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City planning 2009 improvements

While work on Morris' downtown streets continues, the city already is making plans for next summer's project.

The City Council on Tuesday discussed a feasibility study on utilities and street improvements in the Highland Homes Addition, slated for 2009.

The project will improve most of the addition's water, sanitary sewer and streets, and bring storm sewer lines into a neighborhood often beset by water problems.

The preliminary cost estimate is about $2.65 million.

Jeff Kuhn, an engineer for Widseth Smith Nolting, said almost all the utilities in Highland Homes are in need of replacement. The exception in Westview Drive, which won't need work.

The council is expected to hold public hearings on the project in October and complete specifications and plans later this fall. If the plans are approved, bid will be sought in January or February.

The council spent considerable time discussing the addition of storm sewer lines into the neighborhoods. There currently are no storm sewer outlets, which has caused run-off problems and flooding in other areas of the west side, and in some areas in Highland Homes.

The plans are not still preliminary, but Kuhn said storm sewers could alleviate most problems, and also discussed other possible solutions, such as retention ponds, in other trouble spots.

In other council business:

• Those wishing to drive golf carts and ATVs on city streets will be required to pay $25 per driver permit fees, and will need to show proof of insurance for their vehicles.

The council earlier this summer approved the use of the carts and ATVs on certain streets.

The permits expire on Dec. 31 in the year they are approved and must be renewed each year.

• City Engineer Jay Fier presented a street construction project update memo:

College Avenue -- The project was paved last week. Minor detail work remains, and a final asphalt layer will be applied in 2009.

Downtown -- Curb and gutter work on East 4th Street between Atlantic and Oregon avenues began this week, with sidewalks and driveways installed immediately after that work is completed. Underground pipe is being installed on East 5th Street between Atlantic and Oregon and should be completed in early September. Underground work then moves to East 6th and East 7th streets and Oregon Avenue.

West 6th Street -- Riley Brothers contracted with Lawn & Driveway Service to improve boulevard seeding. Initial efforts to reseed the areas following work in 2007 weren't successful. Work is expected to begin soon.

Miscellaneous projects -- The service road between Pamida and Coborn's was repaved; crews completed leveling and overlays on East 7th Street between Oregon and Columbia avenues, and on Green River Road from Columbia Avenue to Highway 59; crews also overlayed West 10th Street from Pacific to Scott avenues.

• The owner of a home on East 3rd Street could have about a month to complete work on the property or the home could be torn down.

Joe Basel owns the home at 111 East 3rd Street. An extensive remodeling project was started, but no work has been done for several months and the property constitutes a hazard. The foundation is open, with the house jacked up over it. There also is clear access into the home, which presents another public safety problem.

The council initially considered approving an order to repair and secure the property, but City Attorney Charles Glasrud recommended that the city move to condemn the property and demolish the house if Basel doesn't complete the work in a timely manner.

Glasrud and City Manager Blaine Hill met to discuss the condemnation process. Once the order is issued, Basel will have 30 days to complete the work.

• The city set its mandatory Truth in Taxation meeting for Tuesday, Dec. 9, at 5:30 p.m. in the council's meeting room. A subsequent hearing, if needed, is set for Thursday, Dec. 18.