Delano poised to begin street improvements

Why are we getting sidewalks on our street when we’ve never had them before?

Will reconstructing my street take care of the giant puddle that forms at the end of my driveway when it rains?

Delano residents had many questions like these at the Tuesday, Jan. 15, public hearing on 2013 street improvements. The Delano City Council and city staff listened and said some of the questions were ones they hadn’t thought about. City Engineer Vince Vandertop asked residents to talk with their neighbors to identify problems that Delano can take care of during this year’s street work.

“We would love to hear about specific issues,” he said. But residents need to contact City Hall really soon. City staff must draw up plans and specifications in time for contractors to submit bids to Delano in March.

Delano’s consulting engineers have drafted a feasibility report for $4.8 million in proposed 2013 street improvements. Some of the streets involved are Shadywood Lane, Meadow Lark Lane, Elm Avenue and Bridge Avenue. This year’s work has the distinction of being the first of five street improvement projects listed in Delano’s Capital Improvement Plan. The city will spread the five projects over a span of 15 years, VanderTop said.

To come up with the plan, city staff and consultants inspected city streets, ranked them according to their condition and decided what kind of improvements need to be done to each roadway. Streets such as Shadywood Lane that are in the worst condition are earmarked for reconstruction. Those that are in somewhat better shape are scheduled to be reclaimed. Some streets will require only a mill and overlay. And streets in top condition will be kept that way with seal coating.

Delano held a neighborhood meeting in mid December to inform residents about 2013 street work and collect feedback. To get the word out to more people, city officials placed the topic on the Jan. 15 City Council agenda.

A frustrated resident of Shadywood Lane vented about neighbors discharging their sump pumps in the direction of her driveway and back yard. In the winter she has to cope with a sheet of ice at end of her driveway resulting from storm water discharge. “Are you going to fix it up?,” she asked, saying that she didn’t want to pay for half-baked job.

Mayor Dale Graunke replied that Shadywood Lane has a high water table and a bad road bed. A lot of problems on this and other Delano streets were not addressed long ago. During street improvement projects, Delano can work on many of the problems. The city has money in its storm water fund, so drainage work can be done at the same time as street work.

“We can’t fix all the problems over night,” he said. “If you want us to raise taxes by 25 percent, we can fix it all up.”

Financial help amounting to $1 million will come to Delano via state highway aid for cities with populations over 5,000. But Delano’s state aid streets must be designed to state aid street standards.

“We’re not going to pass this ($1 million in state aid) up,” said City Councilor Betsy Stolfa.

Engineers came up with design standards for reconstructed streets. One standard involves the width of streets. Currently, many Delano streets, including Shadywood Lane, are 36 feet wide, Engineer Vandertop said. Narrow streets have the advantage of “traffic calming,” meaning that motorists routinely slow down. On really narrow 26 foot wide streets, only one car at a time can move ahead when two cars meet. The engineering team settled upon 32 foot wide streets for Delano — narrow enough so that the city can save on street construction and snow plowing costs but wide enough so cars can pass each other.

As a matter of policy, Delano decided to construct sidewalks on streets that are not cul-de-sacs. The policy applies even to Shadywood Lane, which starts at Elm Avenue and loops back to Elm.

Several Shadywood Lane residents asked why they needed sidewalks when they haven’t had them before. City Administrator Phil Kern said Delano Superintendent of Schools Matt Schoen has received complaints from parents about children not having a safe way to walk to school. For this reason, neighborhood children are being bused to school.

One Shadywood resident said students are using her street for overflow parking and youngsters walking to school have to walk around the cars. City Administrator Kern answered that Delano has enacted parking restrictions on Shadywood Lane because of this problem.



The City Council also:

APPROVED the request of Kenneth and Sara Beamish for a dance license and on sale strong beer and wine licenses for the Bohemian Wine Bar and Pub that will be located at 221 Second St. N. (the former Ditty Plumbing and Heating building).

ACCEPTED the feasibility report for constructing Project One public improvements in the new Northwest Business Park, planned for the area between Highway 12 and 72nd Street.

APPROVED a preliminary development agreement for the Northwest Business Park and authorized the preparation of plans and specifications for public improvements upon completion of the agreement.