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Special Board meeting outlines street project

All chairs were full and people spilled out of the rear doors at the special session of the Hammond Village Board on Monday, Aug. 4. The meeting was called to hear public comments on the 2008 street and sidewalk project.

Construction is set to begin the second week of August. If all goes well, it should be about done by the end of October.

The Village has declared its intention to levy special assessments against property owners to install curb and gutters along Clark, Wolf and Adams streets.

The project will require tearing up the old street to do water and sewer system improvements before laying down a new street. Project engineer Greg Adams said some of the pipes are estimated to be over 50 years old and need updating to prevent leaks and other problems.

The Village will foot the bill, which was bid at $434,195.85. However, homeowners are required to pay the assessment cost of $8 per lineal foot for the curb and gutter portion of the project.

Albrightson Excavating of Woodville will be doing the work on the project. Last year's contractor was McCabe Construction out of Eau Claire.

Engineer Greg Adams said he has been in close contact with the company as well as the utility providers. No electrical outages are expected. Affected residents will be notified of construction plans and timelines through a letter.

More voices rose from the audience when the issue of sidewalks came up for discussion. The sidewalks are being installed along Clark Street. This year's sidewalk is a continuation of the path started last year and will stop at Broadway Street.

Through letters and verbal comments, residents again expressed concerns about losing trees to make room for sidewalks, decreasing property values and rising maintenance costs.

Board President Vince Trudell said they hope to replace as many trees as possible. They discussed having five varieties for the homeowners to chose from. Additionally, they said the lawns would be restored.

Residents argued that their trees are irreplaceable, since many are around 50 feet tall and contribute to the canopy over the street.

A common question for the Board was why the streets needed sidewalks at all. Some residents said that if new sidewalks needed to be installed at all, the best place for them is by the schools. They stated that there are no other plans for this area of town and the sidewalks are unneeded.

Board member Wally Graf agreed with residents and thanked them for coming to the meeting to express their concerns.

Trudell said it is easier to put the sidewalks in at the same time as the streets, rather than tearing up people's lawns twice. He added that putting sidewalks in near the school is definitely a plan in the future, when annual street improvements get to that area.

Although it is certain the walks will be installed, their exact distance from the streets has been discussed. If the sidewalks are placed closer to the road, the residents lose less lawn but the snow becomes an issue and vise versa.

Adams said he will take both the residents and Village's concerns into consideration before laying the path.

The Board also heard concerns about two trailers parked over a sewer main on Wolf Street in the court owned by BB&C LLC. In order to update the main underneath them, the trailers need to be moved. This issue has been going on since 2006, said Board member Steve Peterson.

Spokesman and part owner of the park Dennis Benish suggested that the trailers be moved to do the repairs, but then put back on their spots.

Concerns came from the Board that a precedent would be set if that was to happen.

The audience responded with appeals for the people who live in the two trailers. Elderly and low-income people live in the park and have had their trailers in those spots for decades. Others living in the parks questioned when they would be evicted and who would be paying to destroy their homes.

Board members stressed that they aren't trying to evict people or destroy homes. They decided to allow the trailers to be put back on the property but on a limited timeline. They hope to have paperwork drawn up for it soon.

Additionally, they asked for Benish to submit a plan for the future in which all trailers are moved to be in compliance with zoning requirements.