairest way since it is a main throughway used by all,” said Cline. “Proceeding with assessments is unfair since Central Avenue is a heavily used throughway.”
“Let’s get some jobs in town first,” said Duane Schiefen, who preferred blacktopping the streets using city improvement funds. “There are too many empty buildings. It’s bad timing in this economy for this.”
“All the money the street would cost could be better used in other ways,” said another respondent, adding no improvement needed or to blacktop the street.
Gene Frerichs recommended blacktopping the street with a 2- to 3-inch overlay and not tearing up the old street.
“I’m a senior on fixed income and can’t afford this increase,” said another.
“People aren’t rich you know,” said still another. “Blacktop the streets like we always do.”
A total of 10 preferences indicated were to blacktop the street; five were to proceed without assessments, and three said no improvement needed.
Schlotfeldt Engineering has been notified of the councilors’ action, said Tucker.
Jan. 9: The bid specification documents will be presented at council meeting.
Feb. 6: Bids will be opened.
The stretch of 10th to 16th Street is included with the exception of a bridge which already has concrete. Infrastructure has been televised and any needed work will be in the bids as well, said Tucker.