Andover neighborhood requests paving of gravel roads

Three more gravel road segments in Andover may be paved.

The Andover City Council June 5 held a public hearing and then ordered that plans and specifications be prepared for the paving of 173rd Lane, Heather Street and 174th Avenue east of Round Lake Boulevard.

If the council ultimately approves the bid at a later meeting, it said it would pay for 50 percent of the project.

City Engineer and Public Works Superintendent David Berkowitz estimates that the road paving and storm water runoff improvement work, which includes adding curb and gutter, will cost $304,260. This would mean the city would cover $152,130 and the 16 residential parcel owners would each be assessed $9,510 to cover the remaining $152,130.

Berkowitz said if a resident chose to pay the assessment over a full 10-year period, the annual principal and interest payment would be $2,523 based off the current estimate.

The project, if approved, would not go under construction until May 2013, according to Berkowitz.

Ten out of 16 property owners in the project area signed a petition requesting their roads be paved. There were no signatures from the property owners of the other six parcels opposing the project. In fact, one resident said he would have signed the petition but he was not home when the petition organizers knocked on his door.

The council on a 4-1 vote asked Berkowitz to prepare the plans and specs, which companies would use to determine its bid proposals. Mayor Mike Gamache said one of his goals is for the city to help pave gravel roads when residents in those areas ask for it.

“I think more than likely this is the best way and a final resolution more or less than trying to find something that would be a stop gap,” Gamache said.

Councilmember Sheri Bukkila voted against moving this project to the design phase because she wanted to see if there was a way the city could solve the drainage problems, but not pave the road and add curb and gutter.

“I’m not in favor of the project, not because I don’t think it won’t solve your problems, but because I’d like more answers simply to have more of the information to make the justification to everyone else in the city that this is what is needed for you,” Bukkila said.

She feels the city’s policy on assisting with gravel road paving costs would concentrate on thoroughfare roads rather than streets that only a small number of people would be using consistently.

Andover used to require that directly benefiting property owners pay 100 percent of the costs of paving the gravel road in front of their home. The council last year amended its road assessment policy to open up the possibility of the city covering half the costs in certain situations.

The factors the assessment policy manual said the council needs to consider are what role the street serves to the surrounding area, the impact on the city budget and whether other similar projects are planned in the general vicinity during the same construction season.

Then-Councilmember Don Jacobson said during the March 1, 2011 meeting that “we’re trying to give some sort of incentive to get these gravel roads paved.”

Gamache said the high costs of paving a gravel road would make it difficult for these projects to get done without city financial assistance.

Councilmember Julie Trude said at the June 5 meeting that she believes gravel roads are a negative for people wanting to sell their property, which can impact the whole community if people have problems selling their property. She said the curb and gutter will help get rid of the ruts on the side of the road she saw when driving through the neighborhood.

Berkowitz said there is no drainage ditch system in this neighborhood, so water run off from rain storms has been going to low lying areas. This is why Berkowitz recommended concrete curb and gutter. The Genthon Ponds and Rolling Forest neighborhoods in northeast Andover had gravel roads that were paved last year. Rolling Forest had a drainage system and was able to keep this. Genthon Ponds’ bituminous curb was replaced with concrete curb.

Although concrete curb costs more, Berkowitz has said it lasts longer and thus can reduce reconstruction costs in the future. A neighborhood in southern Andover was able to keep most of its old concrete curb and therefore have a lower assessment.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]

  • joe

    Councilmember Trude,

    “Councilmember Julie Trude said at the June 5 meeting that she believes gravel roads are a negative for people wanting to sell their property, which can impact the whole community if people have problems selling their property.”

    Please do not speak for all people that live on gravel roads. Given the choice I would always live on a gravel road. You must have been asleep this past year when the neighborhoods flooded because people like you think it is a great idea to cover the landscape with concrete and hope the stormwater drainage system works. No thanks I love how my water table is regenerated every time it rains and I do not send water to the Mississippi. If I had the choice between a gravel road and flooded backyard and basement, I would go with the gravel road. Have you read why White Bear Lake is dropping? Probably not people like you govern with blinders on.