City council, school district discuss streets to new BESPC
Providing new roads to the area where the new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center will be located brought school district officials to Thursday’s Baldwin City Council meeting.
Baldwin School Board Member Ande Parks and Supt. Paul Dorathy attended the meeting at noon in City Hall. The Thursday meeting was caused by a lack of quorum on Monday. Parks and Dorathy are concerned that the planning commission has recommended that Elm Street be extended from 11th Street to Lawrence Ave. as part of the construction.
That and extending Bullpup Drive, which goes to the present Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center, could cost an estimated $2 million and the district doesn’t have that money figured into the project.
“The district position is that would be beneficial, but there is no evidence about that being necessary,” said Parks. “I don’t think we can pay for it and I don’t think the city can pay for it.”
Dorathy said a traffic study is being done to help determine what’s needed regarding streets. But he echoed Parks’ belief that the full extension of Elm Street is too much.
“The part of going all the way through with Elm Street is over and above what we planned,” said Dorathy. “I know it would be nice to do that and it would help traffic flow. But I realize your budget is as tight as ours is.”
City Administrator Jeff Dingman said a benefit district would have to be established to eventually pay for the project. The city would build the streets, but those that benefit — most notably the school district — would have to pay for it over time.
“This is a timely discussion,” said Dingman. “As we start the process it is good to know what that benefit district will be in allocating cost between the benefit district and our cost. We need to start making some decisions and determine where that goes.”
Council Member Ted Brecheisen Jr. noted that developers are responsible for paying for streets in subdivisions they build and the school district should be no different.
“Why don’t we want to follow that policy?” said Brecheisen. “I’m a little disappointed that this street thing wasn’t worked out before the bond issue. We’ve got a lot to look at with this. I don’t know how much further we can go with this until we know more.”
Dorathy said the traffic study is out for bids and it’s hoped that it will be completed in time for the next planning commission meeting. He also said the $22.9 million bond issue voters passed in November doesn’t include money for streets.
“There is no contingency in the bond for that,” he said.
Council Member Ken Wagner wanted to know the timeline involved, among other items.
“Are you getting shovel ready?” said Wagner. “Are there any other problem areas?”
Dorathy said the district wants to go to bids with the project in April and that ball field work would be the first on the list. Building streets factors into the four new baseball and softball fields that will be part of the project.
“We’re trying to move along with bids as quickly as possible,” said Dorathy. “Yeah, we’re trying move along because bids are coming in low right now and we want to take advantage of that.”