GLADSTONE - It was standing room only during the Gladstone City Commission meeting Monday night as residents voiced concerns over special assessments and street projects on Delta Avenue and 9th Street.
Thirty-four property owners on Delta Avenue from 14th to 11th streets would be assessed $15 per front foot of property for the project, which includes an entire rebuild of the road's concrete substructure, curb and gutter, parallel parking, sidewalks, and a seven-foot boulevard. Three property owners on North 9th Street would be assessed $7 per front foot for resurfacing of the road. Both special assessments would raise $37,715.
The Delta Avenue project is one of a series of streetscaping project originally proposed by the Gladstone DDA in the early 1990s. While the new project plan has significantly changed from the original proposal - which included a center boulevard - none of the other streetscaping projects required special assessments.
"We have a little bit of an issue with why they need to assess the property owners on this side of Delta when they didn't do it on that end of Delta or on 10th Street," said resident Carol Hirn. "That's discrimination. Either you're going to assess everybody or you're not going to assess everybody. Fair is fair."
The road would be narrowed by between 14 and 16 feet and angle parking would be switched to parallel parking under the proposal - a safety concern for many residents.
"So far I can find nothing that convinces me that it's going to make it safer, that it's going to make it better, I don't see any advantage whatsoever. I like it the way it is," said resident Steve Atkins.
Residents also disliked the inclusion of boulevards designed to eliminate snow removal in the Delta Avenue project plan. Using the boulevards to pile snow the city would save an estimated $15,000 per year. However, residents were concerned the dirty snow would limit grass growth, create an unsightly barrier in front of homes, and be a danger to drivers.
"We want to invite people into the city," said resident Larry Peterson. "We don't want them to drive down that street in the winter time and have to be afraid of cross traffic because they can't see around ... To restrict the vision; to pile dirty snow up in front of each house at the tax level that we pay just doesn't make sense."
However, the inclusion of the boulevard may be necessary for the city to receive a $187,000 grant for the two projects due to grant stipulations on street width and parallel parking - which force the road to be narrowed, leaving a seven-foot span on each side of the road.
"When granting opportunities come along you've got to take them. There's no way we can pave the streets without taking grants," said Department of Public Works Director Barry Lund, adding it would take the city 15 years to raise the funds needed to pave the roads included in the project without grant money.
Because the two projects are contracted through the same engineer, it is not possible to make changes to one project without jeopardizing the other project or incurring costs at the discretion of the contractor.
Delaying the start of the project could also jeopardize grant funding.
"We will never get another dollar in grant funds if we walk away from one grant, and I would be prepared to do that if that was the will of the community," said Commissioner Joe Maki. "I don't think it'd be a wise move, but if everybody said, 'we are so hard set against this that we don't want any grant funds in the future,' - because we've heard tonight we will not do street projects if there isn't grant funding."
Despite contractors scheduled to begin work on April 29 and paving on June 11, the commission moved to table both special assessments until a special meeting at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 28.
that time the commission will discuss alternative funding to replace the special assessments, ways to fund the projects without the use of grant funds, and any possible changes to the proposals.