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Residents push for 40th Street improvements

Landowners along 40th Street put pressure on Dickinson City Administrator Shawn Kessel and city commission members Monday to advance improvement plans on the largely undeveloped stretch of road — just not on their dime.

Under the city’s Capital Infrastructure Improvement Plan, 40th Street is due for what landowners say are much-needed underground and above-ground improvements, including pavement work, and water and sewer. But with the city falling $2 million short of the $7.3 million price tag, 40th Street residents are being asked to finance the difference and have just 30 days to draft a distribution plan.

Twelve businesses and residents met with the KLJ, the construction management consulting group, last week to determine how to split the bill. But representatives at Monday’s city commission meeting said the choice couldn’t be made in such a tight timeframe.

“Thirty days is nearly not enough time to make a decision on this,” said William Read, speaking to commissioners as a representative of Integrated Production Service, which occupies a large plot of land along 40th Street. “I wish we would have been told about this six months ago, three months ago, instead of a week ago.”

A design for development could be ready in as little as two weeks, administrator Kessel told the commission members, with bidding to follow. He said that although he could understand concerns over the 30-day time crunch, prolonging the decision would push back construction.

“Thirty days I recognize as being a difficult time frame, but it was more in recognition of trying to get the project done this year than anything else,” Kessel said. “If it takes 60 days or 90 days, I think that’s fine. It just puts in jeopardy when the project could be completed. You might be looking at an initiation this year and a completion next year.”

No one wants improvements done this year more than landowners, who raised concerns over accessibility and driving conditions on the street.

“I would not want my wife driving down that road,” Read said.

But as a tax-paying resident of Dickinson, he questioned why he and fellow 40th Street residents should have to pay more in fees to have the street improved.

“Two million dollars is quite a hunk of money for anybody,” Read said.

A meeting between Kessler, 40th Street residents and KLJ is set for later this week, but even if the group manages to come to a payment agreement, improvements will likely continue into 2015.

“Ideally, we should already have stakes in the ground, material should be stockpiled on site,” said Brant Malsam, professional engineer with KLJ. “In all reality, I don’t think you can get it done this year. I don’t think we can tell the contractor to complete it this year or the price would just be astronomical.”

Improvements could be made in multiple phases to handle costs, city engineer Craig Kubas said.