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Evergreen moves forward; street widths still undecided

A street project that continues to garner an unusual volume of correspondence at Woodbury City Hall was reconsidered Wednesday after it previously failed to move forward due to lack of support.

The Evergreen neighborhood construction project was approved as originally proposed, however, details of how wide two of the main roads will be has not been decided.

Many residents of the large Woodbury neighborhood opposed narrowing Tamberwood Trail and Pinehurst Road, while others said going from 44 to 28 feet would curb a speeding problem in their community.

The arguments on both sides resulted in a failed motion when Woodbury City Council was faced with making a decision last month and decided not to order the project this year to give staff and homeowners more time to plan.

But at the Wednesday, April 9, meeting, City Council Member Paul Rebholz said all discussions with residents showed how important it was to fix the numerous crumbling streets first and decide later if Tamberwood and Pinehurst should be narrowed.

“I just think we cannot afford not to move forward with a project of this scope,” Rebholz said, adding, “There is enough reasons beyond these mechanics to move forward with the project.”

City Administrator Clint Gridley said the council could approve the project without the two streets, but assessments would be a lot trickier since those homes would still bear the cost.

“The whole aspect of how you portion assessments becomes something less clear,” he said.

Due to the size of the neighborhood, engineers anticipate reconstruction over two seasons anyway, which gives everyone involved more time to work out the details.

City Attorney Mark Vierling said the city could bid the entire project, estimated at $6 million, to attract competitive pricing and work out details of the designs with the contractor later in the process.

Rebholz agreed, but emphasized that everyone should understand that Tamberwood Trail and Pinehurst Road will not necessarily be done this year and may not be narrowed to 28 feet as originally proposed.

All neighborhood leaders, homeowners’ association members and residents of Evergreen have urged the city to fix the roads, he added. The only argument lies within Tamberwood and Pinehurst widths.

“These other streets really aren’t at issue,” Rebholz said. “We hear people pleading for us to do them.”

City Council also discussed changing the width from the originally proposed 28 feet to 32 feet with a 5-foot sidewalk, a possible compromise between existing wide streets and narrow ones with trails.

Homeowners’ association members previously reassured the city they could take care of a 5-foot sidewalk and that it was a preferred alternative to a narrow street with a trail.

The resolution to pass the project leaves the city’s options open and allows staff to fine tune those details later on in the process, Vierling said.

“You can always delete but you can’t always add,” he said.

Evergreen resident Allen Volkenant gathered 45 signatures in a petition advocating for approval of the project.

He told the City Council the objectionable part represents only two roads and a small percentage of the budget, which is why the city should move forward with the rest of the project this year.

“With the statistics that you have in front of you, we implore you not to throw out the baby with the bath water,” Volkenant said.

Approval of the full Evergreen project was not listed on the agenda. Members were presented with a modified proposal to fix other streets in Whispering Pines and Tamarack Road and Currell Boulevard, which is why Council Member Amy Scoggins was hesitant to approve the project because Evergreen residents weren’t notified that a discussion would be taking place.

But Rebholz said the city already lost three weeks this year and it’s crucial to make a decision.

“Someone I respect a great deal said to me ‘you got elected to make decisions, make them,’” he said.

The project passed 4-1 with Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens abstaining as she is a resident of Evergreen.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.