City Council orders street improvements

By Patrick Fisher

With the approach of the construction season, the New Prague City Council moved forward with plans for its 2005 street improvements. On Monday, the council unanimously approved a resolution ordering improvements to the area around Central Avenue S. and authorized advertising for bids on the project.

The project area includes Central Avenue S, from Main Street to Fifth Street; the alley between Main Street and First Street SE, from Central to First Avenue SE, and portions of First, Second, Third and Fourth streets SE.

More than a dozen residents in the project area were at a public hearing on the project at Monday's council meeting. Doug Parrott of Short Elliott Hendrickson (S.E.H.), Inc. presented the plans. He said that if everything goes well construction work on the project should begin by mid- to late-May. The project will include reconstruction of the street, curb and gutter, water main, sanitary and storm sewer, the building of retaining walls in one area and sidewalks. Parrott said the reconstruction work on the storm and sanitary sewers was necessary as research showed the pipes are showing cracks, deterioration and damage from tree roots.

Sidewalk work includes removal or replacement of some sidewalks and construction of new sidewalks throughout the project area.

Street assessments for residential lots will be based on one unit, and commercial lots based on 1.3 units. The estimated assessment rates for the project include $602 per unit for the water service line, $397 per unit for the sanitary sewer service line and for reconstructed street, curb and gutter it is $7,146 per unit for residential and $9,289 per unit for commercial.

For properties along the alley there is an extra assessment for surface reconstruction. The work in the alley will include a storm sewer for approximately $18,675, which will be covered by the city and the surface reconstruction for $31,113. The city will pick up 35 percent of the surface construction cost, with business properties picking up 60 percent and residential 5 percent. Under that formula, assessments would be approximately $519 per residential unit, $10,890 for the city and $1,867 per unit for the businesses.

Parrott said that the surface was being done to improve the drainage in the alley. Work will include the placement of inverted crown drains and the storm sewer would be run in two-thirds of the alley. He also said that to improve drainage in the streets drain tiles will be put in as well as sump pump catch basin boxes.

City Administrator Jerry Bohnsack said residents and the city can set up a payment plan or have assessments added to the property tax statements of property owners.

Residents asked about the removal of trees and bushes in the area. In the project there are seven evergreen trees along Central Avenue S, where the new sidewalks are proposed, that will either be transplanted or removed. Parrott said there were also some trees in the alley at its west end that will be removed.

Also discussed was the possible removal of a hedge in the alley next to First Avenue SE. Bohnsack said the city can work with the owner of the property on that.

Parrott said that the next step was to advertise for bids for the project. The bids would be opened on April 19 and awarded at the council’s May 2 meeting.

Planning and Zoning matters

New Prague City Planner Renee Christianson presented items from the New Prague Planning and Zoning Commission.

The council unanimously approved an amendment to a conditional use permit for Geiger Land Development for Prague Estates Sixth Addition, to allow for more flexibility in the designs of homes in the area.

Also unanimously approved was the final plat for Prague Estates 11th Addition, consisting of 11 lots, one outlot and a walkway on 15.24 acres, and a developer’s agreement for the addition.

The council also unanimously approved variances for a building being proposed by Randy Kubes. He is proposing to build a 10,383-square-foot, two-story commercial building at the corner of First Avenue SE and First Street SE. The variances were for fewer windows on the north wall, a two-foot setback for a parking lot and a copper awning.

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