Council on Monday will consider a resolution to get sidewalks installed along Navarre Avenue from Coy to Lallendorf roads to help elderly and disabled pedestrians get to Wal-Mart and other stores and shops in the area.
The project, which will be funded through assessments of area property owners, has been held up since last year because not enough signatures were obtained on petitions in support of the sidewalks.
“Through conversations we’ve had over the past several weeks, it was our goal to try to put this together as quickly as possible,” Mayor Mike Seferian said at a committee of the whole meeting on Monday. “It appeared council wanted to act on this and get it going as soon as possible.”
Seferian said he has met with Administrator Mike Beazley, Public Service Director Paul Roman and Councilman Dennis Walendzak, who is chairman of the Drainage, Roads, Buildings and Lands Committee, to further discuss the matter.
“We believe we’re able to come to an understanding of what the intent was. And we believe this represents that,” Seferian said of a proposed resolution that will be before council at a meeting on Monday.
The city used One Call Now, a phone service the city contracts with, to inform residents of the proposed resolution.
Some on council expressed concerns that not all residents who would be affected by the sidewalks were notified of the resolution.
“Every attempt was made to notify them without holding up the project,” said Seferian.
Councilman Jerry Peach said he knows of someone who should have been notified, but did not get a call from the phone service.
“How do we verify that people actually received those calls?” asked Peach.
“We can go back on that list and see if the call was actually made,” said Seferian.” But bear in mind, we are not required to inform people with a notice, but it’s something we do as a courtesy. We don’t have a problem if council wishes to reintroduce this two weeks from now at a committee of the whole. But we thought the desire was to get it moved along as quickly as possible. That’s what we did. We definitely did put out the One Call Now.”
Roman added that the system only works for residents if their phone numbers are listed or they have not opted out of the One Call Now system.
Peach agreed the administration had no legal requirement to notify the public.
“I appreciate the administration is taking steps to make sure that people who have an interest are notified. I might have expected a few more people here tonight,” said Peach.
“We will check and see if people actually got the call,” said Seferian. “If it’s council’s desire to go through the system again, that’s fine. We wanted to offer it to you because you asked for it. So we got it into your hands as quickly as we could and tried to cover all the bases in the process.”
Roman said it is the first sidewalk project council is considering without petitions.
“I know with sewer projects, we’ve always had a petition received. A lot of times there would be a resolution to accept the petition. That would be the green light for design, and to come up with an estimate. Then you’d come up with a resolution of necessity saying `Here are the costs.’ But with that being said, you still have other ordinances that would be the final assessment, which is another public meeting. Normally, in a sewer project, you’d have three sets of public meetings. Here, you didn’t necessarily have the acceptance of a petition resolution. But here we are with a resolution of necessity, which establishes the cost. It is still new to us. Without there being any action tonight, there certainly can be a notice sent out to those property owners and let them know of next week’s meeting as well,” said Roman.
“We wanted to make it clear as well in this resolution, the city in general is providing other items along with this at the city’s cost,” said Roman. The city will cover engineering and drainage costs.
“It’s everything but the sidewalk work itself,” said Roman.
The total cost of the project, according to Roman, is $124,000.
Council agreed to place the resolution on next Monday’s meeting agenda.
Councilman Sandy Bihn said it was important to notify area property owners before Monday’s meeting because the project will be assessed.
“I think it would behoove us to send out a written notice of the estimates, number of payments, and what exactly we are proposing in a similar format to an assessment. I don’t think it’s that difficult. I think sending a letter out to clarify it, besides a call, gives everyone notice. There are 10 years of payments here, and I think all of that ought to be laid out,” said Bihn.
“It would be a little premature without having the numbers all adjusted,” said Seferian. “But that’s something we totally plan to do.”
Last summer, several residents, many in wheelchairs, demonstrated on Navarre Avenue for the need for sidewalks from Coy to Lallendorf roads to improve safety for pedestrians.
Many of the demonstrators had said they walk or use wheelchairs and canes on Navarre Avenue to get to nearby shops and grocery stores.
Following the demonstration, council agreed that sidewalks were needed in the area. Two local businessmen, who supported the project, had agreed to circulate the petitions to area property owners, but they were unable to obtain enough signatures.