Thursday, December 17, 2009
City leaders order street, sidewalk study
By SUE WATSON
The Holly Springs Board of Aldermen authorized a study of the total needs for street and sidewalk improvements at the December 1 board of aldermen meeting.
IMS Engineers, consultant on the Memphis Street and Martin Street projects, will provide the comprehensive study at a retainer fee of $20,000.
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry said a projected cost to repair all sidewalks, build new ones in areas that do not have them, and to repair all major streets and important side streets was estimated by the utility department to cost about $6.1 million several years ago and he thinks it could cost $7 million now.
DeBerry said the project could be phased and the engineering consultant would help find funding sources to do the work. He suggested the city may have to sell bonds to do part of the work.
Road and Bridge funds provided by Marshall County to the city comes to $450,000 annually, not enough to make any headway in paving streets, he said, since about half that money is used for street maintenance. By the time half the streets in town were re-paved at a rate of one a year, the ones paved first would be ready for another overhaul, he said, using Rising Star Road as an example.
“We have to seriously work at a bond issue and phase it,” he told the board. “You will note, when committed to do a project, IMS committed to help us find funds to do it. We need to retain their services to know what the cost will be and find funding sources or issue bonds.”
Many sidewalks are buckled by tree roots, putting the city at risk of liability, he said. Other streets like Woodward and West Boundary lack sidewalks and they should be built, he said. But the high priority areas would remain the main streets in town with the smaller ones falling in line for sidewalk repair, he said.
“The longer we wait, the more that cost will escalate,” he said.
He said the “deplorable street and sidewalk conditions speak volumes” to visitors and prospective businesses who may be interested in locating in Holly Springs.
Alderman Johnnie Bagley offered concern that IMS may move too slowly.
“They have the cemetery (contract), too?” she said.
“Yes, that half-a-million dollar project will be to design and build kiosks and to restore stone. There is no major renovation,” DeBerry said.
The city is waiting on the State Department of Archives and History to approve a contractor to repair the front gate at Hill Crest Cemetery, he said.
Alderman Garrie Colhoun urged DeBerry to push Archives and History to approve the repair of the front gate saying citizens want the work done.
“It will be the same ball of wax when you start messing with them stones, too,” he said, alluding to the cleaning of monuments in the historic section paid for under the grant.
Alderman Russell Johnson was concerned where the money would come from to retain IMS to study the street and sidewalk needs and costs.
DeBerry said the $20,000 would come from contingency funds but the study would be rolled into the cost of the project, he said.
“Ninety-nine percent of what I heard during the election was we need streets and we need sidewalks,” he said.
Alderman Harvey Payne agreed the study was needed but said there should be other engineers offering competing prices for the study and ultimately for the project of building streets and sidewalks.
“No, you already have a general service contract with IMS,” DeBerry said, “but we don’t advertise on every contract for professional services we do.”
“We can do Boundary and College Avenue with stimulus funds, but we will never catch up doing one street at a time,” he said.
Johnson asked if there are monies in the contingency fund to pay $20,000 for the study. City clerk Belinda McDonald said the city expects to put $200,000 in the fund but “none of it is there until it comes in.”
“So, this assessment provides feedback?” said alderman Calvin James.
“We can get a more fixed cost, a more in-depth study,” DeBerry said.
James mentioned several streets - Woodward and West Street - which he said is heavily trafficked by county equipment and crews. He said the county should help repair streets that it helps destroy with too much traffic.
With that discussion concluded, the board of aldermen unanimously approved retaining IMS Engineers to perform a comprehensive study of street and sidewalk needs and costs to repair.
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