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Westgate paving project approved even though two city councilmen live there

By Ralph Echtinaw

Westgate subdivision homeowners will get new pavement this year despite reservations of two councilmen who live there.

Tom Reed and George Kubin reside on West Essex and aren’t entirely happy to be getting new pavement when other city streets are in worse condition.

Reed said he “just don’t think it looks good. People are saying, ‘They are city council; therefore they get their street done.’”

Westgate layout

Westgate subdivision is located south of M-46, north of Cheeseman and just east of the M-46 bridge over the Pine River. 

DPW Superintendent Mark Abbott told Reed that Kubin “had the same concerns several years ago when I wanted to do some work out there. We did hold off, and the pavement has deteriorated more.”

Reed asked how much more the job will cost if we wait.

“What you’ll do is you’ll run out of the window where that treatment will work,” Abbott said. “It won’t hold up. It will just crack, and you won’t have much life out of it. If we wait a year I think we’ll miss that window. And then we’ll have to go back in and mill it off and put at least two inches over. And that’s going to cost us probably a little more than twice.”

Mayor James Kelly asked Clerk Mari Anne Ryder to make a note that “there was discussion about the reluctance of some of the council to pave their street.”

But the vote was unanimous to award the bid to Central Asphalt of Mt. Pleasant for $129,000. That was so much lower than usual on account of the collapse in oil prices that Abbott added another $35,000 of work on West Essex and still stayed under his budget of $170,000.

“Their prices this year knocked me out,” he said.

Public Services Director Keith Risdon said the same job might cost twice as much after the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

So why are Westgate streets being taken care of when other city streets are in worse condition?

The short answer is that other streets need underground work to sewer and water lines that the city can’t afford just now. And it would be a waste of time and money to replace a road while leaving the sewer and water lines to deteriorate further. Abbott specifically mentioned the streets between M-46 and North Street as being in bad condition.

The water and sewer lines in Westgate are in good condition, Abbott said, so it makes sense to resurface the roads. It won’t be a total tear down and replace, but “to the layman it’s going to look like new pavement just about throughout,” Abbott said.

“I think we need to do it so our neighbors can have good streets,” Kubin said.

City pool

City Manager Kurt Giles told council that the city pool will probably be closed this season but will be ready to open if possible.

“Keith (Risdon) has been working toward trying to have a season, although there’s been a lot of uncertainty about what is going to be able to be done,” he said. “It would normally have opened the Saturday after school gets out (June 6). We don’t see a way we can do that at this point. But when remains a question. Of course, We don’t want to take chances, and we don’t know what comes next in terms of COVID-19 or any guidance we receive. This isn’t turning out like we hoped it would. I would like to salvage something out of the season, but it’s been difficult for Keith to even give potential applicants (a date) when he can put them to work.”

Council agreed with Giles’ assessment. “Even if you get it open I’m not sure many people would send their kids down there,” Roger Collison said.

Bill Leonard agreed: “There are so many issues and problems that can come up with trying to open the pool. Hopefully the pool can stand at the ready to be open, but I really really think at this juncture we need to stand down on the opening unless there’s a drastic change in what can and cannot be done.”

Mayor Kelly said, “Kids: You can’t keep them apart in a pool. They’re going to get close together. I’m sorry.”

Factories re-opening

During council comments time, Collison mentioned the outbreak of COVID-19 at the Riverside Nursing Home (12 cases and one death) and worried that something similar could happen at Apex Marine, Jer-Den Plastics, Alpha Custom Extrusions and Plasti Paint in the Woodside Industrial Centre as they re-start production.

Reed questioned whether these manufacturers should be allowed to open at all. “I don’t see how making a pontoon is essential,” he said. “That concerns me, I guess, how they are deemed essential.”

Resurrection Life meeting cancelled

Kelly said that the Resurrection Life pastor said he wanted to have a meeting on Thursday, May 7, and Kelly “strongly suggested that they not.” The pastor changed his mind. “We all want to get back to worshiping together, but don’t want to kill people in the process,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to use your head.”

DPW garage roof replacement

Councilmen approved a $17,715 contract with C&D Builders of St. Louis to put a new roof over the leaky old roof on the south part of the DPW building.

Taking the old roof off is problematic and costly, so the new roof will be installed three inches over the old roof.

The old roof was sealed with a spray coating 15 years ago but is leaking again.

C&D Builders have metal roof experience, having put them on park pavilions and the cemetery garage.

Other bidders on the job were Lott Builders ($22,000) and Freed Construction ($19,392).

Budget Workshop

The council’s annual budget workshop was set for 8 a.m. Wednesday, May 27. Whether it is a teleconference meeting like the last three city council meetings or not depends on state government. The relaxing of Open Meetings Act requirements is set to expire May 12, but could always be extended. If it expires the meeting will be in person.

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