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Sidewalk concerns in Wells

By Staff | Feb 18, 2018

Maybe sidewalks are not such a good idea.

At least that is the opinion of some Wells residents who are not necessarily willing to take on the added costs of sidewalks when they are potentially added to the new Sixth Street SW reconstruction project.

Joel Thisius, a resident on Sixth Street, had many concerns regarding the added cost and spoke on his concerns during the public comment portion of the Wells City Council meeting.

“I really see no reason for a sidewalk. There are some across the street from us that people can use,” he stated to the council. “It’s going to be a pretty heavy load for the people who will have to pay for that. It’ll cost us quite a bit. We need the street reconstructed, no doubt about that, and I understand you have to do one with the other, but I’m not sure it’s needed. Many of the homes on that street were built close enough to the street that this wouldn’t be an issue.”

Thisius estimated that 95 percent of the residents on that street would appreciate keeping the sidewalks the way they are because of the structure of their homes.

“For a good number of those folks, it will be a struggle for them to pay that on their taxes. Some people are up there $18,000 to $20,000. I’m wondering if this is something you have to do. I would suggest maybe not incorporating this into this particular project,” said Thisius. “As far as people walking to school, I think it would be so minimal that it wouldn’t affect us. And as far as little kids outside, you don’t see little kids using the sidewalk and playing outside anymore, it’s a change from back then.”

Councilwoman Crystal Dulas asked city engineer Travis Winter where Bolton & Menk was in their layout plans regarding the street improvement project. Winter explained that plans were being drawn out and any changes to those plans would have to take place.

“The sooner the better,” said Winter. “And we are hoping to bid (the project) out in March.”

“The sidewalk, could that be a separate option?” asked councilman John Herman.

“From a planning standpoint, I would recommend making a decision go or no go on that. We are assuming to put them in but it is easier to take them out now than to put them back in later,” was Winter’s response to the question.

“I was here tonight against the sidewalks also,” said Dan Neubauer. “At the last council meeting, there was discussion about sidewalks on the west end, possibly on one side and possibly not at all the last two blocks. And when I came to the meeting, the sidewalks were in there and there was no one to talk to about that change. It was just in there. I?was wondering when it would be finalized and if we had an option to change that. I visited a few towns. Around Blue Earth’s school, there are no sidewalks. In Mankato’s new housing developments, there are no sidewalks.”

Through open discussion with the council, Thisius decided to petition other residents of Sixth Street to see who would be in favor of sidewalks on both sides of the street and who would not, in order to get a better idea about how interested people would be about the sidewalks.

With that, the council turned to their agenda, though it was a fairly brief agenda to go through.

The council:

Approved a lawful gambling exempt permit for a Wells Fire Department raffle;

Went through and amended 2018 City Council and committee appointments, as well as approving the 2018 City Council and board meeting schedules;

Approved upgrading the City Hall’s Bevcomm Firewall,

Received an update from Brakebush on their pretreatment progress, which is said to have its details finalized within the next few weeks.

The Wells City Council also had a special meeting one hour before their regular meeting to discuss Trunk Highway 22 with Minnesota Department of Transportation liaisons Forrest Hasty and?Steve Oswald where portions of the project were discussed.

Hasty requested any further input and ideas from the council regarding the project. While the council did throw around some ideas with sidewalks, added trees, and establishing right of ways, no action was taken during this special meeting.