The latest in a water and sewer project plagued by delays and controversies is an oversight when it comes to sidewalk accessibility and a concern that driveway replacements aren’t uniform.
The two issues came up at the Flandreau city council meeting May 21. The council asked the engineer on the project to come up with more specifics and bring information and costs back to the next meeting.
City Administrator Jeff Pederson said that handicapped accessible sidewalk entrances from the street aren’t included in the project’s plan but are an Americans with Disabilities Act requirement. The cost to add them on First Avenue sidewalks being replaced because of the water and sewer main work is an estimated $31,000.
The initial plan was to replace sidewalks with whatever was there before the project was started, Pederson said. Public infrastructure under a federal mandate needs to be accessible, and a good-faith effort has to be made to become compliant, he said. It would be difficult for a city to take exception to a federal standard, he said.
Plus, making sidewalks accessible is the right thing to do because it is a benefit for citizens for safety and access, he said.
“I found that worthy of reconsideration,” Pederson said.
Council member Jason Unger said he looked at the intersections, and the city should put in the ramps where they make sense. “We should just do it and get it done,” he said.
There are a few odd areas where they probably aren’t needed because they wouldn’t connect with a sidewalk, he said. But, First Avenue is a prominent street that goes between the school and the Flandreau Aquatic Center near the west end and a church and the hospital near the east end. Those are certainly locations where the city would want accessible sidewalks, he said.
The timing of the project is such that sidewalks will be replaced soon. Crews are working on curb and gutter now.
There are about 40 locations for potential ramps, said Justin Petersen, senior project engineer with Clark Engineering. “Somewhere along the way, the decision was made to take what was there and replace it,” he said. He will bring more firm plans for the ramps back to council for consideration.
Council President Dan Sutton said the city should do the ramps, but taking that amount of money out of the contingency budget this early in the year is a hit. He, like other council members, wondered why it wasn’t brought up before.
“Plain and simple, it’s just a mess,” he said of the project and added that the city doesn’t have a uniform sidewalk policy because no one in the past has wanted to enforce it.
“It should be done. It just should have been brought to our attention in the project from the start,” he said of the ramps.
Sutton also took issue with how the driveways approaches are being replaced on First Avenue as part of the water and sewer project. In the 800 block, where crews have been working on curb and gutter, the replacement approaches on the south side of the street where the new lines have been buried look fine, but the north side looks terrible, he said. It should be consistent, even though the driveways on the north side were not as disturbed in the process, he said.
Sutton walked along the street before the city meeting and every property owner had something to say, he said.
“There were conversations had that promises were made, and promises weren’t being filled.
Some of the approach work is shoddy at best. It’s really bad,” he said. Somewhere along the line, there has been miscommunication, he said. “It’s a tough situation because none of us were in those conversations, and none of us were there.”
He asked that something be done to find a better solution.
The council also approved a change order that determines which direction waste water will flow in one area of town. The change will clear up some drainage issues, said Petersen with Clark Engineering.
In other business,