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Council discusses options for street improvements

Pictured is a section of West Howard Street in Creston, where the street becomes misaligned at Jarvis Street. West Howard Street is one of 12 streets proposed to the Creston City Council by Garden and Associates for improvements.
Pictured is a section of West Howard Street in Creston, where the street becomes misaligned at Jarvis Street. West Howard Street is one of 12 streets proposed to the Creston City Council by Garden and Associates for improvements.

Representatives with Garden and Associates met with Creston City Council during last week’s council meeting to discuss options for the city’s plan to improve streets throughout Creston.

After researching and evaluating Creston’s streets, Austin Smith of Garden and Associates presented the council with a list of 12 streets in Creston, along with estimated costs to repair those streets.

“You’ve kind of got a blank canvas here of what you can do,” said Jack Pope, co-owner of Garden and Associates. “The one thing I’d like to suggest ... is realizing that doing $2 million or $3 million or $5 million, that’s not the end of it. You need to continue on to keep those streets going. I don’t think any of the ones we’ve marked on there you’d be spending your money unwisely.”

Before the council can move forward and select which streets to make improvements to, it must first decide how much money it is willing to borrow for the project.

City Administrator Mike Taylor had previously said he felt comfortable borrowing up to $5 million for the project.

“We were talking somewhere between $1 and $5 million. With our debt service right now, we could probably go to $6 million, but you’ve got $4 million, at least, allocated toward the water plant over the next few years, and you want to leave a little bit of cushion,” Taylor said at last week’s meeting.

Several council members showed an inclination at last week’s meeting to borrow $5 million for the project.

Based on a 20-year term for borrowing $5 million, the impact levy would range from between $1.36 and $1.53 based on the given point in time per $1,000 of property valuation. But, the term has not yet been decided, either.

“Just for the benefit of the council, I’d lean toward the $5 million,” said Rich Madison, ward 2 councilman. “That’s a lot of money, but we need to do something. For instance, West Howard, it was done in 1953. At some point we have to begin replacing streets unless we’re going to go back to gravel.”

“That’s where I’m at, too,” said Gabe Carroll, ward 3 councilman. “Interest rates are only going to go up. They can’t go any lower.”

No action was taken during last week’s meeting, but the council did request Smith come back with a plan that would allow the city to maximize the impact of a $5 million borrow.

Taylor also added that once the Adams Street project is complete, he will know better what other funds will be available to help toward the street improvement projects.

“We talked about the possibility of using some different funds to try to keep that down,” Taylor said. “I think there’s a good chance we could use two to three other funding mechanisms. I’d like to keep that down just like everybody else.”

Street options

The condition of the streets in Creston vary. Some of the streets evaluated by Smith simply need to be overlayed, while others will require total reconstruction. Still, others may be a combination of overlay and total reconstruction in other parts.

Smith recommended stretches of both East Howard and West Howard streets.

East Howard Street provides an entry into the north central part of town from Highway 34, as many cars will turn north onto Osage Street from Highway 34 and then turn west onto East Howard Street.

West Howard Street becomes more complicated since it is misaligned between Jarvis and Division streets.

“We share an office with Mid-State Surveying and they had some fieldwork they had done in ‘93 or ‘96 where they were going to realign Howard Street straight through Jarvis Street and Division,” Smith said. “I think, at the time, the city had actually purchased lots to more or less restructure that street.”

South Cherry Street would be an overlay project, while South Park street would be a combination of overlay and total reconstruction on two blocks where the curb and gutters were beyond being salvaged.

“From what we’ve looked at, we’ve looked at these cost estimates since 2014-15,” Pope said. “The East and West Howard sections have shown up on both of those. I think those are both good options to start with, as well as South Chestnut and South Cherry.”

North Elm Street, from West Townline Street to Adams Street, is also on the list, but is an estimated $2.46 million project.

Pope noted if the council wanted to make improvements to North Elm Street, it could be done in different phases.

“I know there’s some businesses in there,” said Steve Wintermute, at-large councilman. “I was affected when they did the highway and it hurts.”

Other issues surrounding North Elm Street include the number of residential driveways entering onto the street, as well as traffic around the Early Childhood Center.

The council will be revisiting the street improvements at upcoming meetings.

“Just so you realize, when you go through these street projects, there are pains,” Pope said. “You put people in uncomfortable positions and construction doesn’t go just as smooth as they want. But in the end, everyone’s happy.”

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