On Tuesday, the Fairbury City Council met to discuss the future of improvements on H Street from Highway 136 to 27th Street.
During their meeting, they approved an agreement with Olsson Associates for finalizing design services on the H Street corridor for a total of $257,000, but not before some discussion with council members and Patrick Malcolm, of Olsson Associates.
Councilman Doug Brown asked about the impact of installing sidewalks for property owners along H Street. Currently, the proposal is to install sidewalks on the east and west sides of the street from 14th Street to 20th, and only along the east side of the street from 20th to 27th Street.
“Do we have any other option on the sidewalks other than what’s in the plan?” asked Brown. “I mean, I look at the 100 year old trees, I look at the houses and the people that spent a lot of money doing a brick driveway. When I’m driving down the street, I’m seeing things that are very nice that if I was in that situation, I would not be very pleased.”
Malcolm responded that the current plan works around most of the trees and existing structures, but that a new plan is being developed with input from the public to identify conflicts and work to resolve them. Brown reiterated the need to work together with the public on this project.
“I think we have to be very considerate of these people with what we’re doing here,” Brown said. “We need to talk to them and see what they want. I would not be pleased if I lived there and spent that kind of money to build those nice things and get them all torn out.”
Fairbury City Administrator Collin Bielser emphasized that they will continue to develop the plans for the project before anything is finalized.
“The goal is we don’t want to take trees down if we don’t have to,” said Bielser. “We don’t want to damage anybody’s landscape if we don’t have to, but there will probably be some consensus that will have to be formed with property owners if sidewalks are a part of it, which I think is a desire that the public wants for safety along that road. There’s not an intent, from our perspective, to just do it.”
The council approved the agreement with Olsson and, later in the meeting, approved the first reading of an ordinance creating four street improvement districts along the H Street Corridor from Highway 136 to Highway 15. Bielser noted that the ordinance is necessary to begin any improvement project in the city. He explained that the ordinance encompasses more than the section from 14th Street to 27th Street because of a prior street study conducted by the city.
By doing this, Bielser explained, it would give the council the option to begin an improvement project from 27th Street to Highway 15 at a later time; however they are not obligated to do so. The ordinance will require two more readings before it can be adopted by the council.
After giving the ordinance the first reading, the council members then voted to suspend the required three readings on another ordinance to issue bonds for street improvement projects for a total not to exceed $4 million. Bielser explained that issuing the bonds will not require the city to raise the levy rate because of prior bonds being paid off.
“The plan is to levy the same amount of dollars that we do now,” Bielser said. “So, whatever interest rates are at the time we issue the bond, if they spike and we get $2 million or if they drop ridiculously and we get $4 million, it’s the same amount of money that we’ll levy.”
According to Bielser, construction on the project would span from April 2018 to October 2018.
Also during the Fairbury City Council Meeting, Bielser explained that construction is beginning on two other street projects in Fairbury: one on B Street from 11th to 14th Street, and another on 9th Street from F to H Street.