Corcoran debates which gravel roads to pave first

Council seeks Willow Drive/ Larkin Road feasibility study

Scarcity of money for road improvements has made it difficult for the city of Corcoran to make decisions about when to pave specific gravel roads.

The Corcoran City Council, Thursday, June 8, debated about which gravel road should be paved first. In the end, the Council voted 3 to 2 to authorize a feasibility study for the paving of Willow Drive/ Larkin Road. Mayor Ron Thomas and City Councilor Brian Dejewski cast the no votes.

At the meeting, the City Council also took up other business. Here are meeting highlights.

GRAVEL ROAD DEBATE

At a previous meeting, the City Council decided that Corcoran should avoid going into debt to pay for paving of gravel roads. Instead the council preferred to use present and future state highway aid. To qualify for state aid, a city street must be part of a grid of streets that links one city to the next. In Corcoran’s case, certain collector gravel roads can be part of the grid, and neighborhood gravel roads cannot.

On June 8, City Administrator Martens recommended that Corcoran begin its paving program with Trail Haven Road between County Road 117 and County Road 10. City staff based its recommendation on eligibility for state aid, traffic counts, possible future development, safety issues, maintenance level and overall costs.

Martens said Trail Haven had the highest traffic counts in 2014. More recent traffic counts were unsuccessful due to soft road conditions. Estimated construction cost is $2.6 million.

He warned that it takes time for state highway funds to build up for Corcoran. It would be years before Corcoran could afford to pave another gravel road after current and future funds are spent next year.

Kevin Gerads, resident of Cates Longhorn Road, spoke up from the audience. He urged the City Council to choose Willow Drive/ Larkin Road, a segment used extensively by commuters. He said he was tired of reckless drivers using Willow/ Larkin. He wanted something done with the road.

“The paved section of Larkin Road is really bad,” Gerads said. He asked what would happen with this street if Corcoran paves Trail Haven first.

City Councilor Mike Keefe said the S curves on Willow Drive/ Larkin Road were not safe and should be addressed.

City Councilor Jon Bottema expressed concern that paving of Trail Haven Road would increase commuter traffic through the neighborhood. He wanted the neighborhood to be neighbor friendly.

City Councilor Tony LaFave said she was concerned that costs for paving Willow Drive/ Larkin Road might be higher than costs for Trail Haven.

Several councilors studied a map showing 2014 traffic counts, found high volumes on Willow/ Larkin, and asked about costs.

Then the council authorized staff to initiate a feasibility study for paving Willow Drive/ Larkin Road.

JAYCEES DONATIONS

The City Council thanked the Northwest Area Jaycees for donating more than $50,000 to the city and then accepted the donations. The Jaycees donated $650 for the Parks and Trails Commission Tree Giveaway, $40,000 for the dynamic sign at City Hall and $15,000 for improvements to Meister Field.

STEPS TO ATTRACT BUSINESS

City Administrator Martens asked for City Council direction on action steps for attracting business to Corcoran.

City Councilor Bottema started the discussion with a report on what would be involved with re-activating Corcoran’s Economic Development Authority. He said the city would have to spell out the EDA’s powers, including whether or not it could make purchases and contracts. Also, would the EDA have a budget? Taxing authority? Who would serve on the EDA? How would it relate to the business community?

Then the council directed Martens to set up meetings with businesses to get their input on issues such as marketing the community and a potential EDA. City councilors also asked for presentations from the Chamber of Commerce and someone who could explain what would be involved with a tax increment financing district.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Administrative Services Coordinator Jessica Beise recommended that Corcoran set up Facebook and Twitter accounts and also explore other social media options. She also suggested that the city budget for a website upgrade in 2018, as well as activating a cell phone alert system, such as Code Red.

TOBACCO, BEER, LIQUOR LICENSES

The City Council granted various liquor licenses to Stanchion Bar, 10-50 Club, Mama G’s, Corcoran Bottle Shop, Golden Acres Golf Course, Shamrock Golf Course and Corcoran Lion’s Club. Sunday off-sale liquor licenses were included for some of the establishments.

The council also granted tobacco licenses to Storman’s Food & Fuel and Corcoran Crossroads.

OTHER

The City Council also:

AUTHORIZED city staff to extend a conditional job offer to the top candidate for the new public works director position. He is Kevin Mattson, currently of Wenck Associates. While at Wenck, he has worked with Corcoran on engineering/ public works projects.

DIRECTED city staff to cooperate with Medina in setting up a water connection between the two cities near the southern end of Ravinia. Each of the two cities would pay $15,000. The connection would be opened up to deal with emergencies, such as fires.

WENT INTO CLOSED SESSION to discuss potential real estate purchases related to utilities in downtown Corcoran.

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Contact Susan Van Cleaf at [email protected]