Residents of Highland Drive want to keep their neighborhood with a country look, and that includes the street surface itself.
And, they came to last Monday's Blue Earth City Council meeting to voice their concerns.
The council had moved their regular meeting from the City Hall to the larger meeting room at the Public Safety Building, and it was a good decision.
Citizens crowded in for the portion of the meeting that was a public hearing on the four street and utility projects scheduled for this summer. In fact, it became standing room only.
At the meeting they heard City Engineer Wes Brown and City Administrator Kathy Bailey explain the projects set for portions of Third, 11th and 12th streets as well as Highland Drive.
They also explained the method of assessing for the work.
Plans called for the Highland Drive project to include reconstructing a 36-foot-wide street, with curb and gutter and parking on one side only. The other side would be marked as a walking/biking lane.
Several residents complained that they did not want curb and gutter, saying that would make their street look as though it was in the city instead of in the country.
Brown responded that the curb and gutter was necessary for two reasons. First, it protects the edge of the pavement from wear and tear and eventually crumbling away.
The other reason was for drainage of storm water.
"We are doing away with the ditches and culverts under driveways," Brown says. "The rain water will drain into the gutters and into catch basins, then into the pond or the river."
One resident of the neighborhood did say he was in favor of the curb and gutter, as water and gravel drain onto his property after each storm.
Bailey pointed out that the residents will be assessed for a 36-foot-wide street with curb and gutter whether or not the street actually has curb and gutter or is narrower than 36 feet according to the city's assessment policy. Several citizens also said they did not want sidewalks or a biking/walking lane on the street. They pointed out that people walking or biking now use the street as is, often going down the center of the street.
After the public hearing the council voted to proceed with all the projects, including putting in curb and gutter on Highland Drive.
They did debate the walking/biking lane markings, however, as well as parking on one side of the street only.
In the end they passed a motion to proceed with the project with the full 36-foot-wide street, but not restrict parking on either side of the street and not mark a walking/biking trail on the one parking lane.
Councilman Dan Brod and Mayor Rick Scholtes voted against the motion.
An earlier amendment to the motion that included keeping the grassy center of the cul de sac passed unanimously.
The total estimated costs of all four of the summer street projects not including the State Highway 169 project is $2.148 million.
Of that figure, local residents on the project streets will be assessed $503,500 for streets $79.50 per foot, $127,710 for water service from the main to residences ($2,365 per affected residence), $20,100 for sanitary sewer lateral connections ($2,010 per affected residence).
Other citizen concerns included keeping access open to homes on Highland Drive during the work, length of utility service interruptions, and replacing and watering of sod on boulevards.