Afton Hills reconstruction project uncertain
It wasn't the two lawsuits on the June 16 Afton City Council agenda that received the most debate and emotions, it was Afton's roads that took center stage.
During the meeting, council members Joe Richter and Randy Nelson had a lengthy discussion over the road reconstruction standards that were passed on Jan. 15. Richter proposed to eliminate the standards, whereas Nelson thought they should remain in place.
Richter said he felt that in order to save money they should look at each project individually and address the need rather than reconstructing them to the same standard. He indicated that a street with only a couple houses on it will see far less traffic and need less frequent reconstruction than a street that is used daily by countless vehicles.
Nelson said he felt the importance of having the standards because the roads will ultimately last longer, thus saving them money in the long run.
The council ultimately approved to eliminate the standards.
As heated as the debate was over the reconstruction standards, the real debate came with the discussion over the reconstruction of Afton Hills Drive.
It is no secret that Afton Hills Drive is in dire need of repair, as are some other roads in Afton, but the question remains -- where is the money to pay for them?
City engineer Diane Hankee brought several options of what to do with the road, whether it be addressed now or in a few years. Hankee estimated the cost to be around $300,000 for the Afton Hills Drive loop, this figure does not include the off streets or the cul du sac of Afton Hills Court.
Council member Bill Palmquist played the devil's advocate in these discussions raising the question of where the money is to pay for these improvements.
Currently, the city has around $340,000 allocated for road improvements. This does not include the $260,000 on the special reserve fund.
Even though the money is allocated to road improvements, this money could possibly go towards covering Afton's legal bill in regards to the lawsuits facing the city.
"I don't think this money is real -- that money is spoken for," he said. "These bills all will come due."
Many Afton Hills residents were in attendance to voice their frustrations.
"We need a road. You gave us a tower, you owe us a street," said resident Susan Sando, referring to Washington County's public safety radio tower in Afton that is disguised as a tree.
In the end, the council directed the city engineer to solicit bids for the Afton Hills Drive reconstruction, as well as Afton Hills Court, for reconstruction over the next two years; 2-and-a-half inches this year and the remaining 1 inch next year.