Rough economy could put roadblock to street projects

Some officials worry residents would be put in financial hardship

March 31, 2009

Preliminary resolutions for several street reconstruction projects have been passed but could be put off depending on the outcome of contractor bids.

The Common Council backed the action despite concerns that due to an ailing economy it may be a bad time to pursue the construction, which would be special assessed on neighboring homeowners.

The projects slated for 2009 include Howard Avenue from the Lake Parkway to Kansas Avenue; Kansas Avenue from Norwich to Leroy avenues; Rutland Avenue from Leroy Avenue to a dead end; Iowa Avenue from Leroy to Bolivar avenues; Leroy Avenue from Kansas Avenue to a dead end; Illinois Avenue from Armour to Cudahy avenues and Packard Avenue from Howard Avenue to Lake Drive.

Road reconstruction would entail new pavement, curb and gutter, storm sewer and possibly new or repaired sidewalks. Only the Packard Avenue stretch would be widened.

Several council members said some residents in their districts would be put in a bad financial situation if they have to pay an additional bill for road construction.

Sue Bostedt, 1st district alderwoman, said more than 50 percent of her neighbors in the 2100 block of Leroy Avenue are elderly. She said at least two people have lost their jobs and at least three residents are disabled.

"Right now as it is, (a special assessment) would be a hardship to these people," she said.

Ted Jarosh, 2nd district alderman, said he was concerned for those on a fixed income but asked if prices to do the work would be cheaper this year rather than later on.

City Engineer Melinda Dejewski said work for contractors is down, and last year officials saw a 15 to 20 percent reduction in prices than what was estimated.

"We were anticipating some very favorable bids this year," Dejewski said.

However, she said state officials are taking 55 percent of contractors for state projects using stimulus funds, which could drive up prices for municipalities.

If the projects move forward, residents living on those streets would likely receive a bill for special assessment charges in December 2010, Dejewski said.

Chantel Balzell can be reached at (262) 446-6602.


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