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City eyes street reconstruction

5/9/2014

By MATTHEW KENRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

Tentative plans to reconstruct 13th from Main to Milner progressed during the Hays City Commission's meeting Thursday.

Mayor Henry Schwaller IV cast the lone dissenting vote against a measure allowing an engineer to design proposed changes. Possible renovations include a $1.5 million base plan to replace driving lines and intersections, a $341,886 project to replace the water service and the stormwater infrastructure and $204,000 to replace all sidewalks, curbs and parking spots.

There are other alternative plans, such as inlaid brick streets from Main to Oak for $150,480, brick crosswalks for $13,500, decorative and standard steel street lights for $142,200 and a Chestnut Street District monument for $10,200.

Commissioners declined to consider moving forward with four landscape planters for $21,600 and a decorative traffic signal for $168,000.

Schwaller said he wants to wait and implement a "cohesive" look for downtown rather than focus on four blocks of 13th. The price tag for engineering a design for just the lighting is an estimated $14,000, he said.

Commissioner Kent Steward said the reconstruction would add another chapter to the downtown's redevelopment.

"We've already made this huge investment in Eighth Street, and this would bracket the core of downtown and continue the architectural theme that we've already established," Steward said. "I think it would greatly enhance the aesthetics of downtown Hays."

Schwaller said the street has not seen significant improvements since the Vietnam War. The project would be paid for in cash, and taxes would not increase.

The money cannot be applied to help the budget struggles facing Hays USD 489, he said.

"The clever person who thought we should give this to the school district so they can pay salaries for a year -- nice idea. That has nothing to do with us," he said. "We are going to rehabilitate this street."

The commission can vote later to proceed or change course once the designs are presented.

In other business:

* The chamber was crowded with supporters of a measure allowing a community group, Western Kansas Skate Park Committee, to raise funds for expansions to the skate park at Aubel-Bickle Park. The commission voted to allow city staff to hold the money the group will raise, and the WKSC has two years to raise the money for the first phase and five years for the second.

The group's $250,000 plan includes constructing a skating bowl and installing obstacles on the empty court next to the existing park.

* Stripe and Seal was hired for $233,458 to replace waterlines on Hickory and Ash from 27th to 29th.

* Commissioners approved a contract with APAC-Kansas Inc. to work on water mains on Elm from Fort to Fourth this summer for $151,406.

* A leak detection survey for up to 180 miles of pipe was authorized for a cost not to exceed $43,920.

* Mayoral appointments to local boards were confirmed. Errol Wuertz was approved for the Airport Advisory Committee, Justin McClung and Kris Munsch for the Hays Area Planning Commission, Dorothy McRae for the Hays Beautification Committee and David Goodlett for the Hays Public Library Board.

* Schwaller was chosen as the commission's representation on the Ellis County Coalition Board.