Resident critical of street project, assessments

By Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

The New Prague City Council unanimously adopted assessments for the 2010 street and utility improvement project, which resident Rod Tietz called an abusive use of taxing authority.

The comment from Tietz came during the public hearing for the assessments at the council's Monday meeting. The assessments cover work done on portions of Highview Circle, Pershing Avenue N, Lyndale Avenue N, Fifth Street NE, Sixth Street NE, Seventh Street NE, Lexington Avenue N and Third Street SE. Improvements included reconstruction of the street, curb and gutter and sanitary sewer and water service lines. The total assessments are $288,306.

Tietz, who lives on Lyndale Avenue N, was the only one who spoke from a group of 15 people, most there for the hearing. He cited other aspects of the project that he had brought up during a neighborhood meeting before work started. One was that the storm sewer in that area was addressed in 1991, another was that he felt city staff and its engineering firm needed to do better record keeping as there were some citations that there was work done in 1965 not 1991. He said that no one from the city or its engineering firm of Short Elliott Hendrickson (S.E.H.), Inc., contacted him about the aspects he brought up.

Tietz noted he was on the New Prague Area School Board for eight years and not once when someone brought up an issue did they not respond to it.

He said Sixth Street only had partial replacement of the sewer line. He felt residents could have argued that street work there could have been saved for later. Also the curb replacement resulted in a mish mash of old and new curb, which he thought was uglier than when the project began.

Chris Cavett of S.E.H. Inc., noted that everything was consistent with the project. Since Sixth Street only had to have partial replacement it was decided to try something different with that work. He said the sanitary sewer along Lyndale Avenue absolutely had to be replaced. Also, that street and Fifth Street needed to be reconstructed. He said the majority of the curb did not need to be replaced and it was cost effective to only do some of it. Cavett added there were utilities in that area that were certainly from 1956.

It was also noted that Cavett and New Prague Public Works Director Dennis Seurer had contacted Tietz.

Tietz responded that the engineer isn't familiar with that area, he hasn't lived there and suggested he be fired since he doesn't know how to spend money. Tietz noted in his research about the work, he didn't go to the library to pull out history for his health, but for saving money. He said it was a blatant lie that somebody tried to contact him. He was also offended that a city engineer could try to bully him into saying he was wrong.

Mayor W.A. Bink Bender said there was more than one way to do a project. He appreciated the input from Tietz in that it helped keep them honest, even though Mayor Bender didn't agree with Tietz' assessment.

Council member Kay Wilcox said she remembered the project from the '90s and it was a huge one. She added that was 20 years ago and things change.

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