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|Paynesville Press - June 6, 2001|
City contemplating paving gravel alleys
In an attempt to save money, the city of Paynesville is contemplating paving all its gravel alleys in residential areas. The city currently has 13 gravel alleys with less than a mile of road surface.|
Over a 10-year period, maintenance on paved alleys is estimated at about $5,000 (sealcoating) compared to $20,000 (gravel and blading) for a gravel alley, a savings of $15,000, said Ron Mergen, public works director. The city spends about $2,000 a year on alley maintenance.
The public works committee sent out 130 surveys in May asking residents living along gravel alleys how they would feel if the city would pave all these alleys and split the cost with the homeowners.
Only 50 surveys were returned. Of that number, 16 favored paving the alleys, 26 were against the idea, and eight were undecided. The majority of respondents opposed paving the alleys, but the survey was far from conclusive because the turnout was so low.
The current city policy would require homeowners to pay for 100 percent of the paving on the alleys. Alleys are paved only when the city receives a request by a petition from the homeowners. According to Mergen, only one residential alley has been paved thus far. This was done about five years ago after residents along the alley submitted a petition to the city.
The city proposed to change the policy to a 50-50 cost share between homeowners and the city. The city could leave the petition policy in place, or for maximum efficiency in construction and maintenance all the alleys could be paved at once.
On the surveys, several homeowners were in favor of paving the alley if they didn't have to pay for it. Others felt paving was a good way to keep the dust levels down in the summer.
Many other homeowners, though, were concerned about speeds on paved alleys. Some asked if speed bumps could be used to keep people from driving too fast, but speed bumps would make snow removal difficult, Mergen said. According to state statute, speed limits are 10 miles per hour on alleys unless established by the city.
Other homeowners didn't understand the benefit to them of having the alley blacktopped and therefore could see no reason for them to pay for it. Others were recently assessed for the last street project and didn't feel they could afford more.
The public works committee would pave only a 12-foot width through the residential alleys. The alleys in the commercial district are already paved.
Cost of paving all the alleys is estimated at $40,000 or $2.50 per linear foot. Mergen estimates the assessments would range anywhere from $140 to $400 per lot. "Since the project is small, it would probably be assessed over a five-year period," Mergen added.
If the city decides to pave the gravel alleys, it would likely be done in 2002 in conjunction with the next street project.
The public works committee will discuss the survey results and what to do with the alleys at their next meeting on Wednesday, June 27, at 7 p.m. in the city hall conference room. Committee meetings are open to the public.
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